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  #1  
Old 09-07-2009, 07:15 PM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is offline
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Hiking across the Grand Canyon

This Thursday I leave for Las Vegas. Sunday, I leave my car the North Rim and take the shuttle van to the South Rim. Monday, I hike down to Phantom Ranch, and up to the North Rim the next day.

I think I've got everything planned out; maybe I should have asked here for any tips or advice.

Wish me luck.
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  #2  
Old 09-07-2009, 07:51 PM
Dallas Jones Dallas Jones is offline
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Watch where you place your feet.

And have a good time.

That's my advice.
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  #3  
Old 09-07-2009, 07:53 PM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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Good luck, drink lots of water, start early.
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  #4  
Old 09-07-2009, 08:00 PM
cormac262 cormac262 is offline
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Good luck to you. I take it you've been training for this hike.

My advice: go slow on the downhill. There is a tendency to go fast, since it is easier and you can make good time. This will trash your quads, and you'll be hurting for the uphill. So go at a regular pace, and try not to speed up too much. Take plenty of breaks, even though you may not be too tired/sore.

It may be too late, but hiking poles help a lot - particularly on downhills. I'd recommend them.

Are you taking Kaibab down to the river, or Bright Angel ? (I'm guessing Kaibab since it is shorter).

On the north rim side, I am only familiar with the stretch from Phantom Ranch to Cottonwood camp. It is not terribly steep, but an uphill grade throughout.

Tell us about it, after you complete it !
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  #5  
Old 09-08-2009, 12:32 AM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is offline
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I have been training. I've put 540 miles on my bike in the last month; trying to get my heart and lungs whipped into shape. I hope it helps.

I hadn't really thought about hiking poles, but it's not a bad idea. I did an easy hike with my dad a couple months ago and took one of his old ski poles. It seemed to help. I'd need something collapsable to fit in my luggage. I was gonna head to REI tomorrow, anyway, looking for a new pocket knife.

I'm planning to head down the South Kaibab trail, not so much for the distance but for the view. That could change. I'll check on the weather when I get there, and if I need to lighten my pack there's water available on the Bright Angel trail.

I'll tell you all about it when I get back. If I get back.
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  #6  
Old 09-08-2009, 08:26 PM
cormac262 cormac262 is offline
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Sounds like you've worked on your endurance/lungs. I would have focused more on hiking itself.

South Kaibab does get some steep grades, so again, take your time.

So one more suggestion: moleskin. Lifesaver if you get any blisters.

Best of luck. Take lots of pictures.
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  #7  
Old 09-10-2009, 01:51 PM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robot Arm View Post
...
I hadn't really thought about hiking poles, but it's not a bad idea. I did an easy hike with my dad a couple months ago and took one of his old ski poles. It seemed to help. I'd need something collapsable to fit in my luggage. I was gonna head to REI tomorrow, anyway, looking for a new pocket knife...
Yep - REI will have the collapsible hiking poles. We bought one at the Phoenix REI when I needed something to help me around the GC (we didn't hike far down, but I'd just injured myself). It fit quite nicely in our suitcase on the way back.
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  #8  
Old 09-10-2009, 03:13 PM
Snowboarder Bo Snowboarder Bo is online now
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Get yourself a nice big floppy hat. I live in Vegas and hiking is among my 5 favorite things to do, and I always wear a hat big enough to shade my ears and the back of my neck.

Wear sunscreen, and re-apply it ever 4-5 hours.

Take a good, reliable water filter with you.

A walking stick or poles is a great idea.

Enjoy yourself. You're about to see some truly amazing shit.

Heck, I moved here from my beloved swamps because of the canyons.
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  #9  
Old 09-16-2009, 08:06 PM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is offline
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What I wish I could say: I bestride the earth like a colossus. I scoff at this so-called natural wonder that passed easily beneath my footsteps.

What actually happened: Heat exhaustion on the first day, and guarding against hypothermia on the second. A park ranger who merits a pitting. 17 hours to hike out, and there were only 14 hours of daylight. I have blisters under calluses. You could bounce a quarter off my calf muscles, and it would make a pinging sound. I move now with all the grace of Boris Karloff in Frankenstein, when I can manage to move at all. This may have been the stupidest thing I have ever done.

However, I did do it. I walked across the Grand Canyon. You may now post tributes to my awesomeness.
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  #10  
Old 09-16-2009, 08:57 PM
blondebear blondebear is offline
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Congrats on your (mis?) adventure! You lived to tell the tale...now you can provide your hard-earned wisdom to future posters planning to brave The Canyon!
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  #11  
Old 09-16-2009, 09:02 PM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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In hindsight, would it have been, well, not "easier", but "marginally less impossible" if you'd hiked down the North Rim, and up the South Rim? I seem to recall the NR is higher.
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  #12  
Old 09-16-2009, 10:50 PM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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Well done. People always underestimate the canyon, but you survived and succeeded.

