First time poster and generally a newbie. I just found this site and happy it is here. I'll be spending alot of time reading here over the next few months.
I am female, 36yrs old, and my family (husband, and 14yr old son) along with another family are going to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim in June. I'm here to learn, train and get ready for this trip
My background: I live in southern Florida (where the closest thing we have to a hill is an overpass on the interstate). We do head up to North Carolina every summer for a few weeks of hiking and mountain biking and do day hikes (usually I have a 20 to 30lb day pack). I've never done an overnight hike. Those day hikes are generally 7 to 10 mile hikes on the AT or similar trails after we've spent the morning mountain biking several miles.
Besides that, last fall I participated in the3day, a 60 mile walk for breast cancer, where I walked over 60 miles in three days in the heat and humidity of Tampa Florida. (again, I wimped out on the tent camping and opted for a hotel. )
My biggest concern over this upcoming trip is not the distance or the climb or the gear. I've been to the GC 2 other times and done day hikes down and back of 10 miles (5 down, 5out) for a few days in a row. But those were always with just day packs. So I can do distance and the climb - but doing it with a 40 or 50lb pack has me nervous.
My current training routine is: 3 days a week - 1hr treadmill at 20% incline (no pack yet) at 2.5 mph. 3 days a week - full body weight workout 2 nights a week - 4 mile walk at a rate of 4+ mph Weekends usually I'll do 30 to 40 miles biking along with 10 - 15 miles of kayaking, weather permitting.
by the by - my 14yr old son - is 6 ft tall, 150lbs and has gotten Presidential Fitness award every year for the past 8 yrs in school. He is also a lacrosse player, for both his middle school team - and is also playing at the highschool level for the school he will be attending next year. Bottom line - he's fit - but he will be joining me on some of the training to prepare for carrying his pack.
My husband is also quite fit, but I will be the first to admit - none of us are ready for that pack.
I'm also worried about making sure our friends are also prepared and trained for this. They are also pretty active and fit, but being in FL, we all don't have mountain experience.
We have 4 months to train and to get all our gear and get ready for this trip. This has gotten long winded so I'll cut it short. I'm sure someone will reply with a concern about the June trip and heat of GC - we have plans for that I can explain in another post.
Loc: East Texas Piney Woods
Cruzenbye, Sounds like your'e on the right track with the training. I'd take a serious look at your pack weight of "40-50" pounds. I'm hoping that a lot of that weight is water and not gear. Spend a lot of time reading through the gear lists on the left hand side of this website and scrutinizing every single piece of your gear. Since there will be three of you going, you can share a lot of the gear (e.g. cooking gear, stove, etc.). You might be able to get by with a large tarp for the three of you. I've never done the GC, but it is on my bucket list. Use the search feature on forum at the top of this page and set the time frame to 1 year. You should get lots of hits.
Enjoy and be sure and come back with pic's and give us a good trip report. Reports from newbies are always welcome. That's how we all learn(ed).
Are you going N-S or S-N? Are you using the main corridor trails i.e. Bright Angel/North Kaibab? How many miles/day do you plan to do? Just curious.
The difference between hiking with a day pack or no pack and a 40-50 pound pack is huge.
I have done this trip twice but not in June. My biggest problem was postholing in the snow below the North Rim. It was a tough trip with a much lighter (24 pounds) pack in cool (March) weather. A 50 pound pack in June will be much harder. I hope you realize what you're attempting. This is quite an undertaking for someone who has never been out backpacking overnight before. A long walk after a night spent in a hotel is different than a long walk after spending the night sleeping on the ground, which will most likely be fitful if you have no experience in overnight backpacking.
You didn't ask any specific questions but I'll assume you posted because you're looking for advice. So here goes, in no particular order:
1)Try, try, try to get that pack weight down. You won't need a heavy sleeping bag. You can share many items like a stove, pots, tent, etc. Honestly, there is little reason for 3 people sharing equipment in warm weather to carry 50 pound packs, even with lots of water. You seem to have an open mind. I'll bet you're taking lots of stuff you really don't need. Learn to let go.
2) Soon, start training with a pack on. All 3 of you. On hills. Try to simulate the real McCoy. See my second paragraph again. A heavy pack on a long descent on a rocky trail is going to place tremendous stress on your feet. That stress cannot be simulated on a treadmill or in the gym.
3) If you don't use them already, look into hiking poles. Every pound of weight you put on them is one less pound on your feet. They really do make a difference.
4) Your treadmill training is on an incline. Good. Now try to train on a decline as well. Studies have shown that more muscle damage occurs going downhill than uphill and you're facing a long, long descent with a pack on.
5) If at all possible, I strongly suggest a full "dress rehearsal" trip before you go. Use the same clothing, pack, shoes, everything you'll use in the GC. Even socks. All 3 of you. Try to simulate the distance and terrain although the latter will be tough in Florida. Go out for at least one night, two is better. Better to discover problems then than at the bottom of the Grand canyon in 100 degree heat. At least sleep out in your yard for a few nights.
6) How well do you know the other family? Are their capabilities similar to your party? They could become a liability to you.
7) I'll assume you have applied for the permits? The first day to apply for June was Feb. 1. Campground quotas fill up fast.
8) Read this. You can learn lots from other people's mistakes.
9) You said you're prepared for the heat but I hope you know that inner canyon average high temps for June are about 100 degrees. And that's just average. It could be hotter.
IMO the combination of distance, terrain, heat, pack weight and your experience level (let alone the other party's) could be a real recipe for trouble. I would take a hard look at what you're attempting.
Good luck and have fun. It's an incredible experience and I'll be there for another dose in April!!!
