Grand Canyon Hiker's Blog
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Grand Canyon Hiker's Blog

Grand Canyon Update: April, 2014

Scene near Yaki Point (photo-illustration: Brian Lane)

Backpacking season is on!

Temperatures are on the rise as the spring backpacking season arrives at the Grand Canyon. The best time of year to hike is now, daytime temps inside the Canyon are in the mid-80s to low-90s, while nights are mid-50s to low-60s. A nice comfortable time to explore the great chasm before the summer heat arrives. It is the busiest time of year for Inner Canyon hikers and overnight permits not already secured are in very short supply. Hope you get a chance to visit the Canyon during this beautiful spring season! 

                                                            Reminders: 

* Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in September, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax, on or after May, 1, 2013.

* The North Rim is still closed until mid-May, 2014.

* A small section of North Kaibab Trail damaged last year has yet to be repaired just below Supai Tunnel. A rope hand-line has been installed to assist hikers.
 

                                    Other news in and around the Canyon... 

Go Wild - No Entrance Fees: Park entrance fees will be waived on April 19 & 20, 2014, during National Park Week (April 19 - 27, 2014) and in celebration of Earth Day (April 22, 2014). Many free, family friendly park activities and events are scheduled during this time. Check with the folks at the Visitor Center for more details on daily activities or click HERE for more info.

2014 Fire Season: We had a very dry and warm winter here in the Southwest, which translates as a chance for a severe wildfire season from now until the monsoons kick in around July. Many forest sections in Northern Arizona have already been designated as "high" fire danger areas, and our seasonal winds have been blowing steadily with gusts up to 30-50 miles-per-hour. While there are currently no fire restrictions in force everyone must be conscientious and make sure you put out any and all fires completely before leaving the area, and discard all smoking materials properly. If you inadvertently start a wildfire you could be held responsible for any and all damages - let alone the possible loss of life to those brave souls who fight these conflagrations. 

Bison Management at Grand Canyon: Early in the 1900s bison were introduced to the Grand Canyon vicinity. Possibly due to poor forage, fire and drought conditions, and hunting pressures, these bison migrated over the years and now a majority of the original herd, (about 350 bison), reside exclusively within Grand Canyon National Park's North Rim. The Park Service is working on a long-term management plan to address this free-roaming bison herd and is seeking public comment. For more information read the NPS press release HERE.

New Grand Canyon National Monument: The Sierra Club recently proposed the possible creation of a "Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument." This new monument would cover about 1.7 million acres including the Kaibab-Pausagant Wildlife Corridor, North Kaibab Plateau, and House Rock Valley. The Sierra Club representative Alycin Gitlin has stated that the area needs added protection from mining and logging threats. See a NAZ Today video discussion of the issue HERE.

Inversion Layer from December, 2013: I was cleaning up my photo downloads and spotted this nice NPS photo by Erin Whittaker of a rare inversion layer of clouds that had settled into the Canyon last December that I had forgotten to post - better late than never I guess...


Tip of the Month - Critters Emerge:

As temps get warm the poisonous critters of the Southwest begin to emerge. Black widow spiders, scorpions, and rattlesnakes are the most prevalent dangers (there are gila monsters within the Canyon, but mostly in the western most regions). Extra cautions should be taken to avoid these creatures, and while these are some of the most venomous creatures in the country, you’ll find that if you ever encounter any of them while in the canyon, they usually scurry away. It’s only by being careless that you risk injury.

First of all, don’t handle any of these critters. Don’t stick your hands or feet into or under anything where you can’t see—bushes, brush, dark corners, etc. Leave your tent zipped up tightly, and check your boots and any clothing left outside your tent before putting them on. At night (critters preferred time for moving about), wear shoes and use a flashlight while you are up and about.

For identification purposes, a black widow is jet black with a red hourglass on her abdomen. The widow's reclusive cousin is the Arizona brown spider, it is usually reddish to light brown, with inch-long thin legs, and the shape of a violin is on the top of its body, with the head of the “fiddle” pointing towards the tail (although they are rarely found in canyon country). A scorpion is colored between light brown and yellow straw, about an inch to three inches long, pincers in front and a long tail, curled at the end, holding its stinger. A rattlesnake is a snake with rattles—stay away from it. I've rarely seen a rattlesnake while hiking in canyon country, but extra care must always be taken to avoid a strike. In most cases, you will hear the rattle long before you can see the snake. If you hear the buzz of a rattler, freeze immediately and without moving your head (if possible) locate the snake with your eyes. Once the snake relaxes from a striking position, slowly move away. If you are within about three feet of the snake, you are in striking distance. Slowly and carefully double that distance and you should be well out of its striking range.

If bitten, stung, or struck... most spider bites are initially painless, with intense pain setting in within ten to twenty minutes. Although patients may think they are dying, only a few people in the United States die from spider bites each year, while thousands are bitten. Common symptoms are cramping, fever, chills, and nausea. General treatment is to wash the site and apply an antiseptic, apply a cold compress, administer pain killers, and evacuate.

On the other hand, a scorpion’s sting hurts right away and can feel like a bad bee sting or worse. Death usually only occurs from severe allergic reaction, so if you are allergic to bee stings and are stung by a scorpion use the epinephrine (EpiPen) you should be carrying to prevent anaphylaxis. I've been stung many times by scorpions, and it’s never been a big deal. Cooling the sting site is the best treatment, but if the victim has difficulty swallowing, heavy sweating, blurred vision, or other such troublesome signs, evacuate them immediately.

If you or a hiking companion is bitten by a rattlesnake, quickly move away from the snake and stay calm. The area of the bite may swell dramatically, so remove any tight clothing or jewelry. Nearly a third of rattlesnake bites are nonvenomous, “dry” bites, but you’ll need to assume the worst, so clean the wound, and evacuate the patient as soon as possible. Do not use a Sawyer Extractor or other snake bite kit as it has been shown that they do little good and can cause more damage to the tissue around the area of the bite. Do not apply cold, do not administer pain killers, do not give alcohol to the victim, and don’t apply a tourniquet. Immobilize and splint the wound, and then evacuate.

