Backpacking in Aravaipa Canyon

by Stephanie Daniels Tuesday, July 9th 2019

Aravaipa Canyon is one of the best kept secrets in Southern Arizona. With its towering canyon walls, lush vegetation, abundance of wildlife, and the ever flowing Aravaipa Creek, it is a wonderland waiting to be explored. 

Aravaipa Canyon is a protected Wilderness Area. Only 50 people a day are allowed to enter the 12 mile canyon and you need a permit for all activities, even day hiking. Permits are distributed through (search Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Permits). Permits are released 13 weeks in advance and weekend permits sell out very quickly. You’ll have a much better chance getting permits if you plan to go on a weekday.

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to snag a weekend permit for 3 days (2 nights), the maximum you are allowed. I was joined by Jeremy (Oro Valley Store Manager) and Lylah (Summit Hut Gearhead) for a fun weekend backpacking and exploring the canyon for the first time.

We entered at the West Trailhead after driving 12 miles down a paved then dirt road off of Highway 77. We made sure we had all of the right gear, including sun protective shirts, sleeves, hats, and gaiters to help keep sand and rocks out of our shoes while walking in the creek. I recommend wearing a lighter weight shoe, perhaps an older pair you don’t mind getting dirty. I wore my go to hiking boots, the Vasque Breeze III. Lylah wore her La Sportiva Bushidos and Jeremy wore another lightweight trail running shoe.

One thing to know before you go, you will get wet. You can try to criss cross the creek and walk on dry land but it is definitely easier to just stay in the water. I would also recommend using trekking poles to help you stay balanced while walking in the water and hiking over rocks and ankle-turners. 

Our goal the first day was to hike in to Booger Canyon. From there we would set up camp and spend the next two days exploring the side canyons. On our list were Booger Canyon, Paisano Canyon, Horse Camp Canyon, Virgus Canyon, and Hell’s Half Acre Canyon. Keep an eye out for those side canyons. Despite having large openings, some of them are easy to miss!

Each side canyon was beautiful in its own way. Paisano Canyon had a peaceful pool with a waterfall. Booger Canyon had rocks and boulders to climb over. Horse Camp Canyon had beautiful pools surrounded by flowers and layers of rock. Virgus Canyon had large boulders to scramble over and deep pools of water.

Horse Camp Canyon

The second night we camped across from Horse Camp Canyon under a big beautiful tree. We were lucky to have cooler, overcast weather during our trip. The second night we even got some rain even though the weather report said there was only a 10% chance of rain. Just another example of why you should always be prepared for anything. I unfortunately left my hiking pants, boots, and socks out overnight to dry and when I woke up they were soaking wet. I count that as another learning lesson in the backcountry.

When you plan your first trip into Aravaipa Canyon, my advice is to take your time and explore. Don’t be in a rush, stop and see what you find. Scramble over some rocks, really discover this beautiful canyon. I felt like a little kid for 3 days, playing in the water, looking for tadpoles, listening to the call of the canyon wren overhead, trying to find a coati (which we did!).

Aravaipa Canyon is a must do for an unforgettable hiking or backpacking trip. I plan to make this a yearly trip, there’s that much to see and do!

The Spiritual Elements of Nepal’s Prayer Flags

by Guest Blogger, Sherpa Adventure Gear Thursday, May 16th 2019
Prayer flags

Seen everywhere in the mountains, valleys and sacred sites of Nepal, prayer flags are a symbol of peace, goodwill and compassion. Originating in Tibet, early versions of prayer flags were used in battle. But as time passed, the flags came to take on more spiritual meaning.

Each of the five colors are always arranged from left to right in a specific order – blue, white, red, green and yellow – and represent the five elements: sky, air, fire, water and earth.

Prayer flags
Each flag color represents one of the five elements.
Lung Ta

Lung Ta (horizontal) prayer flags, pictured above, are square or rectangular shaped and commonly hung on a diagonal line between two objects in high places, such as the tops of temples, monasteries, stupas or mountain passes. Darchor (vertical) prayer flags, pictured below, are usually large, single rectangles attached to poles along their vertical edge.

statue of Tenzing Norgay
Darchor prayer flags frame a statue of Tenzing Norgay near the village of Namche Bazaar in Nepal.

Over time, as the flags weather the elements, the bright colors of the flags fade to white. New prayer flags are hung alongside the old, acknowledging life’s continuous cycle. It is disrespectful to place flags on the ground or to use them as clothing. To dispose of old prayer flags, they traditionally are burned, so that the smoke can carry their blessings to all.

Prayer flags
As prayer flags are exposed to the elements, their colors fade. This process symbolizes a welcoming of life’s changes and an acknowledgement of a greater, ongoing cycle.

