Hiking Tips - Hike Smart
HIKE SMART - For a safe and enjoyable hike prepare for your hike before you arrive:
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GREAT HIKE OR A TRIP TO THE HOSPITAL IS UP TO YOU!
Your descent marks your entry into a world in which planning and preparation, self-reliance, and good choices are crucial. Don't hike alone. Know what your destination will be and how to get there. Know where water is available. Get the weather forecast. Don't overestimate your capabilities. Hike intelligently. You are responsible for your own safety as well as that of everyone in your party. Stay on the trail and never shortcut switchbacks.
Average Temperatures in the Inner Canyon
WARNING! Summer thunderstorms bring lightning. Read the Lightning Danger Site Bulletin.
KNOW YOUR ABILITIES; CHOOSE AN APPROPRIATE HIKE.
You will be hiking at high elevation in hot, dry desert conditions with a steep climb out at the end of the day. Everyone who hikes in the canyon for the first time reports that it was more difficult than they expected. Be conservative in planning your hike!
If you have asthma, diabetes, a heart condition, knee or back problems, or any other health or medical issue, limit both your exertion and your exposure to the heat. The altitude, strenuous climbing, dehydration, and intense inner canyon heat will combine to make any medical problem worse. Stay within your training, physical limitations, and abilities.
THE LESS YOU CARRY, THE MORE ENJOYABLE THE HIKE.
Travel as light as possible. The heaviest items in your pack should be food and water. Use hiking sticks to take stress off your legs. Wear well-fitting and broken-in hiking boots. Bring a small lightweight flashlight and a change of batteries and bulb. Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. Bring a map, compass, signal mirror or whistle, first aid kit, and water purification tablets. Keep in mind that all trash (including biodegradable) needs to be carried out of the canyon.
IF YOU CAN TALK WHILE YOU ARE WALKING, YOU ARE WALKING THE PERFECT SPEED.
When you huff and puff your body is not getting enough oxygen. Walking at a pace that allows you to be able to walk and talk means that your legs and your body are getting the oxygen needed to function efficiently.
When your body generates fewer metabolic waste products, you enjoy your hike more and you feel better at the end. At times it may seem like you are walking too slow, but at an aerobic pace (sometimes even baby-sized steps when the trail is steep) your energy reserves will last longer. You will also feel much better that night and the next day.
TAKE A TEN MINUTE BREAK AT LEAST ONCE EVERY HOUR.
A break of ten minutes helps remove the metabolic waste products that build up in your legs while hiking. Take a break at least every hour. Sit down and prop your legs up. Eat some food, drink some fluids, and take this time to enjoy and appreciate the view. These efficient breaks can recharge your batteries. In the long run, breaks will not slow you down.
DRINK FREQUENTLY AND EAT OFTEN.
Eat and drink more than you normally do. Eat before, during, and after your hike. Eat before you are hungry. Drink before you are thirsty. No matter what the temperature, you need water and energy to keep going. For every hour hiking in the canyon, you should drink ½ to 1 quart (liter) of water or sports drink.
Keeping yourself cool and hiking the canyon takes a large amount of energy (food). Salty snacks and water or sports drinks should be consumed on any hike lasting longer than 30 minutes. Food is your body's primary source of fuel and salts (electrolytes) while hiking in the canyon. You need to eat about twice as much as you normally would to meet your energy and electrolyte needs while hiking in the Grand Canyon.
Your best defense against illness and exhaustion is to eat a healthy breakfast, a full lunch, a snack every time you take a drink, and a rewarding full dinner at the end of the day. This is not a time to diet.
COMING BACK UP IS HARD!
Plan on taking twice as long to hike up as it took to hike down. Allow 1/3 of your time to descend and 2/3 of your time to ascend. As a courtesy, give uphill hikers the right of way. Bring a small, lightweight flashlight in case you end up hiking in the dark.
MULES HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY.
Several recent encounters between hikers and mules resulted in injuries to packers and the death of some mules. To ensure safety for yourself, other trail users, and mule riders, when encountering mules on the trails:
Did You Know?
There are approximately 1,737 known species of vascular plants, 167 species of fungi, 64 species of moss and 195 species of lichen found in Grand Canyon National Park. This variety is largely due to the 6,000 foot elevation change from the river up to the highest point on the North Rim. More...