- Before starting to walk for the day, drink a quart of water. This will help you start the day hydrated. Of course you still need to keep drinking water along the way but you will not be starting on empty.
- Wear the wet bandanas under your cap like an Arab when the first heat of the day hits, then switch to the wet shirt. It extends your wet clothes supply time.
- Secondly, train, train, train!!! I trained for a full 9 months, starting immediately with what I figured I’d be taking on the hike. I increased my mileage each month, so that about a month before the hike date, I took a Saturday and hiked, with everything I’d take in, completely around a nearby lake’s shore trail—more than 20 miles—as fast as I could.
- Also, I sewed together a shoulder bag of old towels, which perfectly fits a stuffed full Ziploc bag of trail mix, which I snacked from continuously.
- I also took a roll of TP along—just in case, as well as Ziploc bags for the used stuff.
- In addition, I took a first aid kit of moleskin, and a pair of scissors, to put around hot spots, not on them, before they became blisters.
- Also, I always wore 2 pairs of socks, one being wool, and changed them every few hours, clothespinning them to the trail mix bag like a clotheslilne, to dry them out for later re-wearing.
- We each used two hiking poles and felt that we probably wouldn’t have made it without them. We would suggest those who are not used to using poles should wear a pair of bicycle gloves to keep from getting blisters on their thumbs.
- Also, to keep your nose from getting so dry, we suggest a small tube of nasal saline gel (such as Ayr, available from drugstore.com)
Dr. Howard and Teresa Neiberg
Wheeling, West Virginia
- Two things from our rim to rim last June. I found that the terry cloth wrist sweat bands work really well in the heat. Rather than use them as intended, I soaked them in every stream I passed, put them on and they felt really great. Dry, they weigh next to nothing. Also, Phantom Ranch does have bagged ice. Me and my hiking buddy got a bag and filled our water bladders. What a treat on the hike up.
- Hello, I just wanted to let you know about a trick that we have found very useful when staying at Phantom Ranch in the bunk house. It seems that there is always someone who snores so we make sure we take ear plugs with us.
I ALWAYS take ear plugs even when camping or rooming with a group of people. There ALWAYS seems to be someone who snores!
- Major downhill knee stress.
Speaking as a member of the bad knee club, the greatest stress on one’s body is walking downhill. The absolutely worse thing to do is to walk fast and lock-kneed downhill. Walk slower, take shorter steps and, of course, use one or better yet two hiking poles. Also walking with a loose, springy, unlocked knee will help a lot. Locked knees walking downhill cause badly (totally) torn anterior cruciate ligaments — that’s how I got mine. Upon reaching Phantom the first time, from the North Rim, I could not bend my knees to untie my hiking boots.
- After hiking out, hang around at the trail head for a little while and check out the numbers of serious hikers with various types of knee braces, ace bandages and small arthroscopic knee surgery scars.
- Foot Discipline, minor discomfort versus extreme pain for days. We have had runners in the Boston Marathon stay at our house. They have had foot blisters and raw skin where blisters have popped and loss of toenails!! If you are not careful about foot gear you will have as much or more damage to your feet than running a marathon. And at Phantom Ranch one sees hikers sporting cut-out toe areas of hiking boots. You must trim your toenails one or a few nights before doing the canyon. Hiking down hill causes your toes to hit the toe area of your boot and people do loose toe nails at Phantom or within a few days of leaving the canyon. Women tend to have shorter boots than the men and thus the loose more toenails. Your hiking boots must not be tied loosely. They must be snug around your feet, particularly for the downhill part. This reduces the impact of your toes against the front of your boots.
- Watch out for “hot spots” with your feet. This means that there is some rubbing at a particular spot on your foot. Sit down, remove your boot, reposition your sock and go back to hiking. If the problem persists put a large Band-Aid over the being-rubbed spot or better yet carry some “moleskin,” this is a thick, nice and fuzzy piece of adhesive tape. It stops the rubbing directly against your skin. Cut it to a bit bigger size than the area being rubbed, replace your socks and boots and try again. Test any new socks and boots on shorter hikes and walks at home before your trip. Better quality hiking socks have thicker areas around the toe, heel and the bottom of the foot. Another hiking trick is to use two pairs of socks, an outer wool hiking sock and a slick/slippery inner sock of silk or polypropylene. Any rubbing will be between the inner and outer sock and not against the skin of your foot.
