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Rim to Rim to Rim in a Day Nutrition and Hydration

The food I brought with me on Rim to Rim to Rim in a day. I didn’t end up eating everything here and will discuss what worked for me and what didn’t work during the actual hike.
The food I brought with me on Rim to Rim to Rim in a day. I didn’t end up eating everything here and will discuss what worked for me and what didn’t work during the actual hike.

 

Nutrition and hydration were key to making Rim to Rim to Rim possible. When I did R2R2R in 2013, I never thought it would be impossible, but did not finish strong. This year, I knew hydration and nutrition would make the difference and was very strategic about it. A few days before I left, I went to the grocery store and went crazy getting the foods that I thought would help me the most. And it was totally. Worth. It. I finished R2R2R this year feeling strong, fast, and like I had done (almost) everything right.

In the past three years, I’ve learned a lot about keeping myself hydrated and maintaining a salt balance. Indeed, I overheard rangers talking to dayhikers at each of the water stations, warning them that there is more to hydration than water. The rangers suggest eating salty snacks along with the water to avoid hyponatremia—a condition where you actually drink too much water when doing an endurance activity. This time, I used salt tabs, which are empty pill cases filled with salt, to make sure that I was getting a lot. Salt tabs are an old ultra marathoners’ trick and I’ve used them on some bigger dayhikes on hot, sunny days. I knew they would serve me well on R2R2R.

For me, the secret of nutrition on R2R2R was making sure I got enough calories. The body can usually absorb up to 300 calories per hour during exercise, but as a hiker, I usually only eat every 2 hours. On R2R2R, I decided to attempt eating ever 1 hour.

The problem is that I have a hard time choking down food, especially if it is hot and I am exerting myself. Last time I hiked, I brought bars and usual hiker fare food.

This time, I knew I needed to drink my calories. I always have thirst, but rarely have an appetite on a dayhike.

Although it’s pricey, I bought a large container of Hammer Perpetuem and Navitas Coconut Water Powder and mixed them together to create a Super Powder. My friend Leo who I hiked R2R2R with and is also a cyclist said that Perpetuem had been a life saver for him on a 17,000 foot gain endurance race.

On R2R2R, I drank a serving of Perpetuem+ Coconut Water Powder+Water every hour. The Super Powder made up about half my calories on the R2R2R. I never felt like I bonked or had run out of energy. Although Perpetuem and Navitas Coconut Water have no caffeine (or at least the flavor I got has no caffeine), I didn’t realize it until after I got home and checked the ingredients. The Super Powder gave me a boost that I would have expected from caffeine.

I think the Navitas Coconut Water made a big difference in boosting the Perpetuem to help with electrolyte balance. Leo used just the Perpetuem and afterwards said he wished he had had a little something extra, especially between Cottonwood Camp and Phantom Ranch on the return, a section that is hot and exposed.

Another lifesaver for me on R2R2R was moist instant foods that I would rarely consider bringing on a thru-hike. I loved having the Munk Pack instant oatmeal squeezes. I could down in 30 seconds and it didn’t require any chewing and saliva left in my mouth. The Clif Shots worked the same way—quick calorie boosts that didn’t require chewing. I also wanted some bland, easy to digest “real food”—stuff that backpacker would never usually carry. For me, that meant boiled eggs and new potatoes that I covered in salt. They were so moist and easy to digest. The ProBar Bolts and Natural High freeze dried banana served a similar function. They’re so easy to stuff in my face, down some water, chew, and swallow, that I would be able to roll into a water stop, eat an entire pack of ProBar Bolts or the entire freeze dried bananas, and chug some water in just a few minutes.

It’s funny, but when I’m pushing hard, I go for sentimental foods. The only solid food I ate the whole trip was some Blue Diamond Almonds and Navitas Mulberries. Blue Diamond is based in the town I grew up, Sacramento, and I ate a ton of them as a kid. Before my boyfriend and I were dating, he sent me dried mulberries. I had never ever seen dried mulberries before and they were such a luxury to have a such a superfood. Ever since, mulberries have had a special spot in my heart, and I knew I wanted them on this trip.

I didn’t end up eating the Boom Chicka Puff or the Pop Chips. They just seemed like they required too much chewing but to be quite honest, I couldn’t be bothered to open the bags. One of few things I wish I had done differently is to repackage those chips into a ziplock bag. I was that lazy—saving every bit of energy for pushing hard and fast. I also didn’t eat my Epic Bison Cranberry bar while I was hiking. I had specifically purchased it as a luxury item to help with the big R2R2R hike—perhaps as motivation to get to the next checkpoint. While I was hiking, the idea of eating a meat product just didn’t seem like something my stomach could handle. But as soon as I finished, I downed it in what seemed like one bite. I hoped that it would help me rebuild muscles by eating it within the golden hour.

In total, I drank 14.5 L during my hike. I drank 1.5 L before I started and 1.5 L when I finished. Most of the liquid was as the Perpetuem. At each water station, I downed at least 1 L on the spot to “camel up.” Then, I left each water station with 2 L of water.

