Dessert apparel advice needed

Posted by: ddanz27

Dessert apparel advice needed - 03/01/10 08:20 PM

Hey everybody, I need some dessert backpacking advice. A friend and I are planning our first dessert backpacking trip mid-july in the Grand Canyon. I am aware of all safety concerns with 120 degree heat and blazing sun with less than nominal humidity. What I need advice on is whether to go with cotton clothes or synthetic wicking material. I have heard both arguments, cotton for retaining water/sweat and helping the body cool or wicking for obviously wicking sweat and cooling that way. I am concerned that the wicking will speed up the dehydrating process.
Also, long pants/sleeves or shorts???
Thanks for any advice
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 03/01/10 08:53 PM

Well, when eating dessert, I don't wear anything special unless I'm going to a fancy restaurant for it, in which case I might wear something more dressy. What kind of dessert do you plan to eat? Sorry, couldn't resist! laugh

Seriously, for hiking in the desert, I'd take something that kept me covered from the sun but otherwise well-ventilated, plus a couple of cotton bandanas that I could soak with water frequently and drape over head and shoulders to help keep me cooler. Also about 2-3 times more drinking water than I could possibly imagine I would need. I'd also get out on the trail at the crack of dawn and stop in the shade by noon, possibly resuming the hike after sunset. I'd try to route a desert hike to finish where ice cream would be available for dessert, too!
Posted by: thecook

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 03/01/10 09:08 PM

I've never done any desert hiking; I burn quickly and overheat easily. However, I remember reading somewhere that the nomadic, arabic tribes wear wool robes! shocked It seems that in those desert conditions the wool insulates them from the heat and also reduces water loss. Can anyone chime in with personal experience with wool and desert conditions?
Posted by: balzaccom

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 03/01/10 09:39 PM

Read The Man Who Walked Through Time by Colin Fletcher. He hiked through the Grand Canyon, and has lots of good advice there.

Start early, end early, and wear loose fitting light colored clothes...
Posted by: scottyb

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 03/01/10 09:46 PM

Definitely cotton to stay cool because it will retain moisture much longer for evaporative cooling. It will also retain your sweat which will help. Soak your whole body at every oportunity. If you can submerge yourself completely, do it and stay there as long as you can stand it. It will take the heat from your core. I wear shorts and short sleeves with a wide-brimmed straw hat and cotton bandana but I wear shorts every day in the warm months, and my legs can take the sun. I soak everything including the hat at every water stop or creek crossing. I drank 4-5 liters of water on my hike in last year, in early Sep. I live and work in the heat so I am more adjusted to it than most.

I probably don't have to tell you, but July is the hottest month and it will be brutal, especially if you enter the inner gorge. Not sure what your every day lifstyle is like, but you should do some hot weather conditiong before you go. Are you hiking the corridor trails? If so stay away from S Kaibab. There is not an inch of shade or water.
Posted by: ddanz27

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 03/01/10 10:25 PM

Thanks, great advice. I am from the midwest and used to very humid and hot summers. I can take the heat just fine, its the low humidity that I am a little concerned about. I will be in Utahs Red Rock area for the 10 days before my GC inner gorge hike. Is this time enough to aclimate to the climate?

I had originally planned hiking the South Kaibab to BAC day 1, then to clear creek day 2 and spend a couple of days in the clear creek area. Back to BAC for our last night and back up. I have however been reading that clear creek trail (corridor trail?) during July is practically impossible. True? If so, I might conced to just doing a cross canyon hike. S to N and back.

Is clear creek running year round?

Posted by: Tango61

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 03/01/10 10:27 PM

You're looking for a member named Pika to reply.

Whatever he says - do it. He's traveled many miles in the desert.

The other person would be Dryer. He's hiked Big Bend many times.

You can search for their threads using the search feature. Go back for a year and see what you find.

Right now, I'm a swamp rat so I'm not much help.
Posted by: Trailrunner

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 03/01/10 11:14 PM

I've backpacked the GC several times but never in summer.....for a reason.

But I have done a lot of hiking/backpacking in the Mojave Desert in hot weather. You've heard a lot of good advice here. All I would add is choose a very light color, preferably white. When the sun is that intense darker colors really suck in the heat. My ideal very hot weather garment is a 100% white cotton LS T shirt which I try to keep soaked if practical.
Posted by: oldranger

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 03/01/10 11:21 PM

First of all, July is not the best time to backpack in the Grand Canyon. It can be done; I have done it, but the one time was because I was involved in an archaeological project near Phantom Ranch. I started my hike down into the canyon at 2:30AM. I really enjoyed the starlight walk. Working at that time of year, we were moving dirt at 4:30 AM, stopping at noon for a siesta, and returning after dinner for about three hours in the evening. That is a pretty good schedule for walking as well - avoid the mid-day heat and take advantage of the coolest part of the day.