- Water, life or death. Carry more water than needed. I’ve run out of water twice, once at Bryce and the other time at Arches. It was near the end of our hikes. Most unpleasant. There are several reasons for carrying more water than needed. For yourself, others in your group or a perfect stranger on the trail, especially if someone is incapacitated on the trail — water is essential for survival until help arrives. Also, you can use the water to wet your cotton hat or sprinkle water onto your T-shirt to cool yourself down near the bottom of the canyon. You can’t call 911 in the Canyon and emergency phones are a long walk away. Cell phones do not work in the Canyon. Satellite phones, maybe.
- Water discipline, sip frequently. A rule of thumb for “normal” temperatures is about one quart of water for each hour of hiking. Two quarts an hour are recommended in hot temperatures. What you should do is to sip water every few (10-15) minutes. The first sign of dehydration is a dry mouth. If you wait until you have a headache, feel “off” and then the color of your urine is that of a dark beer, you’ve waited too long. Do not go a long time without drinking water and then knock down a whole quart at once. That really don’t work. In really hot temperatures a cold beer sounds like a really good idea, but try to stay away from alcohol whilst in the canyon. It screws up your internal thermostat and the effect lasts for two or three days. Carbonated soda does not quench your thirst while hiking, so save that for later. The popular sports drink powders like Erg and Gatoraide should be mixed with twice as much water than the directions tell you to use. [The source of this information is the Natick Army Labs in Natick, Mass.]
- Food tips, nibble frequently. Going down, into the canyon you can eat whatever you want. When we had a group of seven of us we had people eating gorp, trail mix, oatmeal-raisin cookies, sugared doughnuts, a turkey and cheese sandwich, yogurt and fruit. All of us were content and happy. The only trick for food is to stop frequently and nibble a bit, now and then. When you find a shady spot, make it a sip and nibble break. For almost instant energy dextrose sugar is one to look for when shopping for candy and sugar snacks — it is the sugar that goes into your bloodstream the fastest. The Phantom Ranch trail lunches are like food time capsules, an apple, candy, cookie, maybe a small salami stick, a packaged bagel and creamed cheese. Suggestion: eat the creamed cheese about midway up and out, it takes the longest to break down to give you energy. Save the candy or cookies for the last couple of miles. Everyone tends to slow way down for the last mile and a half and you need more quick energy then.
- Absolute best info on trail conditions and drinkable water available on trails. The best source of accurate trail and water information is the Backcountry Information Center. There is one on the South Rim and one on the North Rim. We had a problem with some very nice-and-well-meaning people at GC lodge information desks. To avoid big problems on the trail contact one of the Backcountry Info Centers. Both are open from 6 AM to noon and then 1-5 PM. Both answer their phones afternoons only from 1-5 PM. The South Rim Center is open year-round and the North Rim Center is open from mid-MAY to mid-OCT. It is closed the rest of the year because of heavy snows on the North Rim.
Peter J. Wihtol
- The easiest food cleaning and disposing procedure seems to be the apparently unmentionable one: put some water in the pot, scrape up the scraps with a spoon, and just drink it. I mean, it’s nothing but what you just ate, right? Not all that tasty, but it will give you some hydration with no waste. And why use soap when you’re boiling water in the pot all the time? So the oatmeal tastes a little of last night’s hot chocolate—it won’t kill you, and the oatmeal can probably use more flavor anyway. To be safe, every few days nest the pots and boil everything for a few minutes. I don’t consider this hard-core at all, more a splendid and rare conjuction of laziness and efficiency: you can clean your dishes without having to get up.
- After years of carrying granola for breakfast, I finally had to admit it was heavy and bulky and a pain. Meanwhile I hate instant oatmeal. Now I vote for something called “fast oatmeal,” which can be jazzed up before the trip with spices, nuts, sugar, and dried fruit. Light, nonbulky, fairly fast, and tasty.
