May 2, 2021 at 8:35 pm #3711272YoyoBPL Member
@dgpostonLocale: NYC metro
For those who would rather watch an 11 minute video instead of read go here
Here is my 9.8 lb gear list (including 2 lb of camera gear) which kept me warm and comfortable down to the low 20s F
Hiking the Grand Canyon is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’d never even been to Arizona let alone see the Grand Canyon, so when I had some time off from work I decided the pull the trigger. The timing was perfect too. From what I understand the Canyon can get pretty hot in the summer time (over 115 F or something ridiculous), and winter can have the Canyon under snow (especially on the North Kaibab Trail), so I decided to plan my trip for the end of March / early April. I ended up starting the trail at the South Kaibab Trailhead on March 31 at around 8:00 am, hiking to the North Rim (which was still closed—a word on that in a moment) and camping overnight, and on April 1 around 7 pm at the Bright Angel Trailhead. For anyone thinking of doing the hike, I would definitely recommend to take the South Kaibab going down to the Colorado River, as there is no water between the trailhead and the River (you can access a pump just on the other side near the Bright Angel campground (if I’m remembering correctly).
In terms of weather, everything worked out perfectly. Temps when I started at the South Rim were around 30 F at 8:00 am, but warmed up to 80 F in the Canyon on the first day and 85 F on the second day heading back. When I got to the North Rim, there was plenty of snowdrifts (some of the signs were nearly buried in snow) and temps overnight were around 25 F, maybe a little colder.
One of the reasons for wanting to the do the trail in 2 days was permitting. If you know anything about GCNP, you have to apply months in advance for a permit at any of the campgrounds below the Rim (Bright Angel, Phantom Ranch, Cottonwood, etc.). By hiking to the North Rim in one day and camping there overnight, I avoided this hassle. When I called/emailed, they still asked that I get a permit to backcountry camp at the North Rim, so I paid the $18 and got a permit, although I’m not entirely sure that’s necessary. Maybe some AZT thru hikers can chime in? When I told the rangers I was planning to do a 2 day Rim2Rim2Rim they thought I was insane. Personally, I didn’t think it could be that bad since I’m used to 25 miles, and even though there’s quite a lot of elevation gain (11K? 12K)? the trail is well graded and compared to the AT in my backyard here on the East coast, it didn’t seem like it could be that “hard.” Aside from the permit issue, I also was kinda on a time crunch and it didn’t really make sense to do 15 mile days (I’d be sitting around in camp by probably 2 in the afternoon).
In terms of the hike itself, I was blown away by the views. I’d watched a bunch of Rim2Rim2Rim videos on YT and looked at pics, but nothing does it justice. I would say that the R2R2R is probably one of the favorite shorter hikes (sub 50 miles) I’ve done to date. It’s definitely worth the trip out to Arizona even if you don’t live around there. There is just so much variety in the terrain—desert, streams, the Colorado River of course, and alpine forest on the North Rim. You’ll also see plenty of wildlife (bighorn sheep, deer, etc.). I ended up shooting almost 100 GB of video in 2 days since I kept stopping every 10 minutes and setting up walk by shots (if you watch the vid you’ll see what I mean).
In terms of the elevation gain, I definitely felt the climb up the North Kaibab. 5-6k of gain in a day isn’t huge (you can easily do that on the AT in a day), but the continual up up up can be wearing mentally, and for me this was my first real hike of the year. Other than doing a few short day hikes on the AT to train, I was not in thru hiking shape for sure. The other issues is that I am coming from sea level (NYC area) and the North Rim is 8200’. I would say that if you are reasonably fit and used to doing 25 mile days and train a bit, you can do the hike in 2 days. I mean the FKT on this trail is only a few hours and looking at what Stringbean just did on the AZT recently, it can’t be that hard right? On other hand, on the way back up Bright Angel I saw people lying on the ground (day hikers) when the sun was setting, and I knew that they weren’t gonna make it until after dark. People die every year in the Canyon apparently, since there is no road that goes out of there. If you hike down, you have to hike back up. It’s kinda the opposite of summiting a mountain, going down is easy, but getting back up isn’t.
In terms of gear, I plan to do a full gear video, but basically I was rocking a 9.6 lb base weight, at least 2 pounds of which were camera gear. So if you don’t carry a camera, you could get by with a sub 8 lb gear list, even in early spring like I did. My big four: ZPacks Hexamid Solo tarp (now called “pocket tarp”), Neo Air XTherm pad, ZPacks 10 classic quilt/bag, and my custom DCF SWD 40 L pack. My kit was pretty dialed in, since I used virtually the exact same gear that I did on my recent section hike of Shenandoah Nat’l Park on the AT around Xmas.
