Survive a Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike

A rim-to-rim hike in the Grand Canyon is not to be taken lightly.

Every wild place disguised as a national park seems to bring out the collective poor decision making skills of the people who visit.

And while many of them make it out alive, this hike can be deadly if not planned properly.

We hiked the classic route from the South Rim to the North Rim along the South Kaibab and North Kaibab trails, for a total of 20.9 miles.  The mileage may be manageable. The conditions, however, are what you need to be concerned with.

What makes hiking the Grand Canyon different from any other national park?

For starters, it’s hot.  Unbearably hot. Midday summer temperatures soar well past 100°F.

There are dozens of heat related warning signs in several languages along any given trail basically saying you will die if you do not take the appropriate precautions.

Sadly, people do die every year simply because they were not prepared.

“I totally regret not studying a foreign language in high school right now.”

You’re asking for trouble when you combine an unforgiving desert environment with steep, rugged terrain and an ill-prepared hiker.

Of course, there are a few steps you can take to enjoy your rim-to-rim trip. Many successful hikers have gone before you. Follow their lead.


You need to stay hydrated, obviously. Plan on drinking at least one gallon per day. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Drink water at regularly scheduled intervals. Know where water is available (for the most part, it’s not).

You’ll be amazed how many dehydrated zombies you’ll encounter deep in the canyon with only a small water bottle in hand.

Keep in mind that drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia.

To prevent hyponatremia, eat plenty of salty snacks and drink sports beverages containing electrolytes. We carried one small container of powdered Gatorade to mix with our water.

Forget about your diet. It’s no fun, anyway. Your body will require a ton of fuel for this trip, so load up as often as you can.

Warning: Don’t be an idiot.


Getting to the bottom is optional. Getting to the top is mandatory. Give this concept serious thought.

Once you reach the bottom, you are essentially at the mercy of the canyon. You must hike out. Chances are slim the park service will call in a helicopter unless you really are close to dying.

Hiking in (that is to say, going downhill) is almost more challenging than hiking out. Your knees and ankles will be completely shot by the time you reach the Colorado River. Consider using trekking poles to alleviate pressure on your joints.

Take your time, and rest often. This is not the place to be an overzealous macho power walker. Listen to what your body is telling you.

Most importantly, hike within your abilities, and do so with a few good friends. An inexperienced solo hiker will probably be beat down, Grand Canyon style.

No matter what you do, the terrain here will kick your ass. Always keep this fact in mind.


People routinely underestimate the Grand Canyon. And they die. Simple enough.

It all boils down to respect for the canyon.

Know that for the numerous hardships and twists and turns of a rim-to-rim hike, you will be rewarded with nonstop awe-inspiring scenery. Highly recommended.

Enjoy your walk.

Room with a view.


Guest Post: Traveling the States in 6 Weeks by Bus

Note: Today’s Guest Post comes from Matt Davids. Matt blogs about anything to do with traveling, from massive adventures like the six week Greyhound tour of the States that you’ll read about here, to little spur of the moment trips closer to home around London. His next upcoming trip is to South Europe, starting with his Greece holidays.

By Matt Davids

Traveling the states Coast to Coast in six weeks by bus is a situation you may find yourself in mainly because of two factors: budget and adventure. As a foreigner, the only other way to have a road trip adventure in the US is to hire a car, and that, for six weeks going from East to West, plus gas and parking, is incredibly expensive.

If you’re American, and have decided against using a car, that is likely due to you
not owning one, which also comes down to a low budget situation.

The second factor, adventure, is simply because you’re looking for one. If you’re purely looking to get across the States from point A to B then you would fly, unless you suspect that, because of a slightly questionable past you are lurking on a no-fly list somewhere.

So that leaves us with the bus, more specifically the Greyhound, and points C,D,E and every other stop-off between your start and end destinations. Here is a collection of lessons I learnt traveling on the Greyhound around America within a six week time frame, starting in NYC and ending in California.

Insider Tips for travel on the Greyhound

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Why human powered adventure is the best

There is something so incredibly beautiful about human powered adventure. You could head out your door right this instant and walk, run, paddle, climb, or bike for as long as your endurance holds up.

Human powered adventure can be defined as any adventure not requiring the use of an “engine,” be it a vehicle, a horse, or any other non-human mode of transportation. In other words, the human body is the driving force behind the adventure.

Engines are tools used to make our adventure lives easier. Chairlifts drop snowboarders off at the top of the mountain. Two trucks connect a river shuttle. Support vehicles make long-distance bike rides more manageable. Planes and helicopters drastically cut travel time.

We should be eternally grateful for the engine. Without it, adventure might be painstakingly impossible at times.

But a journey becomes especially epic when engines are removed from the scenario. It is now entirely up to you and your willpower. How far you go is determined not by a certain amount of gasoline or properly functioning components, but by your own energy and determination.

The human powered adventure possibilities are endless. You could paddle down the Mississippi River. You could walk the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail. You could spend five days backpacking Yosemite. You could even take a short ramble through a petrified wilderness.

Remember, engines are tools. They get us places faster. Human powered adventure, on the other hand, is something so basic, yet so intrinsic to our adventurous souls.

Who is your adventure role model?

It probably goes without saying that having a few quality role models in life is a smart move. Through them you receive inspiration, determination, ideas, tips, and so much more.

An adventure role model is no different. These are the people who give you an extra push to keep exploring. Their fascinating tales from far-flung destinations captivate your imagination.Their bravery and “never say quit” attitude is contagious.

