After two trips to the Grand Canyon, I knew that preparation was the key to have a successful experience.
The only purchase I needed was the collapsible bucket. I purchased the Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Folding Bucket from MEC. It has a weight of only 28 g, and can hold up to 10 L. I was never able to fill it up, as the challenge is getting the bucket to be stable. This required either propping it up, or hanging the straps from something elevated to keep the bucket from tipping over. Happy to say it worked great.
To protect the food, I had the Ratsack Metal Cached food bag I had purchased for my early trip. I had to order this from REI, as there is not much demand for a chain mail food bag in Canada.
I prepared physically by hiking up Mt Lady MacDonald, which I do by just walking out of my front door. Mt Lady MacDonald is a good analogue for the Grand Canyon, as it is very steep at an average of 233m elevation gain per km and even in winter, it is possible to hike 1000m of elevation in just a couple of hours. The Tanner Trail has an average elevation gain of 100m/km, but is much steeper as it rises through Redwall Limestone and the final 2km after Sixty Mile Canyon. I gradually increased my height gain each week. Since I am limited to 1000m of elevation on Lady MacDonald, the last few weeks I would hike up, down, then back up, so that I had accumulated 1500m of elevation, the amount required to hike out of the Grand Canyon. To simulate hiking out of the Grand Canyon, I also increased the weight of my backpack up to 60lbs (27.7kg). I wore a heart rate monitor and when hiking uphill, I attempted to keep my heart at 145 bpm. This is above conversational pace, which is a good hiking pace, but I felt it was a good goal for training.
Siobhan had intended to train three times a week. The university had declined her request to use a weighted backpack on the stairmaster for training. Due to her workload at university, Siobhan was not able to prepare as she had hoped.
Excellent trail descriptions can be downloaded in PDF format from the National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/campsite-information.htm. I have included the PDF’s for both trails below.
I also found two excellent websites. The first In the Playground of Giants, had an amazing description of both the Tanner and Beamer Trail. Plus, in-depth geological descriptions of the trails and the different rock formations along the trails. The website has a wealth of knowledge and is the work of Professor Ken Bevis Phd, Hanover College.
The second website was Grand Canyon Panorama Project. This is an stunning website that follows multiple trails through the Grand Canyon, including both the Tanner and Beamer Trail, and offers 360o panoramas at various points along the trail. Really helps you get a feel of the terrain before you go.