I spent last week in the Grand Canyon. It was spectacular. First, I would like to thank this site for great tips I used that really helped me out. While I have rarely posted and I have lurked here for a while and have garnered valuable tips.
I am a flat lander from Texas who lives in Florida. I abhor gyms...they bore me...I instead do hiking and biking when weather and bugs permit.
I actually do hike/bike in the heat of the day. After Years of working outdoors in my former job along with being a lifelong Texan, the heat doesn't bother me much. This is also huge in helping me manage water intake as well.
But the ascent/descent of the GRand Canyon did worry me .....but not the heat.
Anyhow, I had my base weight down to 13 lbs with my SLR camera, my kindle, and my pillow as guilty pleasures. My max weight I actually carried was 25lbs. I use the wonderful ULA circuit and the weight carries terrifically.
As a hiker doing steep descent/ascent I am a tortoise. Plus, I generally do like to stop and do photos as well. My slow yet steady pace also means that I tend to not get overheated from the actual hiking. Again, this helps in managing my water intake.
I did a 4 day backpack of the canyon entering and exiting via Hermit trail. It is a steep non maintained trail that requires some boulder climbing in sections that have been knocked out by rockfalls. I did find the trail to be much easier than all of descriptions I read. I thought it was enjoyable, rugged at times, and quite beautiful. A few sections were a little scary with the narrow trail and long drop offs...but still, a fun trail.
I did a total of about 25 miles over the 4 days. My 3rd day was the easiest...since I wanted to be ready for the last day of ascent.
On the 3rd day, Around 4 pm I left the Hermit creek area after spending several,hours hanging out in the cold creek water staying cool and drinking several liters of water to really get hydrated.
As I was hiking away, I bumped into a group of 4 guys. They made me quite concerned. They clearly were exhausted. They had taken 8.5 hours to hike 7.4 miles downward. 2 of the guys had visibly shaking legs. Their backpacks were huge. Like, they were 9-12 inches over their heads and extended down to the bottom of their butts. They were solidly packed. Plus, they told me that they all had ran out of water!
I knew ( and told them ) they were 20 minutes at their pace from the campsite and creek. Plus I knew another large group was at the site. If that hadn't of been so....I would have turned around and followed them back to camp....
All I could think was OMG they had problems coming down. How on earth are they going to make it up? I gently asked their plans for the next several,days...they gave a vague answer and trucked on.
People kept being shocked when they realized that I was a solo female hiker doing the canyon. But I never got close to running out of water and never felt that shakey....'I need to be concerned' feeling.
On the way up the next day, I bumped into a large group making the descent. They were at the 2 mile mark (with 6 miLes at least to go) at 12 - 12:30 pm They were going to be hiking the most sun exposed section of the trail during the absolute hottest time of day on a day the temp reached 95. I was surprised again.
Again, absolutely huge backpacks. Their packs had to be 60% bigger than mine and they were spending less time in the canyon. I noticed one guy had 3 empty lexan liter bottles hanging from his pack empty. Since this spot actually had water, I asked if he was going to fill them up. He said...nope, he was going somewhere that had water and would fill the up for that night. I asked if he had more water and he said he had 3 liter camelback. All the while we are standing in a cool and shaded shelter...the temp was quite refreshing.....the group,had been sitting hanging out for about 20 minutes......and this guy was still sweating like he was running a marathon.... 3 liters was not a lot of water for the distance he had remaining in those circumstances.
After coming across these 2 groups, I understood how people can get into real trouble in the canyon and why the park has to place dire warnings by all the trailheads.
I did say something to the group about how hot the trail was going to be and about resting etc to keep from overheating. But, I could tell that it was falling on deaf ears. The good thing was that they were a big group and would have enough people there to help if one got into trouble.
A guide with 2 customers went down the same day I did, We see sawed by each other. They were moving fast but stopped for a long lunch. I would bump into them again when they had to stop because one of the clients overheated further down. Luckily, they had a ton of water and food and still had frozen bottles of ice to help and turned out okay.
I did not see a lot of groups on my backpack. in that section of the trail, I saw a total of 14 over 4 days. The fact that 3 of those groups either had problems or could have had problems made me pause.
I am glad that I really have learned about going light from this site. While 25 lbs total is a lot for most of you on the site, it felt very comfortable to me. I was so glad I wasn't carrying 35-50 lbs like many of those I passed.
Have to say again, I love my ULA circuit. Out of all the packs I have tried, it carries the weight the best. It helps me walk straight up and not hunched. It transfers weight to my hips very well. It really hugs me...which helped a lot when clamor ing over boulders ...ESP when drop offs were right there.