Mar 21, 2007 at 7:10 am #1222462
I'm headed to the Grand Canyon in September and am staying at the Bright Angel Lodge.
Can anyone recommend a good solo overnight hike? I was thinking of doing a hike down to the bottom, camping, and hiking back up the next day, but am not sure if this is a safe idea by myself.
I'm in pretty good hiking shape, and I'd like something challenging, but not dangerous.
Todd B.Mar 21, 2007 at 7:12 pm #1383128
If you're in good hiking shape, a solo hike to Bright Angel Campground and back to the rim on the following day would be both safe and memorable.
As you probably know, South Kaibab is steeper, shorter, and more visually panoramic compared to the greener, wetter inside passage of Bright Angel Trail.I would decend Kaibab to BA campground, spend any extra time and energy walking N. Kaibab through the narrows and beyond.
Bright Angel Trail between BA campground and Indian Gardens is short, relatively flat and fast. Indian Gardens is a great oasis in the heat,and intersects the Tonto Trail and a short trail out to a Colorado River overlook. I don't recall the name. The overlook is nice, maybe anticlimatic after the Kaibab, but a distance on the Tonto will provide another impression of the canyon. I would save about three and a half hours for the steeper hike from IG to the rim.
You could also connect S. Kaibab and BA via the Tonto on the way down or up.
I would take sticks for the Kaibab, prepare for heat, and plan on wishing for a longer stay.
GooMar 21, 2007 at 8:40 pm #1383140
@mrschurrLocale: SW US
The Bright Angel campground is very safe for a solo hike and not a bad idea for the first time at the Grand Canyon. The trails are very busy including mules. It will still be hot in September at the bottom. That campground sells out fast so make certain you get a permit as soon as they start to issue them.Mar 22, 2007 at 7:27 am #1383170
Great, thanks for the advice.
How much water should a person carry for a trip like this?
ToddMar 22, 2007 at 8:23 am #1383173
How much water you carry depends on which trail you hike. There is no water on the South Kaibab, whereas there are 3 water stops on the Bright Angel trail (4.5, 3.0 and 1.5 miles from the rim). Once you're at the campground there is plenty of water. That being said, the pipeline can break (and often does) so you'll need to be prepared to carry a decent amount of water no matter which trail you choose.
We typically descend South Kaibab early in the morning and I have never drank more than 50 ounces before reaching the river & campground. Going up Bright Angel I usually start with a full 100 ounce bladder and then top it off at the water stops if necessary.Mar 26, 2007 at 10:00 am #1383566
Should I consider hiking from Bright Angel campground up to the North Rim? I could get my dad to pick me up. We could then check out the North Rim.
ToddMar 26, 2007 at 10:18 am #1383568
John S.BPL Member
The North Rim closes road access to it early. Be sure to find out when.Mar 27, 2007 at 4:57 am #1383678
Phil BartonBPL Member
IIRC the North Rim closes in October but you do need to be sure that it's open if you're counting on an exit there. The hike to the North Rim is longer than either the South Kaibab or Bright Angel trails. It is different scenery altogether from the South Rim. It's also less traveled as the North Rim only has about 10% of the visitors as the South Rim. There is a lot to recommend it. Water is available as you hike along the creek and at the pump keepers house (still along the creek). Once you start the serious climb water is available at the Supai rest stop.Apr 2, 2007 at 6:23 am #1384524
I am also taking a trip out to the Canyon in September and I am curious on clothing selections. I am beginning to mentally prepare for 100 degree heats, but when I think 100 degree’s here in New England, I think humidity and wearing anything but running shorts and a T is unbearable. Is it smarter to wear LW pants and LS shirt for desert conditions?
Any other tips for hiking in the desert that a White Mountain dweller may not know about?Apr 2, 2007 at 6:27 am #1384526
@naturephoto1Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Carry a lot of water. In the Moab, Canyonlands, and Arches area in Utah, the normal recommendation is to carry 1 gallon of water per day since it is not readily available.
