Fly needed in GCNP in late May?
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Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Fly needed in GCNP in late May? on 04/21/2014 12:12:10 MDT Print View

I am hiking the Grand Canyon in late May, going from R2R2R over a few days. One night is at the campground at the bottom. Quick question for those in the know, assuming the weather forecast is clear, is it necessary to bring a tent fly, not for the rain but for the shade in the afternoon after we arrive and want to get out of the sun?

I am trying to get my weight as low as possible so I am thinking about just bringing the net body, along with a small cuben tarp. That way I can set up the tarp over breaks to get out of the sun if over-heating/necessary.

I've never hiked in the SW or in the Grand Canyon so any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

Here's my gear list so far: http://geargrams.com/

By the way, I am also trying to figure out if I can go with the frameless ULA CDT over an Osprey Talon 44. My base weight is about 10 lbs but with food and loaded up with water, I am thinking a framed back might be better. Thoughts?

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Fly needed in GCNP in late May? on 04/21/2014 12:39:20 MDT Print View

While you may not need one for rain protection, you may want one for dirt and wind protection. A lot of the dirt is so fine that it will easily pass through the noseeum mesh on your tent body.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Fly needed in GCNP in late May? on 04/22/2014 10:46:21 MDT Print View

There's plenty of shade at Bright Angel Campground; no need to bring a tarp for that.

What you DON'T need is the tent body. Just bring the cuben tarp in case of rain. I rarely need a shelter in the Canyon, maybe one night out of every 6 or 7.

Also, assume that you won't be able to use tent stakes. Have extra line to wrap around rocks to anchor. Plenty of rocks! :)

The link to your gear list doesn't work. It will be HOT in the Canyon in late-May. Good news is you won't need much gear but carry plenty of water. If South Kaibab is in your planned route, be careful of the heat; no water, no shade.

Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Concern of scorpions, etc? on 04/22/2014 11:02:07 MDT Print View

Sumi, thanks for the comments. Very helpful. If I use just a tarp is there any concern of scorpions or any other creepy/crawlies in the canyon? I've not cowboy camped much and never in the SW.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Concern of scorpions, etc? on 04/22/2014 11:23:49 MDT Print View

My next door neighbors cowboy camped in the Grand Canyon in a drive-in campground several years back. The second night it rained hard, so they moved underneath their picnic table. One of them was stung by a scorpion there in the middle of the night (guess it was sheltering from the rain too). She brushed at it in her sleep when she felt something crawl across her, it stung, and her arm swelled up badly, she became somewhat delirious and it took a couple of days before she was up to leaving the campground. This may be a pretty rare occurrence, but if you want to guard against any possible creepy crawlies you may wish to bring an enclosed net.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Concern of scorpions, etc? on 04/22/2014 14:50:02 MDT Print View

>> If I use just a tarp is there any concern of scorpions or any other creepy/crawlies in the canyon?

Someone's always going to have some anecdotal story but, imo, no concern. I've spent quite a few nights below the rim and have never taken an enclosed tent, only tarps. Personally, I think the only reason you'd want one at Bright Angel Campground is for privacy.

Be sure to use the amo boxes provided to store your food. The biggest pests in the Canyon are the mice and sometimes the ravens.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Re: Concern of scorpions, etc? on 04/22/2014 15:23:36 MDT Print View

I beg to differ, Sumi... My husband (a part-time professional hiking guide, with over 30 years of backpacking experience) was stung by a scorpion in that very campground. (Of course, he just crushed it with a boot, rolled over, and went back to sleep, but most *normal* people don't react to things that way!) This may be "anecdotal", but the anecdotes are starting to pile up!

It's been so HOT here in AZ, that, unless there's a major cold front, you'll be roasting. And that also means the no-see-ums will be out. Some people don't react to their bites; others do. I do, so I NEVER go to the bottom of GC without my trusty mesh! Last May, we were even wearing head nets around camp.

Still, it'll be worth it for the scenery.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Re: Concern of scorpions, etc? on 04/23/2014 07:34:51 MDT Print View

I stand corrected! Guess I've been lucky to have never experienced no-see-ums in all the times I've been below the rim. All the old-timer Canyon guys who introduced me to the GC always cowboy camped, and I've followed suit and never thought twice about it. I've had a few unseasonably hot spring hikes but I don't hike in the Canyon in summer.

All that said, I'd still just take a tarp. I know a few die-hards who only take a groundcloth; they just fold a piece over themselves if it rains ("canyon taco"). May has the *lowest* precipitation below the rim, averaging only 0.36" for the month. I think the probability of getting stung by a scorpion is about the same as getting stung by a bee elsewhere, and about the same effects, as well. (Yes, some people can have significant reactions to both.)

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Re: Re: Concern of scorpions, etc? on 04/23/2014 11:21:03 MDT Print View

>>I think the probability of getting stung by a scorpion is about the same as getting stung by a bee elsewhere, and about the same effects, as well. (Yes, some people can have significant reactions to both.)

I totally agree, but it might also really freak some people out, especially if they're not used to such critters!

I prefer to Cowboy camp when the biting insects aren't bad (ironically, if you go in June, you may die of heat, but there are no biting bugs!).

And -- listen to Sumi about the ravens. They are SMART and VORACIOUS, like no pests you have ever encountered before. We watched them unzip a backpack and root around in it for food! I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it. And the rodents are quite clever, too...

Chad B
(CenAZwalker) - F

Locale: Southwest
RE: scorpion concern on 04/23/2014 15:12:24 MDT Print View

Since you are going to be in an environment that does have scorpions, there is always the possibility you may get stung. I also cowboy camp frequently below the rim and have yet to get stung. A lot of it is luck, whether or not they get you. But take some simple precautions like shaking out your gear, including your pack, anytime you set it down. If cowboy style, wait to lay out your bedding until shortly before you plan to go to sleep, gives the creepy crawlies less time to make it home. Check your footwear thoroughly before putting them on, etc. Also, check before you sit, look on and under picnic tables, benches, etc. I'm not surprised someone got stung sleeping under a picnic table, they should be thankful it was a scorpion and not a black widow. And the comments about mice and ravens are right on. Use the ammo boxes and don't ever leave food sitting out, even for a short time. I once saw a raven fly overhead carrying a full size bag of Cheetos. I wish I would have gotten a photo of that!

Just out of curiosity, what is your itinerary?

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Fly needed in GCNP in late May? on 04/23/2014 20:56:40 MDT Print View

Hey, Steve. We were there late June last year (during the heat wave the SW was having). A tarp would be good for shade (your cuben must not be very translucent?). We used my LDPE one on our hike out, catnapping at Cottonwood during the day instead of staying there overnight as scheduled (23:00 in the video below).

Didn't take your BearVault on this hike to save weight since they had the ammo cans. We also left our sleeping bags behind.

It was 36 when we left the North Rim and 106 when we got to BA (130 in the sun). I like the heat but it definitely sapped my son who is a bit heavy. We took lots of breaks for him and drank plenty of water & snacked. Took us much longer to go down than I expected because of that. In fact we hiked back out in the same time it took us to go down because we did it early morning and evening.

Shouldn't have any problem with frameless packs if packed OK. We used Golite Pinnacle/Jam.

Trip report

Make sure you check with the Ranger about water. Apparently the pipes break a lot. We carried more (4.5L each) since they were down at the time though we were still able to get some at the pump house (you could of course use the creek as well at times).

Have fun. I had done the same hike 31 years earlier almost to the day when I was my son's age except we went to the river and back to Cottonwood the same day.