Thanks for the reply trailrunner. I didn't really ask any specific questions because I'm sure most my questions will be answered as I read thru these forums. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
You asked which way - Trip details: S-N Day one Down brightAngel to Bright Angel campground. (I've been down as far as Indian Gardens on a day hike a few years ago). That was on September 11, 2001 - yes, it was *that* day.... Day two - Up North Kiabob to Cottonwood Day three - Up North Kiabob to North Rim
To combat heat, we will take advantage of our internal body clocks being programed to the 3 hr time difference and start our days at 4am so we can do the bulk of our hiking with packs before the heat of the day. Also, being from southern Florida we are no strangers to heat (with humidity, and I realize how dry GC is, so that will make a difference but by May we will be training in 90+ temps with high humidity and "feels like" temp over 100). If we can be to camp by noon-ish we can pitch some shade and relax in the heat. I am not trying to dismiss the heat, but high temps are something I deal with for upwards of 6 months a year and trained in for the 60 mile walk last fall. I am well aware of the dangers of the heat and sun in GC and we are taking precautions to make sure none of us are victoms of heat stroke.
We just received our backcountry permit. I was hoping for the first week of June, but they gave us the 3 week of June... I wasn't real happy about that - but given we got permits on our first try, it will have to do. Taking two teen boys we had to work around school schedules, so we were limited to doing this during school breaks.
Pack Weight - I'm going to do my damdest to get the weight as low as possible. I'm going to train for 40lbs so I'm ready for anything. But I'm going to try for less. If we can get into the lodge for our final night then sleeping bags won't even be necessary, as the night temps in the canyon are going to be warm so fleece might be the only thing necessary. Although if we do end up camping at the north rim before catching the bus back to the south rim, then we would need something heavier.
We are contemplating just a Bivy and not tents - but that will depend on the weather. And as long as we can find water on the North Kiabob at regular intervals, that will save having to carry alot at one time. We are also on the list to get dinner at Phantom Ranch on Day one as well as Day two lunch from them. That is less food to carry for each of us.
Hiking poles are a definate MUST for all of us.
I'd love to find a way to train for the decline. The closest thing we might be able to do is find a public parking garage to practice hike in. Within the next month I plan to get all 6 of us doing some back to back training hikes on Sat and Sun, working around the boy's lacrosse games.
I fully admit to being a novice taking on a big challenge, but being up to the challenge. I'll be around here for a while, researching, learning and asking questions as they come up.
In my preliminary research on hiking I read most packs range 40 to 50lbs. That was where my starting point was for training. I am going to do my darnest to get that down closer to 30. The last two times I've been to GC for day hikes (in 2001 I spent 4 days there, going down about 5 miles and back up from different points and again in 2005 I spent 2 days there on smaller day hikes). Both those times I brought my 1 gallon camel pack day pack and had it full, so minimally I had 10lbs plus food, and supplies for the day.
As long as we can readily find water on the north trail, we'll be ok. I know where water sources are on the south trail and know that we can easily get by with carrying 1.5liter each and that should be plenty to get from water source to water source. Its the uphill climb that would worry me if we can't find water, we'll need to prepare to hike with more on our backs.
The one thing I won't do without is my camera gear. The '01 trip my DH talked me out of bringing the 35mm and I only brought the digital that at the time was less than 1mp. This time the digital SLR is coming with me with lenses. I'm not giving up that gear. That is kept in a belly pack.
You can always climb stairs in a tall building. 100 stories up and down with the pack would be a real help, at least it would tell you whether the trip is ridiculous or doable for you. Do it about 5 times to simulate the canyon. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> Oh and you can break in boots that way too. I used to soak em in water over night, put em on really tight, and climb the stairs in my apartment building till they stretched.
Tarps. I know you're going in June, but it can snow any day of the year up on the rim. While it was Easter, I have camped in a blizzard at the rim after a nice hike up. You should be prepared to pitch that tarp in a howling storm if you are gonna depend on it for shelter. Tents are heavy but offer more protection - which may not be required. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Why in the world would your pack weigh that much without an 8 man tent? Maybe you shold post a gear list - we are really good at dissecting them. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
100 stories.. LOL... we have a city ordinance that limits bldgs to 4 in town. I can go next town up where they do have one 10 story courthouse (that is locked nights and weekends). Closest we've got for public access is 4 story parking garage and we have had friends who used that for their training to do the same trek.
Our gear list is not finalized yet. I'm still pulling that together, but I'll list out what I think we need.
pack change of clothes (underwear, undersock, hiking sock, zip off pant, wicking shirt, sports bra) sandles fleece (doubles w/ clothes as a pillow) rain gear (el-cheapo garbage bag poncho) travel size toothbrush, paste and deoderant bed roll sleeping bag (or sleepsak if the temps are warm enough and we can get a room at the lodge at the rim) tent/bivy/tarp food (figure on 3000 cals per day for me, 4000 for the boys). dried foods, etc - TBD. we are going to try to get dinner at Phantom Ranch on day one, and lunch on day two. first aid (ace, moleskin, bandaids, ibuprofen, etc - something small and can be split amongst all of us). Electrolite tabs, filter tabs, etc cooking supplies (at minimum - water heating system) toilet paper 2 gallon plastic bag for garbage
Sat phone - maybe? Would be nice for emergencies but heavy.
And of course water - if we can find sources on the North trail - then I'm guessing 2 liter storage is about all we'll need that we can keep filling.
I'm sure I'm missing something. We have just started compiling a list of necessary gear.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I strongly recommend that you read the articles on the home page of this website. The articles are all listed in the left column of the home page. Pay particular attention to the gear lists. By making myself an Excel spreadsheet and comparing it to the "27 lb., 7-day gear list," I was able to cut my pack weight in half with no sacrifice in comfort or safety. I still use my spreadsheet a lot. In addition to consulting it when I contemplate a new gear purchase (if it isn't lighter than what I have, I won't get it), it is my checklist every time I take a trip.
Another series of articles, by Mark Verber, can be found here.. What's good about these articles is that he gives low budget options for almost everything. He also tries to keep up-to-date with the constant changes in gear models. Some of his links require a paid subscription to Backpacking Light, but I just ignored those. Avoid the extreme ultralight stuff (you don't have the experience to go there), but try to aim for the middle ground, such as what you'll find on the home page of this site. You will need a pack that will let you carry 30-35 lbs., because of your need to carry lots of extra water.
