Without a doubt, the Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most popular destinations in the United States. Its splendor is unmatched, letting you take in nature in a truly unique setting. Yet, despite the knowledge of the canyon and the amount of people who go, every year a number of hikers find themselves in trouble in the canyon.
Safety is just as important in the Grand Canyon as it is in any outdoor location. You should never attempt to climb it without a plan or information about what you need to know. Here is how you can safely venture around the Grand Canyon.
Make a plan.
Knowing what you are getting into ahead of time can be the difference between a fun trip and a disaster. You should review the different paths you can take ahead of time and figure out what you want to see, how long you want to hike, and how you want to return. Do not overestimate what you are capable of. We all want to be tough and push our limit, but the Grand Canyon is not the place to do that. You should look at what the weather is going to be like ahead of time and plan accordingly.
Do not take shortcuts. You can wind up in trouble. The summer is the hottest time, of course, making it the time that runs the highest risk of dehydration and heat exhaustion. Even as recently as August 1, 2017, an experienced hiker and physician perished in the canyon after missing a turn and running out of water. Be smart.
Tell someone your plans
I can never emphasize this enough. Make sure that someone knows where you are headed, even if it is to the Grand Canyon and how long you plan to go there. That way, if you make a wrong turn or run into trouble, someone can call the park and have a ranger look out for you. You should also let your contact know what colors you are going to wear to make it easier to find you if you do get into some kind of trouble.
Your hiking pack should primarily contain adequate supplies of food and water in addition to the essentials such as sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, a small first aid kit, whistle and water purification tablets (or filter). Wear good hiking shoes and comfortable clothing. Bringing along the purification tablets can be a lifesaver if you reach the Colorado River and have no water to use on the way back up.
Don’t test your limit
Everyone has a comfortable walking speed. Pushing yourself to overexertion and getting out of breath can only mean trouble for you. Instead, keep a steady pace that doesn’t force you to overwork your body and deprive it of oxygen. This also means that you should have a rest every hour where you replenish your fluids, have a snack, and let your legs have a break. This will not slow you down as you will feel more energized when you get moving again. Be serious about your snack as well and eat more than you normally would.
Watch the clock
It is going to take you twice as long to get up out of the canyon as it did to go down. This means the earlier you start, the less of a chance you have of hiking in the dark.
The Grand Canyon may be an amazing place to visit, but it can quickly turn into a terrifying experience. Be safe and be smart. You will make better memories hiking back up yourself than you would if you had to be flown to a hospital.
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