Grand Canyon Hiking Tips...
Select Your Route Carefully
The best plan is to be a little conservative when picking a route. Start with a shorter hike than you think you might be able to do. It's better to finish wanting more, than it is to drag yourself back to the top exhausted. Remember that the goal is to have fun, not to break a personal endurance record.
If you don't know the trails, we recommend viewing the DVD, "Hiking the Grand Canyon" to help you select a route.
For any hike into the Grand Canyon, the easy downhill part comes first. It will take you at least twice as long to climb out as it did to descend. So, start back early and allow yourself the time for a comfortable uphill climb.
Even with the best of plans, something can always go wrong. Never hike alone. Plan your destination in advance, and if possible, inform someone else what that is. If something should happen to you down there, make sure there is someone that knows where you are.
I used to backpack with a fellow that would cut the handle off his tooth brush to save weight.
This may seem a little extreme, but the concept is good. Every little thing you carry adds up. You'll enjoy your hike more if you travel light.
Your food and water should account for most of the weight you carry on a day hike. Hiking sticks are additional weight, but they can assist your balance on uneven terrain and take stress off your legs during the pounding canyon decent.
Good hiking boots and socks are extremely important. Never start down the Grand Canyon with a new pair of boots. Make sure they fit well and are well broken in. Do not wear cotten socks. The best socks for hiking are a double sock: an outter sock that will wick moisture, and a thin liner sock that will help keep your foot dry. In case a blister should start to develop, carry moleskin to protect the sensitive area.
Your hiking clothes should be comfortable and loose-fitting. Wear long sleeves to protect you from the sun. In the heat of the summer, be sure to wear white or light clothing.
Wear a wide-brim hat while hiking. This will keep the sun out of your face and prevent the top of your head from heating up during your hike.
Even if you are only going on a day hike, it is a good idea to bring a small lightweight flashlight and extra batteries, just in case you don't get back before dark.
Protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunscreen or sunblock, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat.
Take a topographic map and follow your progress on the map so you will always know where you are. A compass or GPS will help you navigate.
One of the best ways to attract attention should you have a problem is a signal mirror. (A silver-colored CD makes a good light mirror).
Bring extra plastic bags for carrying out any trash that you might have. Never leave trash in the canyon.
Take It Easy
Your hike should be for pleasure. It's not a race. Hike at a pace where you can breathe comfortably. If you are panting, you are pushing too hard.
Establish a comfortable ryythm or cadence to your walk, and try too keep that pace. When you go uphill, keep the same pace but take smaller steps... the steeper the hill, the smaller the steps. This will keep your rate of energy expenditure at a constant measured rate.
If you have health issues (asthma, diabetes, heart problems, weak back or knees, or any other medical problem), limit your exertion accordingly and and avoid overheating. Strenuous exercise, exposure to heat, dehydration and altitude will all combine to make any health problem worse.
Plan the difficulty and duration of your hike so that you stay within your physical abilities. It is, once again, worth mentioning, that the purpose of your hike is for pleasure. You'll fee better during and after the hike and enjoy your experience a lot more if you are not physically exhausted after the hike.
Make Frequent Stops & Eat and Drink Often
Don't keep going for hours on end without a break. Take a major "refresh and refuel" stop at least once every hour. Take 5 to 10 minutes to eat, drink, and relax and enjoy your surroundings. You'll be refreshed and recharged when you continue your hike.
In between major rest stops, continue to eat and drink, even if you don't feel hungry or thirsty. Thirst is a sign of dehydration, and if you wait till you are thirsty before you drink, you're already starting to tax your body's fluid reserves. Drink electrolyte sports drinks, not just plain water. This will keep your body chemistry balanced and avoid possible serious health risks.
If you are dieting, forget about it here. Your hike in the Grand Canyon will consume large amounts of energy and you must continually "refuel" to avoid depleting your strength. Eat a salty snack with every drink.
Fill up your "fuel tank" before you start your hike with good, healthy breakfast. And at the end of the day, celebrate with a good dinner.
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