Cottonwood Lakes/Mt Langley

Sunday, October 25, 2015

My friend Kristen and I decided that before the weather got too cold we needed to backpack Cottonwood Lakes in California and finally summit Mt Langley which is 14,026 feet in elevation. We set a date and invited Luke, her fiancé, my brother David, and my brother's friend Donoven. Here is our experience with some tips for you're next Cottonwood Lakes trip!

Distance: Lake #3 11.6 miles (Round Trip)
Elevation: 11,140 Ft
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Permit Required: Yes - Click Here

Cottonwood Lakes is located in the Eastern Sierras at the southern end of the John Muir Wilderness. Here you will find beautiful meadows, forested shorelines and breathtaking views of Mt Langley and Cirque Peak. We decided to camp at Lake 3 and attempt Old Army Pass, which is a shorter unmaintained Trail that leads to Mt Langley. The Visitor Center did warn us that at this time of year Old Army pass may be covered in Snow and Ice. If that is the case it is highly suggested that hikers attempting the climb wear crampons and carry an ice axe on them. We had neither of those but we figured we would at least check it out and make our decision there.

The beginning of the trail will take you northwest through pine forests and across the south fork of Cottonwood Creek. Take the well placed log to bridge the creek or if it is low enough you can go ahead and use the rocks to walk across. Continue on this trail for 3.5 miles until you reach the sign for New Army Pass and Cottonwood Lakes. Keep right and continue on towards Cottonwood Lakes or if you are heading towards New Army Pass and the the South Fork Lakes continue Left. The trail will now begin to climb a steep, dry, forested hillside. Towards the top of this climb you will see a sign for Muir Lake that will lead you to the right. Since we were heading towards Lakes 3, 4, and 5 we stayed to the left and continued hiking. Around the beautiful meadow you come across Lake 3.

The View of the Lake was absolutely stunning! We were glad we chose to set up camp there. We hiked along the north eastern side of to find a flat/clear spot for three tents. Right after we finished setting up the tents it began to snow on us! We knew it was going to be cold with a possibility of rain but the temperature was lower then expected. No big deal for us though! The guys got their fishing gear out and headed for the water. They fished for a couple of hours while we waited for our friends Kristen and Adam. They finally arrived about an hour before the sun went down. That is when the temperature got ridiculously low. Eventually we all called it quits and attempted to get warm in our tents.

The next morning we woke to ice and a little bit of snow around our tents. The wind had also picked up during the night. We quickly got our coffee/tea to warm us up and some delicious breakfast. I had a feeling that we wouldn't be able to hike Old Army Pass due to the weather but everyone else was determined. After getting everything ready we hiked the .4 miles up to Lake 4 and 5. Just like I assumed, Old Army Pass was indeed covered in snow. I hiked up to the beginning of the snow but turned back and watched as the others finished the hike. They said it was sketchy but doable. After what seemed like forever, they finally made it to the top. The views were breathtaking! They could see Sequoia National Park on one side, stunning views of lakes 4 and 5 on the other and snow covered mountain tops. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating and Mt Langley was covered in storm clouds. The wind began to pick up so they decided not to risk summiting Mt Langley. Luke and David took Old Army Pass back down to Lake 5 while Kristen and Adam chose the safer route by taking New Army Pass.

Before we began our trip to Cottonwood Lakes the weather said it would be 100% clear and sunny the second day but that quickly changed. We could see the storm clouds rolling in and the wind picking up. Our original plan was to stay one more night because we thought we would be too tired from summiting Mt Langley. Since we weren't, we decided to head out that afternoon. The 5.8 mile hike back wasn't bad at all aside from the weather. We were able to catch an amazing sunset and make it to our cars before dark.

Cottonwood Lakes is an amazing hike filled with beauty and breathtaking views. We do plan on coming back next year to finally summit Mt Langley and experience the other lakes. If you have any questions please comment below. Don't forget to watch the video from our Cottonwood Lakes Backpacking trip below.  If you like the video please give it a thumbs up and don't forget to subscribe :)

Havasupai Falls

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Hello fellow travelers! Today's post is about our backpacking adventure to the amazing Havasupai Falls in Arizona. We took this trip in June of 2015. Here are some of the highlights of our trip as well as some tips for your future Havasupai adventure :)

Distance: 20 Miles Out and Back
Difficulty: Moderate
Permit Required: Yes

Your adventure begins at Hualapai Hilltop, overlooking the canyon. Before you start, make sure you have plenty of water to get you through the first 8miles because there will be no water available until you reach the village. For us, we were able to make it all the way to the campground with 2liters of water. We began our hike early in the morning shortly after the sun rose. The earlier you start the less heat you'll have to hike through, which we wanted to avoid as much as possible! I felt like we did a lot of our hiking in shade which was nice. Also you want to get to the campgrounds pretty quick because the sites are on a first come basis. The first mile of the hike in is all switchbacks that descend 2000ft into the canyon. After that its a pretty nice hike to the village. Be aware of your surroundings though! You'll see the village's pack mules going up and down the trail along with a few wild horses. Just stay to the side of the trail and they will pass right by you.

When you finally reach the Village of Supai you have to stop at the Tourist Office to pick up your wrist bands and pay the fees needed. You must make reservations and obtain your permit in advance. No point hiking all the way there and not being able to continue because they are all booked up. Most places suggest booking 6 months in advance. After checking in and taking a breather you continue another 1.5 miles past the village to the first falls.