- Tip from somebody on the Tanner who’d stayed comfy on the river at 110 degrees: besides the fast-drying hi-tech clothes, pack one cotton shirt that will stay wet for a while. He’d just dip in the river everytime the shirt dried out, and the breeze kept him comfortable. When you’re about to hike in the sun, soak the shirt and start wet. Cotten’s bad for most hiking, but here’s a case when its slow drying is the best thing.
- A canyon ranger recommended to me a wire-mesh bag called the Outsack™. It’s light, rolls up, will protect food, I gather, from anything up to bears. They come in three sizes. Ranger said they’re getting popular in the southwest. (You can order them from the Grand Canyon Association or purchase them from the General Store on the South Rim.)
- Keep in mind that for a GC reservation, any number from 1 to 6 is classified as a “small group.” If you’re not sure how many are going or are concerned about dropouts, reserve for one or two people. You can always add more up to six at will, by simply paying their fee anytime up to the last minute. If I’d known that, I would have been $100 richer a couple of years ago, when two people couldn’t go.
- Finally: before a GC trip, collect all the questions you have and phone the backcountry office at 928-638-7875. Not usually hard to get through, and on the phone as they are in person, the rangers are marvelously helpful, patient, and of course knowledgeable.
- Don’t bring a tent. Only a fly to provide shade.
- Don’t bring sleeping bags, just sew the end of a light cotton sheet up and use it on top of a pad. In the summer at the bottom of the canyon it is more than enough.
- If you are hiking to Phantom Ranch for one night, have dinner at the lodge. Its expensive, but it’s a great steak and you don’t have to carry the food or the cooking stuff. And the dining room has a/c.
- Take a zip lock bag and fill it half way with water. Tuck it in your belt and use the water to soak your bandana as you walk or at every quick stop. This is a variation on the wet t-shirt in a zip lock.
Please see my Tents page for my opinion on not carrying some sort of shelter that can be closed up. I’ll never forget the woman I was guiding who was stung by a scorpion while sleeping on the ground in her sleeping bag! Mind you, this isn’t common, but it CAN happen. I always carry at least a bivy as shelter when I don’t expect any bad weather. And the time of year you are hiking matters greatly.
- I have hiked the Canyon 4 times and one solo. I am a confirmed Canyon junkie!! Pack 3 large oranges in the top of your pack. The weight is justified by the warm juice that squirts into your mouth about ½ way down. PLUS you let the orange peels dry out, become very light and then put is your used toilet paper bag. It really “freshens” things up!
- As a 3 time Grand Canyon hiker (rim to rim, twice), one of my goals was to find a campshoe that was super lightweight, comfortable and supportive. Finally, I found just the thing. There is a shoe called CROCS. They are super lightweight (less than a pair of flip flops) and supportive and offer complete protection for your feet while fording streams and walking on rocky trails and campsites. They also have a heel strap that you can rotate out of the way if you want to just slip in them. They are $25 to $30 and are available everywhere altough you may have to search for them.
- Excedrin PM! A lot of folks, myself included, sometimes have a hard time falling asleep when sleeping on the ground, even with a comfy ThermaRest. I often take a half-dose of Excedrin PM when I go to sleep (one tablet). Not only does it make the aches and pains of the day go away, as well as some of the aches and pains of sleeping on the ground, but it contains a mild sedative that helps you go into a gentle sleep. I’ve never had a problem waking up in the morning, or falling asleep again if I wander out to see the stars at some point during the night.
- Find a lightweight field guide to take along. There are so many different plants, several of which are unique to the desert ecosystem. Not only that, but as you lose elevation in the canyon you are entering different temperate zones, meaning you’ll see different kinds of plant life along the way. I had plenty of time at camp to read about the cool stuff I saw along the trail, and was sorry that I only brought along a bestseller. The bestseller was welcome, but satisfying my curiosity about the day’s sightings would have been grand, too.