Campfire Cookin’

by Summit Hut Tuesday, May 7th 2019

Spending time around a campfire with friends and family is a great way to spend a relaxing weekend. It’s made even better when there is delicious food to share! Cooking on a campfire may seem intimidating at first, but planning well can make it feel just as easy as cooking at home.

Our Summit Hut staff has shared some of their favorite recipes, so you can try one on your next camping trip.

Breakfast Tacos


  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • ½ green pepper
  • ½ red pepper
  • 1 package (9 oz.) of chorizo*
  • 8-10 eggs, scrambled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package of tortillas
  • Hot sauce

*For a vegetarian option, use potatoes or beans instead of chorizo


Heat a seasoned 12” or 14” cast-iron skillet over fire with medium heat or on a large enough camp stove.

Add diced onion and cook until almost brown. Add peppers and continue cooking. Add chorizo until cooked through.

Add eggs to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and cook until done. Remove skillet from heat.

Heat tortillas over fire or stove. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6 people.

Foil Package with Shrimp, Sausage, and Veggies


  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers of choice
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 summer squash, sliced
  • 1 package of smoked turkey sausage (13 oz.), sliced
  • 6 red potatoes, quartered
  • 3 cobs of corn
  • 6-8 oz. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika to taste
  • Fresh parsley


At home:

Dice onion and slice peppers, zucchini, summer squash, and turkey sausage. Cut potatoes into quarters. Remove husk from corn and cut in half or in thirds.

In a small bowl combine onion, peppers, zucchini, summer squash, potatoes, corn, shrimp, and turkey sausage. Add olive oil and spices, mix well.

For each pouch, cut two equal pieces of foil, roughly 12” x 12”. Spoon a generous amount in the center of one foil square. Place second piece of foil over the first, fold each side creating a seal.

At camp:

Over a medium heat fire or charcoal grill, place foil packets evenly on grill. Cook for 15-20 minutes, turning over packets and rotating around the grill to cook evenly.

When done, remove from grill, carefully open foil pouches, being mindful of hot steam. Top with chopped parsley.

Serves 4 people.

Campfire Banana Split


  • 6 bananas, large, unpeeled, stems removed
  • 1 package mini marshmallows
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate


Spray 4 sheets of aluminum foil—large enough to wrap bananas—with cooking spray.

Slice the peel of the banana from stem to bottom, while slicing the banana inside lengthwise. If preferred, the bananas can be cut into slices while still in the peel for easier handling later.

Carefully open the banana just wide enough to place the chocolate chips and marshmallows inside the peel with the banana. Stuff with as much of the chocolate chips and marshmallows as desired.

Wrap the bananas with the aluminum foil and place on the grill or directly in the coals of a fire. Leave in long enough to melt the chips and the marshmallows, about 5 minutes.

Unwrap bananas, open the peels wide, and eat with a spoon.

Try with other toppings such as strawberries and Nutella, peanut butter and dark chocolate, honey and candied ginger, caramel sauce with coconut flakes and chocolate.

Activities | Skills

Sherpa Adventure Gear: Funding the Future

by Guest Blogger, Sherpa Adventure Gear Tuesday, April 30th 2019
Sherpa Adventure Gear


by: Guest Blogger, Sherpa Adventure Gear

In Nepal, many children grow up in remote mountain villages, and are deprived of basic education. The Sherpa Adventure Gear Fund provides a brighter future to the children of Nepal through empowerment and education. Working alongside respected Nepal-based organizations, we fund scholarships, build schools, support orphanages and provide safer living conditions for the youth in our homeland.

For every product Sherpa Adventure Gear sells, 25 cents is donated to the Sherpa Adventure Gear Fund. By doing this, we honor the dreams of our elders to make a better world. Currently, there are 10 students enrolled in school. We provide each student with full tuition, room and board, after-school activities, school supplies and uniforms.

Sherpa Adventure Gear Fund

Meet some of the students currently in our program.

Pasang Lhamu Sherpa
“I want to become a doctor to take care of my neighbors whom I like very much.”

- Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, age 12, grade 6

Jigmay Kusang Sherpa
“I want to become a social worker and help everyone around me.”

- Jigmay Kusang Sherpa, age 13, grade 8

Penzum Sherpa
“Biology and the sciences come naturally to me. My aim is to become a surgeon some day.”

- Penzum Sherpa, grade 7, age 12

As we grow, we see endless possibilities ahead. In the short term, we are working to grow the number of students we are able to support. Looking ahead, we have a long-term goal to build a school, to provide an even greater opportunity to additional students and communities in need.

We say “tho-chey” - thank you - for purchasing our products and donating to the Sherpa Adventure Gear Fund. When we see the smiles on those children we have helped, we know that our hearts have guided us to do the right thing.


The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!