The main difference between heat in the Arizona desert and heat in Florida is the humidity. The low humidity and heat of the desert will suck the moisture out of you--you need lots more water than you think you will! Compared to anywhere in the East, you'll think you're not sweating much, when actually you're sweating far more but it evaporates immediately. The dry air also parches your mucous membranes. In fact, you'll feel as though every part of you is being dehydrated. You thus need to get your base pack weight (everything except food, water and fuel) way down so you have room for a lot of extra water--a gallon per person. At least that's what I'd plan if I were going to do this trip. I wouldn't venture off the rim in mid-winter, much less at the hottest time of the year, with only 1.5 liters! That's what I carry here in the Pacific Northwest where temps are generally mild and there is water all over the place. Please read and heed all the numerous warnings on the Grand Canyon National Park web site. We want to see you back here with a great trip report, not read about you in the newspaper!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
I have read all of your posts to date. I think you are seriously underestimating how much water you should carry.
June is the hottest, driest month in Arizona. I am planning a trip in the Canyon in early May, which is a lot cooler than June, and I will never start the day with less than 3 liters in my pack. I probably won't need all of it but it is there if I do. I would carry at least a gallon if I were going in June. Temperatures in the canyon in June can easily top 100 degrees and the relative humidity can be as low as 5%; this combined with strenuous hiking can be a deadly combination.
Yes, there are water sources along the Bright Angel trail and at the river and at Cottonwood. But, especially going uphill with a pack, you can easily sweat away a couple of liters per hour and you won't really be aware of it; the sweat evaporates as it is produced. What can happen, and does frequently happen, is a progressive dehydration leading to unusual fatigue and that can also affect ones judgment; a hiker should stop and rest in the shade but keeps on plugging instead. The best outcome under these circumstances is to finish a trip with a splitting headache and super sore muscles; the worst thing that can happen is that you can die. It happens to canyon hikers every summer! And, most of the rescues, and fatalities, are along the corridor trails you are proposing to hike and mostly involve fit, young people.
Carrying six to eight pounds of water to start the day is a small price to pay for a safe and enjoyable trip. I urge you to rethink your water needs.
You say you've read my posts - so you've read that the last two times I've done day hikes at GC was with a 1 gallon hydration pack. You also read that I am by no means dismissing the heat and dryness of GC and I know there is a big difference in climate between the humidity of south Florida and the dryness of Arizona deserts. If you like I can go into chapter and verse with full details on what I know and what to worry about with regards to that - but that would make the post extremely long.
I also mentioned in my OP that I WAS and AM concerned about how much water to worry about carrying. I'm planning on 1 gallon (9lbs) depending on the availability of water. I have spent alot of time researching and find those posting about their trips, on average, carry 1.5 to 2 liters and that is enough to get them from one water source to the next in an effort to keep their weight down in the packs. Some say there is plenty of water on North Kiabob while the Nat Parks say no. I know there is water at cottonwood and at Supia tunnel, and presumably at Rainbow falls (bringing filter to filter it there if necessary).
Likewise - considering Bright Angel - mostly shaded. Starting at 4 or 5am we should be to BA Camp well before noon where we can shed the pack and relax by the river and enjoy dinner (and quite possibly lunch) at PR. Thus before the heat of the day. And same with going from BAC to COT will be done before noon, getting us out of the depths of the canyon before the heat of the day sets in. Cot to North Rim is at high enough altitiudes that you really start getting the cooler weather from the north rim.
As I said originally - I am NOT trying to dismiss the heat and conditions of GC. I am well aware of them and we are planning for them. You all say that planning on a 40 to 50 lb pack is possibly too heavy for this trip. Considering 10lbs of it is going towards hydration, thats bring the pack down to 30lbs or so for food, gear and supplies.
IF - and only IF there is guarenteed ample water supplies (equal or greater than that on Bright Angel) then I might consider cutting back to 1.5 to 2 liters. But at that, I'd only do it if we are guarenteed water at least every 2 miles.
I certainly would plan to err on the side of caution with this trip and in regards to hydration. That is my BIGGEST health concern of this while trip. Hence my reasoning for wanting to train the entire party to carry heavy packs over long distances.
By the by - based on historic records - June is not the hottest month in Arizona, or under the rim. July/Aug are. Just to clarify. But I certainly know that a heat wave can hit ANY TIME causing temps to soar beyond 110.
Be sure and go to both Ranger programs at Phantom Ranch.
Treking poles are a good idea.
Make sure the water is on, but you should have water at the 1.5 mile and 3 mile rest houses, Indian Garden, the River House and where the trail from the black bridge and silver bridge meet. I feel comfortable hiking the BA with only a quart of water.
Did I mention treking poles?
Cotton kills on Rainier, but not the Grand Canyon. Soak your clothes at every opportunity. Long sleeve shirts and wide brimmed hats are best. I don't have a clue how you can convince your kids.
Did I mention treking poles?
It is possible to keep your pack weights below 25 pounds the entire trip. You may have to go through the kids packs to eliminate stuff.
I feel comfortable hiking the BA with only a quart of water.
Surely not from the river or Cottonwood to the North Rim in June; that's a long haul. Coming down the BA from Grand Canyon Village is well watered but there are a few long dry spells on the trail to the NR and you are in the sun a lot more.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Cruzenbye, I hope you won't take the following comments offensively. They are meant solely for the safety and welfare of you and your family! You admit that you are a newbie, yet you believe that you know more about Grand Canyon conditions, on the basis of a few dayhikes, than a highly experienced desert hiker who lives in Arizona and is far more familiar with the Grand Canyon than you are. If I were going to hike the Grand Canyon, Pika is the first person on this board whom I would contact for advice and information. I strongly recommend that you heed his advice. In my opinion (for what it's worth), you owe him an apology.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Yeah, I figured as much; you are too much of an old desert rat to head out w/o enough water. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I usually do the stretch from the rim to Indian Gardens with a liter or less (to save the knees), tank up at the top and at the Resthouse and then load up my jugs at Indian Gardens for any trip on the Tonto. The same on the Hermit Trail; I drink up at Hermits Rest then again at Santa Maria Springs and then load up at Hermit Camp.