- If you make it to Phantom Ranch, be sure to catch the rangers’ talks. They’re great information that’s very specialized to the Canyon, and when we were there were extremely entertaining, as well.
- Again at Phantom Ranch – if you can’t make advanced reservations for dinner at the ranch, give it another try when you get there. Often times they have had a cancellation and you can reserve a spot for dinner that night. Yes, they do take credit cards. And, yes, the dinner is very much worth the expense.
- Watch for condors in the air over the canyon. They are huge – very impressive birds – and once you see a real one you’ll never mistake another hawk or raven for a condor. The condors all have tags, and often they’ll fly close enough that you can read the numbers. The rangers will be interested in which bird you saw where.
- You can rent and buy trekking poles at the Grand Canyon General Store. Leki has a demo program where you can try “rent” them for free. Only a security deposit is required in case you lose them.
- BTW, I second the motion for knee braces. They saved me on Hermit and South Kaibab trails.
- For chafing, I use a product called Body Glide™. It comes in a deodorant-like applicator, and goes on like chapstick-just rub it onto the areas that are chafing. I have heard that vaseline works well, too, but am not sure it will retain its non-liquid state in the high heat of the Inner Gorge in summer. Body Glide™ definitely does-mine stayed solid even at the river in August when the thermometer said 120 degrees.
- For camp shoes, I’ve used Aqua Sox for years. These are used by surfers. They’re low-top slip-over slipper-type things with a surprisingly tough sole. Drawback: they have virtually no protection from the side and they tend to cut into you after a awhile unless you wear liner socks with them. They are much better than Tevas on stream crossings and wet rocks and they weigh almost nothing.
- I agree that Thermarests are wonderful. They’re great on snow. I have a Z-rest also (and an ancient blue closed-cell foam pad from the early ’70′s). I always go back and forth whether it’s better to carry a pound less with the Z-rest, or sleep a lot better with the Thermarest. If I’m camping on sand or gravel (where the ground isn’t hard) I use the Z-rest; otherwise the Thermarest.
- I think it’s hard to overemphasize how much easier hiking is with poles, especially on uncertain terrain.
- I always have one, sometimes two balaclavas (or one and a wool watch cap). Bags are never warm if your head is cold. Especially with light, snug bags that you can’t burrow into, balaclavas are great. Ditto fleece gloves.
- I’ve never been very fond of the prepackaged backpacking food. It’s never designed for high altitude (over 10) and usually is accompanied by various layers of unflattenable wrapping that take up pack space. And it varies from okay to something that would gag a housecat. All entrees containing vegetables feature a healthy dose of unearthly-looking peas, which during cooking float like green buckshot. I generally assemble entrees from smoked salmon, pesto, instant dried beans (Mexicali Rose or Knorr’s) and the like. Instant potatos are another favorite.
- Another food thing: although jerky won’t rehydrate and is thus tough to cook with, dried hamburger is fine. Procedure: get ground sirloin or other 7% or low fat ground meat (not the cheap crap we used to eat in college). Crumble up and brown at med high heat in large skillet; pour off fat. Pour in enough water to cover meat (an inch, maybe) and boil for a couple of minutes. Pour off water (which will carry off more fat). Repeat – intent is to get rid of the fat which can go bad. Put crumbled meat on foil or other flat pans and put in low warm stove (175) or in electric dehydrator for a little while; not too long because the intent is not to make jerky and the meat is already cooked. You’ll end up with stuff that looks like grape nuts and can be added to almost any camp fare. It works best if put in water an hour or so before you start cooking.
- Here is a quick tip. To wash dishes on the trail I use a plastic grocery bag, (over and over again), and Bio soap. I put about 2 cups of water and about a small hand full of dirt in the mixture. Then wash the dishes. It works great and I can usually use the same bag for quite a while. (Unless you have a sharp knife in the mix J) To keep the black marks off the bottom of pots and pans I usually use a bar of soap. It will not mar the bottom from the open flames and it is easy to clean. It washes the suet and cleans the dishes. (You can use the same thing on the top cover of a lantern. It will clean up in a jiffy.)