In mid-July, you will be likely encountering the summer "monsoons" (thunderstorms), so there is a chance you will get drenched and this will raise the humidity, temporarily. Depending upon your altitude and the local conditions, you might find it surprisingly cool, at least for a time. Remember the North Rim is right around 9000 feet high; it will be very pleasant. Pay particular attention to the weather report wwhen you arrive at the Canyon.

What will work best is lightweight, versatile clothing that you can arrange to meet existing situations. I have always liked long sleeve shirts that can be rolled up, with, with a lightweight t-shirt underneath if I want to strip down. This is also a great environment for zip-off pants; my preference was usually to wear them as shorts.

Pay attention to your headgear. You want shade for your noggin and face. I recommend a full brim, floppy hat with dark underbrim. A bandanna or two is also handy. These are two items that might best be cotton.

If I were going with you today, my wardrobe would be light weight synthetics almost exclusively. On most of my trips in the past, I wore cotton and cotton will do OK. Whatever you wear, wet it down at every opportunity (if it is hot).

You are concerned about the humidity - there are real advantages to low humidity. Evaporation of your perspiration will cool you off very effectively, much more so that you have experienced in midwest summers! This is good! I predict that you will be surprised at your increased water consumption. The classic rule (and it is true) is "Ration your sweat, not your water." That is the prime reason for the early schedule I recommend.

By all means take, and consume, plenty of water, along with electrolytes. Be sure you know where your next water source is. My last trip was a run, from the North Rim to the South Rim, done in about six hours (in May, incidentally), and I remember running with one water bottle in my hand, at least another in my waist pack, and drinking constantly. It worked - my urine was clear as a mountain stream. Incidentally, we dodged snow drifts at the North Rim, and encountered 100 degrees at Phantom Ranch, just to give you an idea of the temperature range involved in the Canyon.

Pay attention to what the rangers tell you about local conditions when you check in at the canyon. They know their stuff and will give you good information (particularly about the situation concerning Clear Creek). This is not true at every park, but it is true at Grand Canyon. I am retired NPS (as you might suspect from my handle) and perhaps you might suspect that I would be a cheerleader for the team - this is definitely not the case.

Honestly, if you can go two or three months later, conditions will be significantly better, but if you don't have that flexibility, go and enjoy the Canyon - it is a very neat place. Just be sure to stay hydrated.

Posted by: scottyb

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 03/01/10 11:27 PM

I would definitely hike Bright Angel in the summer. There is shade and water at 1.5 and 3 mi rest houses and Indian Gardens. There are a few creek crossings to soak in as well.
However, it will still be incredible heat once you reach the Devil's Corkscrew and enter the inner gorge. Standing near that black schist is like standing in front of an oven when the door is open. It will litterally blister your hands without gloves.

Clear Creek is a beautiful perrenial creek. I have only been there by river. I want to do that hike so I have reviewed several hiking guides. You will be extremely exposed on the Tonto Plateau for about 8 mi without water or shade. It's not recommended in the Summer.

Do you have your permits yet? Today was the 1st day for applying for July permits.
Posted by: Dryer

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 03/02/10 08:37 AM

You've already gotten some great advice but as mostly a desert hiker I can pass along what I do...
1. my shirt is usually a white, cotton/poly blend, long sleeve dress shirt. A cheap one, thin, washed a bunch of times. They are cool and reflective, and offer protection from sun and wind. Easily washed and dried.
2. I like really light flimsy convertible pants. Zip off the legs in daytime, back on when things cool down. The shorts need to be knee length. Underwear will be really light competition running shorts, nylon. No cotton here.
3. Trail runners work best for me unless I'm headed out across the desert floor, off trail, then light boots, leather. Socks are always super thin, cheap, nylon, walmart versions. Worn two pair at a time they are still thinner than normal socks and combined with Bodyglide, blisters simply won't happen.
4. BRING PROTABLE SHADE!!! I hike with a lightened umbrella in the desert. You will stay cool,cut water consumption, keep energy levels high, watch your friends sweat, lots of benefits. Bring a light poncho shelter, mylar space blanket...something to get out of the sun and rest. The desert almost killed me once and this is the biggest lesson I can pass along. Shade.
5. At least one trekking pole (i like converted ski poles...stronger) for hiking of course but also for lifting the odd cactus/prickly/bush out of the way.
6. Water...plan to haul double your needs with a reserve. It depends on where you are going so plan well and cache some if at all possible beforehand. I use platypus bags...easy to pack. Water will be half or more of your pack weight.
7. Hat/bandanna. Big hat that will cover your neck. The dress shirt will have a collar that you can keep up as well. A half day of desert sun exposure can ruin your trip, and your skin.