The nutrition and hydration for the R2R2R is a little different than I would have expected, but I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to the strategy I need to be my best.

 

Rim to Rim to Rim Gear List

Gear for a dayhike of Rim to Rim to Rim of the Grand Canyon
Gear for a dayhike of Rim to Rim to Rim of the Grand Canyon

Tomorrow, I head out to hike the grandaddy of all Grand Canyon hikes—Rim to Rim to Rim in a Day. Depending on what source you look at (and what route you take) the hike can be up to 48 miles and 11,000 feet of gain. Exposure, dehydration, hyponatremia happen often, which is one reason why the Grand Canyon has more deaths annually than any other national park.

Having hiked Rim to Rim to Rim once before, I knew there were some things I wanted to change about my choices in gear that I carried. With that knowledge and experience in mind, here is the gear that I took.

CategoryItem/ModelWeight (in oz)
BackpackGossamer Gear Type II15.65
Emergency Shelter/Rain GearMountain Laurel Designs Cuben Fiber Poncho Tarp with Stuff Sack5.0
Extra ClothingMontbell Tachyon Anorak1.7
Buff
1.5
Possum Down Gloves1.4
Montbell tights3.95

Extra Pair of Darn Tough Ultralight 1/4 crew Merino Socks (aka "Lucky Socks")
1.4
Montbell Plasma 1000 Down Jacket4.0
IlluminationPrinceton Tech Vizz headlamp3.35
Sun Protection
Sawyer SPF 30 Sunscreen
Sawyer SPF 50 Sunsrceen
1.35
Lip Balm SPF 15
.35
HatWorn
SunglassesWorn
First Aid KitAche and Pain Urgent RX.05
Tylenol (x2).05
Immodium (x2)
.05
Benadryl (x2).05
Sharpie
1.3
Leukotape Sports Tape (for blisters)0.05
Safety Pin0.0
Hand Sanitizer0.25
Qi Whiz potty trowel1.4
Toilet Paper0
NavigationMaps0.3
Suunto Core Watch(Worn)
Hydration1 L Platypus1.1
Platypus Hoser (cut) 1.65
a href="http://amzn.to/254kfgp">Sawyer Mini Filter2
Vapur 1 L bottle
Vapur 1 L bottle
1.4
Gatorade Bottle (.8 L)1.5
Total(In Ounces)44.85
(In Pounds)2.8

A few things that I did differently this time was to carry an emergency bivy. A friend of mine who ran the R2R2R a few weeks ago bonked and wished he had carried one, especially with bad weather. You never know when you’re going to bonk and even the most prepared can have bad things happen to them, so I was happy to bring that.

The time, I am also bringing  Suunto Core watch to track my elevation gain and progress up the canyon.

I also opted to take a daypack this time instead of a bigger pack.

Note: now that I have finished the hike, there are a few things I would change. First, I would be sure to put NEW batteries in my headlamp before going. Even with a full moon, it was too dark. I would also opt to not take my potty trowel–there are bathrooms everywhere (that being said, I suppose if I couldn’t hold it or got a case of diahhrea, the extra 0.4 oz isn’t too much to carry). I would also consider carrying a smaller pack as the 26 L daypack was too big for all my stuff. Many runners get away with small Camelbaks or even vests. That being said, the Type 2 fits me like a glove and is very comfortable, and maybe it is better to have a pack that feels good than one that is slightly smaller.

Hike Like a Girl Weekend Was Awesome. Now Let’s Make Some Societal Change.

Last week, I wrote in the High Country News about why closing the gender gap in the outdoors is important and steps women can take to reclaim the outdoors.

This weekend, I joined women around the country (and world!) in an effort to do just that. Hike Like A Girl Weekend, May 14th-15th, was designed to encourage women everywhere to push outside their limits. Whether that means going to a new area, going solo for the first time, or hiking an especially difficult route, women all around the country joined to show their presence.

Walking and marching have long been a part of protest. But if a protester walks in the woods, does it create any change?

YES.

On my hike, I saw women of all colors and shapes reaching for new heights. Although I was hiking solo, I eavesdropped on a few groups and heard women say, “Who knew that hiking could be so much fun?” and women say, “I never knew the mountains could be so beautiful!” These women’s minds were changed.

 

A photo posted by Minty Winty (@minty.winty) on

A photo posted by Teresa Baker (@teresabaker11) on

 

Hike Like A Girl Weekend changed women themselves, too. I heard so many people say, “I never thought I could make it all this way.” In fact, I was one of those women. My original hike (trip report to follow later) was an ambitious 6-peak, 8,000 foot gain hike over 25 miles. The full extension of the hike—which I’ve only done once, 10 years ago—adds 3 more peaks and seemed far out of my reach. But, on Hike Like A Girl Weekend, I surprised myself. I was faster than I expected and added on those last 3 peaks with relative ease. I found out I was stronger than I thought. I know other women discovered their strength this weekend, too.

