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Chances of getting a backcountry permit and rental of equip

Singapore, null...
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Chances of getting a backcountry permit and rental of equip

Hello all! My wife and I (mid-late 20's couple) are on our honeymoon trip and we would like to take this opportunity to have a hike/camp experience in the grand canyon on 26-27 June. We plan to take the S.Kaibab trail to the Bright Angel Campground and back via the Bright Angel trail, completing it in 2D1N starting the hike as early as possible to avoid the sun.

Unfortunately after all the researching and planning we were informed that the backcountry permit for advance booking is full and the ranger advised us to try our luck for the daily application, which we will since we will arrive at the area on the 25th. Just would like to see if there is anyone who has such experience and if the chances of me getting the permit is good.

Also can anyone advice me on where is a good place to rent equipments for the hike/camp? I will be in Vegas on 23-24 and will return on 28th. I have made accommodations booking @ Kingman on the 27th June as I read that it is strongly encouraged by the contributors in here that it is not feasible to drive back to Vegas after doing the 2D1N trip in GCNP. Therefore I can rent the equipment either in Vegas or Kingman.

Thanks for your time and appreciate your input. Cheers!!

Sedona, AZ
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1. Re: Chances of getting a backcountry permit and rental of equip

No way to predict the odds. Just be sure to have a plan B. You can rent equipment at the Market at the GC Village. However, seasoned hikers and GC experts will warn against renting back packs. You should have your own and you should e experienced with it with a full weighted pack. And your footwear should be properly fitting and fully broken in, by you. Don't even think about renting those items.

Singapore, null...
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2. Re: Chances of getting a backcountry permit and rental of equip

Hi RedRox, thanks for your input. We are bringing our own backpacks and hiking boots. We are looking at renting tents. I am also looking at buying trekking poles at San Francisco since we are going to Yosemite for hiking trip prior to this as well.

My backup plan is to do a day hike around the rim and a Day hike down S.Kaibab while camping at Mather Campgrounds if it didnt work out. fingers crossed.

Sedona, AZ
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3. Re: Chances of getting a backcountry permit and rental of equip

You don't really need a tent at Bright Angel, except for privacy, if you don't want to haul it.

South Jersey, USA
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4. Re: Chances of getting a backcountry permit and rental of equip

Hi,

You can also try for a backcountry permit for Indian Gardens campground which is on the Bright Angel Trail approx 4 -1/2 miles from Phantom Ranch/Bright Angel Camp. This part of the trail from Indian Gardens to the bottom does not have a lot of elevation change so can easily be made in about 2 - 2-1/2 hours.

You can start your hike on South Kaibab (early!) and go to the bottom, exploring Phantom Ranch for a bit then make your way up the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Gardens for the night, watching sunset at Plateau Point. The next morning you can start your hike out on fresh legs (approx 4-1/2 miles) since this part of the trail will have the most elevation gain!!

Just another option!!

SJG

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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5. Re: Chances of getting a backcountry permit and rental of equip

There are two ways to get a permit as a walk-in. On 6/25 when you walk into the backcountry office, IF they happen to have a permit for 6/26 due to a cancellation (very unlikely, but you never know), they'll pull the permit for you right away. If not, however, they give you a waitlist number for the *following morning*. Then, when the BCO opens the next morning (8 am), they go in order and give away the few permits that they have.

If you're arriving at the Park later in the day on 6/25, your waitlist number will be high and, frankly, your chances of getting a permit the next morning are very low. Your chances increase significantly if you can get there on 6/24; the waitlist number on the day you arrive will be high but the next morning, at 8am, you'll trade that number in for a new lower waitlist number which you will try again with on the following day... does that make sense?

In your shoes, if I getting there on the 24th isn't an option, I would try for a permit on the 26th as planned BUT, if I don't get one on the 26th but can get a low waitlist number for the 27th, I would just stay another day. You would forfeit your night in Kingman but you won't be missing anything there. On the 28th, you'll want to hike out early to avoid the heat anyway and can be back at the rim before noon. Have a leisurely lunch and then drive back to LV in the late afternoon. It's not ideal but certainly doable (I've done it twice.)

I would also start calling Xanterra everyday for Phantom Ranch cancellations. You'll be in segregated dorms but then you won't have to rent a tent either.

Note that the one big disadvantage of the walk-in permits is that you have to wait until the BCO opens at 8am. You will NOT have an early start that day. It took us 3 hours to hike down South Kaibab, which is probably on the fast end of average but nothing extraordinary. If it's a super hot day and you're not getting started until 9am, seriously consider going down Bright Angel instead. There's no shade on SK.

I have no idea what kind of tents they rent at the Market in the Park; I would call and find out (928) 638-2262. There is also an REI in Las Vegas for rental gear. It's technically in Henderson, right off the highway and convenient for the drive. (702) 896-7111. I would try to rent a tent that can be fast-packed, i.e. set up with just the poles, fly and footprint. You don't need bug protection in the Canyon and leaving the body home will save you a lot of weight. Better yet, if you're buying poles in SF, I'd consider buying an inexpensive tarp and using that instead of a tent. You only need a shelter in the Canyon if it rains, which is rare. In June, it's going to be sweltering hot, even at night and I doubt you'll want to sleep in a shelter anyway. A cheap tarp won't cost more than the rental fees. Will you have sleeping bags, pads, water containers, etc.? You may not need bags but you'll want pads and you MUST have plenty of water containers/bladders.

Be aware that they don't sell individual bottled water in the Park. But the Market in the Park does have a good gear department and you could outfit yourself there if you have to.