Enjoy your trip!
Posted by: oldranger

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 03/02/10 09:37 AM

The trekking pole also makes a handy snake detector/probe in thick brush - very useful item.
Posted by: scottyb

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 03/02/10 12:42 PM

Here is a trip report for Clear Creek Trail with lots of good photos. Bob's Pixels does a great job on his trip reports.
Posted by: Keith

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 03/02/10 03:30 PM

You've gotten lots of good advice. Just to perhaps summarize and add my $.02 ....

* You can't do as we do in the Midwest. You have no comprehension of what the heat and dryness are like and high humidity high temp does not really acclimate you for the dessicating heat there. It takes about 3 weeks for your "thirst-o-stat" to adjust. Until then, when you start feeling thirsty it means that you are already dehydrated and when you feel like you've drunk enough, you really haven't. This means several things:
-- Adapt your schedule. Moonlight hikes are stunning in GC. (You can go to the naval observatory website to get the sun and moon rise/set tables for when you will be there. I always check that as part of my GC preparation). Get up early and hide in the shade (or in the creek) in the afternoon.
-- Don't go by feeling. You won't feel yourself becoming dehydrated. Monitor your ins and outs and urine color. If you haven't urinated in 3 hours, you are dehydrated. As they say, "pee pale". Dark gold also means dehydration. When you are dehydrated stay in the shade and drink until you are back to normal. In the summer in the GC you have only two potential dehydration states: A)Becoming dehydrated B)Already dehydrated. Active intervention is the only thing that will keep you in stage "A".

* Be aware of the impact of altitude: Wherever you are in Indiana is about 1500 feet underground at the Colorado River. The rims are a mile higher.
-- The sun is brighter and hotter than in the Midwest and there is a bit more UV in the mix, as well. Protect yourself from it.
-- Because of the altitude, it is also dryer -- even when it's not hot.
-- Expect somewhat of a performance/endurance hit. I don't notice it much except when walking out.

*Further about shade. Whenever you have a chance, be in it rather than in the sun. Good advice has already been given. One product to help is the GoLite Chrome Dome which is a reflectorized umbrella. Next time I go I'll figure a way to attach it to my pack so I can still use hiking poles.

*You can go down the S. Kaibab and I would recommend it for its unique stunning views. It's the only main trail into the canyon that goes out on a "peninsula" of rock. All others are in a "bay". Just make sure that you start before sunup. I'd take no less than 4 liters of water. Also, don't let gravity allow you to just pound down the trail -- take your time. The repetetive motion syndrome that you get there is known as the "Kaibab Shuffle". Be sure to use hiking poles. Going UP the S. Kaibab in the daytime has some potential for fatality.

*Use an electrolyte additive to your water -- diluted up to 50% from mixing directions.

*Having tried various materials, I have found my long sleeve micro mesh Caplilene to be the best keeping me cool and reducing sun. I'd carry an extra cotton T to soak. Also have a bandanna or something to have around your head and your neck and keep them soaked during daytime hiking. Light, loose long pants may even be appropriate. I like the zip-off approach. The shade principle applies -- the more sun you can keep off your body the better. When you are hiking, your legs are vertical and get less direct sun so shorts can be OK if you have been in the sun for several weeks prior.

*It's possible to go and have a great time. Many people do. However, I would never willingly do the inner canyon in July.

Have a great trip and give us a report afterward.

The issue with Clear Creek is that from Bright Angel/Phantom it is an uphill and then long hike completely exposed to the sun most of the way with no water. Again, to get there, you would have to adapt your schedule and leave maybe 2 or 3 a.m. at the latest. When the sun comes up in the morning it will be spectacular but will hit you in the face until you turn past Demaray point.

Plan on doing 1/2 to 2/3 the mileage your are comfortable in the Midwest.
Posted by: ppine

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 10/12/11 01:10 PM


Having worked on the Navajo Res, lived in Nevada for 25 years, etc. -keep track of your water. It sounds obvious, but all the other discussion is fluffy in comparison. In Big Bend, or GC a day's hike is from one water source to another. You had better be able to read a map buddy because in a lot of that country there are no trails. Retrace your steps if you screw up.

I have found that hydrated food like carrots, apples, even salad is a big hit in dry country. You may still need to bring extra water for lighter drier foods. Always carry water purification tablets and a water container even for short hikes. The most dehydrated I have ever been was in Montana of all places near the Missouri River when a heat wave sent the temperature to over 112 deg F. The only water I had was air temperature and barely palatable. I didn't drink enough and got in trouble.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 10/13/11 12:24 AM

I presume the OP has already taken this trip, since he planned to go in July 2010. Your advice is therefore a wee bit late! smile
Posted by: ppine

Re: Dessert apparel advice needed - 10/13/11 03:51 PM


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