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.
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