phatpacking the Grand Canyon

phatpacking the Grand Canyon. what is phatpacking and why did Prob-eee and I go out on such an adventure?

well, it’s simple. i have a few big goals this year and when I set goals I dream up a few scouting missions to help prepare my body and mind.  that’s right, you can win the Battle of Adversity if you show up mentally and physically prepared. and scouting missions are one way that I prepare for the big adventures.

the big goals for 2012 are:

  1. the Colorado Trail, end-to-end via bikepacking,
  2. the wildness sections of the Colorado Trail via phatpacking,
  3. the Arizona Trail via multiple bikepacking adventures.
    • No, the Arizona Trail end-to-end unsupported is not something this phat dude will attempt…. in the near term.
a month or so ago Mad Rhino and I started talking about a bikepacking trip on the northern sections of the Arizona Trail – which includes a hike through the Grand Canyon WITH the bike completely disassembled, per regulations. well, based on a few responsibilities we decided to to schedule the trip for May… or later.
therefore, I had some time and motivation to do a scouting mission through the Grand Canyon – phatpacking style. I wanted to experience the massive hikes in the Grand Canyon to better understand the challenges associated this massive Natural Wonder.

so, Prob-eee and I packed up the gear and headed out for a simple two day adventure in the Grand Canyon. the plan was rim-to-rim-to-rim…. via the South Kaibab and North Kaibab trails. Easy 50 miles, huh?

side note: Prob-eee moved to New Mexico 30 YEARS ago and this was the 1st time he’s been to the Grand Canyon! What? That’s INSANE!

well, the two day adventure turned into a long single day adventure. we decided to do a rim-to-river-to-rim route. just because… because I am the leader and can change my mind at any given moment… especially during a scouting mission.


if you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon… then why not?

a definition: phatpacking…. noun \fat-pack-ing\

  1. ultra lightweight (or ultralight weight or ultra-light-weight) backpacking when the weight of one’s pack equals the weight of one’s gut… with a +/- 5% tolerance
  2. ultra lightweight backpacking when a dude (or dudette) plans to travel light for a 2 or 3 day trip BUT reserves the option to terminate the adventure after one long day.

the lessons learned – phatpacking in the Grand Canyon:

  1. make sure your GPS has a ‘lock screen‘ option AND USE it. a random sequence of events COULD result in deletion of your tracks and waypoints.
  2. when phatpacking bring a spare set of gear – sleeping gear – for the night before the start. that way you can jump out of the sack and hit the trail, thus no packing the phatpack in the early AM.
  3. 2 mph is a good average for a long day of phatpacking. this average includes the necessary time for mid morning and late afternoon siestas.
  4. if you have a new camera and think you know how to use it… well, you don’t. just put the damn thing on autofocus and try to keep up with your phatpacking buddies.
  5. skinny dudes wearing Vans and Tevas and short shorts can hike way faster than those phat dudes wearing appropriate phatpacking gear. don’t ask me why, it’s probably a young kid hipster type of thing.
  6. Phanton Ranch is a CANTEEN not a CANTINA. remember this, otherwise you’ll be depressed when you learn that Huevos Rancheros are NOT available at the bottom of the canyon. (and don’t forget your reservations if you want to eat something other than YOUR food.)
the lessons learned – about pain prevention and pain management:
  1. tie your damn shoe (boot) laces appropriately before the 7 mile descent on South Kaibab trail. a little bit of damage to your feet early on will DESTROY your initial game plan.
  2. don’t race down the South Kaibab trail. small steps and frequent stops to let those smoking’ toes cool down.

the biggest lesson of them all:

  • PHATPACKING is not BIKEPACKING! Just because one jacka$$ (me) can bikepack across Colorado with ZERO damage to the feet doesn’t mean a jacka$$ (me) can walk 6 miles into the Grand Canyon without foot damage.

a few thoughts:
so, bikepacking the Arizona Trail AND packing the bike in and out of the Grand Canyon? my 1st thoughts after the phatpacking adventure… no way am I carrying a damn bike through the Grand Canyon. But now that I’ve had some time to think about it…. i’ll do it if you do it. BUT it’ll take me 2 days. i’ll plan to camp at Cottonwood Camp. only problem, gotta get permits so the rangers don’t throw me (us) in the slammer.

some pics:
disclaimer: i have a new fancy camera. (i sold my soul to the devil for this machine!) AND I don’t yet know all the inner workings of ‘good photography’. so some of the long distance stuff may look washed out or over exposed. i have no idea what’s going on. maybe it was hazy, maybe I’m just a photographic moron. but I’ll get better at it.

the top of the south rim
 not a bad shot
prob-eee… phatpacking on South Kaibab


just a few switchbacks


the river… way way down there
a mule train


the river… way down there
a view of some canyons


the bridge on the South Kaibab Trail


looking down the Colorado River
Prob-eee doing what Prob-eee does… phatpacking


let’s zoom out – see the old dude wearing red plaid? seriously
WARNING: don’t do what we did


an example: smart phatpacking or STUPID day hiking… let’s think about this


a final pic before my chaffage persuaded me to put away the camera
ok, i took another pic
an assembly of all the pics – with Delta Spirit tunes: That’s right, I haven’t been jamming out to the death metal lately. No KoRn or Static-X. Since my Antarctica Journey I’ve been sliding deeper and deeper into a peace-loving isolationist hippie wannabe. Now, that’s a 4 day discussion that we could have.


and if you are really bored… the route:
  • Lot 1 to South Kaibab Trailhead
  • South Kaibab to the intersection of Bright Angel, South Kaibab and North Kaibab
  • a short cruise to Phantom Ranch
  • a long phathike up Bright Angel Trail
so, the official DELTA SPIRIT video:

and another:

2 thoughts on “phatpacking the Grand Canyon

  1. Exhibit 27 in the case of “What amazing lives we live here in the four corners”. But what I really want to know is when your faithful viewership will get to glimpe a close up photo of the long suffering, much maligned Prob-eee.


  2. Yo Rez Dog. I may be a major A$$HOLE (at least that's the word on the street) but I'd never show a pic of a beaten' and broken puppy dog – – thus I can't show any pics of a B.P.R. dude shedding a tear, or two or three. Then again, I'll look for a few pics. Or be a bit more handy with the camera next time.

    Won't be long until we are all suffering from the 24HITEF beat down. Can't wait!


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