Hiking the Grand Canyon

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martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 22, 2013 - 10:03pm PT
Hey folks, my wife and I are hiking the Narrows in Zion top down on May 31. We are flying into Las Vegas and I was thinking of going to the Grand Canyon before hand. Question, possible for a very fit couple to hike to the river and back up in one day? I don't want to take camping gear on this trip but would love to hike the canyon. Thanks for any input!

Marty
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Mar 22, 2013 - 10:07pm PT
No problema.....enjoy!
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Mar 22, 2013 - 10:07pm PT
Not unreasonable at all. 14ish miles round trip with 4500 feet of gain/loss? something like that?
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Mar 22, 2013 - 10:27pm PT
Yes, but take LOTS of water!

The average GC fatality is a 20 something, really fit, with a liter or less of water.

The temp difference from the rim to the river is really dramatic, and it's uphill all the way to the beer.
Osprey

climber
Mar 22, 2013 - 10:34pm PT
Just be ready for the heat. The temps at Phantom Ranch will be comparable to Phoenix. Which, more than likely, will be around 100*F at the beginning of June.
GuapoVino

Trad climber
Mar 22, 2013 - 10:39pm PT
There is a foot race there every year, or there used to be, that went from rim to rim during daylight hours. It's a hump. In early June its going to be hot.

If you can't make it back to the rim in one day you need to get a backcountry permit. For late May/early June they are probably all booked up. Permits are issued for different zones within the canyon, some zones having more permits available than others. You can apply for permits starting exactly three months before the month that you want a permit in. Another option is to be at the backcountry reservations office by 8:00 AM the morning you hope to start hiking. Sometimes they have cancellations and usually have a permit if you're flexible on which trail you want to hike or where you're willing to camp.

It's kind of a pain in the ass. If you're sneaky you can keep hiking until dark and then just find a quick place to sleep and then up and moving by sunrise. If you get busted they'll write you a ticket. You have to have your permit tag on the outside of your pack and they do like to check them.
John M

climber
Mar 22, 2013 - 10:55pm PT
Do people stash water on the way down for the return? Or is it too risky to lose your water?
BeeHay

Trad climber
San Diego CA
Mar 22, 2013 - 10:56pm PT
If you can get a ride over to the Kaibab Trail it makes a good loop. Down Kaibab, 3 or 4 (?) miles along the river then up Bright Angel. I did it in late May, start at 12 - 1pm and you are hiking up and out in late afternoon shade. Should be no problem for a "very fit couple".

BH
wivanoff

Trad climber
CT
Mar 22, 2013 - 11:12pm PT
We did South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch (7 miles) and then Bright Angel (10 miles) back to the rim. NO water available on South Kaibab. This was in April and we carried 4 liters each down. On Bright Angel we got water at Indian Gardens and then at the two houses after that.

In the morning when we left it was 22ºF on the rim. When we got to Phantom Ranch it was 92°F. In April.

There are signs warning about trying to get to the bottom and back in the same day. You have to be very fit and have plenty of water. But lots of people do it. I've heard that some even go rim to rim but they cache water.

On the way out, at the switchbacks, make sure to check out the petroglyphs. You'll have to ask someone where they are. There's more in the vicinity of the tunnel at the top.
South Kaibab
South Kaibab
Credit: wivanoff
Glyphs
Glyphs
Credit: wivanoff
Bright Angel
Bright Angel
Credit: wivanoff

GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Mar 22, 2013 - 11:17pm PT
There is a foot race there every year, or there used to be, that went from rim to rim during daylight hours. It's a hump.

Huh, I didn't know there was a shuttle, I had to run all the way back to my car...
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Mar 22, 2013 - 11:20pm PT
The Kibab is a lot more scenic and less crowded, but steep enough that it is a real knee killer. (think stepping down a one foot rail road tie step every three to six feet) And, there's no water at all.

The water supply for both the north and south rim is about half way up the North Kibab with a siphon that makes it all the way up to the Indian Springs pump station. There are water faucets at Indian Springs and about half way up to the S rim from there.

That being said it's an old aluminum 6" pipe that fails frequently.

Still if I had 20 year younger Knees, for a one day I'd do S. Kibab and back up Bright Angel, checking on the status of the water line before leaving.

There are shuttle buses that you could use to get you to or from Bright angel trail head to N, Kibab, but the timing might be problematic.

and yes, the petroglyphs are all of 30 ft from the trail,but unseen by all but a few.

(Screen saver at work right now.)

we did a four day trip rim to rim in Late March/early April a few years back with a 60+ nights and 90 days at Phantom Ranch (slept on top of the bag.) Frozen waterfalls on the N Kibab and 6'+ snow drifts on the N.rim.
Scott McNamara

climber
Tucson, Arizona
Mar 22, 2013 - 11:52pm PT
If you wish to hike the corridor trails then you may be able to get reservations in the dorms at Phantom Ranch.

http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/phantom-ranch-704.html

Then you would not need camping gear nor food---other than snacks.

