The Grand Canyon
Elevation top: ~8,000 feet
Elevation bottom: 2,200 feet
Width: 4 - 18 miles
Length: 277 miles
If there is one place on earth that no picture can ever fully describe, the Grand Canyon is it. So much bigger than you think it is, even while you're standing at the top staring down, you still can't discern how far away the bottom lies. I believe I suggested to my friends, "Lets try to get down there tonight (as the sun was about to set), we can probably make it before it gets too dark..." The trail down to the bottom takes several hours, and about double that to get back up. The National Park Service actually explicitly discourages people from going down and up in one day. Direct quote from their website: "Over 250 people are rescued from the canyon each year.The difference between a great adventure in Grand Canyon and a trip to the hospital (or worse) is up to YOU. DO NOT attempt to hike from the rim to the river and back in one day, especially during the months of May to September."
If you think you're up to the challenge, then by all means, disregard this stern warning like we did, and get ready for a great summer adventure!
South Kaibab Trail
We did the 'South Kaibab Trail' on the way down and on the way up. Here's another direct excerpt from the National Parks website: "South Kaibab Trail: The trail begins on the South Rim near Yaki Point, and descends to the Colorado River. Elevation change from rim to river is 4860 ft (1480 m), along a 6.3 mile (10.1 km) trail. Because of the unavailability of water and steepness of the South Kaibab Trail, rangers recommend hiking down this trail only - and recommend using the Bright Angel Trail for the hike out."
As that thing above says, there is no water available anywhere on the trail (there is a well at the bottom near the shore of the Colorado river). Therefore, this is the most important thing to bring with you on this journey. You will sweat a lot, and the sun reflecting off the rocks and back into your face does you no favors. Hydration will be key in order to make it back to the top. I would probably suggest 3 liters.
Grand Canyon hike packing list
- Small backpack
- 3 Liters of water
- Food/energy bars
- Headache pills
- Quality boots
- Quality socks
- I highly recommend my boots: http://amzn.to/1QzcvP1
I brought a 65L backpacking backpack, totally not necessary, I also brought way too much water (I didn't know there was water at the bottom.) Both these things gave me extra weight to carry around, and my knees suffered for it.
Colin brought terrible boots, and his feet were bleeding at the end (good boots and socks will fix this problem). Others brought little water and didn't drink enough of it, which was a problem when it became time to start the ascent. You will also need enough food to give you some energy.
The night you arrive is a perfect time to hang around the top of the grand canyon. The sunset hits the rocks perfectly, making this the most beautiful time for pictures, and there are plenty of spots to hike or climb around. You are allowed to climb around on these perilous cliffs at your own risk, which is cool, cuz it's quite fun. The local elk are keen to tourists, you can spot them hanging around the parking lot...
Camping at the Grand Canyon is great. It is free, the spots are first come first served, and there are plenty of spots. We drove around at 9pm looking for a spot in the woods to set up our tent and there were plenty to choose from. Bring a sleeping pad though, because we were in horrible pain from the gravel camping surface and Andy ended up sleeping in the car.
It takes roughly 3 hours to hike to the bottom of the grand canyon. Once you get here, you can sit on the beach and take a dip in the ice cold river, or rest and have a picnic in the shade. This is a good place to eat and power-up for your return trip. A water spout is available to fill up your bottles as well as a public bathroom There is also a helipad if you have some kind of medical emergency.
The way back up
No man left behind?
Coming back up takes somewhere between 4 and 7 hours. You will definitely feel it in your knees. Overall this hike will take the whole day. I believe we started around 11am, and arrived back at the top just as the sun was setting. Two of us didn't make it back up, apparently me and Andy don't follow that, "no man left behind" rule... William and Colin decided to stay at the bottom and sleep on a picnic table until the next morning when they hiked up the "Bright Angel" trail. Technically you aren't allowed to do this, and some ranger dude was yelling at them, but they were saved by a nice ranger lady later that night who gave them some blankets and a snack. Hahaha. but yeah.
Grand Canyon FAQ
How cold does it get at the Grand Canyon?
- (We were here in March) It gets freezing cold at night, on the rim. We were in a tent and were suffering quite a lot without sleeping pads or heavy duty bags. However, down at the bottom of the canyon, Colin and William were comfortable sleeping under the stars. The top and bottom temperatures are different due to the difference in elevation.
How hot does it get at the Grand Canyon?
- It gets super hot as you hike down the Grand Canyon, into the 100's F. Bring T-shirts, shorts and lots of water.
Is camping free at the Grand Canyon?
- Yeah camping is free, which is really nice. There are plenty of first come first served spots as well.
Do you need a permit to camp at the Grand Canyon?
- You don't need a permit to camp at the top (depending on time of year). To camp at the bottom, you need a back country permit that you have to reserve from the National Parks website.
Can you hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in one day?
- Yes you can, if you're a boss.
How much does it cost to enter the Grand Canyon?
- A National Parks pass for your entire car is about 30 bucks.
What camera did you use?
- I used this little old guy! http://amzn.to/1S9VwjZ
My Airbnb discount code: www.airbnb.com/c/kevink151