Food and water should be your top priority when you plan your Grand Canyon hike. The trails are long and rigorous so you’ll be using up a lot of energy and burning a lot of calories. It’s recommended that you eat about 500 calories an hour. However, you should eat in small amounts so your body can process the food more efficiently. There’s no doubt that you’ll be taking a lot of breaks during your hike for pictures or for resting your muscles. This would be a good time to drink water and munch on a granola bar or salty snack. Even some some cookies or salty chips will work but remember they crush easily in your pack. I really DO NOT recommend bringing energy bars if you’re hiking during the hot weather. We learned the hard way that the hot Grand Canyon weather will quickly turn a bag full of energy bars into a blob of warm chocolate goo in no time.
We brought enough food for 2 full meals a day and enough snacks to last us in between. For my full meals (breakfast and dinner), I brought with me MRE’s (Meal Ready To Eat) which are used by the military as survival food. The civilian version are called “A Packs”. I like MRE’s because it’s a complete meal in one package. You can eat it cold or you can heat them up with an MRE heater which it usually comes with. With the MRE heater and a little water you can heat up your MRE up to 200°F. No need for fire. To me, MRE’s taste a lot better heated up. Even though the weather can get really hot at the Grand Canyon, there’s nothing like rewarding yourself at the end of a long hike with a nice hot dinner. A nice hot MRE for breakfast helps get you going as well. Another good thing about MRE’s is that each meal is contains about 800-1000 calories.
One disadvantage of MRE’s/A Packs is that they get heavy. I also brought along some Mountain House Freeze-Dried Food. The Mountain House meals much lighter to carry and they do taste pretty good. However, you have to make sure you add the right amount of hot water and of course a way to heat up the water. It’s a good a idea to test out a couple MRE’s/A Packs and Mountain House meals before your hike. That way you know how to heat them up, the right amount of water to use, and if you even like the taste. You don’t want to be in the middle of your hike trying to figure out for the first time how to heat up your food.
So the food that I originally brought consisted of 2 MRE’s/A Packs per day for breakfast and dinner. Snacks included packets of tuna, crackers, energy bars (they melted!) packets of fruit, and beef jerky. I’m ashamed to say, I also brought a can of cheese whiz, a couple of SPAM singles, and powdered Gatorade, and cooking oil. Why did I bring those? I had this wild notion that I’ll be sitting happy at camp eating cheese and crackers and then cooking up pancakes (which Juan brought) in the morning. That wasn’t the case. I was so tired after day one all I thought about was the added weight of the extra weight. I also had the bright idea to store the crackers and oil in Tupperware. Another bad idea. It just added more bulk and more weight and the crackers were still crushed and oil leaked everywhere! Oil spilled inside your pack cooking in the Grand Canyon sun did not give a very pleasant odor. Lessons learned.
At the last minute brought a couple Mountain House Freeze-Dried Food meals just in case. The first time I tried them was during our hike and I had no idea what I was doing. The first one came out very watery and cold. That’s why I recommend testing everything before you’re hike.
NOTE: When you’re at camp, be sure to secure your food in a stuff sack and hang it up to keep animals from getting to it. Depending on the campsite, there could be storage containers that you can use.
So, for our next Grand Canyon hike, my food list will still include MRE’s but because they are so heavy I might limit it to one a day and bring more Mountain House meals. The fruit packets I brought ended up becoming heavy so I may try bringing dried fruit instead. I’ll also add more crackers, trail mix (no chocolate because it melts), and some granola. This isn’t set in stone yet but the goal is to stay as lightweight as possible and only bring food that will provide energy and nutrition. Also, this time we might consider having dinner at Phantom Ranch located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. If you reserve early, Phantom Ranch will have a dinner waiting for you when you reach the bottom. They offer a steak, veggie, or stew. A great reward for a long hike. They also provide sack lunches for the next day to take with you as you continue your hike, again, you have to reserve early. Snacks, first aid items, and souvenirs are available too but quantities are limited and with a high price. Be sure to bring money. Consider taking advantage of the food at Phantom Ranch. It’s less you have to carry. REMEMBER to reserve early.
