Summer Hiking Advice
Over 90% of Grand Canyon tourists visit the South Rim and the overwhelming number visit during the summer months. This is primarily because school children are on summer vacation break . Summer is not the most ideal time to hike into the Grand Canyon. One, it's hot. Two, it's crowded. So if you are looking for a more secluded, tranquil hike into the canyon, the spring and fall months are best although the views across the canyon dusted in winter snow are incredible.
Don't Be Fooled
The elevation at the South Rim's edge averages about 7,000 feet above sea level. This means pleasant temperatures from 50 to 80 degrees F (10 to 20 C). Elevations at the bottom of the canyon drop to about 2,400 feet which means temperatures can climb dramatically as your hike descends into the canyon gorge where summer high temperatures can reach 110 degrees F at summer peaks. This summer heat can be oppressive, uncomfortable and even dangerous if a hiker is inadequately prepared.
Hikers often get complacent lounging in the cool, refreshing temperatures at the top of the rim where pine tree forests grow and don't realize that temperatures can rise 30 degrees F by the time they reach the bottom of the canyon.
Summer Hiking Tips & Safety
1. Start Your Hike Early. Be on the trail at first glimmer of sunrise. Even consider sooner using a flashlight at the beginning. Moonlight typically provides provides adequate light, particularly during a full moon. Sunrise over the canyon creates some astounding views. Begin your hike as early as possible and you will experience a more enjoyable hike.
2. Keep Hydrated. A hiker will sweat 1/2 to a quart of water and electrolytes for every hour of hiking in heat. That rate could double when hiking up hill out of the canyon. Sweat evaporates almost instantly in dry heat and you may not even notice the water loss. A general rule of thumb is to carry a minimum of 1/2 to 1 quart of drinking water for each hour of hiking in the heat and more on the return hike. Do not wait until you feel thirsty to replace fluids, By that time you are likely dehydrated. Carry a water bottle in your hand and drink small amounts often. Balance food intake with water consumption. Take a bite of a salty snack that packs energy each time you drink water. On many trails at the Grand Canyon, there are water stations and water springs where you can refill water containers. Be sure that is the case and lnow the hiking distances to those locations before beginning your hike. You do not want to chance running out of drinking water. The Ranger Station at the Canyon can generally answer your questions.
3. Neck Bandanas. Over 80% of body heat is generated at the back of the neck. Consider wrapping a wet bandana around your neck. Also wrap one around each wrist where blood vessels are close to the surface. Keep soaked extras in a plastic sealed "baggie" for a quick change-out.
4. Wet Tee-Shirts. Pack a couple of wet cotton tee-shirts in a Ziplock bag. Wearing one when it gets hot will revitalize and cool you down. Having two will permit a quick change. It's always good to keep to wet your self down during periods of heat. A spray bottle usually does the trick. If come to a spring or creek along the hike, remove your hiking boots and jump in the water fully clothed. This make you feel more refreshed in the summer heat.
5. Take Breaks Frequently. Particularly if you are not an experienced hiker. You'll want some energy when you reach your destination. Take your time along the way to stop, rest and enjoy the great views the Grand Canyon has to offer. If possible, always seek shady spots where it is cooler.
6. You Really Don't Need That Sleeping Bag. If you are camping, you may need something comfortable to sleep on top of, but to keep warm at night, all you will need is a sheet. In fact, if it is too warm on those hot summer months, consider a dampened sheet.
Enjoy Your Summer Hike Into The Canyon
Park Rangers take exhausted hikers to the hospital on a daily basis during the summer months. Many inexperienced hikers underestimate the rigors of hiking in and out of the canyon. Frequently individuals, family and friends roam down one the trails not intending to hike too far. As they progress down, they find it fairly easy but as the day heats up it can be a difficult trek back up, particularly without drinking water. Don't make the mistake of jaunting down a trail too far without being prepared. Heat exhaustion that can culminate into heatstroke quickly.
If you plan on taking a serious hike, always wear the proper hiking gear and most important is wearing quality hiking shoes or boots. And don't forget the hat to shade yourself from the hot sun rays.
Now go and have an enjoyable and safe hike into the Grand Canyon.