- After using a rock (?) for a pillow on my first Canyon trip I got a little smarter and used one of the “floaties” my kids wear on their arms in the pool for a light, inexpensive, and comfortable pillow.
- To get the legs in shape prior to the trip I have found that the height of 2 cinder blocks makes the legs work but spares the knees more than a stepper machine at the gym I belong. I overload my pack and alternate stepping on the blocks. After a 6 or 8 week program leading up to 45 minutes 4 x / week, my legs and lungs are as ready as they can be. I think the last 1,000 feet will always feel harder than the previous 3,000 no matter what I do the 8 weeks prior.
- I find the Superfeet “hiking” insoles a big improvement over the insoles supplied with most boots – they have a really good website if you want to check them out. It was a tip from Canadian soldiers who used them on all their forced marches. Also thin polypropylene liner socks inside regular socks really help to prevent blisters, though obviously no substitute for well-fitting boots. A lot of other hikers I encountered were having feet problems, so this may be useful.
- Here’s a trick that a lot of people overlook that can save water, time and hassle:
Always bring a bagel or piece of bread when cooking in a pan. Use the bagel to clean the leftover sauce or what not in the pan. A delicious way to clean up!!!
- To settle the sediment out of water within minutes instead of hours, put a “pinch” of alum in a full bucket of water and stir vigorously for two to three minutes. Then let settle. Alum is used for pickling and is found in the spice section of your grocery store.
Grand Canyon Field Institute Instructor
- I have recently begun using a technique to reduce the amount of food left at my campsites that works really well. All the “graywater” leftover from cleaning dishes is poured through mosquito netting. The filtered water is then scattered, and the netting is hung up to dry. It is usually completely dry by the morning, so it is really easy to pack up and haul out.
- There is one tip that I give to people: get a pair of toe gel pads (made for ballet pointe shoes). They work great for long downhill walks. I have been using them for the last 15 to 16 years for my canyon hikes. Look for ToeFlo Encore toe pads. I got mine by going to the local dance school studio.
A note from Denise; you can now find toe gel pads on Amazon.Nice!
- Those cylindrical lightweight fabric stove-protectors that fit over both stove and pot are indispensable in ratty, windy weather. The secret key: WEAR IT ON YOUR HEAD when you’ve finished cooking and enjoy a comfortable, fantastically pre-warmed hat! No kidding!
- I take Anacin as well as ibuprofen (even though the latter lasts longer and is somewhat easier on the tummy) because I don’t always take a stove to make coffee (I need my fix in A.M.) so a couple Anacin provides the caffeine and no headache!
- Anacin is also the best first thing to give in heart attack or CVA and decrease chance of colon and other cancers by 50%. However I ALWAYS take several Tums with the Anacin to protect the stomach and replenish my calcium level for the muscles.
- I take some Coban (self adhering elastic bandage) with 4x4s and Betadine wipes and concentrate (to make irrigating solution, 2oz.). You can also use the Coban for joint wrap support.
- My distilled wisdom is to wear good-fitting broken-in boots, be in good physical shape (I like walking backwards on an inclined treadmill) and travel as light-weight as safely possible…..and wear clean underwear!!!
- I also carry a “micro-screen” (rolled-up CPR MASK that fits in film canister) because I don’t like the taste of vomit and it has a one way valve.
(Doctor at the Grand Canyon in the 1970s—he knows what he’s talking about!)
- My wife Sandy & I (Woody) teach backpacking and trail maintenance / construction to Boy Scouts in the NE/IA area. We’ve done 2 Grand Canyon trips (Corridor 3 day, 6/97 & South Kaibab—Hermit loop 5/98) and got married after the first trip!
- We use a bandana for a hot-pot holder at mealtime.
- Another rule we follow is all gear must be field tested repeatedly and rated before it goes on the trek. We once saw a new TNF tent that I loved-on-sight but Sandy invoked the Rule, and since we were on our way out of town, it didn’t go along!