NOTE: If you’re hiking during the hot months, don’t bring anything that’s perishable.
Remember food and water can either make or break your Grand Canyon hike. Not only do you need to eat, but you need to eat foods that will give you the energy. You’ll need to replace the salt that you will be sweating out during your hike. Salty snacks and sports drinks will take care of that. Finally, consider the weight of the food you’ll be carrying. Bringing too much food will make you’re backpack heavy and if not eaten, it’s more for you to carry back up.
The cork grips make it comfortable to use and the anti-shock absorption is necessary for your long hikes especially if you plan to hike the Grand Canyon. Traction is important when it comes to hiking poles and thanks to the carbide tips, these poles will give you the traction you need. The ‘Quick-twist” locking mechanism also gives you piece of mind during those times you need to put all your weight on them.
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CONCLUSION: The Mountainsmith Carbonlite Pro Trekking Poles offer two key features when it comes to hiking poles, lightweight and rugged. You don’t want to the poles to give or collapse when you apply added weight. The Quick-twist locking mechanism locks into place with no worries. They’re not that much expensive at all compared to other hiking poles with similar features which makes these hiking poles worth checking out.
This is a cool 5 minute “first person video-hike” of the 7.4 mile South Kaibab Trail from Grand Canyon’s South Rim down to the Phantom Ranch. Courtesy of www.TrailVista.com.
This video is very well done and shows you a little of what to expect on your Grand Canyon hike. But don’t let it fool you, this hike isn’t a 5 minute walk in the park. You need to be prepared for the challenge.
Can you run a marathon? Do you think that means you’re in enough shape to hike the Grand Canyon? THINK AGAIN!
To a marathon runner, the three main corridor trails are relatively short. The South Kaibab trail is 7 miles, the Bright Angel Trail is 10 miles, and the North Kaibab Trail is 14 miles. A marathon is 26 miles, so you can see that to a runner, these trails should be “easy”. This is very far from the truth.
Grand Canyon Trail head Notice
Posted at the beginning of these trails is a public announcement notice that tells the story of Margaret Bradley, a Boston Marathon runner that died at the Grand Canyon while attempting to run a 27 mile trail run in one day. Bradley was an All American athlete at her university and had completed the Boston Marathon 3 months prior to her Grand Canyon run. According to the public announcement notice, Bradley was unprepared for the extreme heat, excessive distance, and excessive water. Bradley brought with her 1.5 liters of water, two energy bars, and 1 apple!
This tragic story is one of hundreds of other stories of people who overestimate their own capabilities and underestimate the Grand Canyon.
The notice lists the following tips when hiking the Grand Canyon:
These simple tips can save your life!
Have a Plan: Plan ahead for the unexpected. Know where you’re going, the length of your route, and where to obtain water. Check the weather forecast. Leave your itinerary with a reliable person and report in when you return. It can take twice as long to hike up as it is to hike down.
Stay Cool:Avoid hiking between the hours of 10 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. when there is little shade on the trails. If possible, wet your shirt and hat to stay cool through evaporation. Hike during the cooler parts of the day.
Stay Together: Always keep your hiking group together. Never leave anyone behind. Don’t forget: YOU are responsible for your safety.
Refuel and Rehydrate:Take twice as much food as you normally would, including high calorie salty foods. The only trail with reliable water sources is Bright Angel Trail. Stay hydrated by drinking often, even before you feel thirsty.
Rest: Rest periodically in the shade with your feet elevated. Enjoy a drink of water and some snacks. Hiking in the canyon is strenuous even for those that are fit. Do not hike beyond your abilities.
Ironically, I am currently training to run a half marathon. Like hiking the Grand Canyon, running a marathon requires a lot of preparation and training. By no means am I relying soley on my running to prepare for the hike. However, running does provide a lot of benefits that will help carry me into preparing for the hike like improving my cardio and stamina. I’ve also discovered that running and hiking both require a high level of mental strength which is very important. (I’ll cover that in another post.) If running a marathon is also on your list of challenges you want to accomplish, check out, Marathon Running for Beginners it contains all the information you need to get you started on your training.