The big challenge for this hike was adjusting to the different temps. I don’t think I’ve actually experienced this wide degree of temp difference in two days (25 F – 85 F ). I got a little dehydrated in the Canyon because I wasn’t expecting temps that warm (the previous night in my hotel room in Tusayan it was like 22 F outside), and I forgot to bring electrolyte tablets. I definitely would never attempt this hike in July or August (or even June probably).
I’m hoping to put together a how-to video guide on how to hike the trail. as well as a post-hike gear video on all the gear I brought on the trip.
Bottom line: if you haven’t hiked the R2R2R, you need to!May 2, 2021 at 11:00 pm #3711283
Yeah, the rangers are so focused on all the tourists they have to rescue each year, they really discourage longer day- and over-night hikes. I got yelled at for hiking R2R2R in a day (19 hours) when I was a 1/3 my age but you’re allowed to. Last time I was only a R2R2R, it was a BPL event and I the more studly folks ran it. I only did 30 miles of it (South Kaibab and the mostly flat stuff north of the River). I still have and treasure the fabulous mug Craig made for the event.
First time I was there, it got to 120F in the inner canyon and, being monsoon season, was 32F and raining/hailing before we got back to the south rim. Definitely be prepared for extremes!
2020 messed with my plans, but I try to make it there every year or two. And I’m coming from Alaska. One advantage that has is that January and February seem like really mild weather to us and there’s no competition for permits once the Christmas-New Years vacation has passed.May 3, 2021 at 10:24 am #3711308Elliott WolinBPL Member
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Really enjoyed the video, very nice photography. This is a trip I’ve been thinking about, but not over two days.
Especially notable to me was your rapid pace, half breaking into a run at times, leaping over obstacles. Enjoy this kind of hiking while you can, unless you are very lucky you won’t be able to do this when you get to my age, closing in on 70. I’d blow out my knee or roll an ankle within minutes, if not seconds, if I hiked like this anymore.
I’m thinking something more like 5 nights: down to river first day, up to Cottonwood second day, day hike to North Rim and back third day, back down to river fourth day, up to Indian Gardens fifth day, out the sixth day. This is strongly motivated by our hiking style, which involves a great deal of bird watching, botanizing, geology investigation, wildlife viewing, leisurely meals, naps, sleeping in, navel-gazing, and other auxiliary pursuits.
How hard might it be to get permits for such an itinerary, in the spring or fall to avoid the summer crowds? Our previous wonderful three-night trip to the river and back (second perhaps only to doing the Wonderland Trail over 13 nights), two nights and a full day spent down at the river, final night at Indian Gardens, was in November. It was crowded at the river but empty at Indian Gardens.May 3, 2021 at 10:36 am #3711309dirtbagBPL Member
Nice!! And a fellow NYer .. Right up my alley. Looking forward to the How to video also.. This is one of many hikes on my list for the west coast!!May 3, 2021 at 3:08 pm #3711332David HartleyBPL Member
@dhartleyLocale: Western NY
Great video! You didn’t just hike R2R2R – at numerous locations you hiked ahead, placed your camera, backtracked and then hiked that section again (or placed a camera, hiked ahead, and then backtracked to pick up the camera)! Thanks for this. Also the music went well with the video – a great hike and an enjoyable video.May 3, 2021 at 4:38 pm #3711343
Elliot: talking to backpack-country rangers in 2019, they said January and February are easy to get permits for, even last minute, for the main corridor. It’s too much like winter camping for most people so they mostly get Alaskans and Canadians. Yeah, Indian Gardens is brisk and shadey then – I’d hope for 35-40F nights but be prepared for 20F. But the Inner Canyon with 45F nights and 55F days? Ideally hiking weather, IMO. If you’re willing to push to and from the Inner Canyon and then putter around down there, the temps would be mild.May 4, 2021 at 7:35 am #3711408Ken LarsonBPL Member
@kenlarsonLocale: Western Michigan
I believe 20 years ago I would take you up on giving this adventure you did a try. A EXCELLENT all around presentation and makes one want to give it a try as their next self-discovery adventure.
“Without self-discovery, a person may still have self-confidence, but it is a self-confidence built on ignorance and it melts in the face of heavy burdens. Self-discovery is the end product of a great challenge mastered, when the mind commands the body to do the seemingly impossible, when strength and courage are summoned to extraordinary limits for the safe of something outside the self – a principle, an onerous task, another human life.”
– Kurt HahnMay 4, 2021 at 7:57 pm #3711518Casey BowdenBPL Member
@clbowdenLocale: Berkeley Hills
Just watched with my family (who did Rim to River to Rim in 1 day in 2019).