I'm glad to see that you're planning on 3 days and not 2, and that you're planning a very early start. That should make your trip safer and easier. Just remember that preparing breakfast and breaking camp, in the dark, may take longer than you think if you have not done it before. And with that many inexperienced folks in your party someone may take a very long time. Or someone may want to sleep in. You can't hit the trail until everyone is ready. Your planned 4 AM start could easily turn into a 5 AM start. The best laid plans on paper sometimes don't translate into reality. Believe me I've been there.
One more factor not mentioned yet is the elevation. The South Rim is about 6600' and the North Rim is about 1000' higher. This is not terribly high but it is much higher than Florida. Thinner air affects everyone differently. You said you don't all have mountain experience. The altitude may affect you very little or it may have a profound effect on you or someone in your party. Be prepared for that.
_________________________ If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*
* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.
I do think you are missunderstanding and misquoting me.
I do not dismiss or belittle the heat and dangers of hiking the GC! I am planning for that. But I do believe you are either not reading my posts in entirety or you are misinterpreting what I have said.
I said that I planned to carry 1 gallon hydration packs - which is one of the reasons why I want to train and be ready to carry 40 to 50lbs pack for the trip. 1 gallon is approx 10lbs... People ask me why I'm planning for so heavy - that's a big reason why. The day trips I've done in the past were with 1 gallon hydration packs.
I also said that I had read reports from others who did the trip only bringing 1.5 to 2 liter hydration packs with them.
I said that I would consider that IF AND ONLY IF there was adequate water sources on the NK going north and out of the canyon.
That is part of my research - to find how much water I need to plan to carry. Dispite you misunderstanding me, you have gotten your point across and I will continue to train for a heavier pack of about 40+ lbs and plan to carry that gallon (plus) of water.
Pika is misquoting and misinterpreting what I have been saying. And being new to this forum - I don't know Pika from you or Adam....
I have never said I know more about GC conditions... I said I don't know what the water conditions are like on the North Kiabob going out. I have only read reports from previous hikers who have done the trip.
Most reports I have read say water sources are plentifyl on the North Kiabob, so you don't have to worry about carrying alot with you. Yet the Ranger reports and the GCNP say water is scarce.
I admit - I don't know which. I am looking into that.
People were asking why I plan and train to carry a 40lb pack. If at least 10 is reserved for water, that leaves 30lbs for everything else. If I can get that down to 20 - great, but I may not, so I'd rather train heavy.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
If you will check the references I gave you, you should be able to reduce your base weight (complete pack minus food, fuel and water) to where your total pack weight will be under 30 lbs. _with_ the gallon of water. This is especially true since you will have shared gear (instead of one shelter, one stove and one pot per person) and, if you eat at Phantom Ranch, don't need a full 3 days' food. My three-day pack (total pack weight) for backpacking in the high Cascades is 18 lbs. Of course that's with only 1 quart of water, but for the high mountains I need heavier clothing, sleeping bag and shelter than you will in the Grand Canyon.
I went through the lightening-up process two years ago. I had to give up backpacking after a knee injury (now 20 years ago) that left me no longer able carry 40+ lb. packs, but now I can once again go out in the high mountain wilderness for a week at a time, quite comfortably, with 25 lbs. Nearly all the information that enabled me to accomplish this was from this website. I didn't stumble onto Mark Verber's articles until later. He has a lot of info on how you can lighten up with not a lot of money. There is no reason, with the gear currently available, for anyone to carry a 40+ lb. pack unless they're going out unsupported for several weeks, or maybe in the middle of winter. Or my youngest son on a family trip last summer--he carried the gear for his young children (5 and 7) and his wetsuit and surfboard.
I'd pay close attention to the park rangers--they are the ones who have to go down and rescue hundreds of hikers every year, most of whom get in trouble due to carrying insufficient water. Remember also that if you have even a minor emergency, you will need water where you are, not several miles down the trail.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
I certainly will be reading the references you mentioned as well as anything else I can get my hands on. If I can shave off 10lbs then I'll be happy. I'm confident I could do this with a 20lb pack (although I'm dreaming if I think I could get away with that). I'd be happy if our packs were only 30lbs with gear and water.
This is why I'm here. And I had hoped to have time to read first before asking many questions. I'm sure the links and references found in this forum and on the left will answer most my questions.
Went North to South on the Kaibab Trails last Spring. Rode the hiker's shuttle back around.
Get a digital kitchen scale and weigh every item. Get a pop can alcohol stove if you must have hot drinks and oatmeal (can't haul any stove fuel on any airplane). In June, you won't need a real sleeping bag, but take some clothing for warmth during the night. You will have to layer up, later in the night. Consider bringing a light base layer to wear under your daytime cotton outer layers at night with a ground cloth that you can taco in. WalMart had some microfleece and some DriMore athletic wear on sale recently for $5 to $7. Regular fleece is too bulky to pack and flunks the weight test here. Take jerky for meat. Leave the chocolate out of the trail mix. Take a lot of dried fruit for the potassium (bananas and apricots). Raisins are good for quick energy. Take some powdered Gatorade but don't overdose on it as it is much too salty when drinking a gallon a day. A liquid ounce per quart of water may be all you need for a sweaty day's electrolytes. Several small, cheap, store brand water bottles weigh much less than a few liter Nalgene bottles and the smaller ones don't slosh as loud when hiking. Take only as much soap, sunscreen, toothpaste, and bug repellant as you will use on your hike. Clean and reuse small empty containers or buy the tiny travel sizes. Bring white cotton gloves with the finger tips removed, for keeping the backs of your hands from getting so sunburned. Light cotton, loose fitting pants like hospital scrubs would be good trail wear. Choose a pattern that won't show how dirty your clothing gets from sitting on rocks for three days. The goal is to keep the sun off of your skin. From Phantom Ranch north, watch for shade in side canyons and under bridges. Wet your clothing and your bandana at every water source.
