Sometimes the Boundary Waters just aren’t enough. That, and April in Grand Marais is mud season. So I’m getting ready for my second semi-annual hike down the Grand Canyon with two girlfriends from high school. Since we survived the first trip with many good memories and many sore muscles, we decided to go for it again.
So now that the transportation and lodging arrangements are made, I’m faced with the preparations that everyone goes through getting ready for any wilderness adventure: what do I need, how much space do I have, and how much is it going to weigh?
Let’s start at the bottom: I just cleaned and waterproofed my ultra-reliable Vasque Breeze boots. I’ll pick up some new Softec Insoles to beef up the support and comfort level. Then add a couple of pairs of Dahlgren® heavy-weight alpaca wool socks, which means no blisters and no need for liner socks.
Moving up: a good pair of lightweight wicking convertible pants, a short-sleeve wicking shirt (like the Rab Aeon tee), topped with a long sleeve light merino wool so I can start the chilly morning toasty but peel layers off as we drop into the hotter canyon below. Throw in a breathable rain jacket just in case, and one Buff for whatever crops up.
As for gear, I’ll be trying out my new Deuter ACT Trail SL pack with its hydration system. For my last visit to the Grand Canyon, I used an old daypack that did not have chest & hip straps. The lack of support was bad enough, but I also had to take the whole thing off every time we stopped for a water and snack break (which was often). So this time I’ll be looking forward to the added stability of the Deuter pack, plus the convenience of an insulated water bladder with a sipping straw system.
And let’s not forget some the other essentials: Black Diamond Z-poles, to take much of the load off my knees and to give me added stability while craning my neck to take in the fantastic scenery; polarized Native sunglasses, for increased depth perception in the glare of the sun; a good brimmed hat; plenty of sunscreen; a basic first aid kit; Gatorade powder to add electrolytes to the water; Clif and Mojo bars for a steady supply of energy; and a small digital camera to capture the memories.
Did I miss anything on my list? I haven’t finished packing yet, so please offer any suggestions in the comments below.