We Have the Right Altitude, and Are Very Much Inclined, but Can We Take the Heat?

by ehulett on May 8, 2011

Living near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado has come in handy sometimes when it comes to training for the GC hike. In other ways, not so much.

When it comes to acclimating for the altitude change, we got that covered. We live at about 5,000 feet and any upward hike will take us close to 8,500. Colorado is very obsessed with it’s altitudes. When driving into a town in Colorado you will see the customary green signs on which Kansans and Missourians proudly post their population. In Colorado there is no sign of the population on those signs though. All it tells you is the elevation.

In preparing for the GC, we have had no problem preparing for the inclines we will face. Most of our hikes are close to the 21 percent average inclines mentioned for the GC. In fact, we are going on a hike on May 10th where the average incline is 41 percent and the steepest is 68 percent. (Thank God its a short hike)

But when it comes to preparing for the heat, we ain’t got nothing on the Grand Canyon. Almost all of our hikes have been less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and most have been closer to 40 degrees so far.

In order to compensate for the lack of heat, I have been adding an additional 15 pounds of weight to my back pack in hopes of simulating some of the heat stress. I also thought that if someone gets hurt or overwhelmed at the GC, I might have to carry out their gear to help them out. In that case, the training I did with that extra 15 pounds might really come in handy. (My wife thinks I’m crazy for doing that by the way, and so do my knees)

On May 11th we are going to try to hike Pikes Pike. I don’t know how high we will be able to get before the snow turns us back (most people don’t start hiking it until late June) but we will go as far as we can. I think we should at least be able to get from the 7,000 foot trail head to the 10,000 foot mark.

Also, we are starting the Pikes Pike hike when it is dark so this will be a good opportunity to practice using our head lamps in real life trail conditions.

Even though I am a first timer, I wanted to offer a couple of thoughts that occured to me. In addition to what has already been suggested by others, I plan to take a whistle and a small roll of duct tape.  Also, when I am at the pool at the hotel, before we start the hike, I am going to wear plenty of sunscreen. It would really suck to get sunburned the day before the hike than have to strap on a backpack and walk 24 miles.

One last thing; a bit of good news for us all.

Melinda noticed in an article in Outside Magazine that the mule rides on the Bright Angel Trail will be limited this year. They are supposed to be down to 10 mule riders per day, which is significantly less than the 40 per day they had last year. So this year we might be able to wake up and smell the roses, or at least something other than the mules.

Happy Trails.




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