BTW, here's a friend's trip report from her Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim dayhike - http://runsuerun.blogspot.com/2007/0...s-deborah.html But she's an amazing athlete.
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  #13  
Old 09-16-2009, 11:22 PM
cormac262 cormac262 is offline
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Congratulations ! But ouch - heat stroke ! Sorry to hear about that.

Not that I was in that bad of shape, but I can relate to the hypothermia. On my first backpacking trip, we left Indian Gardens with clear blue skies, cool but sunny conditions. About 1/3 of the way up Bright Angel (to the south rim), these clouds move in from the south. About 20 minutes later it starts snowing. I opted to put on my jacket but stay in shorts (I was still overheating from the climb). But the second I paused for any break, I was shivering. I don't think I was seriously chilled, but it was too weird.

The ache, pain, blisters will pass in time. Trust me. Then you'll feel better about such an accomplishement. Good job !
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  #14  
Old 09-16-2009, 11:51 PM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
In hindsight, would it have been, well, not "easier", but "marginally less impossible" if you'd hiked down the North Rim, and up the South Rim? I seem to recall the NR is higher.
The North Rim is about 1,000 feet higher, but if I'd done it the easy way I'd still be wondering if I could have done it south-to-north. This way, no questions.

Except that the trail plays some weird tricks. It didn't feel like I'd come up as far as I went down. And there are places where the trail goes around a rock or over a rise and seems to just disappear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
Well done. People always underestimate the canyon, but you survived and succeeded.

BTW, here's a friend's trip report from her Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim dayhike - http://runsuerun.blogspot.com/2007/0...s-deborah.html But she's an amazing athlete.
I saw some folks like that on the trail. It just boggles my mind. I took two days just to cross once, and I was almost crawling by the end. At the last water stop, about 1,200 feet below the rim, I considered sheltering for the night in the composting toilet. Next time you see that woman, buy her a drink from me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cormac262 View Post
Congratulations ! But ouch - heat stroke ! Sorry to hear about that.

Not that I was in that bad of shape, but I can relate to the hypothermia. On my first backpacking trip, we left Indian Gardens with clear blue skies, cool but sunny conditions. About 1/3 of the way up Bright Angel (to the south rim), these clouds move in from the south. About 20 minutes later it starts snowing. I opted to put on my jacket but stay in shorts (I was still overheating from the climb). But the second I paused for any break, I was shivering. I don't think I was seriously chilled, but it was too weird.
I think I had heat exhaustion, which is not as bad as heat stroke. I could see the bridge over the Colorado and I think I pushed myself a little bit too hard. Just a couple hundred yards from it I stopped, rested, then threw up a half-liter of water. Across the river was a water stop, so I was drinking and pouring some over my head. Close to the ranch, it came back up, but I figured at least it was taking some heat out of me.

No snow, but as it got colder I tried to limit how much I was sweating. I kept checking my GPS; I'd gain about 50 feet for each time I had to stop and rest. (I recorded a waypoint when I parked the car, but I must not have had a very good signal; after struggling and thinking I was almost there, eventually I was climbing higher than the end of the trail.) My rain gear kept me warm enough. It was colder than you'd expect of Arizona in the summer, but probably not life-threatening.

Quote:
The ache, pain, blisters will pass in time. Trust me. Then you'll feel better about such an accomplishement. Good job !
Pain fades. Chicks dig scars. Got it.
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  #15  
Old 09-19-2009, 03:34 PM
HawksPath HawksPath is offline
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Congratulations, I'm glad you made it the whole journey. Despite the pain, how did you enjoy it?

I've got to say for me descending down with that amazing view changing but still so vast and beautiful is something I'll always remember. Swimming in the Colorado at the bottom is cold but feels so good to the tired limbs. My camp (5 of us) was raided by Ringtails in the evening and we had to bring all food into the tents. I had a swollen knee and lots of fatigue but felt like a champion.

I hope you got lots of pictures.
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  #16  
Old 09-21-2009, 03:04 AM
lawoot lawoot is offline
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And now for the fun part - the hike BACK across, to get your car...


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  #17  
Old 09-21-2009, 09:07 AM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is offline
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Don't joke, there are people who do that, rim-to-rim-to-rim. I find it hard to believe I am even in the same species with those people.

There's a private company that runs a shuttle van between the rims. It's 10 miles as the crow flies, but 200 miles by road. I left my car at the North Rim and took the shuttle.

That's where pitting the park ranger came in. I got dropped of at the South Rim village, but my hotel for that night was in Tusayan. I checked the park's website before I left. They have buses within the park, and one that went to Tusayan; perfect for me. When I got there, I found out they had just discontinued that route. I asked a park ranger how I could get there without a car. She said there were taxis, but also told me it was only 2 miles away. I told her I'd walk.

5 miles later, I got to the park entrance, and found it was 2 miles from there. Obviously that ranger thought I could just teleport to the gate and walk from there. An extra 5 miles on asphalt was not what I needed. My heels were sore and the real hike hadn't even started yet. I was pissed.

