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Hiking in the Grand Canyon
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HElinTexas C
(Helintexas) - MLife
Hiking in the Grand Canyon on 10/12/2012 22:02:45 MDT Print View

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.

Edited by Helintexas on 10/12/2012 22:14:45 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Hiking in the Grand Canyon on 10/13/2012 04:45:10 MDT Print View

Thanks for sharing. Glad you had fun. I am in Texas and was planning on going there first week in Oct, but the 90+ F temps at the bottom changed my mind.

HElinTexas C
(Helintexas) - MLife
Grand Canyon on 10/13/2012 07:10:45 MDT Print View

It did get hot. If I could have changed anything, it would been dumping some items before going down....because of how warm it was. But hindsight is 20/20.

I would have taken my Sea to summit thermalight bag liner instead of a sleeping bag. I also would have dumped my merino wool thermals.

I would have saved about 26 ozs.

The temps didi get up there. But, I am lucky in that it doesn't bother me. My friends laugh because i get cold very easy. the joke is at work that if i am comfortable, then we know everyone else is hot and that something is wrong with the AC.
I don't go out of my way to over exert myself when hiking in the heat. When hiking, I try to stay at a pace that I actually do make mileage but that I do enjoy my surroundings and do not overheat. When hiking in cold weather, I have to hike at a more steady, faster pace to generate extra heat.

heat on 10/13/2012 11:41:28 MDT Print View

My son has practiced football in 105F and 95% humidity before.
In the southeast,its common for summer days to be 95-100F and high humidity. Last summer my daughter played softball in Colorado when the temp was 108F several days.

The heat isnt prohibitive. The lack of shade in parts will hurt you much worse than the ambient temperature. Not planning water carefully in the GC is just stupid.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Re: Hiking in the Grand Canyon on 10/13/2012 19:01:29 MDT Print View

Going up the Bright Angel is no picnic, so if they were having problems going down ... yikes. We would set out before sunrise from Indian Gardens CG and get to the top before lunch, then go demolish burgers in Flagstaff. Gear-wise: Our plan was use a thicker bag for car-camping the night before (1 night west of Silver City on the AZ border, 1 night on the South Rim) and taking a lighter one down into the canyon works best.

HElinTexas C
(Helintexas) - MLife
Water management on 10/15/2012 17:17:42 MDT Print View

When you are in a situation such as hiking in the GC when it does get into the 90's, do you use camelback with the tubes?

I like to carry liter bottles + a 3 L platypus without tube so I can carefully monitor my water. The 4 guys I bumped I to who had ran out of water on the descent were all using camelback tube system. Makes me wonder if that played a part.