Until next month...

Hike safe and have fun!


Hikernut - Brian J. Lane

Grand Canyon Update: March, 2014


Early Morning Near Mather Point (Photo: Brian J. Lane)

                                        Spring has Arrived!

Here in the Southwest we barely experienced any winter this last year as daily temperatures were at least ten degrees warmer than average and only a couple of storms came through, producing little precipitation during the last four months. If there are any icy spots remaining on the trails they are few and far between, so you can put the cleats and crampons away until next winter. Inner Canyon temperatures are in the 80s during the day, with night temps dipping into the low 50s. Very comfortable!

I was back in New England last month and I know folks are still living through what for many appears to be an endless winter, but take heart - the Southwest is only a plane flight away - so come on out, visit, hike the Canyon and thaw out!


                                                            Reminders:

* Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in August, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax, on or after April, 1, 2013.

* The North Rim is still closed until mid-May, 2014.

* A small section of North Kaibab Trail damaged last year has yet to be repaired just below Supai Tunnel. A rope hand-line has been installed to assist hikers.

                    Other Items of Interest from around the Canyon:

Cross-Corridor Drinking Water Availability:

> Plateau Point: water turned OFF 
> Bright Angel Trail, Three-Mile Resthouse: water turned OFF 
> Bright Angel Trail, Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse: water turned OFF 
> North Kaibab Trailhead: water turned OFF
> Supai Tunnel: water turned OFF 
> Roaring Springs Day Use Area: OFF 
> Cottonwood Campground: water turned OFF
 
> Bright Angel Campground: ON year-round 
> Indian Garden: ON year-round 
> Bright Angel Trailhead: ON year-round 
> South Kaibab Trailhead: ON year-round 
> Pumphouse Rest Area: ON year-round
 
Human Remains Recovered from Hermit Creek Drainage:
Human skeletal remains were found recently by Park Rangers up-canyon from Hermit Creek Camp. In September of last year a visitor on a private river trip discovered the weather-beaten wallet of a Tucson man reported missing in 2010 initiating a joint investigation between Park Rangers, the Investigative Services Branch, and the Tucson Police Department.  On February 17, 2014, a backpacker found several assorted camping items in a small canyon along the Hermit Drainage and a subsequent search of the area netted about 40 pieces of evidence, including nine human bones. The Tucson man was reportedly a homeless transient with little information available and his name has not yet been released. Although DNA confirmation has not yet occurred, the initial evidence points toward the remains being that of the missing Tucson man.

Man Falls 350 feet to His Death:
On March 15, 2014, at about 8 a.m., 53-year-old, John Anderson of Grapevine, Texas, fell about 350 feet off the South Rim of the Canyon near El Tovar Lodge. Mr. Anderson was visiting with his family and may have been attempting to retrieve his hat by some accounts. An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the NPS and Coconino County Medical Examiner.

Kayaker Dies inside Grand Canyon:
Curtis Joyce, a 31-year-old male, was found capsized and unresponsive on March 18, 2014, about ten river miles south of Lava Falls near Lower Whitmore Camp. The man, from Portland, Oregon, was on a 12-day private river trip with eight other self-supported kayakers when the incident occurred and CPR was administered by members of the group to no avail. An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the NPS and Coconino County Medical Examiner. Sympathies go out to his family and friends.

The Town of Tusayan Considers a Name Change:
Due to visitor confusion concerning the Grand Canyon's gateway Town of Tusayan and the Southern Arizona City of Tucson, and for marketing purposes, the Tusayan Town Council is mulling over the idea of changing its name. The only alternative name yet mentioned is the "Town of Grand Canyon." Hmm... No town hall meeting has yet been scheduled to discuss the issue.

Grand Canyon Earth Day Celebration April 18-20, 2014:
The theme for this year's Earth Day celebrations at the Canyon is water conservation. For more information visit the Grand Canyon News article HERE.

Take a Virtual Rafting Trip down the Colorado River:
Google Maps launched its virtual rafting experience on March 13, 2014. Visitors are now able to travel along the mighty Colorado from Lees Ferry to Pierce Ferry, a trip of nearly 300 miles. Last year, Google released other "Street View" virtual treks following along many of Grand Canyon's inner trails. Click HERE to go to Google Maps and the new Colorado River experience.

Tip O'the Month - Cactus Spines

I moved to the desert over twenty years ago and quickly learned that almost everything in the desert tries to stick you. Yucca spikes, prickly pear cactus, and jumping cholla are just a few of the desert natives that have poked, attacked, or attached themselves to me.

Yuccas can poke a neat little hole in you, but what really gets you is the small amount of toxin in their needle-like tips. It is that mildly toxic point that will give you a burning sensation for more than a few minutes. There is usually no treatment necessary, the pain will subside soon enough.

I have rested my pack against a small cactus or accidentally brushed against a prickly pear on numerous occasions. You’ll normally find that the large spines are easily removed with a simple tug. It’s those little spines, or glochids, that are the biggest nuisance. Barely perceptible, these little buggers are the ones that you can feel when you brush your hand against your skin but can’t really spot them.

The easiest way to remove these tiny glochids is with a pair of tweezers. With a dark background and the affected area in bright light, you can usually spot the difference between your own body hair and the straight, stiff, slightly thicker glochid. Once you spot it, just pluck it with your tweezers. If you can feel it but can’t spot it, I usually use the shotgun approach. Narrow down the area and use the tweezers to repeatedly pick at the skin until you no longer feel the spine. I’ve also heard that a piece of duct tape or an Elmer's type glue, applied to the affected skin and then pulled off, will remove these little spines.

To propagate and spread itself around the desert the jumping cholla cactus will attach itself to almost anything that it touches. If you get too close to a jumping cholla and a piece breaks off on you or your clothing you will need to use a tool (such as two sticks – using them like chopsticks) in order to pry the cholla off without using your bare hands. If any spines break off you will have to manually pull them out using the same techniques used for prickly pear cactus. Infection is always possible, so treat these wounds accordingly.