- Shower rings are light and useful for hanging stuff on the pack while hiking, and trash Ziplocs on the mesquite trees at Monument Creek (keeping the little critters away!).
- Hiking downhill on the South Kaibab I found it useful to stretch my Achilles by utilizing the rock waterbar/cribdams every so often with a well placed foot and rocking motion. This made our second South Kaibab descent much easier physically than our first time. I’m not sure how else to describe that…We also prefer that trail over the superhighway BA trail!
- Anyone seriously interested in Grand Canyon hiking should do their homework and read others’ accounts of same treks on the net. We couldn’t believe how many ignorant people we ran into in there—including dental students who didn’t know about water at Santa Maria spring (on the Hermit Trail), hadn’t talked to anyone at Backcountry Office (where folks have always been wonderful in helping us with information), and to whom I had to explain what a cairn was! There are some excellent stories on the net now—with lifesaver info and pointers to stay efficient with.
- Finally, I found the cold water in Hermit Creek a godsend for my swelling elbow (ulnar nerve flair up that was not planned!) and great also for the tired dogs we walked on.
Sandy & Woody
- I used to have “a vehicle that no one would consider worth messing with”, an old beater 1978 Datsun pickup, but it was stolen from the trailhead where it was parked at (here in Alaska, not near GC). I recovered it and learned all sorts of lessons, not the least of which was how to “hot-wire” a vehicle (watch out all of you Jaguar owners!). I also had my “non-beater” family car broken into at a different trailhead; the insurance deductible was high enough that it was cheaper for me to install the new glass myself. Now, whenever I go to any trailhead, I look around the parking lot for broken glass: it is never completely removed and is a great tip-off of hostile activity. To insure that my “not-quite-beater” pickup isn’t stolen, I remove the rotor from the distributor: the thief will not be able to start the engine and even if they look under the hood, they will probably not find the reason it won’t start. If you have electronic ignition, you can simply remove a fuse or loosen a cable. Time is the enemy of the car vandal / thief. I’ve never had a problem at Grand Canyon but if you are going west, consider parking out at Hermits Rest (with permission) just to minimize the chances of vandalism.
- Another thing we have found wonderful is long pieces of tubing for the water filter. They will let you have one tube in the bucket (or creek) and the other in the canteen and the pump pretty much anywhere it is comfortable. No forced leaning over or restrictions on how close the canteen needs to be to the bucket.
- We also take a trivia book along, for before bed time activity. It is easy tokeep playing after dark with a flashlight. Requires no table, etc.
Norm Kern, Michigan
I’m a pediatrician up in Tuba City, with the Indian Health Service, and have been wandering around this area for about the past 6 years, mostly in Marble Canyon and the Little Colorado gorge. My trips have taken me to some fairly off-the-beaten track places like Walter Powell, Eminence Break, Mile 29.7, etc.
So, for what it’s worth, a few things that come to mind from experience and sometimes misfortune!
- First, especially for rugged off-trail hikes, be in shape. Most hiking books do not seem to emphasize this enough, concentrating instead on gear, etc. A Canyon hike is an athletic undertaking, and the overweight and out of shape are not going to enjoy it. I have found that doing sets of squats, without weights, on a daily basis for several months before a big hike, is an excellent way of conditioning the quads and avoiding “sewing-machine leg” type tremor, especially on steep descents with a heavy pack. Doing 10 or 20 squats slowly, then 10 more rapidly, then repeating the sequence, seems especially helpful. Also, doing half-squats, where you support one leg on a chair behind you while going down to a 90 degree angle on the other leg and then back up, is also a good exercise.
- I now demand that anyone going with me off-trail use a walking stick. In addition to quad conditioning, the walking stick is the most effective way of preventing quad burnout and possible falls from fatigue.
- Get an early start. When we are hiking in Marble Canyon we often camp the night before on the rim, and are up before dawn. This is common sense, but it seems to be a struggle for lots of people.
- Carry your water in separate containers. Tuck a couple of liter Nalgene bottles deep into the pack to protect them from a fall. I have seen the loss of an entire gallon when it is carried in the hand or strapped to the back of the pack.