You are wise to use the time difference for starting early. At the top, a ranger praised my 8:00am exit until I mentioned my 3:00am start. Read up on condors. They perch just over the wall north of the South Rim ice cream shop behind the El Tovar Lodge. The standard joke is they are watching for ill-prepared hikers. The condors wear numbers so you can read their individual genealogy at the peregrine recovery website.
hitthetrail.com has some excellent info, stories, and Inner Canyon (Phantom Ranch) weather reports.
Thanks Joe, You've given me some great ideas. Had not thought about the gloves for sunburned hands.
As a Floridian I feel somewhat blasphomous by saying this - but gatorade is horrible.... I'm not a fan. That stuff makes me nauseous in the heat - even diluted 75% w/ water. I can never drink it straight - way too much sugar. ANd carrying the extra powder adds weight - doesn't it?
Shot Bloks work well, but at 2oz for a package of 6, I'd need to think about adding at least 1lb to my pack by carrying those. Instead we use electrolite tabs (tablets that contain potassium, magnesium and other electrolites that disolve in a water). Citrus flavored, adds a light flavor to a 16oz bottle of water.
We will be using 1 gallon hydration packs (house rule - only water goes in them, no sugary additives). And a couple water bottles as well, so that we can mix the electrolites when needed.
Another item I'll share with you is look at BullFrog sunscreen w/ bug spray. An item that comes in a small container - and serves two purposes. (its the one in the green bottle). CapriSun sport aerosol cans are my fav sun screens for the durability, long lasting, non burning, non skin clogging sunscreen.
Loc: California (southern)
I think a sat phone would be overkill. While you are in an official wilderness area, the kaibab/bright angel trail system is heavily used. For me, that is its principal disadvantage. Solitude resides elsewhere in Grand Canyon.
On the other hand, the trail is so good that you should have no trouble getting a real early start and following the trail in the dark. I have started Grand Canyon hikes as early as 2:30 AM - the desert equivalent of an early alpine start. If the moon is up, you really don't need a light. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
Having done the Rim-to rim hike - in the opposite direction you are going - I can offer a few possibly useful tidbits. The first is that if you get on the trail early, you can be in the shade instead of the sun. I was there in june also, and by starting at the north rim at 4:30 AM, I walked in the shade almost all the way to the bottom of the canyon, which made a big difference in my comfort level. You'll get your pack well under that 40-50 pound range witha little effort - I see that a lot of folks have offered help in this area, so i won't repaeat all of that. I found that going downhill was not neccesarily less tiring, but I did need a lot less water on the downhill side - like maybe one-fourth as much. Going up, I drank about 2 liters per hour or more (temp at the bottom was, I believe, at least 105 that day) I think this difference was exaggerated by the difference between morning ad afternoon (down in the morning, up in the afternoon) and sun and shade (down almost all in the shade, up mostly in the sun). But I still think I need much less water on the downhill. I did the hike in one day, and from what I recall I drank about 4 gallons of water total and was still a little dehydrated at the end. I didn't use any rehydration solutions or anything, but I did make sure all my food was salty. If I was doifn it now, i'd be making sure I got more potassium to go with the sodium.
I want to try this again. I had intended my first reply to be helpful; you obviously didn't see it that way. Perhaps this one will set things straight.
In my reply, I focused on your water planning. This is because water is the key to a safe and successful canyon hike. You will get the same story from the rangers. You can do the hike without food and without gear but not without adequate water. I had gotten the impression from reading your posts that you were planning on carrying no more than 1-2 liters from water source to water source; I thought that that was inadequate (still do) and suggested that you rethink your plans. BTW, I also think you need to cut your pack weight but others have already made a lot of good suggestions in this area. I will try to be a bit more specific about water in this post.
Were it me starting on the hike you propose I would first suggest that every member of your party carry one liter of water as an emergency reserve. More about this later. For water use on the trip: For the leg from the South Rim to BA carry one liter in addition to your reserve. Tank up at the rim, drink about a cup of water every 15 minutes on your way down, stop and tank up again at The Resthouse and at Indian Gardens and keep sipping at your 1 liter water bottle as you progress down the hill. For the next leg, from the river to Cottonwood, I would recommend starting with three liters after having drunk your fill at BA. Don't count on finding water between the river and CW; you might but don't count on it. For the final leg from CW to the North Rim, start the day with a gallon plus reserve and drink early and often. You will be mildly dehydrated by the time you get to the top but should still be functional. Tap your reserve when you are nearing the top. There are a few water sources on the CW to rim section.
The foregoing is based on the premise that you will keep on your projected time schedule. Don't assume that you will do so. You will be part of a party of six. In my experience, the odds favor something happening to at least one of you that will slow the party down. It could be a sore knee from the hike down, a case of plantar fasciitis, a case of the "green apple quickstep" or a bad headache. At any rate, in spite of an early start time you are likely to spend more time in the sun than you are planning. Also, you have two teenage males as part of your party. My experience in raising a few of these myself would suggest that an early start will be difficult. With my son, liberal use of a cattle prod was necessary to get him awake and going before sunup. Getting an early start is a good idea but your start and your progress may not be all you hope for. Unless you get a real early start, the climb from CW to the rim will be in the sun; you will be climbing a South-facing slope and once the sun comes up, it will get warm quickly. Also, the environment in which you will be hiking is a lot hotter than the recorded air temperature; you are dealing with heat radiated from the soil and hot air rising from a hot surface. I have measured temps of 120 at 3' above the surface where the air temp at 7' was 105.
This brings us to the water reserve. If a member of your party starts having difficulty with the heat, the water is used to help. Use some of the water to cool the person down; sponging and wet cloths will help treat incipient heat stress. If the person needs to be left behind while help is obtained, you can leave them with drinking water. And, the folks going for help may need extra water as well. Also, the reserve water will come in handy if a given leg of your trip takes longer than planned.