That's it for this month, remember to...
 
Hike safe and have fun!


Brian 'Hikernut' Lane (Bright Angel Trailhead - October, 2013)

Grand Canyon Update: February, 2014


Moran Point juniper with snow (photo: Brian lane)

Winter is barely hanging on here in the Southwest. While most of the country is continually being pelted with snow and ice, accompanied with sub-freezing temperatures, we have been enjoying an extremely mild winter season. Very few storms have come our way and Phoenix has not received any precipitation in nearly two months, although a period of unsettled weather may hit near the end of February. At the Canyon little snow has fallen, but enough to keep the upper reaches of most trails slick and icy in spots from the day-melt to night-freeze cycles. The anticipation of spring hiking season has Canyon hikers chomping at the bit to get out of doors and get hiking again. By next month, and especially in April, the masses will return, the solitude of the Canyon will be lost a bit, and the increasing echoes of campground laughter will be heard once again...

Reminder:
Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in July, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax, on or after March, 1, 2013.

Other news and information this month:

South Rim Visitor Dies of Heart Attack
An unidentified visitor died of an apparent heart attack on Saturday, January 25, 2014. The 66-year-old was reportedly having breathing difficulties while visiting viewpoints along the South Rim when his family called 911 requesting help. EMS personnel quickly arrived just as the man stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. Although he was revived twice and flown to Flagstaff Medical Center for further treatment, he died in surgery. All condolences to the family.

Base Jumper Death
The Coconino County Sheriff's office received notification of a possible base-jumping fatality on Friday, January 24, at 5:30 p.m. Friends reported the jumper was wearing a 'wing suit' and attempting his second jump of the day when he went missing. 41-year-old David Stather of Calgary, Canada was found dead due to traumatic fall after jumping about 2,000 feet near the confluence of the Little Colorado River and the main channel of the Colorado River. The victim was a surgeon at the Alberta Health Center. Again, condolences go out to his family and friends.

In an unrelated incident, on Saturday, February 8, a woman in her mid-30s perished while base-jumping inside Zion National Park after jumping/falling 1,500 feet from Mount Kinesava.





Pile Burning at Indian Gardens
Beginning Monday, February 24 - Wednesday, February 26, 2014, the National Park Service is planning on burning piles of woody debris collected from the Indian Garden area during hazardous fuels reduction projects spanning the last few years. Smoke may be visible from the South Rim and may impact visibility and air quality in the vicinity of Indian Garden and along sections of Bright Angel Trail. The burn dates may vary depending on conditions. 

Health Benefits of Hiking
Web MD posted a recent article on the benefits of hiking - along with some common sense tips to get you going. Read the whole article
HERE

Thanks to everyone who turned out in mid-February for my Grand Canyon presentations at REI in Paradise Valley and Tempe! I hope it was inspiring enough to get you out there and hiking inside the Canyon - safely. It was great to meet you all!

Hike safe and have fun!

Hikernut -
Brian J. Lane

Grand Canyon Update: January, 2014


Fresh snow along the Rim Trail (photo: Brian Lane)

Happy New Year 2014! I know, I didn't post last month, but it's such a busy time of year while also being such a very slow time at the Grand Canyon, and well, before I knew it, the year was over. The crowds and traffic of the busy season are gone from the Canyon while maintenance and repair crews are busy catching up on backlogged issues. Weather has been very pleasant as of late and very few winter storms have occurred so far, making for easy travel in and around Canyon Country. Temps on the South Rim remain in the 50s with nights dipping into the mid-20s, while Inner Canyon temps are right around 60 degrees with nights just above freezing. I love visiting at this time of year as you get a more personal experience since you're not being jostled about by the summer hordes.

Reminder:
Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in June, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax, on or after February, 1, 2013

Other Canyon News:

Trails Remain Icy Near Rim -
South Rim trails are still under winter conditions although little precipitation has fallen lately. Due to daily cycles of snow melting and refreezing the first 300 vertical feet of most trails will remain snow packed and icy in spots - usually until March. Traction devices (crampons/cleats) are recommended when hiking these upper reaches of the Canyon.


Bright Angel Trail, December 5, 2012 (NPS Photo)


South Kaibab Trail, December 5, 2012 (NPS photo)

Fee Free Day in Celebration of Rev. Martin Luther King,  Jr. -
No admission fees will be charged for entry into National Parks, Monuments, Forests, and Wildlife Refuges on Monday, January 20, 2014 in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Body Recovered in December, 2012 Identified by DNA - 
The body of Yoshikazu Yamada, a Japanese National, (whose body was recovered last December 8, 2012) was recently identified by DNA. Mr. Yamada's body was found approximately 800 feet below the Abyss Overlook along the West Rim Drive after having been reported missing on October 6, 2012. He had last been seen getting off a commercial tour bus near Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim of Grand Canyon. He was traveling with a companion when he failed to return to the bus that afternoon. The incident is still under investigation. (NPS News Release)

Aircraft Noise to be Reduced at Grand Canyon -
For years, tourists and hikers have complained about sightseeing aircraft interfering with "the feeling of solitude and appreciation of nature" here at the Grand Canyon. Now, as part of the transportation bill passed in 2012, the National Park Service (NPS) and the Federal Aviation Administration are required to devise incentives for the implementation of quiet air technologies in aircraft at the Grand Canyon. One of the first measures to be employed is a reduction in per-flight fees paid to the NPS by air tour operators that use technology to quiet the sound of aircraft flying over Grand Canyon National Park. (Associated Press)

Hot Tips for Hiking in Cold Weather -
As I have said, exploring the Canyon in winter is special due the amount of solitude you'll enjoy during the cold season. That said, there are a few special considerations for those wanting to enjoy wintertime inside the Grand Canyon...

* Most importantly, dress in layers. Depending on how cold temps are I'll wear a base-layer, wicking, long-sleeve t-shirt with a heavier shirt over it. Then a light-weight vest, a light-weight jacket, followed by a down pullover jacket, with a heavier down (puffy) coat on top. For the bottom half,  I wear synthetic tights or light fleece pants while hiking, with a heavy layer fleece pants for off-trail. To save body heat make sure to cover your head too.

