Grit and Gear – Notes on preparing for a great day

Here are voices of experienced hikers on getting ready for the Canyon Crossing.


Dave’s Blog of Advice:



Grand Canyon or Bust Blog


South Rim Newsletter:    Link

Full of information about what is going on where we start/finish the 2014 hike.




Kevin’s Training Advice:


There are a number of approaches to get yourself in shape for a day of hiking in the Grand Canyon.  The fundamentals:

  • Start Early.  There is no crash course to whip yourself into shape in the last few weeks of September.  Most of us take the summer months to prepare.  You don’t need to be an olympic athlete or gym rat to hike the canyon but you do need to respect the challenge and train accordingly.
  • Adopt a Time to Train Habit.  As we help first time hikers prepare, the starting point is making time each week for training.  Starting in early summer, we encourage three or more sessions to train.
  • Gradual Progression.  No need to simulate a whole canyon hike the first time out in training.  Start small and then continually add a bit more challenge and time to each workout.  Consistency counts.
  • Hills – The Ups and Downs.  At least one session a week should be hill or stair training.  You have to prepare your body for the descent as well as the climb.   Consider starting with 30-45 minutes of going up and down a steep hill or staircase and then add 5-10 minutes each week for 12 weeks.  By early September, you should be able to complete a 3-4 hour hill hike session.  This is strength training to build your braking muscles (leg quads) for the descent and then the climbing muscles (leg hamstrings).
  • Walkabouts.  In addition to focused hill work, the reality of a day crossing the Grand Canyon is a day on your feet.  It will take about 12 or so hours to cross and you’ll be moving most of the time.  One-third of the day will be spent hiking down, one-third hiking across and one-third hiking up.  Most of us don’t spend that much time in our daily lives walking that much, so dedicate some of  your training time to just walking.  Using the gradual progression rule, start early summer with a 30-45 minute walk two or three times per week.  Then add 10 minutes to the routine every week.  This will ‘toughen’ your feet to avoid blisters on hike day.
  • Bring a Friend.  Be sure to recruit a friend or two to join you in training.  Even if they aren’t joining you on hike day, it’s more fun to have a buddy in training.
  • Ready-Rato.  No one’s perfect in training and most of us miss some of our training days.  But you need to be realistic here.  We find if a rookie has completed about 90% of the training days in preparation, he or she is ready for a great day.  Less than that – especially missing the long hill training days – will mean challenging and painful day at the Canyon.



Jason’s Advice:

IMG_0753 copyI remember the fist time I got the call to join “the group hiking the Grand Canyon.” Growing up on the west coast, the canyon was something that was always there, but never really pulled me to see it. I mean, I fly over it about 40 times a year, and have been doing that since 2000; but, to go and spend time IN the canyon, I knew that would be something special.

Looking back now, having hiked rim to rim (and rim to rim to rim) a few times, there would be a few pieces of advice I’d share. Please note: I’ve always had GREAT times doing this hike. I’ve not suffered any injuries, have not fallen ill, and have always come out of the canyon with the same smile I wore on the way in…

  1.   Make your reservation early. Over the years, I’ve heard of people not reserving a room early enough. Personally, Jodi and I prefer to stay at Maswick Lodge on the south rim and in the cabins on the north rim. This year, 2014, is a “south-side” hike, so call early to make your reservations:Xanterra Parks & Resorts Reservations, Call +1-303-297-2757, Email at, On the Web at
  2. Practice how you’re going to play. I bought a backpack with a water bladder. I bought hiking poles. I bought trail-running shoes. I bought gels and bars and supplements. I did all this MONTHS before the first hike. You see, when I go out for practice hikes I want to be equipped with the same gear I’m going to use on the trail. Practice … To play.
  3. Communicate with your group. One of the things I learned the hard way was how important it is to “over share” if you’re hiking with a group (large or small). Now, each Friday morning we start, there are natural groups that form within 3-5 miles of the trailhead. Personally, I want to be within earshot (and eyesight) of a few special people. Well, mid way through one hike, I realized that there were several of us in the group who had different ideas of what “a good day” meant. Some wanted to hike faster. Some wanted to take more pictures. Some wanted to take more rests. Some wanted to talk a lot. Some wanted to enjoy the quiet.
  4. Ask a couple of the “uncomfortable” questions the week or so before the hike. Questions I can remember asking over the years
    • “about” how hard do you want to go
    • if someone gets hurt, what’s our plan
    • is there anything you’d like me to carry for you?
    • if we seem to be going “too slow,” how would you like me to tell you?I recommend talking with a few other veterans, and ask them what questions THEY think you should think about before embarking on this journey.
  5.  Take care of yourself, SO THAT you can take care of others. This is my last piece of advice. Drink water. Eat carbs and fats and proteins. Stop when you want, change your socks, put on sunscreen…do all those things you can do to take care of yourself so that you’re available and ready to help out when/if you can.

Kevin’s Top Gear List:


  1. Camelbak with at least 100 oz of water capacity.  No water, you wither.
  2. Broken-in hiking shoes.  Many wear real hiking shoes but I prefer my trusty trail running shoes.
  3. Hiking poles.  You may feel silly in training but get over it.  On canyon crossing day, a pair of poles will keep you steady and save your knees.
  4. Hat for shade not for style.
  5. Trail food you’ve tried out in training.  My choice:  Nature Valley Bars, trail mix, sports chews.







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