Your water reserve is basically a safety measure not to be used unless necessary. A lot of folks don't bother; I tend to be conservative about such things and others may not be. Use their advice and mine as you see fit.
This gentleman, Pika, provides sound advice to carry lots of water for your June trip.
Above Cottonwood Camp on the North Kaibab Trail in June you can get water at the pumping station, Roaring Springs, Supai Tunnel (and from the river to Roaring Springs you can filter from Bright Angel Creek).
Throngs do the corridor and to a lesser density other GCNP trails in late May through early September (but I don't anymore).
I bet you will want to try the rim to rim again during a more seasonly appropriate, less crowded time of year after this trip. On that next visit you can say you did it when it was brutal - which in some circles is priceless.
May through September's is a fantastic time of year to really enjoy floating the river.
Loc: California (southern)
I also did rim to rim, starting from the north rim, running it in about six hours, as part of an organized group. We did the trip in early May, dodging snow drifts on the north rim and encountering 100 degrees at Phantom Ranch. What I remember is our constant intake of water. We carried at least two water bottles, one always in hand, and tanked up at every available water hole. The strategy worked. For once my urine was clear, and I felt pretty good when we topped out. I have no idea what my total intake was, but something in the four gallon range seems about right.
In hot, dry desert conditions, water is everything. Avoid direct sunlight at all costs. A wide, full brimmed hat (not a cap!) is a big help here.
Pika is probably right about your teen agers and early starts. This would be a very good time to introduce them to the early morning rhythms of the planet and how productive early mornings can be.
Have a good trip <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
Thank you for the constructive reply. I'm sorry we seemed to have gotten off on the wrong foot here.
My pack and my husband's pack have 1 gallon reservoirs. (that's our day packs that we will use the resorvoir from). My son (and those in the rest of our party) will have to aquire gear and that is what we have spec'd out for them. In addition to that, I planned on carrying additional water bottles, as when I want to mix my electrolite drink, I drink that out of a bottle that is easily cleaned. We will plan on those being a couple more liters worth.
The only way I would have considered anything less is if I could tank up on water at least once an hour. (like you can on BA) But the area from the river to Supia tunnel is unknown to me - so I will certainly heed your warning and defintely stick with the orginal plan.
As for the pack - we are going to do our best to get the weight down. Backpacking is new to me. When I read backpacking books that suggest that packs are 40 to 50lbs - that is what I figuered I'd have to train for. If I train for that and we get our packs in at 30 - then we have a bonus - right. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> When it comes to the light weight camp gear - we don't have it yet. We are in the process of determining what to purchse, what we can rent, etc.
With water reserves - we will have about 10 to 15lbs of water on top of gear. When I estimated 40 to 50lbs that included a full reservoir of water.
I've done plenty of long day hikes w/ 20+lb packs then going back to a camp site and sleeping in a tent, and doing that for 2 weeks at a time. I've just never carried all the gear on my back and pitched a tent in the woods. But I do realize there is a difference that I have to plan for.
Training - we will be training in 90+ heat w/ 90% humidty. Today I spent 4hrs kayaking on the gulf in 85 degree weather and its still February.... Its not GC, its not the desert - but its still going to be training for heat and hydration.
As for the early starts - 6am in AZ is 9am in Fl. We are going to take advantage of that. And the plans are best laid goals... We certainly hope it goes as planned but realize that it might not.
The only reason we are doing it in June is because of the kids and school. School is out May 29th - so I applied for a permit and picked the first week of June as our first choice, the end of the first week as our second choice, and the 2nd week as our third choice - but of course hoping just to get a permit - I put flexible for anytime before June 25th. They gave us June 24, 25, 26 and 27.
I just realized something. You guys didn't think when I said 1 gallon - (or less w/ adequate water sources) that that would be my only intake?
My intent always has been to have the capability of carrying about 1.5 gallons each - with all reservoirs fully loaded. 1 gallon hydration packs in the backpacks as well as2 reserve bottles to be carried in the bottle carriers. Those bottles will be somewhere between 12oz - 24oz or more. Haven't decided yet. But I'm thinking 24 to 32oz bottles now.
With that - They can be filled over and over again at each water source - so overall on the whole trip I'm sure we will be drinking upwards of 4 gallons.
Loc: East Texas Piney Woods
Cruze, I think you are on the right track. One thing Oldranger brought up that you might not be aware of (perhaps you do, but I don't know your experience) is the color of your urine. It should be 'clear and copious'. If your not urinating, your not drinking enough. I have a difficult time with remembering to drink, drink, drink. We make a habit of drinking 1 liter before we even take off (we call it cameling up). We think of crazy things to drink a toast to and it kind of sets the mood for the day. There's a joke about 'hydrate' and 'dehydrate'....I'm sure you can figure it out (see the movie Jarhead).
I am totally aware of the signs to look for with dehydration. I live in a climate where we have temps in the upper 90's for 6 months of the year.
During last falls 60 mile walk in temps close to 100 w/ 90% humidity and walking on asphalt and pavement (plus all the training I did up to that point) we played all kinds of water games. From the drinking games (like college kids play with alcohol, we played with water) to the idea of asking a bunch of women if they've pee'd in the past half hour. ... I've never used so many port-a-potties.
Water is life....
Clear urine that doesn't smell is good urine. (with the exception being that you have taken a vitamin suppliment - which the excess vitamins will discolor the urine - but usually to a florescent yellow. - but that usually disapates within a few hours of adequate hydration).
I expect you'll do fine and your children should love it. Your obviously informed and will be prepared, based on your posts.
I suggest bleachers or stairs with a loaded pack as a way to get in shape if you have no hills. Be sure and pound yourself on the down the bleachers cycle. The inclines and stair step machines don't give you that shock when going down. Flat running or flat walking don't give to shock effect, either.
Typically the down hill pounding takes a bigger toll on me, and most others I have been with and talked, to than the up. Probably cause that's when the pack is full and you have a tendency to want to go faster.