 

A photo posted by JoAnn (@joannkelmaz) on

A photo posted by Katie McGinn (@kerinmcginn) on

A photo posted by Chelsea (@chelkyrie) on

While upping the number of women in the outdoors is a great help in closing the gender gap, a more equal and just outdoors world is impossible without cultural change. This means not just changing the way that women think about the outdoors, but changing the way that men think about women in the outdoors. It means changing media portrayals of women outdoors. It means changing perceptions of what it means to be an outdoorsy woman. It means, most importantly, removing barriers to entry for women in the outdoors, especially legal and professional obstacles.

I’m talking about how women get paid less than men—even in the outdoor industry: how women have to work harder to prove ourselves as able as men in a series of outdoor jobs, from rangers to gear sales reps to athletes. I’m talking about women rangers still getting harassed in this day and age. These are the real obstacles to society’s perception of women being equals in the outdoors.

Hike Like A Girl Weekend was Step 1. Now, asking demanding more for women is Step 2.

 

My Book is Finally Out! Best Dayhikes and Overnighters on the Continental Divide Trail

The Best Hikes on the Continental Divide Trial: Colorado by the Continental Divide Trail Coalition and Liz Thomas, Colorado Mountain Press, 147 pages
The Best Hikes on the Continental Divide Trial: Colorado by the Continental Divide Trail Coalition and Liz Thomas, Colorado Mountain Press, 147 pages

After 1.5 years of work, my book, The Best Hikes on the Continental Divide Trail: Colorado by Colorado Mountain Press is out!

This book highlights 20 dayhikes and overnight trips on the CDT in Colorado. Hikes range from 2 miles to 30 miles with family friendly strolls to Colorado-style extreme trips.

Hike #13 Cottonwood Pass to Tin Cup Pass. photo by Johnny Carr.
Hike #13 Cottonwood Pass to Tin Cup Pass. photo by Johnny Carr.

To decide what hikes to include, I interviewed dozens of former CDT thru-hikers and asked them what were the most memorable and scenic spots on the CDT–the type if spots you would want to take your friends or family on a dayhike to show them what the CDT is all about. These are the spots where hikers felt alive, where wildflowers were out of control, where elk viewing is primo–the exact image of what you expect to see when you’re on the CDT.

Family friendly hike #5 Arapaho Bay to Knight Ridge. Photo by Johnny Carr.
Family friendly hike #5 Arapaho Bay to Knight Ridge. Photo by Johnny Carr.

While thru-hikers may be big on remembering the big, scenic spots, they aren’t always great on details like “where is the turn?” or “is there any water on this stretch?” and most importantly, “how do I drive a car to get here?” Detailed route descriptions, water and trailhead camping info, and driving and parking directions are included. For hikes over 10 miles, I include camping info for those who want to turn the trip into a overnighter, or even a 3 day adventure.

Hike #3: Parkview Mountain offers some of the most epic views in the area. Photo by Johnny Carr.
Hike #3: Parkview Mountain offers some of the most epic views in the area. Photo by Johnny Carr.

The book also features great photography by CDT thru-hikers. Collecting so many photos, stories, and route descriptions from current hikers makes this book a shared work of many hikers’ ideas, brought together b a love of the trail.

The Best Hikes on the Continental Divide Trail: Colorado goal is to open the CDT to a whole set of people who haven’t before had a chance to explore it. Until now, data for the CDT has been very thru-hiker focused. With this book, the CDT is meant for everyone to explore and experience–from the Boy Scout Troop (check out hike #20, Cumbres Pass to Blue Lake), to the family visiting from out of state (Herman Gulch or Stanley Mountain), to the extreme Colorodan looking for a new test piece (#18, the Knife Edge).

Hike #15: Snow Mesa, is relatively flat and feels like walking on another planet. Photo by Steven Shattuck.
Hike #15: Snow Mesa, is relatively flat and feels like walking on another planet. Photo by Steven Shattuck.

As many of you know, I thru-hiked the CDT in 2010 from Canada to Mexico. In the process of writing this book, I was able to re-visit the CDT in bite-size chunks as a dayhiker. For anyone who has thru-hiked, I can not recommend revisiting the trail as dayhiker enough. There are things you miss as a thru-hiker because you are busy thinking about food or the next shower. Even the grandest scenery can lose a little spark after you’ve seen it day after day. When you revisit the CDT as a dayhiker, you come to it with new eyes, fresh legs, and an open mind.

Hike #8: Herman Gulch is just a 45 minute drive from Denver
Hike #8: Herman Gulch is just a 45 minute drive from Denver

Whether you’re just getting into hiking, looking for a new place to explore, or dreaming of the day you can thru-hike, there is something for everyone in the book. I encourage you to tackle hikes way beyond your ability (worse case scenario: turn around very early) and to explore hikes that may seem too easy for you (worse case scenario: you’ve got extra time to hang out at the restaurant afterwards). All the hikes in this will inspire you and give you something to dream about.

I will giving a presentation and signing books on Tuesday, May 24th at 7 Pm at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, CO. The event is free. More info here: https://www.cmc.org/Calendar/EventDetails.aspx?ID=33084

You can buy Best Hikes on the Continental Divide Trail: Colorado on Amazon here.