Anger fades, too. I'm feeling much better now.
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  #18  
Old 09-22-2009, 01:17 AM
Oslo Ostragoth Oslo Ostragoth is offline
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Glad to hear you survived. Where are the damn pictures?
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  #19  
Old 09-22-2009, 08:42 AM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is offline
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I have to finish the roll and get it developed, first.
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  #20  
Old 09-22-2009, 10:59 AM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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Originally Posted by Robot Arm View Post
I have to finish the roll and get it developed, first.
Film?! What are you, a Luddite? Can't wait to see them.
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  #21  
Old 09-23-2009, 10:07 PM
user_hostile user_hostile is offline
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So did you use poles?
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  #22  
Old 09-23-2009, 10:41 PM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is offline
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Originally Posted by user_hostile View Post
So did you use poles?
I did not. I should have. I did the last two miles on very wobbly legs, in the dark, as it was getting cold. I think the dropoffs beside the trail weren't bad by that point, but maybe I'm better off not knowing for sure.

If anyone in the future is planning this trip, and should happen to find this thread, use hiking poles.

There won't be very many pictures to post. It was all I could do to keep walking. Stopping and fishing around in my pack for the camera weren't my first priority. I didn't even dip my feet in the Colorado River, and it was 150 feet away. I sat down in Bright Angel Creek, poured bottles of water over my head, threw up, and barely made it to dinner on time. It's eight days later and I'm still trying to stretch my calves.
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  #23  
Old 09-24-2009, 12:38 PM
blondebear blondebear is offline
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Casual readers of the thread may not realize that your hike out of the Canyon was a 14 mile uphill slog. If you had heat exhaustion the day before, I'd imagine it must have felt like a death march.

I hiked down that trail to Roaring Springs and back--9.4 miles--I was in good shape, and that was tough. Even if you're prepared, the canyon can kick your butt.
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  #24  
Old 09-24-2009, 01:05 PM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is offline
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14 miles sideways wasn't the problem. I did the first half in about 5 hours. It's beautiful there; never far from the creek, but very deep in the canyon. I didn't want to linger, though. I've heard it gets very hot in there once the sun is high. 1 mile up was the hard part.

Roaring Springs? Everybody told me that wasn't even worth the side trip off the trail. And contrary to its name, it was the one place on the north trail where you couldn't get water. It's an amazing trail to get there from the North Rim, though.

If I'm ever in the neighborhood again, I might hike down as far as the Supai Tunnel, just to see what I missed in the dark.
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  #25  
Old 10-10-2011, 04:38 PM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is offline
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Originally Posted by Oslo Ostragoth View Post
Glad to hear you survived. Where are the damn pictures?
Ask and ye shall receive. Eventually.

http://www.muppetlabs.com/~eric/gran...on_2009_19.jpg
http://www.muppetlabs.com/~eric/gran...on_2009_23.jpg
http://www.muppetlabs.com/~eric/gran...on_2009_27.jpg
http://www.muppetlabs.com/~eric/gran...on_2009_33.jpg
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  #26  
Old 10-10-2011, 10:24 PM
Dag Otto Dag Otto is offline
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Who are you?
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  #27  
Old 10-10-2011, 11:42 PM
surrounded by literalists surrounded by literalists is offline
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Ahh...the good ol' days! Mr. Surrounded and I met and married on the North Rim. We lived year round mostly on the North Rim, but sometimes we were stationed on the South Rim. DH was trail crew on those trails for a few years. MY GOD! HIS ASS AND LEGS WERE LIKE GRANITE! Is it hot in here? I think its hot in here....

Anywho. You picked an excellent time to go. The North Rim in the fall has always been worth an October trip. The changing aspens always made me think of LOTR elven wood.

Sorry about the ranger in need of a pitting. I would defend her, but having been a ranger myself, I know exactly how 'pit worthy' some of them can be. I had one pull me over and give me a speeding ticket while riding my bike! It was a 15 mph zone and I was approaching light speed at 20 mph. And South Rim rangers have a higher asshole ratio than the North Rim.

Im surprised that water wasn't available at Roaring springs since that is the source of water for the entire park. They stop pumping from the springs for the winter, but that shouldn't happen until the 15th.

Congratulations on your accomplishment. Nobody said it would be easy; only that it would be worth it.
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  #28  
Old 10-11-2011, 01:01 AM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is offline
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Originally Posted by surrounded by literalists View Post
Anywho. You picked an excellent time to go. The North Rim in the fall has always been worth an October trip. The changing aspens always made me think of LOTR elven wood.
Check the dates on the thread. I went in September. Two years ago. I was looking up something else from this thread and discovered that I never responded to the request for photos.

But it's nice to read about your experiences at the canyon. Despite some bad advice from one ranger, I tip my hat to everyone who makes a trip like mine possible. I don't even want to think about what it took to build those trails, lay the water pipes, build Phantom Ranch and the campgrounds, and everything else.
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