Grand Canyon Heads Up

jgaz

Adventurer
I just got back from a four day backpacking trip with my sister and her 10 year old grandson. We hiked to the river and back on the Bright Angel Trail. I did this in order to keep the daily mileage around 4.5 to 5 miles.

I shouldn’t have been concerned. The kid did great! He carried about a 15 lb pack, give or take and I couldn’t catch him going up hill.

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The main reason I posted this thread is to remind everyone hiking the canyon to be aware of seasonal and/or unexpected water outages. It’s always best to check with back country office for water availability.

On my most recent hike I found that the water had been turned off at Indian Garden, but not at the 1.5 and 3 mile rest houses. In my experience this is very rare. I was told it had been off for about 15? hours and they didn’t know when it would be turned back on. There was nothing posted at the trailhead.

The three of us in my party were each carrying almost two liters, plenty to get to Indian Garden, especially with the rest houses having water.
In order to dry camp at the garden if the water wasn’t turned back on, my sister and I each carried a 1qt collapsable canteen and I added a 1 gallon MSR water bag when we were saddling up.
I planned to fill everything at the 3 mile house if necessary.
We also were carrying 16 chlorine dioxide tablets if purifying was necessary.

Thankfully topping off wasn’t necessary when I confirmed the water was back on by asking a ranger we met on the trail. The reports from hikers varied. I was told by the ranger that he’d never seen it off that long in 15 years. I can’t cinfirm this, just repeating it.

My point in all this is that we need to be prepared to take care of ourselves. I wasn’t carrying a filter on this trip but still had a plan if there were water problems. I admit we were trying to keep the weight down by hiking this route but we were really planning to have water at our camps.
 

GB_Willys_2014

Well-known member
Great thread and pictures!

I too have never experienced a water outage at Indian Garden. As you note, water treatment from nearby natural sources is a mitigation, but I suspect few hikers, let alone multi-day backpackers, carry water treatment tools.

I also strongly agree that hikers below the rim carry some sort of treatment tool. Water purification tablets weigh almost nothing and can even be found at Walmart. Also, IIRC, the purification wait times can be reduced if drawing from fast moving bodies.

Anyhow, great news on successful trip. I am always thrilled whenever a Gen Z'er catches the canyon bug. 👍
 

DCGibbs

Observer
I have fond memories of hiking in the Canyon. Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, Hermit's trail, Plateau trail out to the Point, American Falls, Paria Canyon, Rainbow Bridge, Havasupai, New Hance to Tonto trail, to South Kaibab... I have 1000's of photos and lots of old Topo maps and an estimated 2200 miles hiked. I hiked out to Point Sublime, never met another hiker...
 

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shade

Well-known member
Fun trip. I'm going to try my first family backpacking trip next spring. I'm not sure if we'll go all the way down or not. Maybe just a night at Indian Garden, with a sunset walk to Plateau Point.

Not to be morbid, but your last photo reminded me of one of the fatalities in Over the Edge where an uncle left a little piker to die at about that spot.

Thanks for the water report. Sounds like one of those leaks you see along the trail may have gotten out of hand. I always carry some treatment tablets, no matter where I'm hiking, even with a filter.

It sounds like whatever was going on at Indian Garden was fixed, but this kind of problem is why I decided to wait until I get to the backcountry office to get a permit. My plans are flexible, so I won't mind adjusting if there aren't any sites at IG, or there's some other problem along my 1st route choice. Heck, I may decide it'll be more fun to grill steaks along the North Rim instead. :)
 

jgaz

Adventurer
Fun trip. I'm going to try my first family backpacking trip next spring. I'm not sure if we'll go all the way down or not. Maybe just a night at Indian Garden, with a sunset walk to Plateau Point.

Not to be morbid, but your last photo reminded me of one of the fatalities in Over the Edge where an uncle left a little piker to die at about that spot.

Thanks for the water report. Sounds like one of those leaks you see along the trail may have gotten out of hand. I always carry some treatment tablets, no matter where I'm hiking, even with a filter.

It sounds like whatever was going on at Indian Garden was fixed, but this kind of problem is why I decided to wait until I get to the backcountry office to get a permit. My plans are flexible, so I won't mind adjusting if there aren't any sites at IG, or there's some other problem along my 1st route choice. Heck, I may decide it'll be more fun to grill steaks along the North Rim instead. :)
The Indian Garden issue might have been related to the pump replacement project that’s currently underway. I never really heard the reason.
We didn’t see much of the rangers, they were dealing with a drone situation out at Plateau Point.

@shade I’m sure you know about using Horn Creek as an alternative to IG. An extra 1.5? miles, dry camp, etc. rules it out for many. Small area to camp, but I enjoy the solitude there more than the people at IG.

