Backpack the Grand Canyon
On his first visit to Grand Canyon National Park in 1999, Gary Brown was hooked. So hooked, that year after year he's returned, sometimes with friends, other times alone, to explore the canyon with a pack on his back.
With a background as television show producer, it didn't take Mr. Brown long to decide that the tricks, lessons, and skills he was picking up on his backpacking treks could be helpful to others contemplating a journey into the canyon. The result is Backpack the Grand Canyon ($19.95), a roughly 95-minute-long DVD.
His first attempt at venturing just a short distance down from the North Rim demonstrated first-hand how both the elevation and the steepness of the trail could easily be underestimated. While the experience was exhilarating, it also was daunting.
So when he sat down to produce the DVD that takes you, literally, from both the North and South Rims of the canyon down into its depths and back out again, he realized that would-be canyon backpackers needed to understand the basics, as well as specifics of hiking the canyon's three main corridor trails -- the South Kaibab, North Kaibab, and Bright Angel trails.
In his DVD, after dispatching with equipment and logistics -- chapters that tackle everything from gear, food, and water requirements to how to obtain the requisite permits to venture overnight into the canyon -- Mr. Brown tackles the trails one at a time to explain what they offer in terms of scenery, risks, and payoffs.
He goes over elevation changes, recommended daily mileages between campgrounds, and points out where you can find reliable water sources along the way. Separate "chapters" take you almost step-by-step along the three trails. One chapter serves as a primer on staying at Phantom Ranch, another focuses on winter camping on the North Rim.
Beyond the three Corridor Trails, the DVD touches on the Hermit Trail and the Clear Creek Trail.
It'd be nice if the logistical and gear material was tucked into the back of the main attraction, not placed in front of it, but then, that's why today's DVD menus allow you to skip around to the chapters you want to see.
And keep in mind that this is an introductory video, one designed for novice backpackers who are eyeing a trek into the canyon for the very first time and who might be coming from afar. While we're told that there are "interesting sites" to explore, we're not always told where or what they are. Hopefully a revised edition down the road will expound on these sites.
From the director--Join my hiking partners and me as we begin hiking in the Grand Canyon for the first time. We fumble (and sometimes stumble) down the dusty scenic trails while discovering the magnificent wonders of the canyon. Originally, we had all planned for that first hike to be our only trip to the bottom, but that is not the way things worked out. We are all obsessed with the canyon and have returned again and again. We think you will feel the same way.
Explore the Bright Angel Trail down to the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch. If you are adventurous, take the steep and dry South Kaibab Trail. For the most awe inspiring views from the main trails, creep along the towering cliffs of the North Kaibab Trail. Learn about permits, techniques and skills that you need to camp in the inner canyon. Find out what to expect when you reach Indian Garden, Bright Angel and Cottonwood campgrounds. Take side trips from the main trails to sites that many people never see. Get a closeup view of the plants and animals that live in the bottom of canyon--some of them unique to the area. Experience the solitude and clear beauty of the North Rim in winter. You may be the only person camping on the North Rim! Most of all, learn how to be safe and enjoy your experience hiking and backpacking in the Grand Canyon.