Originally published Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 06:00a.m.
Sheila asked, “Do you have any hikes for old people?” Since I am no spring chicken, I thought all the hikes in my Southwest directory on CD were for “old people.”
Hiking up Granite Mountain, I stopped to chat with another hiker. He was 86 and he was hiking alone. Does that make this trail suitable for, “old people?” Just about any hike can be hiked by young or old. Certain adjustments with pace, timing, and distance are all that is needed. Coming out of the Canyon recently I crossed paths with hikers both younger and older than myself. It’s not your age, it’s how you live your life and hiking is a great way to stay healthy regardless of your age. We’ve all known teens who could not or would not hoist a pack and head for a summit while 80-somethings would and did. Of course, the opposite is also true. It’s all about lifestyle: healthy/active or not.
Hiking in the Grand Canyon, especially below the rim, entails a couple of issues peculiar to National Parks in general and the canyon in particular. National Parks (like Grand Canyon NP) in contrast to National Forests (like Granite Mountain on the Prescott NF) are managed by the Interior Department, not the Department of Agriculture. Their respective missions are fundamentally different. The former is more about preservation while the latter focuses on conservation.
Therefore, hiking below the Rim from Hermit’s Rest on the Hermit, Boucher, or Dripping Springs trails means no pets and no fires. Permits are not needed for day hiking. They are needed for overnight backpacking.
As I mentioned last time, there are various ways to see the canyon, from driving to hiking to floating to reading about it. Some choose to see it from the air along approved flight paths. One of those routes is right over Dripping Springs, so expect to hear low flying aircraft while on these trails. The Nankoweap Trail on the east end of the North Rim is along another flight path. A good primitive trail that’s not on a flight path is the Grandview Trail about eight miles east of the Village on the South Rim.
As I mentioned last time, the Mannings (Robert & Martha) include Grand Canyon hikes in both of their books (Walking Distance & Walks of a Lifetime). Something else I like about their books, is that they discuss a variety of relevant topics in brief essays interspersed among the descriptions of the hikes. For example, in Walks of a Lifetime they discuss trailblazing, botanizing, ethics and much more.
In Walking Distance they cover the all-important topic of how do go to the bathroom in the outdoors. I wish the hikers in the Canyon and on Granite Mountain would heed their advice and pack out their toilet paper instead of leaving it beside the trail for all to “admire.” In fact, regulations in the Canyon specify that all toilet paper must be pack it out.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to hike where previous hikers have littered the trail. Why would they do that? If hikers don’t take care of it, who will? Plastic trash bags are probably in every hiker’s gear. So let’s use them and if the previous hikers were litter bugs please go the extra mile and pack out their trash too. I generally do and hope you’ll join me.
Ted Johnson is a columnist for The Daily Courier. Reach him by email at email@example.com.