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Hiking and surviving in the Grand Canyon

Updated on April 10, 2013

Take all of New York City turn it upside down and plop in the Grand Canyon.

Size is not relative in the Grand Canyon.
Size is not relative in the Grand Canyon. | Source

A hiking and surviving guide for Grand Canyon back country.

If you really want to assure that you will be safe and live a long life. The guide is simple: Do not do it. Hiking and surviving in the Grand Canyon is not a sure thing. We can just get right down to it. Here are your extremes. Since we began using the Grand Canyon, literally hundreds have lost their life there. Including the building of Hoover dam (southwest) and Glen Canyon dam (northeast) and river runners and miners, thousands have perished there.

It is generally considered one mile deep. That means that somehow you have to climb up that distance and down that distance. The downward trip is bone jarring, the upward trip the equivalent of doing medium deep knee bends for about a six hour period straight.

Or think of this, a mile is about 5,280 feet. The 3 One World Trade Center New York City USA 776 ft 104 floors and was finished in 2013. Can you walk up those steps 3-4 times in one day?

Putting the whole of Manhattan into the Grand Canyon would not fill side canyons within.

If you took all the existing garbage in the world and kept at it, you could never fill the Grand Canyon. If you took all the armies in the world including navies, missiles and air forces you would not fill one one hundredth.

If you emptied all the great lakes you could not fill the Grand Canyon.

A death telegram

From: "Steve Sullivan" <>
Date: Mar 19, 2013 4:46 PM
Subject: You have been issued a Grand Canyon Backcountry Permit!
To: <>

Dear JOHN,

Congratulations! You have been issued a permit 13-03354 for a Grand Canyon backpacking trip beginning on 05/04/2013 for 7 hikers.

Night by Night Itinerary:
3. 05/06/2013 OUT Hiking Out

We have accepted your payment and will be sending your permit in the mail. You can expect your permit to arrive in about a week to 10 days. THIS PERMIT IS NOT VALID UNTIL SIGNED BY YOU!

To help the members of your group prepare and know what to expect on your hike, please have each of them watch the Grand Canyon Hiking Video. This video can be viewed at If you would like a DVD of this video, please request one by email at We hope you have a great hike.


These photos are not of the Grand Canyon. It is a place called Oak Creek Canyon and you can fit one thousand more in the Grand Canyon.

This land is huge land
This land is huge land | Source
A man can walk around the area for 100 miles and not see another.
A man can walk around the area for 100 miles and not see another. | Source

Fry an egg and Water.

The Hike permitted here, May require water for a full day. The day would include about 4,000 feet in elevation changes, Daytime temperatures could reach 100, night time down to maybe 25. Suggested two gallons. 16+ pounds on top of, food safety and other gear. 50 lbs at least.

If that temperature variance surprises you don't be. And keep in mind this area can have humidity of 1% by records in nearby Las Vegas. At an altutude of 5,000 feet, sun burn is inevitable to any exposed area.

If you get down into the dark Granite and Schist at about 2pm on a sunny day. It will blister your hand in a second.

This is not the land that time forgot, but if you forget time and exposure you will soon be forgotten.

Any carbonated in can beverage bursts. A fever sets in at around 101. Sweat is gone as expelled except over the eyes where it burns like acid. There is no shade for five more miles. If you drop water or an egg on a rock it sizzles and evaporates before you can reach it. You know but do not do it drinking sips and downing the egg whole including that calcium shell.

Your pure vision is taken as real mirages dull every direction. Every thing around you competes to suck any moisture out of the air, except for the other 3rd that literally just disappear. The last of bushes like creosote and mesquite expel last breathes. It is not moisture it is heavy heavy perfume. A wind hits you and blows fine sand in your eyes, ears, nose and throat. Your body takes time to adjust to the difference in things like blood pressure. Elevation matters mess with air and audio/vertigo sensations.

They lived here after and with the Native Americans. Hmm. Why?

Men of the 49er's era were absolutely crazy.
Men of the 49er's era were absolutely crazy. | Source

Please take a good look. On the far butte are firs and Poplar trees, at this spot it was 105 in October.

