My husband and I are taking a 10 day tent camping trip around the Grand Canyon. We are making our way to the South Rim, Lake Powell, North Rim, Grand Escalante Staircase and Bryce Canyon, then back to Vegas. I have ordered a Frio pump wallet and plan on keeping my insulin vials chilled in a cooler. Of course, I'll be well stocked with snacks during all the hikes. Has anyone made this or similar camping trips with these kinds of altitudes and environments? Or does anyone with any kind of advice or helpful tips for this type of trip? Thanks in advance!
I was just out there for vacation and didn't nnotice any changes but we weren't outside camping it was just a big road trip.
We were there last year and did a very similar trip (Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion). It was absolutely amazing! We got a permit and hiked down into the canyon and stayed there for a couple of days (at the ranch, but slept in a tent). At Bryce we just did a lot of hiking and at Zion we did the Narrows (highly recommend it; you can rent gear from the local outfitter).
I used a Frio pouch the whole time and it worked like a charm. Keep in mind that down in the canyon the temps are hotter than at the rim. But even down there my insulin kept ok. I rewet the frio pouch in the stream that runs through the ranch. To be safe, however, I asked the Grand Canyon medical center to hold some of my insulin in their refrigerator, which they graciously did. I also left there some extra pump stuff and all my emergency contact info (doctor's info, etc). I let them know that I was a type 1 diabetic and that we were hiking down into the canyon. The rangers who stay at the bottom in the ranch also have a refrigerator that they will let you borrow some space in if you're down there.
Bryce was a bit cooler in temps and I had no issues there. Hiking is beautiful. But we were one day post our hike back out of the Grand Canyon and I remember battling a lot of lows. I ate lots and lots of jelly beans. The scenery there is just amazing.
At Zion, we did the Narrows water hike which presented a bit of a challenge since I wear a pump. I didn't want to wear the pump in the water (you get pretty went and can get banged up against rocks and stuff), so I disconnected and stashed the pump in a dry sack that I purchased from the outfitter store where we rented our gear (along with my cell phone and camera). I then periodically stopped, tested, and bolused about half of what my basal rate would normally be for an hour. This worked like a charm - I didn't go over 150 or under 70 the whole time!
The environment is very dry out there, so you don't have to worry really about test strips getting spoiled or pumps malfunctioning because of humidity. However, you DO have to worry about dehydration. Even in the cooler temps, you can get dehydrated REALLY fast, so drink plenty of water. I had ketones a few times because of dehydration. I also used Nuun tablets and hydration salts because when I get ketones, my electrolytes get all messed up and I feel horrible. That happened during our hike out of the canyon. Thankfully, I felt better once I drank tons of water with hydration salts. Also, my pump was an absolutely indispensable tool during our hike into the Canyon. I rocked many basal rates and was constantly adjusting things. I did notice that when we came back up out of the Canyon, my BGs skyrocketed. I think it had more to do with the pain I was in from the strenuous 18-mile round-trip hike, though. I went up to about 280 and stayed there for quite some time.
If you're doing serious hiking (down into the Canyon), be mindful that if you get stuck down there, they have to get your butt out. Make sure to be diligent about taking care of yourself and don't do more than you know you can do. Going down into the Canyon is easy. Coming back up, not so much! Carry plenty of water and food with you at all times, even if you're just going for a short walk. They have water stops down the trails (especially Bright Angel), but I was told by people that the pipes sometimes break, resulting in no water availability. Make sure to dress for the weather. The temps there can change quickly and at night it can get chilly if you're at the rim (down in the Canyon, you won't even need a sleeping bag). And DO NOT hike in the middle of the day. The heat gets intense fast, especially around 11:00 AM. Plan your hikes at the Grand Canyon so that you're NOT hiking between the hours of about 11:30 to 4:00. We started our hikes at 4:00 AM and it was really nice. But by 11, there was no way we could do anything.
And here's a picture of my pump at the bottom (yes, the very bottom) of the Grand Canyon. I don't think I could have done that hike without a pump; it was seriously a lifesaver!
Thanks so much for your reply. This will be our first trip to the canyon and over the last couple of weeks since we've made the plans we've done a couple of hikes here, and I'm sure we could make it all the way down to the canyon, not sure that we would make it back up without some issues. My hubby has somewhat of a bum knee, and apparently I am not in as good of shape as I thought, after cycling 800 miles in the last 8 months. We've planned for 2-3 days at each site, so I hope that will be enough time for each spot.
How did your feet make out? I'm a freak about keeping my feet in shape and of course I've been reading about all the issues hikers can get from going downhill so much. I have 2 pairs of high top boots, one that fits well but i cant get a pair of hiking socks on without being too tight, and one that is somewhat looser, can fit hiking socks. I dont want to bring both pairs with me, do you have a recommendation?
First, you cannot do an overnight in the Canyon without getting a permit ahead of time. Permits can be hard to get too, but you have to apply through NPS. I would NOT recommend hiking down to the bottom of the canyon without a permit, because doing it all in one day can be a lot. If you do hike at all towards the bottom, stick to the Bright Angel trail. It is well-traveled and lots of park rangers go through that route.
Going down into the canyon is hard on the knees. I am a pretty avid distance running and do other activities and our hike in and out was comparable to running a marathon, of which I've done many (I felt about the same at the end). If you have ANY reservations about your ability to do extreme hiking, stick to day hikes on well-traveled trails. Don't overdo it. The conditions there change rapidly and the dry air dehydrates you so fast you don't even know it. I can't stress the dehydration issue enough!!
Feet - I wore hiking shoes that I wear all the time. Stick to a pair of tested shoes that don't cause blisters and that you've broken in. I still ended up with one small blister but it healed fast (one benefit of the dry air). Pick a pair that you've done some serious hiking in without any issues. The trails there are pretty well maintained, but having something that is comfortable and provides the support you need is a MUST. Also take a comfy pair of shoes (with toe protection) for when you're bumming around the campsite. I use a pair of lightweight Salamons for that purpose. Also, I'd go with the looser boots - on downhills, you want a tiny bit of room at the front so that your toes don't hit up against the front (I think that's what I remember the hiking store people telling me once). Also, keep in mind that your feet may SWELL. Mine swell a lot when I'm hiking, so I always get my shoes a bit on the big side. While my feet hurt, they were in ok condition and I was able to do more hiking throughout the trip without any issues.