I didn’t think about the incident in Over The Edge. Too funny!
 
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shade

Well-known member
The Indian Garden issue might have been related to the pump replacement project that’s currently underway. I never really heard the reason.
We didn’t see much of the rangers, they were dealing with a drone situation out at Plateau Point.

@shade I’m sure you know about using Horn Creek as an alternative to IG. An extra 1.5? miles, dry camp, etc. rules it out for many. Small area to camp, but I enjoy the solitude there more than the people at IG.

I didn’t think about the incident in Over The Edge. Too funny!
The morning I woke up at IG, a German speaking (and moaning) couple was going at it loudly in their tent in the middle of everyone.

Horn Creek might be a nice alternative. Thanks.
 

GB_Willys_2014

Well-known member
Eek.

While I like Horn Creek too, the NPS circular recommends not drawing water for drinking due to radioactivity.

Has something changed and Horn Creek water is now considered safe?

BTW, I read an article sometime ago that pretty much all canyon creeks/streams contain uranium. Apparently some sources are higher than others, and as long as you don't drink the lower content sources every day, no worse than an occasional x-ray.
 

shade

Well-known member
Eek.

While I like Horn Creek too, the NPS circular recommends not drawing water for drinking due to radioactivity.

Has something changed and Horn Creek water is now considered safe?

BTW, I read an article sometime ago that pretty much all canyon creeks/streams contain uranium. Apparently some sources are higher than others, and as long as you don't drink the lower content sources every day, no worse than an occasional x-ray.
Nope. jgaz said dry camp only. If I go for Horn Creek, it'd have to be in my water budget.

There is water in the bed of Horn Creek about half the time, but unfortunately it is radioactive so don't drink it unless death by thirst is the only other option. The source of the radioactivity is a deposit of high quality uranium contained within a collapsed cave system geologists call a breccia pipe. The odd yellowish stain on the rocks near the rim at the head of Horn Creek testifies to the presence of unusual minerals and a claim predating the park allowed the deposit to be actively mined as late as 1969. Some of the individual loads of ore that were taken from the Orphan Mine were among the highest grade uranium ever recorded from a North American mine. Percolating ground water picks up traces of the radioactivity and carries it to the surface in the bed of Horn Creek.
 

GB_Willys_2014

Well-known member
Nope. jgaz said dry camp only. If I go for Horn Creek, it'd have to be in my water budget.

There is water in the bed of Horn Creek about half the time, but unfortunately it is radioactive so don't drink it unless death by thirst is the only other option. The source of the radioactivity is a deposit of high quality uranium contained within a collapsed cave system geologists call a breccia pipe. The odd yellowish stain on the rocks near the rim at the head of Horn Creek testifies to the presence of unusual minerals and a claim predating the park allowed the deposit to be actively mined as late as 1969. Some of the individual loads of ore that were taken from the Orphan Mine were among the highest grade uranium ever recorded from a North American mine. Percolating ground water picks up traces of the radioactivity and carries it to the surface in the bed of Horn Creek.
Oops. Missed that detail. I will blame post-op pain meds, and not poor reading comprehension. :)

Good.

BTW, it occurs to me that just like Ghiglieri's and Myers' book, there are probably enough anecdotal stories for a similar book on sex in the canyon.

Although, I personally have nothing to contribute here. I backpacked to Phantom Ranch twice with my wife. The first time she was 4 months pregnant; the second was with our then 12 yo daughter. Let me just say that amore' was not on our minds on either occasion ...
 

shade

Well-known member
Watching the sated Europeans emerge for breakfast was kind of fun, but the whole place was packed with noisy people. I know some folks like campgrounds; I avoid them as much as possible.

I'm looking forward to reading the Murder chapter again.
 

GB_Willys_2014

Well-known member
Another Grand Canyon update - Bright Angel camping permits will be in short supply for the foreseeable future:

In order to reduce water and wastewater demands to the PRWWTP, the NPS will limit overnight use and existing visitor facilities at Phantom Ranch. This project is anticipated to last approximately 18-24 months.

Modified operations will impact both NPS and Xanterra Phantom Ranch facilities. At Bright Angel Campground, site reservations will be decreased by 50% with a reduction in flush toilet restrooms for both day and overnight users. Phantom Ranch will close all hiker dormitories and suspend all guest showers during the project.
 

jgaz

Adventurer
I wonder if the NPS will stop allowing people to be added to existing permits?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I typically apply for two or three people on my applications. In the past, I’ve found it easier to add a person then to remove a person and try to deal with the “hikers credit”.

No showers is going to make the mule riders unhappy if it includes them. And no sneaking into a dorm for quick shower is going to make hikers unhappy......so I’m told.

i hope people have sense to keep soap out of Bright Angel creek but I bet that’s wishful thinking.
 
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