Hiking the Bright Angel Trail to Phantom Ranch
Observations from the old guy on the hike.
I trained for our hike down into the canyon for a year. I lost over twenty pounds to get ready because any pound you don’t carry down you don’t carry out. Think of it as carrying out two bowling balls. Your hydration pack will be heavy enough although it gets lighter as you drink your water.
My wife and I did regular walks every week around town but more importantly we did some hikes that included some pretty good elevations. One thing I would do differently is more stair climbing both up and down as that is pretty much what the hike entails. You have to train you muscles for what they will be called on to do in getting you in and out of the canyon.
Your diet stops the day you get to the canyon. You will burn thousands of calories over the course of a couple of days so your body will need fuel to power your engine. Protein bars, cheese and peanut butter crackers are good instant energy. Beef jerky and nuts are a good source of salt. When we left Phantom Ranch that morning to walk out we had bought bagels that included peanut butter and cream cheese which we ate on our lunch break just before the big push up the hill. Keeping hydrated is important but you really need to add supplements to your water to replace electrolytes. I carried a 14 ounce bottle that I kept filled with this special water.
Unless you are some sort of trail runner you really don’t need to be in any kind of hurry. The hike should be the experience of a lifetime and not an ordeal or a death march. Take your time and enjoy the view. Stop to take a lot of pictures which also gives you a rest break. Take time to visit with other people on the trail. You will meet some pretty interesting people.
Going down it gets pretty hot the lower you go and the rocks reflect a lot of heat. Wear a hat to keep the sun off your head and a wet wrap around your neck helps to keep you cool.
Last but not least, trekking poles are a must. They really help on the walk down steadying you as you step down and try to keep your balance. Going up they are a great assist in navigating the stairs and taking some of the weight off your legs. Initially, I thought they were kind of goofy but I bought a pair and used them on a couple of hikes and became a believer.
Enjoy the experience and the knowledge that a very few actually walk down to the bottom and out.