Thanks for making this.May 5, 2021 at 10:33 am #3711560Kevin BabioneBPL Member
I really enjoyed the video and cannot imagine how many extra miles you did to capture the shots of you hiking (especially in the middle of the video where you were pretty far away). I was sure I was going to see a drone of some sort on your gear list: You set it down, adjusted the camera, did your hike, and then whistled to call the drone to you so you could do it again! It does make the video much more interesting to watch, but doing all of those sections 3 times is a lot.
Well done and thanks for posting.May 6, 2021 at 9:43 am #3711645YoyoBPL Member
@dgpostonLocale: NYC metro
Thanks all, I appreciate the positive feedback. Haha, no drone on the gear list! I used a drone for those opening shots but they weren’t actually in GCNP (which is not legal). Yeah, doing these walk-by shots really takes a lot of work and lots of extra miles hiked, but lately I’ve decided that it’s much more interesting to watch that and incorporate ambient nature sounds or music rather than talking/vlogging stuff. Just a personal preference, but I enjoy watching Kraig Adams-style videos rather than constantly talking to the camera.
The Grand Canyon was certainly too beautiful not to capture as many moments as I possibly could–I think I shot more video on this trip per mile than any other trip before.May 6, 2021 at 3:39 pm #3711678
Kevin: Yeah, I recognized all those locations and some of those long shots involved a fair bit of backtracking. Probably far more than the minimum 3x over each stretch to get it just right. But some of those longer shots across a gorge do capture more of a sense of the place.
Next time, bring a camera operator! Or another vlogger and leap frog each other.May 6, 2021 at 4:32 pm #3711683Brad WBPL Member
Nice video with the exception of the drone use.May 7, 2021 at 8:50 pm #3711816John LBlocked
Nice video, well produced, loved the drone footage
https://video.search.yahoo.com/video/play;_ylt=Awr9Im1E8pVgTSYAeX3BGOd_;_ylu=Y29sbwNncTEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3Nj?p=So+good+and+tasty&back=https%3A%2F%2Fsearch.yahoo.com%2Fsearch%3Fp%3DSo%2Bgood%2Band%2Btasty%26ei%3DUTF-8%26_tsrc%3Dyfp-hrtab%26fp%3D1&fr=yfp-hrtab&turl=https%3A%2F%2Ftse3.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOVP.9mjS5X_AZW6IIkhj_TEdsAEsDh%26amp%3Bpid%3DApi%26w%3D144%26h%3D77%26c%3D7&rurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dzz6sIzvo9h4&tit=So+good+and+tasty.&l=28&vid=539c6ba4fa421687f337dcc35c52083b&sigr=O7Brf9OG7PHJ&sigb=0uCQsGSHR37D&sigt=HJ20tzSAXA7L&sigi=P5ZxVMU5REg5May 7, 2021 at 11:23 pm #3711829KarenBPL Member
David: When you go in February, are the water taps off? I assume Phantom ranch isn’t open that time of year? I wondered too about ice on the trails; seems like that could be problematic on those steep drop offs! I was thinking of trying for October, but maybe February would be a better bet.May 8, 2021 at 8:25 am #3711836John LBlocked
Ice at top bring traction device….only one tap open at Indian garden
take pedialyte and whisky
and a donkey and a drone for aerial footageMay 8, 2021 at 8:38 am #3711837Steven ThompsonBPL Member
I got yelled at for hiking R2R2R in a day (19 hours) when I was a 1/3 my age but you’re allowed to.
If you read the warning signs they only mention the hazards of trying to hike to the river and back in one day. So for those of us who R2R2R day hike…I think we’re okay.May 8, 2021 at 1:24 pm #3711862
Karen: The taps are off at 1.5-mile hut and 3.0-mile hut, but they are on at Indian Garden.
Phantom Ranch IS open (in a normal year) – campground, bunkhouse (with reservations), dining hall for overnight guests, and snack bar. It’s quite nice down there, especially for Alaskans in winter. The snack bar lets you convert a 1-gram $20 bill into Snickers, granola bars, and lemonade.
The packed snow and ice freaks out most of the tourists and many of them have Yak Trak or 4-point in-step crampons, etc. I always bring them along to the South Rim, scout the first mile of trail the previous day, but then always leave them on the South Rim. An “Alaskan’s Sense of Snow” (Peter Høeg novel reference) suffices for me – you see where to step and where not to step. It certainly could be horribly nasty after enough freeze-thaws, but in 6 winter trips there, I haven’t found it bad enough to cause me to bother with any traction devices.
Another possibility that I’m sometimes prepared for, but only used one time (on a local trail) is to have 7+7=14 1/2-inch hex-head sheet metal screws and a nut driver. Then if I need some traction, I screw 3 into the heel and 4 under the ball of my foot. Far lighter on your feet and more secure than any slip-on device.
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