RichApr 2, 2007 at 7:33 am #1384532
@foodLocale: Colorado Rockies
For what it is worth:
Clothes from head to toe for a September Grand Canyon trip.
Straw hat from your local tractor supply.
Cotton bandana from your local tractor supply.
60/40 cotton and synthetic Dickies chambray long sleeve work shirt from your local tractor supply.
Synthetic or COTTON underwear.
REI Sahara pants.
Merino wool crew socks.
Shoes/boots that fit.
In the pack:
Drop Stopper rain suit:
Silk weight long underwear for PJs.
2 pair of wool socks.
Synthetic or cotton underwear.
Optional: Polartec 100 or 200 pullover, Patagucci Micropuff pullover, or MontBell down inner jacket. I carry a Jacks'R'Better No Sniveller quilt that can be worn as a sarape so I carry no insulating layer.Apr 2, 2007 at 8:11 am #1384537
I agree with Richard M.'s recommendations; all except the cotton clothing. It is mentioned as a contributing factor to exposure injury in many "Accidents in North American Mountaineering" epics. If you do wear cotton, have a backup set of clothing you can change into if it gets soaked and night/temperature falls.Apr 2, 2007 at 8:15 am #1384540
As of right now here is what I am considering
REI synthetic breifs
Ex Officio Namad pants
Rail Riders Eco Mech T (SPF 30 on the arms)
OR SunRunner hat
Smartwool Adrenaline socks
Montrail Vitesse sneaks
Patagonia Micropuff vest
Icebreaker wool liner gloves and hat
Patagonia Houdini jkt
TNF running shorts (to swim in at the bottom)
Patagonia silkweight LS shirt (white)Apr 2, 2007 at 8:18 am #1384542
One more thing Jonathan, since I discovered toe socks, I never hike without them. Thin base toe socks, thick merino wool hikers, and trail runners or light hikers. Good combo. No toe to toe friction.Apr 2, 2007 at 8:30 am #1384546
I'll second Brett's vote for toe socks. I buy the Injinji brand (available at REI) and absolutely love them.Apr 2, 2007 at 8:47 am #1384550
@foodLocale: Colorado Rockies
I do not hike in the Canyon in September because it is too hot. However I do wear cotton in May and October.
In the inner canyon the average September high is 97 and the low is 69. Cotton is a very good choice.
Cotton is not a good choice in alpine environments, but is a good choice in the desert.Apr 2, 2007 at 2:43 pm #1384600
@jjpittsLocale: Midwest US
Hike the Hermit Creek trail down to Hermit rapids, spend the night, and hike back up. That is a big notch up from just hiking Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch, but I would hardly call it dangerous. Hermit Rapids is a fun and interesting place to camp. The hike out will be a hard day so get an early start. The Hermit Trail is not maintained and it can get pretty rough in spots. Frankly I would rather be hiking up it than down it, but it's not impossible. The hike from the plateau to Hermit Rapids is straightforward marked but you do need to know how to follow cairns carefully.
Another option: Hike South Kaibab down to Phantom Ranch and stay at Bright Angel Campground. That is a lot of fun, esp putting back a few cold ones at Phantom Ranch. Then hike up to Indian Garden and visit Plateau Point for another night (if you can fit another in)… do some condor viewing. Then hike out on Bright Angel Trail the next day. There is a shuttle bus that runs from the backcountry office to the trailhead of the Kaibab Trail. So you can leave your car at the backcountry office, catch the shuttle to the Kaibab, and when you hike out on Bright Angel just walk to your car. The views hiking down into the canyon on the Kaibab are awesome.
Just a few ideas. Of course you need to apply for a permit and often you won't get the trip you want. So it's good you are planning ahead and it would be a good idea to cook up a few options just in case.Apr 2, 2007 at 7:09 pm #1384621
@eaglembLocale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
We just hiked S. Kaibab down and back up Bright Angel in a day last week, not a bad hike, great views and diversity.
It's really worth hiking up one and down the other.