* Use a sleeping pad and light-weight sleeping bag liner. A sleep pad helps prevent heat loss due to the conduction cooling from laying on the cold ground, while a silk bag liner can add up to 15 degrees of warmth to your sleeping bag.

* The Grand Canyon is a dry climate with humidity regularly around a paultry 10 - 20 percent. Therefore, it is especially important you stay hydrated while hiking the Canyon. You should drink a minimum of about 1/2 quart (1/2 liter) of water for every hour hiking (and this is just for winter hiking - for summer you'll need to, at least, double that).

* As mentioned previously in this post, crampons, or some form of cleats are highly recommended during winter along the upper sections of trail due to snow and ice accumulation.

* Don't forget the sunscreen. In the predominately sunny Southwest, even in the winter you should still be using sunscreen to protect your face from long exposures. 

...and that's it for this month.

Hike safe and have fun!


Brian J. Lane

Grand Canyon Update: November, 2013


Along the West Tonto Trail (Photo: Brian Lane)

November at Grand Canyon brings much cooler temperatures to the Inner Canyon with average highs in the mid-60s and lows in the mid-40s. This means that high temps along the South Rim will average mid-40s with nights in the upper teens. A cold weather storm is set to come through late November bringing a wintery mix, after which the long-range forecast shows pleasant weather continuing through mid-December. The crowds dissipate, the snow flies, the holidays approach, and the Canyon gets quiet 'til next spring. Still a great time to visit this wonder of nature, especially if seeking solitude. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Remember: Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in April, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax, on or after December, 1, 2013.

Other Newsworthy Topics:

North Rim Road Closure:
Annual access to the North Rim will end on December 1, 2013, as the gate will be locked and Highway 67 will be officially closed until mid-May, 2014. There is a chance that the highway will close earlier if an approaching winter storm dumps enough snow to close the road prior to that date.

Cross-Corridor Drinking Water:
* North Kaibab Trailhead: water turned OFF
* Supai Tunnel: water turned OFF
* Roaring Springs Day Use Area: OFF
* Cottonwood Campground: water turned OFF
* Plateau Point: water turned OFF
* Bright Angel Trail, Three-Mile Resthouse: water turned OFF
* Bright Angel Trail, Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse: water turned OFF

* Bright Angel Campground: ON year-round
* Indian Garden: ON year-round
* Bright Angel Trailhead: ON year-round
* South Kaibab Trailhead: ON year-round
* Pumphouse Rest Area: ON year-round


'Tis the Season for Prescribed Burns:
Pile burning and prescribed burns will be taking place along both the North and South Rims of Grand Canyon Nat'l Park and adjacent Kaibab National Forest during November and (perhaps) into December, 2013. Smoke may be seen for many miles and may obscure Canyon views at times.

Uranium Mine just South of Grand Canyon on Hold:
Energy Fuels Resources, Inc. has announced that they will suspend uranium mining activities until December of 2014 due to market conditions and litigation expenses. The mine rests on nearly one-million acres placed off-limits to new claims in 2012, while sites with existing claims are still in play. Due to the efforts of many groups, including the Sierra Club and the Grand Canyon Trust this misguided operation has been halted for the time being. For more information regarding this issue please click HERE.

Anonymous Rangers Video:
During the Republican forced shutdown of the government park rangers took the brunt of the anger voiced by many wanting to enter our national parks and monuments. To view their response click HERE.

KT Tape Uses:
Watching the London Olympics I saw many athletes wearing colorful strips of tape said to be used for relief of pain, to prevent injuries, and to recover from such injuries more quickly. This elastic sports tape is now available at many outdoor stores and I recently purchased some at REI to try it out. Now, I must state that if you purchase this tape please visit their website and watch the instructional videos on how to apply it for common injuries (too many to list here) as it should be applied in a specific manner. Not only have I used it while battling a bit of plantar fasciitis but have found it great for keeping Spenco 2nd Skin in place over blisters. The tape is flexible and easily shapes along the body's contours really well, plus, after application, you rub it vigorously and the heat helps to make this tape stick even better. I wore it on my heel for two days hiking in the Canyon and it worked to keep my blister treatment in place and my feet feeling awesome. I highly recommend this new form of sports tape. For more info visit: www.kttape.com

That's about all for this month, thanks for stopping by!

Hike safe and have fun!
 
Hikernut, Brian J. Lane
 

Grand Canyon Update: October, 2013


Bright Angel Trail showing fall color (Photo by Brian Lane)

Grand Canyon National Park will remain open to visitors now that the Republican insanity has subsided!

Fall at the Grand Canyon is my favorite time of year. Temps are nice and cool inside the Canyon and the colors of autumn show brightly. I did manage to complete my own Rim2Rim trip as the park opened up just in the nick of time, and it was absolutely splendid! I was hiking solo and took the time to enjoy the wonders of the Grand Canyon's Inner Gorge as I meandered along the Corridor trails from the North to the South Rim. So, with that in mind, if you have the chance, I would ask that you make the time to visit this jewel of the National Park System and enjoy its wondrous trails and vistas before the rush of the holidays and winter weather settle in. It's your last chance before the snow really flies!

Remember: Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in March, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax, on or after November, 1, 2013.

Other Items of Note...

Inner Canyon Temps are staying about 75 degrees (days) and 45 degrees (nights) with very little rain in sight at this time. Visit my main website for a link to the complete weather forecast for Phantom Ranch (Inner Canyon) at: a Sense of Nature.com

North Rim Lodge Closed for the Season
The Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim has closed for the season and will reopen on May 15, 2014. The Visitor Center, Campground, and other facilities will stay open until December 1, 2013, unless snow closes the road (Hwy 67) earlier. Yes, there is a bit of snow already on the ground at both the North and South Rims.