One can always compensate for a lack of training by going slower on the up. If I don't force myself to go slow the initial down hill day, the calves seize up and ache for the rest of the trip. Poles help to reduce the shock, too.
Warning: Teenagers tend to want to run the down hill and naturally accelerate you along with them.
For future reference to consider: We did four years of spring breaks in a row, March, with my kids and their friends when they were high-school aged (which I think is a fun time of year - you can count on variety of weather from snow to heat and the fresh snow really makes the views spectacular). The rim to rim (rim squared) is possible then - You can go to the North rim pretty easily some years in March (We did in Mid-March 2005 but somebody else broke the drifts. Mid-March 2006 there were a couple blizzards up there). You have to turn around and go back cause the roads not open so you get the rim to rim to rim (rim cubed). We have done a late-May, early-June trip with teenagers in the western canyon when we were hiding out from the heat all day. June is great for getting in the streams (forces you in). Some places get nasty gnats in May-June and the biting-crawly critters are out by then, too.
I have a solo trip planned in April but just to Cottonwood camp and a day trip to Roaring Springs. Then back to the south because the north is closed and I don't feel like huffing up there just to come down again.
I typically use Katadyn Micropur tablets. These will kill all bacteria and virus within about 15 minutes. According to the directions, four hours exposure is required to kill the protozoa Giardia and Cryptosporidium. A filter is a better alternative if you are concerned with protozoa. But, I have never heard of someone coming down with anything after using the Micropur. The only problem with Micropur is the swimming pool water taste they give the water.
Great link to a horror story - thank you. <note that is sincerity, not sarcasm>
Learning from other people's mistakes is one way to take note of what not to do.
Thankfully I wouldn't even dream of attemtping a trip like their original plan at our stage.
We spend at least 3 to 4 weeks a year "adventure" vacationing. From hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting on class III, IV and V rapids. But our trips usually entail campgrounds with tents or tents on wheels (popup) and lots of creature comforts at the camp each evening. Finishing off a long day of mountain biking and hiking w/ a beer and smores around a campfire.
I've been an outdoor enthusiest since I was little - same with my husband. I spent many years as a girlscout, and daughter of a boyscout leader. The hubby spent his youth summers going to a wilderness survival camp.
We don't claim to be experts - we do claim to be novice here, but we do also have some common sense.
I can only plan to research the best I can to prepare for this trip and hope that my trip report when I return will be a very pleasant one.
Thanks for the link to another story of the many who underestimate the various dangers in the Grand Canyon. I have a somewhat morbid facination with these tales. Someone earlier referenced the popular book, I think.
For those interested in this sort of thing, the park's news web page will keep you abreast of the most recent screw-ups and bad-luck tales (the "icyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeee" news article from February 16 made the rounds in e-mails most recently). The specific news link title usually contains a word like recover, rescue, helicopter, or body for similar stories, if your browsing.
This is not atypical for any area where you have extremes of topography or weather, combined with extensive use, risk taking, and lack of planning or experience. Some of the other parks post these articles on-line, also.
Absolutely not trying to discourage you... just that I thought it was important to add the link. Alot of people have joined here since Joy's 'adventure' so there are many who might not have been aware of her story. Ultimately you are the best judge of what your family is capable of, and her plans were way more ambitious than yours... but the two things that raised flags for me were the time of year (which has been addressed pretty thoroughly) and elevation. I didn't have time to read through every post - have you given yourself a couple of days to acclimate to the elevation before dropping back into the canyon? Going down might not be so bad, but coming back out the other side might be more taxing than it needs to be.
P.S. Welcome to the board!
YMMV. Viewer discretion is advised.
Living at sea level - yet doing annual (or more) treks to mountains - I always build in a few days for altitude and climate adjustments. Adjusting to the dry climate is just as important as altitude. And watching for altitude sickness symptoms along with dehydration and heat exhaustioin are on my radar.
We haven't made flight arrangements yet, but my plan is to head out Saturday (or Sunday at the latest) for our trip where the hike itself starts on Tuesday. I want to give ourselves Sunday/Monday to aclimate (as well as acquire any rental gear we need to get, if we end up needing some)
As for the stories - I do appreciate them and you haven't discouraged me at all. Actually - the "Over the Edge" book someone else recommended was one I almost purchased on my two previous trips to GC as reading material for my son. (never did though). We have checked it out from the library and I read the entire section on deaths from heat and environment out loud to both boys. My son has been reading it (and enjoying that morbidity) - but at least he is reading the horrors and will have those stories in mind when we hike. I can only imaging him recounting those stories, facts and figures to our group as we hike.
Loc: north carolina
I'm hardly a GC expert, but I have hiked down from the North Rim and back in June. From Cottonwood Camp up to the North Rim, you'll pass Roaring Spring -- which is where most of the park gets its water, so there will be plenty. There is a water fountain at Supai Tunnel, as well. Check with the rangers before you start for the latest water info -- and ask hikers coming down from the North Rim, as well.
We ended up hiking back during the heat of the day -- not recommended, but if you walk slowly enough, and take breaks on the shady side, it's doable.
My only concern about your hike is that you take some patches for those 1-gallon reservoirs. The Platy Patches work well, even when water is streaming out of a hole in the bag. Otherwise you are placing a lot of faith in a large water container.
Trailrunner Seems to me I carried water in a pair of gallon plastic distilled water jugs... They were never punctured by the dreaded "jumping Cholo", however my girl friend sat on a catus while making a cmapfire and after removing about 3 dozen spines from her behind she did it again. I decided to cook on the sterno stove rather than risk making a campfire myself. That was 38 years ago. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> Times change. My backpack was canvas and had no waist band and weighed 45 pounds mostly food. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
Loc: north carolina
Good point kb.
Sometimes, cacti + platy = trouble.
Don't ask me how I know this <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />
That's why I mentioned it. One day on the trail I picked up my Platy and had half a dozen little streams of water pouring out. I still have no idea why -- the closest cactus must have been 1000 miles away. But the patches worked wonders.