This is Havasu Falls. It is gorgeous to look at, but even better to hang out and relax. It falls 100 feet to the bottom then cascades into another pool that is great for swimming and small cliff jumping. The guys where able to find some spots to climb up next to the Fall and do their own cliff jumping. This made for some awesome video footage but I have to say that Havasupai Reservation does not recommend anyone to do any cliff jumping.... with that said, it looked like a lot of fun! Someone before us had pulled one of the picnic benches into the middle of one of the pools which made for an awesome spot for us to hang out, relax after a full day of hiking, listen to some music and still be able to cool down in the water.

Another .5miles is where you will find the campground. On the west side of the canyon there is a faucet of fresh spring water to drink and use. Some people suggest filtering it while others say its perfectly fine. We didn't feel the need to filter the water and we had no problems. There are plenty of great spots for camping so make sure to send a couple people out to search for the perfect one. We found a great spot that was right off the little creek and wasn't too far from the next fall. We set up camp and headed out to Mooney Falls which is only .5 miles from the campground.

Mooney Falls is the largest of the falls plunging 190 feet into a stunning blue pool below. Seriously, when we walked up to the top of it I had to catch my breath! Not just because I am terrified of heights but also because of the beauty. I have never seen water that blue before. I was instantly enthralled with this place. Climbing down from the top of Mooney Falls to the bottom is a bit sketchy, at least for me. The descent requires you to enter a couple small tunnel, followed by chains, ladders, and metal handles. Even though I have a fear of heights I was able to do it no problem, BUT there can be a lot of traffic going both ways and it is very difficult AND dangerous to maneuver around people who are going the opposite direction. So please be careful. It is more then worth it once you reach the bottom. 

At the bottom you can picnic, cliff jump, or just hang out and relax. Word of advice, check the depth of the water before jumping in. It's slightly deceiving and looks deeper in some spots than it actually is. We found a rope swing hanging from a tree that went into a smaller pool. It provided us with a lot of fun and some great footage for our video. Follow the river down you'll find a few more pools with less people and more places to jump from. It was definitely enjoyable!  

There is a trail you can take that leads from Mooney Falls to Beaver Falls which is approximately 3 miles. Its shaded and much more enjoyable than the hike into Havasupai. But make sure you wear your Water Shoes due to several river crossings. Along the trail you will see the Havasupai Vine Desert. The vines cover the whole length of the canyon and offer a great photo op. I didn't do much research before going on this trip so when I came upon the vines my mouth dropped! Hiking through it was crazy and interesting. You may lose the trail from time to time but if you just follow the river you  should be able to find it again. Eventually you will come to a point where you can either climb a ladder or cross the river. The ladder will take you to the top and around Beaver Falls while crossing the river will take you to the upper pools. Once you get there you'll find more cliff jumping opportunities, lots of different pools and even a hidden under water cave. Luckily for us we ran into some guys who shared the caves location. It was a decent size and was able to fit all 7 of us. But be careful and watch your head as you swim in. 

If you would like to Hike to the Colorado River you would continue on past Beaver Falls. Its an 8 mile hike one way starting from Mooney Falls, so we suggest leaving before the sun comes up. There is very little shade after Beaver Falls and the temps get ridiculously high depending on what time of year it is. Bring LOTS of water as well as a water filtration system. Better to be prepared than sorry. Once you reach the Colorado River you'll see some stunning views! Its amazing to see the beautiful blue waters from the Havasu river meeting with the brown rough water from the Colorado River. While you're there you may come across several rafters. Not everyone does this hike but we highly recommend it. On your way back to camp make sure to take a quick break at Beaver Falls to refresh yourself ;) 

We suggest that you plan on at least 2 full days of camping to fully enjoy all that Havasupai Falls has to offer, as well as giving your body time to recuperate before the trek back up the Canyon. We packed up camp at 4am in order to beat the heat. With our headlamps on, we began the hike back in the dark. By the time the sun started rise we were already past the Village. It was quite peaceful walking through the village with no one else around except the croaking sounds from the frogs. By the time we reached our car the sun had fully risen and it was time for a much deserved breakfast. 

We hope this post has helped you prepare for your adventure to Havasupai Falls. If you have any questions comment below and we'll do our best to answer them. Don't forget to check out our video from this trip below :)

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Welcome To Our World

Saturday, October 3, 2015
Hello and welcome to our blog! We are Luke and Erin McKibbey and we love to travel and explore. For the past year we have been posting Videos of our trips to our YouTube channel but never really explored our options of expanding it. Recently we found that we could combine our love of adventure, video editing, and Erin's love of blogging to create something pretty amazing. Now we will be able to share everything we do with all of our friends, family and anyone else who is interested all in one spot. Welcome to the launch of The!! Now keep in mind there are still quite a few kinks to work out and we don't plan on posting any new content for a few weeks BUT you still have access to the videos that are already posted. We love feed back so please let us know what you think or if you have any suggestions we would be more than happy to hear them. Here are a few things you can look forward to in our future videos and on our blog:

 - Trail Maps/Guides.
- Where To Eat in the Towns We Visit.
- Where To Ski/Snowboard.
- Fly Fishing Info.
- Our Review Of The Gear We Use (backpacking, snowboarding, ext)

And so much more! So while you wait for our next video go and head on over to our YouTube channel and Thumbs Up the videos that we have now, Subscribe to our Channel, and follow us on any of our Social Media sites. We can't wait to begin this new journey together! Happy Travels!
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