Report from the North Rim (from Nat'l Park Service "Critical Backcountry Updates" 
posted Oct 24, 2013)

Most concessioner services and regularly scheduled ranger-led programs have ended for the season. The National Park Service will continue its operations including the North Rim Visitor Center and Bookstore, as well as the Backcountry Permits Office through October 31.

November 1 through December 1 the North Rim will be open for day use only unless snow closes Highway 67 prior to that date. NO OVERNIGHT PARKING will be allowed along the Highway 67 corridor inside the park, this includes the North Kaibab Trailhead and North Rim Campground.

From November 1 through December 1:

Services: The North Rim is day use only in November, defined as dawn to dusk. No overnight parking is permitted along the Highway 67 corridor inside the park, this includes the North Kaibab Trailhead and North Rim Campground. The North Rim Visitor Center, Backcountry Permits Office, and all other services are closed starting November 1. Water is available outside the Backcountry Permits Office. Pay-at-the-pump gas and diesel will still be available.

North Rim Campground: Camping will be available provided a backcountry use permit has been obtained in advance – these permits are available through the South Rim Backcountry Information Center, and at the Visitor Center at Pipe Spring National Monument located in Fredonia, Arizona. No car camping. Overnight parking of vehicles is not allowed.

Backpacking: Hikers (with a backcountry permit) may proceed to open trailheads. Those descending the North Kaibab Trail will need to be dropped off by friends or arrive via a commercial shuttle bus.

Weather: Come November, short days and cold nights have arrived. Remember the North Rim is at 8,000 feet (2,438 m) which means that nighttime temperatures are guaranteed to be in the in the 20's F and 30's F (-6C to -1C) at best. Watch the weather carefully and talk with experienced friends or park rangers, know when to call off your trip. A few feet of snow could easily fall in a powerful, early winter storm.

Roads: Unimproved roads to destinations such as North Bass Trail and Point Sublime are open until winter weather closes them. Be aware, tree fall is common on the North Rim and you should have alternate routes for getting to and from trailheads (the possibility exists that the road you enter on may be blocked upon your exit). The roads to Point Imperial and Cape Royal Road are closed for the season, all other roads remain open until December 1 unless Highway 67 closes.

Water Line Breakage

Another trans-canyon water line break occurred last week drying water spigots along the Corridor Trails and at Phantom Ranch. Just a reminder that you should always carry a personal water treatment system while hiking the Inner Canyon. I use a SteriPen with a pre-filter. It is lightweight and it has always worked well for me.

Water Availability along the Cross-Canyon Corridor Trails
* North Kaibab Trailhead: water turned OFF
* Supai Tunnel: water turned ON (expected off early Nov)
* Roaring Springs Day Use Area: water turned ON (expected off early Nov)
* Pumphouse Rest Area: ON year-round
* Cottonwood Campground: water turned ON (expected off early Nov)
* Bright Angel Campground: ON year-round
* Plateau Point: water turned ON (expected off on Oct 29)
* Indian Garden: ON year-round
* Bright Angel Trail, Three-Mile Resthouse: water turned ON (expected off on Oct 29)
* Bright Angel Trail, Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse: water turned ON (expected off on Oct 29)
* Bright Angel Trailhead: ON year-round
* South Kaibab Trailhead: ON year-round

North Kaibab Trail Damage
Just a short distance up trail (north) from the Redwall Bridge along North Kaibab Trail a late monsoon storm damaged a small section of the trail. It is being repaired, but in the meantime you'll have to cross this section, where the trail is only about 10 inches wide, with the aid of a rope hand-line secured to the wall. No worries.


NPS Photo

Woman Dies while River Rafting
67-year-old Mary Phyl Simpson was reported deceased on September 25, 2013. According to witnesses the boat she was in flipped at Granite park, near River Mile 209. The well-known and long time Grand Canyon river runner and backpacker died of hypothermia prior to being pulled from the river. An investigation is being conducted by the Nat'l Park Service and the Mohave County Medical Examiner.

MY NEW BOOK:
                      Hikernut's Canyon Lands Companion
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That's all for this installment...
                        Hike safe and have fun!


Brian

Grand Canyon to RE-OPEN: October 11, 2013


Plateau Point Sunrise, South Rim (Photo: Brian Lane)

Grand Canyon to RE-OPEN TOMORROW: Saturday, October 12, 2013

The State of Arizona will pay for the opening of the park starting tomorrow and extending through next Friday, October 18. By all accounts, if the Republicans continue to extend the shutdown passed this next weekend the park could close again...the saga continues. 

The South Rim lodges are open but may have limited capacity, dining options with fewer menu selections, and other such problems as they re-open the park and concessions.

The Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim HAS RE-OPENED until its scheduled seasonal closure on the 15th of October. I had my Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim reservation canceled but was able to go online and re-book a room for October 15 and remain hopeful to go Rim2Rim starting on the 16th IF my permit can be reinstated.

Although the North Rim Lodge closes on the 15th, the North Rim is scheduled to remain open through Monday, November 25, 2013 (unless an early snowstorm closes Hwy 67 earlier - and yes, they have already had some snow on the North Rim this year). Many facilities and such remain open until that time, including all roads and viewpoints, the campground, and visitor center, among others.  


UPDATE: Saturday, October 12, 2013

PERMITS ARE REINSTATED - News from the Backcountry Permit Office emailed and dated this morning:

"Brian,
Grand Canyon re-opened today, including the North Rim. We are temporarily funded for 7-10 days. So long as the park remains open for the start date of your itinerary, your permit will be valid."

My Rim2Rim trip is a go!

I will be unable to issue updates during the week and will try to catch up upon my return.


Brian J. Lane

GRAND CANYON SHUTDOWN: October 1, 2013



As of October 1st, 2013, all visitors to Grand Canyon National Park have 48 hours to exit the park due to the Republican shutdown of the government. Please call your Congressman to express your sentiments toward this useless government closure.

Grand Canyon National Park is currently sending emails to those with backcountry permits through October 12th (as of this date) that their trips, for which they had secured permits, (and usually trained many months for), have been canceled. No word yet concerning refunds or rescheduling. I too have a permit to go Rim2Rim starting on October 16th - we'll see?!?

