5 things I learned hiking the Grand Canyon
by Sunny Ray
In September 2015 I went on my first ever backpack camping trip with five other women. This had always been a dream of mine and finally my life and schedule presented the opportunity. My Grand Canyon adventure took me on the Hermit Trail. This trail is intermediate in difficulty, less used, and in places more testing than the popular Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails.
The following are are the top 5 things I learned from this trip:
1 - Research and plan
It's critical to be prepared especially in such harsh outdoor conditions. Even with someone well versed on the canyon, I was so glad I read up on the trail by reading what to expect articles and watching videos. Trust that your guide knows what they are doing, but prepare like they don't.
2 - Cache water on your way down.
You MUST know the water resources on your trip and always plan to filter. Filtering water was such a cool experience. Our group had a couple of different types of filters, but my favorite was the Katadyn water filter. It was very easy to use and generated a lot of filtered water for the group. This trail only had one location where you could refill your water supply and you had to filter it.
Top secret tip take an extra bottle of water and hide it off the trail in a location where it would go unnoticed and safe for our return trip. By hiding water at strategic locations along your route you significantly decrease the amount you need to carry and it ensures you have a stash (or two) for the return trip.
3 - I gotta go!
Let's get personal. You're in your tent, and deep into the night your bladder is reminding you of why you shouldn't drink liquids (see number 4) before you retire for the evening, not wanting to get out of my nice comfy tent, I took a gallon sized freezer zip lock baggie in with me for this occasion. Open - squat - relieve - zip. Ensure you keep it in an upright position and dispose of it in the morning. Privacy obtained.
4 - Cheers
To celebrate my trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, I took a metal flask and filled it with gin, my favorite. We all know gin needs a mixer. Since equipment weight is a major concern for backpacking, I used Nuun electrolyte tablets as the mix. These tablets dissolve in water and worked perfectly for a drink mix. You could also use powdered Gatorade or similar powder drink mixes.
5 - Keeping cool
One piece of equipment I got a lot of compliments on was a simple hand fan. Since my trip was at the end of summer, beginning of fall, it is still hot at the bottom of the canyon. I bought a cheap hand fan and attached a carabiner clip to the end of it then hung it from my belt loops for easy access. When we would stop for breaks, the ladies would look at me fanning myself with envy. They all stated they were going to add it to their list of required hiking gear.
These are a few cool things I learned from my greatest adventure, so far, backpacking and camping in the Grand Canyon.