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Last Updated: May 2, 2019

Wizard Of Odds Weekly Update May 02, 2019

I'm proud to say that on April 15-17 I crossed the Grand Canyon - both ways. This was a difficult 44.5-mile journey involving about 11,000 feet of elevation gain. I've done a fair bit of hiking and mountain climbing in the western United States, but I have to say that the rim to rim hike is high on the list of the best of them. Perhaps even #1.

The north side of the Grand Canyon doesn't open until May, so doing it in April necessitates doing it both ways. Even in the summer, I would still recommend attempting both ways because it is a long six-hour shuttle to get back to where you started. Many elite athletes go both ways in under 24 hours. Others can take several days, going about seven miles a day and camping along the way. I felt that taking three days was about as much of a challenge I'm in shape for.

One could write a short book about the whole trip. There are plenty of trip reports online about people who have done it. Besides this recent trip, I have hiked about 100 miles on separate trips on these same trails, so feel I know a thing or two about it. That said, here is my advice for taking on this challenge.

  • It gets brutally hot in the Grand Canyon in summer. Many people have died in the Grand Canyon due to dehydration. So, know where the water sources are and carry enough to make it between them. When you're at a water source, drink a lot! In general, drink before you get thirsty.
  • To keep cool, wet your clothing when near a water source. If it's extremely hot and you have the opportunity, get as wet as you can (without swimming in the Colorado River, lest you get caught in the strong current and drown). People have died due to heat exhaustion right next to a water source. The basic rule is take preventative measure to avoid getting too hot.
  • Water is not always turned on at every rest stop. If you expect that to be the case, carry a way to purify water. There are lots of ways to do it, but I personally like the SteriPen, which is an ultra-violet light you put into a water bottle to kill any bacteria. Sheldon even mentioned this technique in the last episode of the Big Bang Theory
  • Pay attention to your feet. I know, easier said than done. The basic rule is to keep your feet dry and minimize the rubbing. No matter how much you try, blisters are still possible, so carry plenty of mole skin. In the eternal debate about to pop or not to pop a blister, I am in the pop-it camp.
  • In the hottest time of the year, try to avoid hiking the hottest hours of the day. There's nothing wrong with hiking at night part of the time. Just bring a head lamp.
  • Make plans and reservations long in advance if you plan to use a campground. That process is a long topic I won't get into.
  • Eat before you get hungry. Food is the fuel you'll need to complete the hike so eat a lot. Bring snacks you like to make it easy. I believe that salty foods are the best. Anything should have a high calorie to weight ratio.
  • Know your limits. Train to ensure you're ready. A canyon is different than a mountain in that getting out is the hard part.

I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting, but what I did say is important.

I took too many pictures to throw into this newsletter, so instead I'll give you this link to a montage of them I put into a YouTube video.

In closing, here is my favorite one, which echoes my warnings.