Edited: 05 June 2013, 13:49
Las Vegas, Nevada
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6. Re: Chances of getting a backcountry permit and rental of equip

Hey! I can't speak to getting a camping permit, as I didn't have any luck with that myself on my recent trip. However, if you're game for doing a rim to rim hike (not short) and aren't totally tied to the idea of sleeping in a tent, then you can try getting reservations at Phantom Ranch. They are hard to get, but people do cancel periodically, and if you call daily, you may be able to snag one of those spots. Good luck!

Singapore, null...
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7. Re: Chances of getting a backcountry permit and rental of equip

Well thanks everyone for your informative replies! Especially to you DetTigerFan for the really detail and good suggestion. Basically this is what I have planned so far,

Phantom Ranch - I have made contact with Phantom Ranch and they have replied via email that it is fully booked. I guess the only chance for me to get the night there is to call them daily like some suggested.

Indian Garden Camp- I am flexible with staying at this camp compound as well provided it is available.

Bight Angel Camp - I wont be able to make it to GCNP on the 24th. Guess my best bet is to leave Vegas early on 25th and to make it to BCO asap on the 25th for the waitlist for 26th. I will give up my stay at Kingman should I get the permit for 27th instead.

Equipment available - We have 2 backpacks probably about 35L each with 3L camelpak individually. We plan to refill our packs whenever available. Plan to buy trekking poles. hiking boots..etc

Just a few questions left for the experts here:

1. What is a pad for? Is the pad used because the camp ground is rocky?

2. Is water filtration system necessary? Are the water refilling stations any good?

3. Are bugs, wildlife a problem at the camp area? My wife is a natural mozzie lamp and she attracts tons of it.

4. If lady luck doesnt shin upon us, what is the next best thing we can do? I plan to do a turnaround day hike down SK or BA trail. Any other suggestion?

Thanks alot people!

Seattle
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8. Re: Chances of getting a backcountry permit and rental of equip

The sleeping pad is to soften the ground a bit. The campsites at Bright angel are not particularly rocky, but the hard-packed earth makes for a hard surface to sleep on. Personally, I would rather carry a nice lightweight tent ( mostly mesh) and sleeping pads, and skip the sleeping bags for a summer night at Bright Angel. There are bugs and critters ( ground squirrels) there, as well as deer which may pass thru the camp area.

The water that is provided at various points ( none on the South Kaibab trail) is good for drinking and does not need filtration. If you have capacity for 2-3 liters of water each, you can fill up at the water stations. You do not need to carry a filter.

Phantom Ranch will nearly always respond to emails by saying they are full. You need to call, and your call must come at just the right time when they happen to have a cancellation. Then you must book iron the spot -- no time to think about it.

Edited: 06 June 2013, 05:31
South Jersey, USA
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9. Re: Chances of getting a backcountry permit and rental of equip

As Enzian has stated there are critters!! In each camp site there is a "critter" proof container. Make sure you put ALL your food stuff in there whenever you leave the camp site and retire for the not, including trash!!

Don't leave any food in your backpacks as the squirrels will get to it even if it means chewing right through your backpack!

The filtration system is not needed as long as you drink the water that is piped into the area's! If you go down South Kaibab make sure your hydration packs are full as there is absolutely no water on this trail other then the trail head itself!! Do not drink the water out of the creeks or River without first filtering it, but you really shouldn't have to!

There are several trails inside the park that you can hike as day hikes! South Kaibab to Cedar Mesa (approx 3 miles r/t) or Skeleton Point (approx 6 miles r/t). Bright Angel Trail to 1-1/2 mile resthouse, 3 mile resthouse or Indian Gardens (approx 9 miles r/t). There is also Grandview Trail to Horseshoe Mesa (approx 6 miles r/t), Hermits Rest Trail to Santa Maria Spring (approx 5 miles r/t)

You can read about the trails here: www.hitthetrail.com Great site for loads of info!

Good Luck on your process!!

SJG

Edited: 06 June 2013, 11:39
Ann Arbor, Michigan
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10. Re: Chances of getting a backcountry permit and rental of equip

Based on your original post, I had assumed that you had some backpacking experience but it doesn't sound like you do...? While I realize that hiking to the bottom of the Canyon is out there as a "must-do" thing, you should understand that it's not a walk in the park nor a simple camping trip. It really is a backcountry trip.

1. What is a pad for?

For comfort, in this case. This is the most basic pad that everyone knows as the "blue pad"; not luxurious but cheap and light and available in most gear stores. I'm pretty sure they'll have it at the Market at the Park and possibly available as a rental.

amazon.com/Stansport-Pack-Lite-72X19X3-8-Inc…

2. Is water filtration system necessary? Are the water refilling stations any good?

Potable water is generally available on your route but it's not guaranteed. You should always have backup water treatment in the backcountry. The creeks run clear, so a filter isn't necessary, chemicals are fine. They have tablets like these at the Market:

rei.com/product/736898/potable-aqua-chlorine…

3. Are bugs, wildlife a problem at the camp area?

Bugs are generally not an issue. Pesky wildlife consists of mice and squirrels that only care about your food. Use the ammo boxes in the campsites for your food -- I would put your food in some sort of waterproof bag before they go in the ammo box.

4. If lady luck doesnt shin upon us, what is the next best thing we can do? I plan to do a turnaround day hike down SK or BA trail. Any other suggestion?

My favorite day hike at the South Rim is Grandview trail to Horseshoe Mesa.

nps.gov/grca/…GrandviewTrail.pdf

Also, some items you need to have:

- First aid kit

- Headlamp or flashlight

- Hat, sunglasses, sunblock

What are you planning to do about meals?