Republicans are hurting the economy, raising the deficit and national debt, and injuring thousands of small businesses and families across the country for what? They willfully injure people over an ideology that has been solidly rejected by the majority of the people across this great country. 

This closure is indefinite. I will keep you posted.


UPDATE: Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hwy 64 from the South Entrance of Grand Canyon National Park has been closed through the East Park Entrance/Exit at Desert View. (Hwy 64 from Williams to Tusayan will remain open.) The highway had been open these last few days but it seems that people were abusing the system a bit by moving barricades and accessing closed areas (some to protest the closure). 

This is the message I rec'd from Arizona Dept of Transportation (ADOT) today:

Your Input: Although the National Park is closed, will Hwy 64 from the South Entrance to the East Entrance of GCNP remain open to traffic? 10/2/2013 10:07:20 AM

ADOT Response: Mr. Lane, Thank you for contacting the Arizona Department of Transportation. Unfortunately, Officials at Grand Canyon National Park have confirmed that SR 64 is now closed to through traffic within the park, from the south entrance over to the Desert View entrance (both directions). SR 64 remains OPEN between Williams and Tusatan.
10/3/2013 9:44:53 AM

The Press Release from GCNP contained the following info:

The highway (Hwy 64) had been open to through traffic, but visitors were pulling off the road and removing barricades from overlooks to get a glimpse of the canyon. Park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge says motorists also were turning around on blind corners, tour buses were parking on the roadside and visitors were darting in front of ongoing traffic. She says the highway closure is to ensure safety and protect resources. She says anyone caught in restricted areas could receive a citation or be arrested.


I also rec'd this email message today concerning my own Rim2Rim Trip:

Dear BRIAN LANE,

Due to a Congressional impasse on the 2014 government appropriations bill, the federal government has shut down many services. As a result Grand Canyon National Park, as of Tuesday October 1st. was closed to visitation. Until the government is funded, hikers are not authorized to enter the canyon and previously issued backcountry permits, as stated under item 1 on the pack of your permit, are rescinded. All staff at the Backcountry Information Center have been furloughed and are not available to respond to emails or take calls. Once the government is funded and the park re-opens, permitted trips will be allowed to resume as scheduled. At that time, we will attempt to contact all permit holders affected by the closure, in order to address options related to the cancelation of permits and related fees. We apologize for the unsettling nature of the closure and the great inconvenience that this has caused.

Sincerely,

Ranger Wunner
Supervisor, Backcountry Information Center

I have highlighted the sentence stating that "permitted trips will be allowed to resume as scheduled" once the park reopens. So, those of you with a permit that have rec'd this notice, don't burn it protest or anything. Hold on until your entry date gets closer, if you can. I know those with travel plans will have the most difficult time deciding what to do - "should I stay or should I go now," (courtesy of The Clash).

My trip was to start on Wednesday, October 16 - Cottonwood CG, to Bright Angel CG, to Indian Garden, and out. The classic Rim2Rim route where I was going to use my new GoPro camera to record trail highlights, record GPS coordinates, and update trail information and photos for my books. And of course enjoy basking in one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders. 

I have spoken with many people who work in and around the Canyon and this Republican shutdown of the government might not hurt a single Congressman, as they literally get giddy and drunk on the House Floor, but small businesses in Northern Arizona are certainly feeling the injurious effects of this Republican insanity as they keep people out of their parks and monuments (which is still minor in comparison to the thousands they starve every day).
 
Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over-and-over again and expecting a different result. Republicans in the House voted over 42 times to abolish the Affordable Care Act. Forty-two times! And each time expecting a different result?!?

When we, as a nation, elect people that hate government,
what we get is really horrible governing!

What if we chose instead to elect people that actually like government and are willing to help make it better?

UPDATE: Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Republican shutdown of our government continues into its eighth day with no end in sight...

Yesterday on the trail here in Sedona, Ariz., I met quite a few folks hiking that were supposed to be visiting the Grand Canyon but could not due to the Republican shutdown. I have begun  referring to them jokingly as the 'Grand Canyon Refugees.' Many have found alternatives such as hiking the San Francisco Peaks of Flagstaff, visiting Monument Valley and other Navajo Monuments, (which will remain open), or coming down here to Sedona - the day hiking capital of the world. 

For local hikes in Sedona try Devil's Bridge Trail, nice views (short/moderate), Bear Mountain, awesome views (4-6 hrs/very difficult), Sterling Pass, to visit Vultee Arch (3-4 hrs/difficult), or Brins Mesa, nice views (moderate/moderate).

A few other notable hikes in the area include Sycamore Canyon (near Cottonwood, AZ), West Fork Oak Creek (Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona), and West Clear Creek (Camp Verde, AZ).


Hope that helps some of the Grand Canyon Refugees.


UPDATE: Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Republican shutdown of our government continues into its ninth day with no end in sight...


Citations Being Issued to Those Entering the Closed Park

A story from the Associated Press yesterday afternoon states that 21 people have so far been issued citations for entering Grand Canyon National Park illegally. The article states that "people have been caught at the South Rim, on the trails, attempting rim-to-rim hikes, or trying to sneak in through dirt roads."

As I wait 'til this Saturday (Oct. 12) to begin canceling my own Rim2Rim trip scheduled to start next Wednesday (Oct. 16) I have begun to see the stories of some of the folks most affected by this Republican shutdown...

An article from Flagstaff's Arizona Daily Sun titled "Grand Canyon Food Shortage Turns Dire" appeared yesterday as St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix is trying to help the estimated 2,200 people who remain inside the park, mostly concession employees stuck in limbo. Read the full story HERE

On the High Country News (HCN) Blog we get an article titled "The Shutdown Hits the West Harder," discussing how the Republican forced shutdown hurts the economy of the west harder than other areas of the country. The full story is HERE

Also on the HCN blog the "Trickle-Down Effect of the Federal ShutdownHERE 


UPDATE: Friday, October 11, 2013

The Republican shutdown of our government continues into its eleventh day with little end in sight...

