One thing that everyone should do at least once is hike the Grand Canyon. Nothing really prepares a person for his or her first view of this exquisite natural phenomenon, which also happens to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
No photography or video footage can do it justice – the only way one can truly appreciate its awesome beauty is to experience it in person.
NPS photo by Michael Quinn
The exhilaration of seeing the Grand Canyon from the rim is unlike anything else. However, hiking down to the base of the canyon is an even more unique and exciting experience. Because the canyon runs more than 277 miles in length, over 18 miles wide and more than a mile deep, hiking it takes plenty of preparation. While it is best suited for experienced hikers, even novices can hike the Grand Canyon.
With so many ways to explore the Grand Canyon, it can be hard to choose which route to take. So, it doesn’t really matter which of the many Grand Canyon hotels one stays in as long as the hike is planned out accordingly. One of the best hiking routes is to start at the South Rim and head to the northern part of the canyon, which includes crossing the Colorado River.
Hiking the Grand Canyon is different from any other backpacking experiences one can have – it is virtually the opposite of every other hike because the trail starts by going down the canyon and working back up.
NPS photo by Michael Quinn
In an effort to make the Grand Canyon hike one of the best and most successful of any hiker’s life, here are some tips to keep in mind.
A good rule of thumb is that if an individual can talk while walking, then the speed is about right. When a person huffs and puffs while hiking, he or she isn’t getting enough oxygen into the body for proper functions. This uses up energy reserves and can cause nausea, fatigue and muscle cramps. Making sure the body is properly oxygenated makes for a much more enjoyable hike. Take a ten-minute break every hour.
Most hikers are used to hiking in the mountains, not the desert, which is what the Grand Canyon is. The dry, hot environment can cause a lot of stress on the body, especially during the warm summer months. This can lead to overexertion and heat exhaustion, so it is essential that hikers remember to bring plenty of water and stay hydrated – it is also smart to avoid hiking during the warmest part of the day. Symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration include minimal urination, loss of thirst and appetite, headache, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
As with any hike, it is important to hike smart. Wear comfortable hiking clothes and shoes. Hikers should also carry a first aid kit that includes materials for treating minor scrapes and cuts, heat exhaustion, blisters and sprains. Other supplies that should be in everyone’s pack include a flashlight and the right foods. The correct hiking foods include crackers, salty foods (to promote water absorption), trail mix, hard candy and electrolyte powder.
And remember, pay attention to flash flood warnings and weather advisories!
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