There are many people that have kindly offered suggestions on clothing, I'll offer you this: You really need to check the weather forecast before you go. September is typically still very hot in the canyon often over 110F, while comfortable (70 – 80's F) on top.
Water consumption and sun protection will be key.
Good luck, it's an incredible journey.Apr 5, 2007 at 6:32 am #1384901
What is the difficulty and length of this route if done in 2 days. I am thinking to start at the Hermit outlook and head down to one of the camping sites at the bottom of this trail. Next day get an early start and head over to Bright Angel campground for night number 2 and then head out the next morning. From what I have read there is plenty of water on the Bright Angel route, but what about ther Hermit tr?Apr 5, 2007 at 7:19 am #1384904
We just day hiked the Hermit to Bright Angel trailhead loop 2 weeks ago. It's around a 24 mile total loop, and the only water source you can count on before Indian Gardens is Monument Creek, which is maybe 8 miles into the hike. It is also an excellent place to camp. You won't regret taking this route, the views along the way are magnificent. I found the views along that stretch of Tonto trail particularly memorable. If you want a 2 night trip, you can stay over at Indian Gardens and have an easy hike out the 3rd day.Apr 5, 2007 at 8:23 am #1384913
While my girlfreind and I are used to high mileage days in the White Mountains, we are not used to the September heat of AZ. I figure not being accustomed to the area, it is best not to do this in one day. We will be traveling with well under 20 lbs total weight on each of our backs so we will be able to move freely, but my concern is the heat.
Is the Hermit Trail easy to follow? All of the guidebooks say it is not as easy, but most of the time they do not write books like this for more seasoned hikers traveling light and fast.Apr 5, 2007 at 10:46 am #1384939
@mrschurrLocale: SW US
You may want to head over to Monument for the first night. The Hermit has one spring toward the top. I recently went down the Bright Angel and over to Monument in a day. That portion of the Tonto has very little shade and will be hot in September.Apr 5, 2007 at 11:50 am #1384953
The Hermit trail is fairly easy to follow. We did get off trail once and had to do a bit of scrambling to recover, but I blame that mostly on my stupidity. It is a very rugged trail in places. Some parts of the trail are taken out by a rockslide and you need to be able to rock hop a bit to get through. If you are going ultralight, not as much of an issue but be aware if either of you have any balance issues. Hermit is overall a fairly steep descent and will give your knees a workout.
I would not recommend a day hike either if you are not accustomed to the heat or the area. We had backpacked this loop before and had a good familiarity with the hike. Your longest stretch will be between Monument and Indian Garden, around 11 miles. You won't be able to rely on finding any water along there.
Someone on another forum asked me to keep a log of my hike times along the route, copied here FYI.
Hike start at Hermit trailhead 7:36AM
Waldron trail junction 8:05AM
Dripping Spring junction 8:12AM
Santa Maria Spring 8:24AM
Hermit Creek junction 10:23AM
Granite Rapids junction 11:09AM
(stop for water refill at Monument Creek, depart 11:34AM)
Cedar Spring 12:15PM
Salt Creek 12:56PM
Horn Creek 2:55PM
Tonto West junction 3:47PM, Indian Gardens 10-20 minutes later
(stop for water refill at Indian Gardens, ~15min)
Bright Angel trailhead 5:51PM
Sitting down for a fine dinner at El Tovar 8:15PMApr 5, 2007 at 12:05 pm #1384955
This is some great info guys, I really appreciate it. I guess my last question is where do you park, and how do you get between the 2 trailheads. I went there many years ago and I remember a bus that went between the two. Is that still in operation? If so when does it start in the morning?Apr 5, 2007 at 1:08 pm #1384963
There is a bus that runs out to Hermit about every 30 minutes or so, starting at 5:30AM, I believe. We just parked at BA trailhead and hopped on the bus, the bus stop is very close to BA trailhead. Keep in mind that the driver will stop at about 5-6 places along the way, so plan on a 30-40 minute drive to get there.
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