You have been given good advice so far. Since I can't see all the replies as I write, I may repeat what has already been said. This should not be construed as overlooking other posts or thinking you don't "get it". I am preparing to lead my 6th group rim-to-rim hike this coming May. I have also been in the canyon twice in the winter. I mention this realizing that there are others here that are more experienced with desert hiking in general but wanting to convey that there is some weight to what I will offer. Here are my thoughts in no particular order:
1) You are already in good enough physical condition -- you should certainly maintain it, though. Perhaps the most beneficial addition would be time on a stair climber.
2) Your level of physical conditioning is also a potential negative. Most of the people who die in the canyon were in excellent physical condition. However, being in good condition can lead some people to think that they are somehow immune from the "rules of the canyon".
3) If you have the ability to treat water, you should not need to carry more than 3 liters of water on any leg of the trail between water stops. Going down the Bright Angel gives you water access all the way down and you'd only need to carry 2 liters at any one time. (This is assuming your wise choice to move early in the day. )
4) If you want to have a more scenic experience, consider going down the S. Kaibab trail. It has a variety of views compared to the B.A. which looks the same all the way to Indian Gardens. It is also shorter. If you do that, you should carry 4 liters on that segment, though. There are special buses that go early in the morning directly from the Backcountry Information Office to the trailhead. Otherwise, the regular bus system can get you there.
5) Be on the trail by dawn (not sunrise). This means being prepared to do breakfast, camp chores and packing up with headlights. Also, check on the time of moon rise and set to know whether a moonlight hike can be an option. It can be a marvelous experience.
6) Realize that your training in Florida can only approximate the environmental conditions of the GC in the end of June --perhaps even deluding you into thinking you really know what it will be like. It is not unusual to see the thermometer pegged at 120*F at that time of year. And the dryness is overwhelming to anyone not adapted to it. Additionally, because of the altitude, the air is thinner, which not only dessicates your lungs and provides less oxygen (at the level of the Colorado river, your home in Florida would be about 2400' underground) but it also makes the sun "hotter" than the air temp might indicate. Your status in regard to dehydration will fall into only two categories: 1) You are rapidly becoming dehydrated and must take preventative action, or 2) You already are significantly dehydrated. This is serious because dehydration can cause serious physical and mental problems which will not be prevented or reduced by any of your physical training. Your ability to cope with the constant dehydration is the primary factor determining the success or failure of your trip.
7) One use of water is for soaking. If you will be hiking in the sun, you should plan on using this strategy as a matter of course -- not as something to hold in reserve in the event you start feeling bad. Soaking a Packtowl (or similar) and wrapping it around your neck can be an effective way of getting evaporative cooling.
8) Bring a broad-brimmed hat -- and a string or other means of fastening it to you. If the wind blows it off (not unlikely) you may not be able to retrieve it as it sails off 1000' below you.
9) Don't bother with tents in the canyon at that time of year. (On the rims, yes.) They aren't worth the weight. A simple tarp can protect you in the unlikely event that you have a rain shower. Also, do not bring overkill rainwear. A cheap plastic poncho will be just fine. (Verify weather forecast before going over the edge in case some major weather system is moving in).
10) Rest often, eat often. Take breaks early, before you feel tired or muscle stress. This will pay dividends later in your hike. Also -- particularly on your hike out -- you will need to eat. Minimally, your caloric requirement will be at least 4,000 kC. (probably much more) that day and it will not all be in your muscles or liver. You must eat or you will "bonk".
11) People are right about the hiking poles. Definitely plan on using them. Also, when I take groups, our pack weight is about 22 lbs. If you carry more than that, you either have too much stuff or not the right stuff.
When you go up to Cottonwood, I would suggest getting there early to get the most shaded site. (The nicest one is the group site, but don't set up there. You will be evicted.) Cottonwood can be an oven, even though it is over 1500' higher than the river at 4,000'. I'd set up camp in the most shaded site, make sure that the food is in the ammo cans and lids properly fastened (I had a mouse sneak in this past Jan.) and then head back down the trail to Ribbon Falls. Stay there until 5:00 at least, playing in the creek and exploring around. I like eating lunch or supper up on the ledge behind the falls. Bring food in a daypack, but do not leave the pack unguarded. The local squirrels own the spot and will be into your pack in less than 5 minutes if you walk away from it (or even turn your back and don't pay attention).
This would be my strategy for the hike out: Start early, have breakfast and head out before sunrise. Pack 2 liters of water per person. (You are still by the creek). Stop at Roaring Springs for rest, rehydration and "second breakfast". The next leg, up across the Redwall Bridge and through Supai tunnel will be your big push of the day. Carry 3 liters on this section. There will be a shady resting spot somewhere near the big pourover where the trail makes a sharp turn to the right along the section where there is the most dropoff from the edge of the trail. (Trail is 6' wide so no real sense of exposure). Exact location of shade depends on the sun location, of course. There should be running water at the Supai rest area. Toilets & running water are at Cottonwood, Roaring Springs and Supai. (Check with a ranger for any late-breaking news about water interruptions). You should carry 2 liters for the remainder of the hike. Coconino overlook is a good place to rest for 15 min. or so. In my experience, after you reach Supai, the rest should be piece of cake, comparatively.
I'm sure you must have looked at the DVD that came with your permit. I have some training and gear info that used to be on the Grand Canyon Field Institute's website but which wasn't there last time I looked. If you'd like a copy, send me a PM with your email address.
You are going to have a marvelous time in a place recently rated (once again) as the number 1 scenic location in the US.
PS In regard to monitoring dehydration, urine quantity and color is your best guide. The rule is "pee pale". It should be a pale yellow but NOT clear, which can be indicative of hyponatremia -- potentially more deadly than dehydration. Also at least a few militers every three hours or you are dehydrated.
Edited by Keith (03/05/0809:25 PM)
Human Resources Memo: Floggings will continue until morale improves.
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