MONTHS, WEEKS AND DAYS BEFORE THE HIKE
EXERCISE, CONDITION, AND TAKE THIS HIKE SERIOUSLY: If you regularly engage in some sort of physical labor or aerobic exercise at work or play, this hike is possible for you. HOWEVER, PHYSICAL CONDITIONING AND CONSISTENT EXERCISE PRIOR TO YOUR TRIP IS ESSENTIAL. Concentrate on muscle strengthening: core, legs, calves, and quads. Extreme muscle fatigue is often experienced toward the end of the hike. The best way to target these muscles is to hike local trails or flights of stairs/bleachers—with your loaded backpack on. If you need advice on how to train for your hike, please consult a physical fitness trainer.
SELECT A BACKPACK AND PLAN YOUR PACKING: When selecting an internal or no‐frame
backpack, ensure the pack fits your body. You may view a video on the Backpacker Magazine website to assist you in finding the best fit. Additionally, a simple internet search on how to size a backpack will also provide you many resources useful in choosing a backpack. A properly fitted pack allows the padded hip belt and sternum strap to provide support, distribute weight more efficiently, and reduce the weight off your shoulders. Tightening the shoulder straps also help provide stability. Use the adjustable features to customize the pack to your body. A small‐medium internal or no frame backpack is recommended (around 2500 cubic inches). Load your backpack appropriately by packing the heaviest items close to your body as shown in the diagram. Get to know your pack before the hike by packing it with what you plan on bringing and exercising with it on.
The Equipment List offers a guide for packing the minimum gear recommended. Take into account that you will wear one set of clothing the day your trip begins. Wearing the same clothing throughout the trip is normal and clothes can be washed in the River. Bright Angel Trail hikers commonly bring more gear than necessary. A lighter pack makes for an easier hike!
CHOOSE APPROPRIATE SHOES: A lightweight hiking boot, hiking shoe, or trail runner with solid support and good tread are all appropriate choices of footwear (see Footwear). Shoes should fit properly and be broken-in. Do not break in a new pair of shoes on this hike. Wear a clean pair of hiking socks with heel and toe cushioning. Keep a clean pair of socks set aside specifically for the hike out. Some people like to wear a pair of sock liners, in addition to socks, to reduce rubbing.
UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF EATING & HYDRATION AND HEAT RELATED ILLNESS: Prepare by eating well and drinking plenty of fluids at least one full day before the “big hike.” In addition, eat breakfast (provided) the morning of the hike. Sandwich, snacks, fruit, and electrolyte mix are provided and it is important to eat and drink during your hike. If you don’t take this seriously, you may cause yourself to become very ill from either dehydration or other heat related illnesses such as water intoxication, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, all of which can leave you feeling sick for several days and/or develop into a life threatening situation. If you are on any medications, it is important to determine if those medications could contribute to the possibility of developing a heat related illness, as many medications (both prescription and over the counter meds) can negatively affect your body’s ability to regulate its water and electrolyte/salt balance.
- Dehydration happens when your body does not get enough water. It can be caused by losing too much fluid, not drinking enough water or fluids, or both. We sweat around 1/2 to 1 quart of water each hour when hiking in the heat. Drink 1/2 to 1 quart each hour that you are hiking. Hydration packs are great for the hike on the Bright Angel trail because they make drinking water easy and accessible. Be aware of signs of dehydration: headache, dizziness, nausea, irritability, cool clammy skin and low output or dark colored urine.
- Water intoxication (also known as hyponatremia) is an improper ratio of salt (which is an electrolyte) to water in your body. In Grand Canyon, visitors are often so focused on consuming water while hiking that they neglect the other side of the equation: food (preferably salty). It is essential that you continually snack while hiking the Bright Angel Trail in order to maintain your electrolyte balance. The symptoms of water intoxication may mimic those of dehydration so speak with a guide immediately if you experience any of these symptoms at all.
- Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke are serious life threatening situations that can occur while hiking in Grand Canyon. Pour water on your head and wet a cotton shirt or sarong to maximize evaporative cooling at every rest stop. This reduces fluid, electrolyte, and energy loss significantly. When you cross a stream, water pump, or rest house, stop and soak yourself (don’t drink the water in Pipe Creek).
CONSIDER USING HIKING (TREKING) POLES: If you are experienced with using hiking poles, you might like to bring your collapsible hiking pole(s) with a rubber tip to use on this hike. Poles distribute weight and pressure as well as offer stability.