This would make your hike a lot less like the Bataan Death March.

Have Fun!

BeeHay

Trad climber
San Diego CA
Mar 23, 2013 - 12:42am PT
We did a one day rim to rim to rim, no water cache because it was NOVEMBER. People who go in summer must love to suffer!

BH
10b4me

Ice climber
Happy Boulders
Mar 23, 2013 - 12:55am PT
As others have said take lots of water because it will be hot. I recommend the Kaibab-Bright Angel loop
Reeotch

Trad climber
4 Corners Area
Mar 23, 2013 - 11:32am PT
Yeah, go for it! But take it seriously, those aren't easy miles.
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
Mar 23, 2013 - 01:07pm PT
consider that the rangers have already started closing down (temperature dependent) a section of the bright angel in the indian gardens area during the heat of the day until shade overtakes it.

my nps maintenence buddy at phantom, hiking out with tools and most of a swamp cooler, bootlegged a bypass around the closed section so he could be home for dinner, but i didn't follow the details of his route description.

no such intervention for those coming up the south kaibab
giegs

climber
Tardistan
Mar 23, 2013 - 01:25pm PT
Down BA and up SK is the easier way if you're going to be sticking to the corridor trails and not taking any of the routes. SK has seen a lot of work in recent years and isn't nearly as bad as it used to be.

There are other non-corridor trails that are shorter, steeper, and have few if any people on them if you're into that sort of thing.
salad

climber
Mar 23, 2013 - 02:08pm PT
Im fat and out of shape and I did Rim to Rim to Rim last April in under 17 hours. Just pay attention to the temps.

For a little different scenery, go down South Kaibab and then back up Bright Angel.
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Topic Author's Reply - May 21, 2013 - 11:09pm PT
We are going to leave a car and hike Down Kaibab then up Bright Angel. Does anyone know if there is a shuttle to get us back from the top of Angel to the Kaibab trail head parking?
Mark Force

Trad climber
Cave Creek, AZ
May 22, 2013 - 12:06am PT
If you're in decent shape, it'll go OK. Make sure to water up really well at the top before you go down and before you head up. Take some salt (he Celtic salt is the Best!). Gand Canyon miles are from the Twilight Zone; figure a fourteen mile hike will feel more like a twenty mile hike. Also, it's important to consider that temperatures at the bottom are pretty much the same as Phoenix! The canyon is an incredible place and you can't really appreciate it until you stand at the bottom by the river. Have fun! For a turn around day trip, my favorite is the Hermit.
brat

climber
El Portal
May 22, 2013 - 01:34am PT
The Hermit is awesome!

Don't forget salty snacks. I did a Grand Canyon mission with dried fruit and bars and I was hating life. Salty snacks help you balance electrolytes with all the water you'll drink. Consider electrolyte replacement drink mix.
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
May 22, 2013 - 01:47am PT
No problem. Little old ladies do it - with water. It is a tad tougher than climbing a mountain with similar vertical since you have to go up after hammering your quads on the descent.
Prod

Trad climber
May 22, 2013 - 07:45pm PT
I'd avoid the crowds and do the Tanner Trail or the South Bass Trail.

Prod.
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
May 22, 2013 - 08:02pm PT
It's too nice a place to rush. Go when you have more time. Thanksgiving. Cooler. Almost no people. Maybe a little ice.

It will be too hot.

My two cents. I don't want you to die from heat stroke.....

Erik
Timid TopRope

Social climber
'used to be Paradise, CA
May 22, 2013 - 09:03pm PT
I've hiked up from rain at the bottom to snow at top from tanner/ hance, reliably easy access water on bright angel at indian gardens and maxxed out thermometers over 120F up South Bass and for first timers I'd go with the crowded, mule piss bright angel with easy water.
tanner/hance is another steep knee buster.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
May 22, 2013 - 11:39pm PT
Don't forget the altitude, 7000' at the start and finish line. Like another desert rat said, these aren't easy miles. You might start out with a jacket and beanie on in the morning, but it will be well over 100 degrees at the river and the latter half of your hike. The sun out here is crippling blue and withering. Bring your shades and sun hat and sunscreen.

People get hurt and rescued and some die down there all the time. Especially this time of year on an annual basis. Trying to go to the river and back in a day. It is easy to get in over your head in the Canyon, hiking downhill and all. There is a cutoff trail on the Tonto platform, though mind-numbing hot, will cut miles off that hike if need be.