NORTH RIM GRAND CANYON LODGE NOW OFFICIALLY
CLOSED FOR THE SEASON - updated October 12, 2013 - the North Rim Lodge has re-opened for its last few days of the season

Forever Resorts (North Rim Concessionaire) has confirmed that they are now closed for the season and should reopen next May, 2014. I rec'd an email notice and phone message last evening that my reservation for next week has been canceled.


Brian J. Lane

Grand Canyon Update: September, 2013


Storm clouds move in - View from Shoeshone Point (Photo: Brian Lane)

Finally, September has arrived at the Canyon and the heat is beginning to moderate just a bit as temperatures at Phantom Ranch begin slipping out of the 100+ degree range and into the 90s, with nights in the high 60s. Monsoon season officially ends on September 30th, but afternoon thunderstorms remain quite active, occurring with some regularity most afternoons, some with fierce downpours creating flash flood conditions along backcountry trails.

Late August/Early September is a bit laid back and visitation decreases inside the Canyon as kids head back to school, summer's family vacation season ends, and the stifling summer heat and humidity keep many from exploring the Canyon's Inner Gorge. Many folks, myself included, are gearing up for the fall hiking season, as soon the air will cool, the humidity brought on by the monsoons will dissipate, and the Inner Canyon will once again invite those of us wanting to bask in its temperate climate. Gotta love September! 

Remember: Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in February, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax, on or after October, 1st, 2013.

On to other news....

North Kaibab Trail Damaged
August 29, 2013, the North Kaibab Trail was damaged as a result of a severe thunderstorm that washed sections of trail between Supai Tunnel and the Redwall Bridge. The trail has been narrowed but is still passable. Crews will be working to make repairs and this may cause temporary delays to hikers travelling along this route.

ALSO: Be sure to check with the Backcountry Information Center (BIC) for any road closures prior to attempting access to remote trailheads since many backcountry roads, especially along the North Rim, have been hit particularly hard by recent monsoon storms.

Baby Rattlesnakes
Snake season is winding down too as most snake varieties will go into hibernation for the winter by the end of next month (Oct). Still, they are around and they have babies - little eight inch long rattlesnake babies, and the problem with young rattle snakes is they have not yet developed a rattle to warn you away, and if provoked, they may strike several times. While they are not as dangerous as adult rattlers and often do not inject any venom at all, they are still very dangerous. Make sure you watch where you step and do not reach under shrubs or in dark corners without looking first, taking care not to disturb these wonderful creatures.

Mule Rides Now Available from Yaki to Shoshone Point
Xanterra (the South Rim concessionaire) is now offering a new mule ride excursion along the South Rim to replace the West Rim's Abyss Overlook Mule Ride. The new trip will go from Yaki Point heading east for about four miles to Shoshone Point, and includes and interpretive van shuttle from Grand Canyon Village to the Yaki Mule Barn where the trip originates. Shoshone Point has traditionally been one of those "secret" places locals knew for its great views, impressive monolith...and its solitude. (So much for that, I guess we'lll have to find another "secret place.") The East Rim Mule Ride is being offered twice a day, operating from March 15 - October 31, 2013.Visit
www.grandcanyonlodges.com for more information. 

Free Entry into National Parks on Saturday, September 28
National Public Lands Day is September, 28, 2013, and Grand Canyon National Park will be joining with parks across the country in offering free entry into the park.

Highway 89 South of Page, Ariz., still CLOSED
Just a reminder that Highway 89, about 25 miles south of Page is still closed and should remain so until the summer of 2015. Yup, you heard it, two years to reconstruct the road after a 150 foot section faulted and shifted leaving a huge gash in the highway last spring. The road should be re-engineered to take the fault lines into account. Until that time a more expedient detour has been renovated and paved to accommodate the increased traffic. This new detour goes south from Page along Indian Route 20 (Coppermine Road) to US 89T, and rejoining Hwy 89 at The Gap, Ariz., cutting the detour time in half from the previously recommended route. It is important to note that Hwy 89T will only be open during daylight hours until fencing can be installed along the sides of the roadway.



MAP courtesy of Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) Press Release of 8/28/13

Tusayan Development Hits Obstacle
Stilo Development Group, an Italian developer with big plans to build high-end boutiques, five-star hotels, a cultural center, dude ranch, and hundreds of people boxes recently defaulted on an agreement made with the Town of Tusayan (Grand Canyon's south entrance). Plus, there is a problem with their application to gain access to other inholdings with the US Forest Service. Mediation will begin this month to see if the project will move forward, or not.
  
Medical Issues Overview: Falls and Sprains
It will do you well to remember that in any direct fall of over twenty feet you will probably break something, or sustain a spinal or head injury. It is impossible to review fully, in this little blog, the myriad of traumatic injuries that can occur from a fall.

To help prevent falls: Do not climb canyon walls unless you are highly trained. Even then, while in a remote wilderness setting, I would not put myself in a situation where these types of injuries could occur. When hiking, keep your eyes and concentration on the trail or you could easily trip and go tumbling butt over teakettle, injuring yourself and possibly others.

Treatment: For simple sprains, RICE it. The acronym stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. So rest the injury, apply ice or cold on the swelling, wrap it, and elevate the sprain. Ice should remain on the site of the injury for no more than twenty minutes. As already stated, the list of possible sprains, fractures, and other blunt-force trauma that can happen from a fall are too numerous to be covered here. Please refer to your first-aid book (I'm sure you'll be carrying one in your first-aid kit - right?) for specific treatments and evacuate as needed.
 
That's it for this month...

Hike Safe and Have Fun!

Brian J. Lane

Grand Canyon Update: August, 2013



View from Cedar Ridge - South Kaibab Trail (photo: Brian Lane)

The Monsoons have been active during the last month making afternoons a bit more humid while often providing clouds to hide the sun and make the heat a bit more tolerable. Still a very busy vacation season here at the canyon with both the North and South Rims usually running at full capacity. Inner Canyon temps continue to linger in the over-100-degree range during the day, and 70s at night. Rim temperatures during the day are in the 90 degree range with 50s at night along the South Rim, and 80s (days) and 50s (nights) at the North Rim. Heat advisories remain in effect for the Inner Grand Canyon.