- Carry an empty gallon container strapped to the back to the pack. I like the heavy plastic ones that they sell apple juice in, as opposed to the flimsy milk containers. These come in really handy for bringing water into camp from a spring, or to carry extra water for the trip out. If you carry an extra lid and perforate it with a nail, you can fill it with river water on a non-hiking day and leave it in the sun, then enjoy a great hot shower!
- Gloves are nice for off trail hiking, especially for encounters with eroded limestone. I once tripped and grabbed eroded Redwall and punctured a small digital artery on my finger. A minor injury but it created a dramatic fountain of blood! I use leather roping gloves that they sell everywhere around here.
- Never, ever, wear new boots on a rugged hike. Not even Near-new boots! A good friend, who is a strong hiker, did this on our hike down the free-fall route into Nankoweap last year and already had severe, almost incapacitating blisters over the Achilles tendon by the time we’d made it through the Redwall.
- Duct tape. Common advice but it does come in extremely handy.
- Carry a length of small diameter cord. Very useful for hanging pack, lowering packs, etc.
- Watch your pack’s weight. A lot of mine is usually water. I don’t generally take a tent. A little nylon tarp that can be tied to a rock or branch will generally suffice to keep you dry.
- Protect your feet. Wear a thin inner nylon sock and a thick outer one. Take off socks at every opportunity and let your feet dry out.
- Wear a hat and a bandanna to protect your ears and neck. Soak them in water to stay cool. In fact, soak your entire body and clothes if it’s really hot. Let the water do the cooling instead of relying of sweat.
- Consider having a non-hiking day or two on a trip. Some of my best Canyon experiences have been when I have slowed down and enjoyed the little things in the canyon.
- I am one of those people who suffer from caffeine addiction and get late-morning headaches if I don’t get my fix. On the trail, I am much too eager to get up and get going in the morning and will often skip the coffee and breakfast and just snack along the way. This used to be a problem and I would just have to suffer through the headaches or bring something along to help with the pain. They were usually pretty mild and didn’t last very long so it didn’t seem like a big deal.
- On the long trip that I took this past spring I knew I would have lots of miles to cover pretty much every day and did not want to take the time to make breakfast in the morning. I just wanted to get up, pack up and get going. I know that there is lots of caffeine in chocolate (I am also a chocoholic) but I know that it’s not the best food for hiking, so what I did was to bring along one package of peanut M&Ms to have with my breakfast trail snack every morning. This did the trick and I did not have any problems with headaches during the entire trip. . . I don’t think there is that much chocolate in the peanut M&Ms, but it was enough to solve the problem, and the peanuts have a lot of protein, so… Plus the hard candy shell tends to keep the things from melting, unless you crush them and then you’ve got a mess.
Bob Ribokas, The Grand Canyon Explorer
- My vote goes for knee braces. I would not think of hiking in the GC, or on any downhill trail, without. They prevent pain, and I actually feel much more comfortable with the extra support, even though it does limit knee movements.
- And carry an extra pair: When we hiked last fall, we had two pairs, but my boyfriend didn’t need them. Down S. Kaibab, we met a woman who was obviously in pain, and we lent her our spare pair so that she could make it to Phantom Ranch more comfortably.
An added note from Denise: I agree completely with Steffi; I strongly recommend the use of knee braces and walking sticks. Don’t even wait for your knees to start hurting; start out with the braces on, thereby preventing any problems. It’s much easier to prevent than cure! Grand Canyon can test the best of knees, even if you’ve never had ANY problems with your knees before! But do be careful with your choice of knee braces or just wrapping your knees with ACE bandages. You can actually do more harm than good if done improperly!
- Luckily, I am a skier and had some extra poles around to use. But, even for those that don’t have them already, ski poles can be picked up very inexpensively. I haven’t bought any for awhile, but I believe the last time I did, the going cost was $20-30. However, you can to to a ski rental shop and pick up some of their rental poles for about $15, I think. I would recommend getting a pole that is 2 or more inches longer than what you would use for skiing. We did Hermit to the rapids and the poles were great.