That said, it's a great hike you mentioned and it gets done regularly. If I had to do it right now, I would consider an umbrella, a mister (spray bottle of H20), at least a gallon of water (preferably frozen), long sleeves and a nice selection of snacks and lunch foods. Be ready for much, much more than what appears on the map in many more ways than can be explained.

Enjoy your hike,
Albert
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Social climber
SLO, Ca
May 23, 2013 - 01:42pm PT
I've done it lots of times, both as back packing trips, day trips and trail runs. I won't add anything to the good advice above but would suggest sticking to the Bright Angel / S. Kaibab route. It's nice to be able to cross the river at the bottom on the bridge and check out Phantom Ranch and all that. Indian Gardens is a great rest stop as well, with nice shade trees and water.

The other trails have a much more rugged and remote feel- which is great but maybe not the best for a first timer on a day trip in June.

Have fun!
Macronut

Trad climber
Fresno, Ca
May 23, 2013 - 04:02pm PT
Yes. There is a shuttle that will take from the Bright Angel Trailhead to Kaibab. However, you will need to change buses at the visit center. There are two or three seperate bus routes with different buses. So you will need to know which one goes where. Just got back from there with the family. Check out the pictograms just before the last tunnel as you are returning to the trail going up the Bright Angel Trail.
Osprey

climber
May 24, 2013 - 12:12am PT
The last shuttle to Kiabab is just after sunset. most of the seasoned locals would do the 2-4 am start for that loop this time of year. Enjoy!
hollyclimber

Big Wall climber
North Rim, AZ
May 24, 2013 - 12:26am PT
Great idea posted above that we use - get a go-lite umbrella (silver). I heard they are on sale for $20 right now. We use them and they help a lot.
Prod

Trad climber
May 24, 2013 - 08:55am PT
get a go-lite umbrella

Sort of defeats the company name.

Prod.
lucander

Trad climber
Shawangunks, New York
May 24, 2013 - 11:35am PT
I've done several hikes in the Canyon, including a few rim/rim daytrips. In this kind of heat I'd recommend hiking in early, lounging in the creeks at the bottom, and hiking out late under headlamp.
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
May 24, 2013 - 11:56am PT
Bright Angel
Bright Angel
Credit: Seamstress

There is a balancing act between comfort and scenery. I like seeing the place since I may not visit very often. As much as it maximizes comfort to travel in the dark, you will miss the sights. You can plan it such that you aren't in the peak heat of the day.

The shuttle works well.

2012 I went in April, and the first two miles were covered in hard snow, and the bottom was summertime. Even though I moved with purpose (hiked fast), I could truly enjoy the changing scenery. It is well worth spending the day to go up and down. So many visitors never leave the rim. THeir perspective on the canyon is completely different. You need to go hike it - even if you have limited time.
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2013 - 12:29pm PT
So, down Kaibab and up Bright Angel or visa versa?
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Social climber
SLO, Ca
May 24, 2013 - 12:49pm PT
I'd go up the BA because you can re water at Indian Gardens and/or hang there to wait for the heat of the day to pass.
bobinc

Trad climber
Portland, Or
May 24, 2013 - 01:56pm PT
BA is also somewhat more humane on way up... same elevation gain as SK but you get more trail to do it...
Sagebrusher

Sport climber
Iowa
May 24, 2013 - 03:12pm PT
BTW, you can now preview your whole route on Google Streetview! I hope they do the Nankoweap Trail someday :)

Near the top of the South Kaibab:

http://goo.gl/maps/97GXj

And a brutal stretch of the SK that would not be fun to go up in 100 degree heat:

http://goo.gl/maps/I3lAf
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
May 24, 2013 - 09:19pm PT
Some great ideas in this thread.

I've got a GoLite umbrella, the $3 walmart one works almost as well. It is wise to carry one's own shade around these parts. Savvy hikers know to rest in the shady areas created by the many cliffs and crags along this route.

I should mention the wind which might be a factor next week. Just be ready for rather cool temps here and there, and mostly lots of heat and crippling light for much of the hike. You will likely experience a 60+ degree temp change from morning till noon.

You will pass a number of signs which warn of the many deaths which have occurred from people attempting to hike to the river and back in a day. I've no idea your level of fitness, but this place should not be underestimated. High altitude, extreme temps, gusty winds and fairly rugged hiking make for a fairly inhumane landscape. And the sun. It might be tempting to jump in the river to cool, it is ill advised, many have been swept to their demise.

There are few places on Earth which make me more humble then standing beside the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Looking up at those incomprehensible walls, the sky, river and all the colors and the heat or the cold. There is no place like it I've found.

