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Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

Apr 30 - May 7, 2016 -- $1350 ★★★★★, Only 1 Spot Left


This is the 1st of two trips to the Grand Canyon this year. The other trip is May 7-14, 2016

Trip Description

What can we possibly tell you about Grand Canyon National Park, that would persuade you to visit? Would it help to know that it's considered one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World? Or that the geologic features reveal 40% of the Earth's history? Or that the Grand Canyon is home to some of the cleanest air in the United States? Or that it's well over a mile deep, giving rise to superlative, unobstructed views?

The Grand Canyon is a life list destination that words are insufficient to fully describe. You owe it to yourself to visit this truly amazing wonder.

Our journey will have two parts. The first part will consist of a popular and scenic one-day shakedown day-hike (no full pack) to Horsehoe Mesa on the Grandview Trail. This day-hike will descend 2500' and 3 miles to an incredible view before we turn back and ascend those challenging 2500'.

The 2nd part of the trip will be all backpacking. We'll begin on the Hermit Trailhead with a grueling, quad-busting, knee-jarring 3700' downhill hike over 8.2 long, dry miles. This will be a truly challenging day. From there, the distances and elevations become somewhat more moderate as we join the Tonto Trail on our way to the Colorado River. We then re-join the Tonto Trail and head uphill once again towards Indian Garden Campground. The final day will be long and grueling once again as we will ascend 3000' with a full pack over 4.8 miles. This is truly a challenge but one that's unbelievably rewarding.


Weather is always an important concern when backpacking, especially in the Grand Canyon. April is really one of the best times to visit, weather-wise as it's generally not too cold on the rim and not too hot in the canyon. Be prepared for freezing weather or even snow on the rim, but also be prepared for 100 degrees in the canyon. Chances are, neither will happen but we must be prepared for each.

Trip Leaders

Deb Lusk

And one of the following:

Rick Romine
Jeff Collins


$1350 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Phoenix, AZ (PHX) as well as personal equipment and any restaurant meals.

Covered expenses include 1 hotel night, 2 front country campground nights, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation, permits, fees and 2 awesome guides.

Difficulty (Please Read)

The Grand Canyon can be extremely difficult and forbidding. The temperatures can be freezing or over 100 degrees. There is little to no shade in some areas, so you will be exposed to the beating sun for extended periods. Sun block is not sufficient for this, you must bring a wide brimmed hat, long sleeve shirt and long pants.

Furthermore, water may not be available for a few days at a time. Expect to carry 2 gallons of water (16 pounds) and maybe more. This extra weight makes your full pack even heavier. Elevation gains and losses are dramatic. Expect to gain or lose over 3700' vertical on some days. In order to do this, you will need to be sufficiently hydrated. Plus, your feet must remain in good shape. Blisters will cripple you and make progress extremely slow and painful so be mindful of hot spots as they develop.

Our first hiking day will be a day-hike on the Grandview Trail to Horseshoe Mesa. We will be evaluating each participant to make sure they are all able to complete the trip successfully since extraction from the canyon will be time consuming and expensive. You should have no expectation of rapid evacuation should you need or request it.

Training tips

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Packing List
Guides for this trip
Important Note
Difficulty (Please Read)
Packing List
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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Fly or drive into Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX)

We will pick you up and bring you to Guide Deb's house where we'll have our equipment shakedown. Please arrive by 3PM at the latest.

Equipment shakedown

Trip to REI Tempe, 1405 W Southern Ave, for forgotten or last minute equipment

Distribution of trail mix

"Before" body composition measurements taken

Go out to dinner in town, not included in trip cost

Shuttle van will take your spare bag(s) for safekeeping

Drive 4 hours to Grand Canyon National Park, Mather Campground

Set up camp and stay at Mather Campground, site 299

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Second set of before body composition measurements taken

Shuttle to the Grandview Trail, elevation 7400'

Day-Hike 1.1 miles (carrying at least 4 liters of water) to Coconino Saddle, elevation 6210'

Day-Hike 1.9 miles to Horshoe Mesa, elevation 4900'

Day-Hike 1.9 miles to Coconino Saddle, elevation 6210'

Day-Hike 1.1 miles to Grandview Trailhead, elevation 7400'

Shuttle back to Mather Campground

Camp at Mather Campground, group site 005

Miles today: 6.0 miles. Total to date: 6.0 miles

Possible Bailout: South Rim

Monday, May 2, 2016

Drive to the Bright Angel Trailhead, elevation 6860'

Take the park shuttle bus to the Hermit Trailhead, elevation 6640'

Hike 2.2 steep downhill miles to Santa Maria Spring, elevation 5000'

Hike 3.3 downhill miles to Breezy Point, elevation 4420'

Hike 1.5 steep downhill miles to the Hermit Trail Junction, elevation 3210'

Hike 1.2 miles to Hermit Creek, Campsite BM7, elevation 2900'

Camp at Campsite BM7, elevation 2900'. Water is reliable here.

Miles today: 8.2 miles. Total to date: 14.2 miles

Possible Bailout: Hermit Trailhead or Colorado River

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hike 1.2 uphill miles to the Hermit Trail Junction, elevation 3210'

Hike 2.3 miles to the Tonto Trail / Monument Creek, site BL7, elevation 2995'

Hike 1.6 downhill miles through a slot canyon (some scrambling involved) to Granite Rapid on the Colorado River, site BL8, elevation 2330'

Camp at site BL8, elevation 2330'. Reliable water is found at Monument Creek below the Tonto Trail as well as in the Colorado River

Miles Today: 5.1. Total to Date: 19.3

Possible Bailout: Colorado River

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hike 1.6 miles to the Tonto Trail / Monument Creek, site BL7, elevation 2995'

No water today, fill up at Monument Creek. We must carry 2 gallons each.

Hike 3.4 miles on the Tonto trail to Salt Creek, elevation 3550'.

Camp at Salt Creek, site BL5, elevation 3550'. No potable / treatable water here. The water here has a high mineral content.

Miles Today: 5.0. Total to Date: 24.3

Possible Bailout: Colorado River

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hike 4.8 miles to Horn Creek, elevation 3550'. The water here is (or can be) radioactive.

Hike 2.5 miles to Indian Garden Campground, elevation 3800'

Set up camp at Indian Garden Campground, elevation 3800'

Day-Hike 1.5 miles to Plateau Point, elevation 3740'

Day-Hike 1.5 miles to Indian Garden Campground, elevation 3800'

Camp at Indian Garden Campground, elevation 3800'

Miles today: 10.3 miles. Total to date: 34.6 miles

Bailout: South Rim

Friday, May 6, 2016

Hike 4.8 difficult uphill miles to the Bright Angel Trailhead, elevation 6860'

End of Hike

Miles today: 4.8 miles. Total to date: 39.4 miles

Possible Bailout: South Rim

Body Composition Taken on South Rim

"After" body composition measurements taken

Shuttle to Flagstaff for Dinner and Awards Ceremony. Suggestion: Lumberyard Brewing Company

Shuttle back to Phoenix. Check into Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Airport North, 3838 E Van Buren St, Phoenix, AZ, 85008, 602-306-2323

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Free Hotel Breakfast

Take free airport shuttle

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