Reminder: Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in January, 2014 can be submitted by fax or by mail, on or after September 1, 2013.

Other happenings…

Hiker Dies on North Kaibab Trail

About 2 p.m. on Friday, August 9, the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received a call from a trail volunteer reporting an unconscious hiker on North Kaibab Trail approximately a half-mile from the trailhead. The man has been identified as 63-year-old Brice Henri Patricot of Precy-Sur-Oise, France. Efforts to revive the man were unsuccessful. The victim was hiking with five others to the 'Eye of the Needle' formation, between the Redwall Bridge and Roaring Springs Day-Use Area. Three members of the group continued down canyon, while Mr. Patricot and his wife decided to hike back up to the trailhead after they had lunch. Inner Canyon temperatures were around 85 degrees at the time, and the incident is under investigation.

Monsoon Flooding affects Bright Angel Trail

On Thursday, July 25, a powerful afternoon thunderstorm dumped nearly two inches of rain causing minor flooding in areas of Grand Canyon Village and along portions of Bright Angel Trail. Garden Creek experienced flash flooding that temporarily closed sections of the trail near Indian Garden. Bright Angel Trail remains open although washouts have impacted sections of the trail between 3 Mile Resthouse and Bright Angel Campground/Phantom Ranch.
 

South Kaibab Trail Maintenance

The Grand Canyon Trail Crew will be working in the area of Ooh-Aah Point along South Kaibab Trail through September, 2013. Delays to travelers (mostly in August) are possible for up to 45 minutes between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.


Mather Point Lightning Strike Injures Several Visitors

Around 1 p.m. on Monday, July 15, a lightning strike near Mather Point (one of the most popular overlooks along the South Rim) injured several folks standing near the rim. Four people were transported to the South Rim Clinic for non-life-threatening injuries.
 

Rare Inner Canyon Lightning Strike Injures River Guide

At 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 21, a river guide from Arizona Raft Adventures was airlifted from the Inner Canyon near 220 Mile Canyon after being struck by lightning. The, as of yet, unidentified river guide was transported to Las Vegas for medical treatment. By far, there are more lightning strikes that hit the higher rims of the canyon than ever make it to the canyon’s bottom, but every once in a while…

North Rim Roads Damaged by Monsoon Flooding

Those folks wanting to use roads around Point Sublime and Swamp Point (specifically Basin Road:  N-1 and Kanabownits Road:  N-4) are advised to check with the North Rim Backcountry Office prior to heading out after the area received four inches of rain in eight days causing deep mud in some areas.

Fire Restrictions Lifted

Wood and charcoal fires are again being allowed at above-the-rim campgrounds. No fires are allowed inside the Grand Canyon or any other Backcountry areas.


Roll Out of Email Permit System Delayed…Again

Although rumors abound concerning the park service’s mythical email permitting system, no one seems to know when it may actually come to fruition. We’ll see.


Trans-Canyon Water Line Breakage

Twice in the last thirty days the Trans-Canyon Water Pipe has required repairs that affected water supplies at Roaring Springs Day-Use, Cottonwood Campground, Bright Angel Campground, and for a time, shut-down operations at Phantom Ranch. Inner Canyon travelers should always carry a water treatment system and be prepared to treat creek water if necessary.
 

New Concession Contracts Initiate Changes

A couple of the Grand Canyon’s biggest concession contracts, worth reportedly 1.5 billion dollars over 15 years, are coming up for bid. Two of the big players and current concessionaires are Xanterra Parks and Resorts and Delaware North Parks and Resorts. These contracts include the management of guest rooms, grocery stores, restaurants, bars, campgrounds, and mule rides. Changes in the new contracts are said to include large monetary investments by the contract winners toward such issues as expanding patio dining and valet service at El Tovar, updating rooms at Bright Angel, demolishing and rebuilding older south units at Maswik Lodge. The Park Service is also planning to renovate the Desert Tower Gift Shop, making it into an interpretive center.  ALSO: For those overnight hikers wanting to stay at Phantom Ranch – there may be a new lottery system set up to compete for cabins and dormitories. I’ll keep you posted.

So, how long has it been since I inserted a shameless plug? I can cure that…

Yes, the 2nd Edition of my award-winning book, “Hikernut’s Grand Canyon Companion - A Guide to Hiking and Backpacking the Most Popular Trails into the Canyon: Bright Angel, South Kaibab, & North Kaibab Trails,” was released in January of this year. Geared for the first-time Canyon explorer, and designed to help keep you safe, it is the essential guide for anyone wanting to hike inside the Grand Canyon.
 

Over 250 people are rescued from the Inner Canyon each year and Bright Angel Trail was once again named the most dangerous trail in America  – don’t become a statistic – buy this book.  Light weight , only 96 pages, costing less than ten bucks, and chock full of full color photos. Nearly 10,000 copies have been sold of this multi-award-winning guide!

PLUS… Just released last April, “Hikernut’s Canyon Lands Companion – The Best Canyon Hikes in the American Southwest.” My new book describes the top dozen canyon explorations along the Colorado Plateau - from Moab, Utah, to Sedona, Arizona, and all within a day’s drive.  To hike and explore the Southwest Canyon Country is to experience a world unlike any other, and it is a hiker’s paradise. This book includes detailed trail descriptions, permits and logistics, addresses safety and medical concerns, proper gear, tips and advice, wildlife and geology. It’s all there for you. 196 pages and about $17, this book includes over 105 beautiful, full-color photos and 25 maps. A great checklist for you to get out there and experience the best hikes in Canyon Country!

Both titles are published by The Countryman Press and available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, REI, and your local book seller... just ask for it.

…and I thank you for your support.

Hike Safe and Have Fun!


Brian J. Lane