Let us know how the hike works out. It is a Grand place!
Osprey

climber
May 24, 2013 - 11:13pm PT
8:08 PM and the moon is just starting to show through the trees. The thermometer outside the window of my house on the south rim reading 64*F. 25% humidity. Perfect time to set off on a wonderful stroll through the park. Peace
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 5, 2013 - 08:23pm PT
Ok here we are at the Canyon. We hike the Narrows top down on Monday (16 miles, 11 hours). Drove here and took a rest day. Tomorrow is our Canyon hike. Forecast is 84 at the rim, 103 at the floor. Our plan is to be at South Kaibab trial head at 5am. We are planning 3.5 to 4 hours to the bridge, take a short rest and back up the SK trail. My logic is that we need to get out of the lower canyon heat as fast as possible and the BA trail is around an additional 3.5 miles (17 v 13.5 if you turn around at the bridge). 5 liters per person, w electrolytes added. Breakfast on the shuttle, lunch at the river, snacks all along the way.

Sound reasonable?
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
Jun 5, 2013 - 09:24pm PT
No.

Have fun anyway! :-)

Erik
10b4me

Social climber
Jun 5, 2013 - 09:27pm PT
Depending on how long you stay at the bridge, sounds like you might be hiking up during the hottest part of the day.
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 7, 2013 - 12:07am PT
Well we did the hike today. Got up a 4am made our way to the South Kiabab trailhead for a 5am start. My plans to try and beat the heat and go down and up Kiabab were quickly discarded. Kiabab was a shadeless inferno so we decided to return to the rim via Bright Angel. Glad we did, it was a 104 degrees at the river and still 103 at Indian Gardens. Drank tons and tons of water, drenched ourselves at every opportunity and snacked almost continuously. Spent two hours waiting for the trail to come into the shade at Indian Garden then finished the climb. Really tough day, but incredible place and views. We are glad we did it. 17.5 miles, 13.5 hours inclusive off waiting out the sun.
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Social climber
SLO, Ca
Jun 7, 2013 - 12:21am PT
Dude, everyone said come up the BA! Glad you made it down and out! Amazing place isn't it?
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 7, 2013 - 12:31am PT
Yes I know. Not sure where I came up with the brainiac idea to come back up Kiabab. The Canyon is indeed a wonder of the world.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Jun 7, 2013 - 12:36am PT
I'm glad you made it. The weather was absolutely infernal today in the Southwest, especially where you were walking about. Easily 105 degrees and 5-8% humidity. A "dry heat" as we say in AZ...
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 7, 2013 - 01:13am PT
Thanks to all the tacos who gave advice. This is what this place is all about.
aguacaliente

climber
Jun 7, 2013 - 01:43am PT
Well done, glad you came up the BA as there's no water anywhere on the S. Kaibab.

Visit the canyon again in the winter or very early spring, it's awesome then and somewhat temperate in the canyon even when ass-cold on the rim. Seeing a storm clearing off the rim and temple summits is just amazing.
the albatross

Gym climber
Flagstaff
Jun 8, 2013 - 12:24am PT
I hope you are still sore and happy from your vigorous jaunt. Here's the latest from the National Weather Service, your hike was only a few degrees cooler than this current warning. Glad you made it out.

GRAND CANYON COUNTRY-
123 PM MST FRI JUN 7 2013

...EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM MST
SUNDAY...

* TEMPERATURE...NEAR-RECORD HIGHS OF 109 TO 111 ARE FORECAST
TODAY THROUGH SUNDAY NEAR THE COLORADO RIVER INCLUDING PHANTOM
RANCH. HIGH TEMPERATURES OF 101 TO 103 ARE EXPECTED AT INDIAN
GARDEN NEAR 4000 FEET ELEVATION.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS WARNING IS RESERVED FOR ONLY THE HOTTEST DAYS OF THE YEAR
AND IS ISSUED WHEN TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED TO RISE TO DANGEROUS
LEVELS. DAY HIKERS ON BRIGHT ANGEL TRAIL SHOULD DESCEND NO
FURTHER THAN 1 1/2 MILES. BETWEEN 10 AM AND 4 PM...PHYSICAL
ACTIVITY IS DISCOURAGED. HIKERS SHOULD ATTEMPT TO BE OUT OF THE
CANYON...AT INDIAN GARDEN OR BRIGHT ANGEL CAMPGROUND BETWEEN
THESE HOURS. ALL HIKERS SHOULD HAVE ADEQUATE GEAR...INCLUDING A
WIDE-BRIMMED HAT...SUNSCREEN...SALTY SNACKS...SUFFICIENT WATER
AND ELECTROLYTE MIX. DOUBLING YOUR CALORIE INTAKE HELPS MAINTAIN
YOUR ENERGY. HIKE SMART.
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 8, 2013 - 12:17pm PT
Thanks Alba. Yes we're are both sore and happy. Hanging in Sedona for a couple of days just relaxing. I have to say, that is one bad ass mf hike.
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