Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Carrying my fears in the Grand Canyon

There's a saying in outdoor adventuring: "You carry your fears." I have seen it in others: people so afraid of running out of food that they have to hang an extra bear bag AND use a bear canister for five days. Other people carry guns strapped to their waist for a day hike on a popular trail with five other hiking companions. Still others carry several changes of clothing and deodorant (maybe not a fear, but in my opinion certainly unnecessary). And others carry way more water than they could possibly drink.

I'm getting ready to backpack in the Grand Canyon for five days, and here is the fear I am carrying:

Look like a burglar, or be cold? You decide..
In 2013, we did this same trip (RTRTR). I shivered all night, sleepless, in a borrowed synthetic sleeping bag that was too big for me and had long since lost its insulating properties. I had insufficient camp shoes and one of my layers was rain pants, good for rain or wind but we had neither. Cold cut right through those babies. It was a great trip, but every night I would feel panic about the many long hours of cold to come.

It's not that I haven't camped in cold weather since, but a bad experience tends to stick with you. This is what makes you pack multiple toe tubes if you had debilitating blisters on one hike, even if you never got them again. Or buy several books for your Kindle if it broke during your last GC trip and you were left with a book you borrowed from your hiking buddy on how to be effective in the workplace for several 13 hour nights in the tent.

The current forecast for the Phantom Ranch area (we will camp above that on all of the nights but two) isn't too bad: high 40s for the day, low 30s for nights. This is a little bit warmer than last time. Still, I fear the cold. My duffel is stuffed with "maybes". There will be a Packing Palooza on the night of the 26th at the Maswik Lodge! Balaclava or hat? Both?! Mittens and gloves?! Or just mittens, which will quickly get too warm for hiking, but would be good at camp, while thin gloves are great for hiking? Heavy down jacket or light one? Fleece pants?! You can quickly fall down a well of indecision in winter.

We are sticking to the main corridors this time, South Kaibab--North Kaibab--Bright Angel. I know there are people who run this route in a few hours, but I have no interest in that. I need five days in the canyon, to breathe it in, to become peaceful after a really stressful season. No internet, no phone, just time. And a ton of warm clothes.

18 comments:

  1. I've thrown snowballs down into the canyon, only to have the wind hurl them back over my head. Stay warm. Have fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh goodness! I might have to try that.

      Delete
  2. I hate being cold, so I too tend to overpack on the warm clothing. I was just on the North rim last October (blog post coming soon) and hiked a short distance down the Kaibab Trail in the pouring rain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll look forward to reading that. Rain, how unusual...

      Delete
  3. My fear is definitely cold hands and feet, and mine are frequently that way even if it's not cold out. I carry those chemical warmers on a lot of outings, just used a pair on Sunday while volunteering at a race on a 40F and rainy morning, in fact. When layering doesn't get the job done, those little things often do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, mine too. Do you have Reynaud's,also? I've learned that those chemical packs can expire! The hard way, when I needed it...

      Delete
  4. I pick "look like a burglar"! Wishing you a warm & cozy fabulous adventure! Looking forward to reading all about it and seeing your photos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I trust my sleeping bag this time at least. Maybe I will be too warm! Ha.

      Delete
  5. Since I'm planning a little GC myself early in 2016 I look forward to your report. Being too cold is one of my fears also. I've heard stories of hypothermia and I've also experienced those times of uncontrollable shivering.

    Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, this time I wish I were you. Instead I must succumb to family obligations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, you're going there? Looking forward to hearing about your trip too. I've been there in February and it has been warm. So you just never know. This is a very different winter though.

      Delete
  6. Wow have a great trip. My trip in October was really affected by El Nino- lots of rain. Which is what I dread worse than cold but it turned out just fine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rain is certainly challenging. I have to say, after living for years in the rainforest, it's my least favorite weather to camp in.

      Delete
  7. Have fun! We did a RTR and loved it (though it was 105 degrees in the bottom of the canyon just before Phantom) but never the extra TR. With your experience, you will have figured out how to be warm....not much is worse than "sleeping" cold in a long night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think with the heat packs I will be fine this time. Looks like lows in the 30s which would feel pretty warm right now.

      Delete
  8. Enjoy! I've never done the RTRTR, but have been to the canyon tons of times in all kinds of weather. Seems like you'll be prepared for anything!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Supposedly there's three feet of snow on the north rim, so it will depend on if others have been through if we make it there or not. A lot different than 2013 when there was barely any snow.

      Delete
  9. A chemical warmer in the foot of your sleeping bag. I've never tried it so 8m not sure how well it works. I'm a nightly sock wearer (Reynaud's here too). Can't sleep with even the thought of cold feet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does work! The hot water bottle does too...as long as you don't fill it up all the way or not have it closed tightly! That would be a bummer!

      Delete

Hello out there. If you liked this post, please leave a comment so I keep writing!