Have you ever had a bad cut? One that kind of bled and you needed stitches. Here you are and you need stitches and perhaps Ice for the strain that accompanied it. You are looking up at my toothless grin and seeing another butte and realizing you are screwed.

Ah what the hell? we lighten loads, pull out analgesics and everyone goes without except for the dude I just sewed up out of the first aid kit. He will not make it.

Life is all about priorities at this point. Send the younger ahead Bless them Godspeed, 15 miles to contact.

We lighten their load and keep more stuff for shock. Nobody has enough water. So the youngins take off. I whip out my trusty, eight inch blade and whack down two good strong bush limbs. I rumble around in the very hot red dirt, and I got three fine cutting edges limestone. I retreat. We have made shade by digging a 4 ft grave. And the ground two feet down has some moisture and is cooler. We now have to hard cover book sizes diggers. And will attach another to a long yucca stick for a hoe.

When a diamond back rattler is welcome, you just move to a different plane.

mmmmmm yummie
mmmmmm yummie | Source

We dig down about 3 feet further and are all set. It is cool with moisture.

Now I go back out and catch two lizards. Unharmed but for later if need be. Then I go out and pick a couple of the big leafed prickly leaves. And find a good barrel cactus. I dig one from the root up and bring it back to camp.

We have not moved our charge far. Just into our little cave. The idea is that moving him on adrenaline is great but only lasts a few hours out here. Our cactus are filled with thorn spines so I sing old man river and clean them in our den.

The canyon winds start so we take advantage. using a small squirt of honey we attract great protein from bugs. Two tarps are readied. They will go across our little place. Not during the winds but about 2 am and they will dip in the middle and we will get a quart or two of water in the morning dew.

Pulpas are made from the cactus, some held for curative and cooling and some ready to provide fluid. We have salt and refried beans and tortilla and four cans of tuna fish and we kick back and watch a meteor shower and count one billion stars. We are out of our pit cave. Now it is cold. And we face the other exposure. -- We are equipped and make the night having laughs and giggle and forcing teas down our injured. But we will at least one of us die here.

What happened next was beyond our control.

You do it right. does not mean it turns out right. Be gentle with others.


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    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Yea the canyon is well over 100 miles long over a mile deep in some and some places 15 miles wide I believe.

      But you will have a blast on the rim, on the old train, Walking down for an hour on a well maintained trail and then coming back, leisurely only carrying water and camera and binoculars.

      It makes me happy you enjoyed reading about my happy place.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      I didn't know NYC would fit inside---I love those kind of 'perspective' facts. Despite the dangers, I still want to visit the Grand Canyon one day! :-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Great hub! I'm disappointed that I never visited the Grand Canyon, and you haven't helped me to live it down. Thanks for the edgy experiences and the pictures.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      There are truly friends that are the wind beneath our wings. I just felt like a Redtail Hawk being lifted on a thermal reading your kind words. I am pleased you are having Coffee and Bagel with a wonderful spread. You suggested Tea and Crumpets earlier on your wonderful sunrise this morning.

      Thank you much friend, from on the borderline.

    • epigramman profile image


      5 years ago

      I just love how you put 'everything' into proper persepective, Sir Eric, and this is a very personal and intimate journey inside your mind and allows your reader (lucky me) to travel by your side. I love how you tell it like it is. No prisoners here approach and you write like Hunter S. Thompson (but without all of the pills and the booze,lol)

      Actually your writing starts to go from exciting to damned scary and I'm not sure any more that I want to follow Eric the Great on this journey into this descent to hell on earth - please just leave me behind at 5 star hotel up above in a hubtub with Kate Upton and let me know if and when you get back, lol.

      But I do know one thing this was great writing and I would follow you anywhere on Hubpages because this was one of the best Hub reads for me in a long long time my friend - thank you for taking me to edge (and over) sending you warm wishes from Colin and his cats at lake erie time 12:08pm with first cup of coffee and bagel with salmon cream cheese


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