Plan Ahead, Grand Canyon
Use common sense....If you decide to hike down, consider the weather, your physical shape, your shoes and etc. It will be much more difficult and take at least twice as long going back up. I can't stress enough, that if you do this hike, be physically prepared! I find that going down the S. Kaibab trail is harder than going up. Many suggest to train with a fully loaded backpack on stairs, like at a football stadium (a good idea). The S. Kaibab Trail is not a ramp, but thousands of steps over rocks and timbers to prevent erosion of the trail. If you have any problems with your knees/ankles it will most likely cause problems. Know this before you start or you will get a bad case of "Canyon Knee" as the Park Ranger told my brother. We ended up splitting up my brother's backpack to lighten his load and I was glad that I had been running and walking with a full backpack for many weeks. When planning for this hike the old adage "Prepare for the worst and hope for the best" is your best advice. If your backpacking "Every ounce counts" is a good rule to plan with, if you absolutely don't need it, don't take it!
If you're at the Grand Canyon for the first time, it's literally easy to get carried away by the brutal beauty of the vast area that lies ahead of you. Once you learn about the trails, it's far easier to plan instantly to take one of the trails that are on offer. If you have no apparent illnesses, it is so easy to believe that you are David who can defeat Goliath, and thus head straight for one of the trails. That's where many people make the greatest mistakes!
To call this Canyon "grand" is a true understatement! And there is reason for that. It's simply an awesome creation of nature! The temperatures at the tip and at the bottom can vary very widely. And it's far more difficult climbing back up, than going down. You could get tired easily, even if you are a great walker, because tracking on such steep terrains are far different than walking in New York City.
Plan ahead, take sufficient food, and plenty of water, wear appropriate clothes so that you can shed them off gradually as you climb down to a warmer temperature, and again put them on, one by one, on your trip back up the trail, as it gets cooler again. The distance in terms of Kms is not too much. But the height, temperature, and exhaustion makes all the difference. Remember, you're climbing up a steep hill, when you are most tired.
Never try this alone. Go in a group. Stay with the group. Cell phones are not going to help you in there. Never walk away from your group. It's not coyotes or mountain bears that you need to be afraid of. It's your exhaustion, heat stroke, dehydration that can kill you.
I'm attaching a photo, taken at the Grand Canyon, of a cautionary post, that might tell the story. Don't over-estimate your abilities. Don't under-estimate the forces of nature. It's your life that matters. And these cautions are for real! Believe it!
If you are going to the Grand Canyon and want to stay in the Park, make your reservations early! Especially if you are headed for the North Rim! Fewer rooms there.
Plan ahead for the South Rim too. There are more rooms but also more people there vs. the North Rim.
Go to Xanterra's website or phone them. If you are traveling to the Phantom Ranch, call months or a year ahead.
One last tip. If there aren't any rooms, keep calling back. People are always cancelling.
Another view of the canyon. This is not actually a warning, but more of a tip. It is very busy with tourists along the rim. Part of the rim is closed for cars and the only way to get here is by bus or hiking. The bus runs very regularly and stops at all the viewpoints. But I really would get out of that bus and walk along the rim if I were you. You get rid of most of the tourists that way and have a beautiful view on the canyon. I didn't make a hike into the rim. This is also possible, but that is not something you should do in a few lost hours.
I think the best is to try and go here off season, I was here at the end of May, and it was already very busy. The hotel accomodations are all booked well in advance at the rim, so make sure to make reservations very early. I booked my hotel half a year before and it was already hard to get a spot.
Check ahead for precautions if you plan to hike in Grand Canyon. Eat lots of high energy foods/snacks and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate to enjoy your experience! Get all the information you possibly can, especially day-hikers. Be prepared, before you set out! You do not want to find yourself in a life-threatening predicament because you weren't. The Canyon is a land of extremes!
All the nifty activities that you can participate in. Among our favorites were the horse and mule trail rides.
BUT, they have weight limits for most of these trips. In most cases, you cannot weigh more than 200 lbs including your boots and gear. They WILL weigh you and if you weigh 203, you're staying at the lodge.
So, if you're pushing 200, you might want to skip the fudge sundaes and chop a little wood in the weeks leading up to your trip. DON'T BE DISAPPOINTED
And, even if you're not going to ride the mules into and out of the canyon, you will need to increase your stamina a bit. To do the canyon and enjoy all the outdoor fun, there is a lot of hiking. And, for the most part, you'll be doing this hiking at a much higher altitude than back home, unless you're a Sherpa from Nepal or something. : )
One of the biggest mistakes that I have seen people make when coming to the Grand Canyon is to not have made a reservation for lodging accomodations in advance. These people typically become quite irrate when they are told that all of the rooms in and around the park are booked and that if they want a room they will have to drive 50 miles to Williams or 70 miles to Flagstaff. The situation can be even worse on the north rim as typically if the park is full, so are Kaibab Lodge and the Jacob Lake Lodge, and at that point your only choices are Fredonia, Arizona or Kanab, Utah. For reservations on the south rim in Grand Canyon Village or the Moqui Lodge in Tusayan you may also call the direct reservations number for the Fred Harvey Company in Colorado at 303-297-2757. You may also FAX them at 303-297-3175. For reservation on the north rim at Grand Canyon Lodge you should call 801-586-7686.
Take a torch! It gets very dark very quickly after sunset, and if you're on or near the ridge, you need to be careful where you're going... Even in the areas close to the accomodation there isn't a lot of lighting.