What makes a quality adventure role model? Hard to say. But there are literally hundreds of historical and modern adventure role models to choose from, everyone from Amelia Earhart to Sano Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa.

So have you given any thought to who your adventure role model(s) might be? I’ll share a few of mine with you in the comments below.

How to stay motivated for your next adventure

Motivation is a tricky thing. Harnessing its energy and potential is vital in early stages, only because motivation tends to wane after the initial excitement wears off.

Maybe you’ve researched a new adventure, one which really got your blood pumping just imagining the possibilities, but lost motivation and backed out. What happened there?

Adventure requires a lot of time, money, nerves, bravery, and a willingness to expect the unexpected. A part of your brain rejects all of the above. And for good reason.

So it is important to develop a motivation management system. The longer you stay motivated for your next adventure, the more likely you will meet your goals.

Personally, I gather every last item related to my next adventure. Maps, guide books, online forums, brochures—you name it. Call it an ongoing attempt to raise stoke levels.

Lately, though, I’m curious if there is another, more effective way to achieve adventure goals.

If you’ve worked in sales, maybe you’re familiar with the idea of a sales pipeline, where a prospect becomes a lead, then an opportunity, and hopefully a sale.

To be successful with a sales pipeline, one must stay motivated to ensure each segment flows freely.

What if we were to approach our adventure goals the same way? Say you think of an adventurous idea, do your research, find an exciting lead, call the right people to establish opportunity. And finally, that day arrives. Success.

In theory, if you stay motivated to feed your adventure pipeline, you’ll never run out of adventures. You’ll encounter snags here and there, but with time, you’ll notice an increase in quality adventure prospects.

Just a theory, at least. Any tips or general concerns on the subject?

Adventure: How much is too much?

I received a rather unsettling email from a fellow blogger yesterday. In it, she updated me on her daughter, who fell off a cliff in Indonesia and broke her back.

The email:

“In that discussion a few weeks ago about youngsters feeling a need to prove themselves in an adventure situation, I told you about my daughter who had fallen off a cliff in Indonesia. She ended up getting to the Spine Hospital in Perth and she had a broken back. Sounds awful but she is very lucky right now, 4 cracks with no nerve involvement. And she should heal OK if she takes it easy for a few months. No carrying her backpack, no hiking. Just wanted to bring you up to speed on her injuries.

I get concerned with some of the posts that are all “rah rah” about bungee jumping and other adventure activities. There are so many damn idiots out there who have a bucket list and don’t engage their brains in the decisions.”

She’s right. You need to “engage your brain” while pursuing adventure. Think about the consequences. Is it really worth it?

Maybe to you, but what about the people who love you? Nobody wants to fall off a cliff and break their back. Nobody wants to die surfing a monster wave. Nobody wants to drown under a log in a whitewater river.

People do, though. And their families are the ones left picking up the pieces.

So step back for a moment. Evaluate the situation. If the chances of you dying or getting severely injured are significantly high, reconsider. You don’t have to be a hero. Live to have another adventure.

I ask you: How much is too much?

Alter your perception by focusing on one word

You guys have been doing a great job of giving me a lot to think about lately. Keep it up.

Today it came from my good blogging buddy El Guapo, who was kind enough to drop by to share his wisdom.

He left a really interesting comment on the results from the adventure poll we took the other day.

“In a wider sense, I’d also add misperception to the list. I have a perception of what life should be, where Alex just goes out and makes it what it could be.”

Guapo was referring to Alex Autin’s approach to life. She’s experienced a lot of cool things, such as living on a yacht off the Great Barrier Reef for a week. For free. Does Alex think in terms of “could” more often than “should”?

On the surface, it doesn’t seem like there’s much of a difference between “should” and “could.”

But once you really start contemplating your own misperceptions in life, you might realize the difference between “should” and “could” is enormous.

“Should” is restrictive. It will hold you back. If a situation or an opportunity doesn’t fit within the parameters of a carefully defined perception, someone with a “should” mentality might pass it by.

“Could” is ultimate freedom. Imagine the endless possibilities. If a situation or an opportunity doesn’t fit within the parameters of a carefully defined perception, someone with a “could” mentality might approach it with curiosity and excitement.

Try it out for yourself next time an adventurous opportunity presents itself. Instead of saying something like “I’m too old for whitewater rafting and I should probably sit this one out,” say “I only live once and I could experience what this wild river has to offer.”

Low budget adventure is possible

Today we’ll follow up on last week’s posts where we explored what it is that prevents you from having more adventures.  Turns out money and time were the biggest culprits.

Money and time—if you had more of both, you’d be well on your to nonstop swashbuckling adventure, right? Well, as we discovered, yes and no.

More money and more time gets us to the faraway places we often dream of. No money and no time is far from desirable, but don’t let it get in your way. Stop making excuses. You’re better than that.

So what I would like to do is invite you to share your low budget adventure ideas and/or memories. This can be from any time, any place. The point is you had a ton of adventurous fun, and didn’t have to break the bank.

How do I define low budget? Good question. Anything in the free to $500 range would work for our purposes.

I’ll kick it off. I spent about $200 on a round trip Greyhound ticket across the United States. I was young and dumb (some might argue nothing has changed), and the thought of a four-day bus trip each way on America’s seediest form of transportation didn’t seem horrifying at the time.

But it was horrifying. And also strangely adventurous. Would I do it again? Absolutely not. Did I learn a lot about low budget adventure and how incredibly weird people in this country can be? Without a doubt.

Your turn. I’ll think of more examples myself. I’m looking forward to your replies!