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The Hardest Thru Hike in the World

If not the most difficult, a hike below the rim of the Grand comes close. Learn about Ambassador Rich Rudow’s thru hike & Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre’s planning & prep for his 2 section hikes.

More than four thousand people have summited Mt. Everest. Two hundred and fifty people have walked 7,900 miles to complete the triple crown of hiking (walking the PCT, CDT and AT). Twenty-four astronauts left the Earth’s orbit for the moon. But only 12 people have ever walked the length of Grand Canyon in one continuous push and just a handful have done it in sections. Why? There are no towns for resupply, no base camps for logistics support, and in fact, no trails for the vast majority of the 700 miles. Traversing Grand Canyon is like walking a complex three-dimensional maze with delicate routes that include hundreds of thousands of vertical feet of scrambling and climbing up to low class five terrain. There isn’t a guidebook, and beta is sparse. To most people, this thru hike seems impossible. But for people like Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Rich Rudow, the foremost expert on slot canyons in the Grand, Hyperlite Mountain Gear Chief Adventure Officer (aka CEO) Mike St. Pierre, and a handful of others it’s not only possible, but one of life’s most exciting challenges. Rudow finished his thru hike late in 2015; St. Pierre has achieved the first two sections of the hike, and plans on finishing the entire journey within the next few years.

Ultralight Backpacker looking over the Grand Canyon

The Grandest Walk: A 700-Mile Thru Hike Below The Rim

How 2012 Outside Mag “Adventurer of the Year,” Rich Rudow, achieved one of his greatest objectives–a rarely done thru hike of the full length of the Grand Canyon.

After decades of trips deep into the Grand, Rudow embarked on his 700-mile thru hike late in 2015. Along with Dave Nally and Chris Atwood (and St. Pierre joining for the first two weeks), the team had thousands of Grand Canyon off-trail miles under their belts. And, says Rudow, “Most importantly, we had hiked together many times on difficult Grand Canyon expeditions. I could count on their judgment, strength and fortitude.” Read More.

Ultralight Backpacker setting up camp

Prepping For a Grand Canyon Thru Hike (a guide to multi-sport expedition planning)

Grand Canyon Thru Hiker Beta, Logistics & Route Finding, By Mike St. Pierre

Planning and prepping for any major backcountry adventure, whether the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail or a section hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon, is logistically challenging. And unless you’re the first thru hiker, canyoneer or climber to map and explore the route, you must rely on information gathered from numerous sources, from Google Earth to the people who first explored the area. I prefer more remote trips as the lack of information makes them more adventurous. Plus, the fewer the resources you have to depend on, the more careful you have to be and the more you have to rely on your own experience to accomplish the feat (so you’d better have a lot of experience for bigger adventures). However, the popularity or the remoteness of your trip is relative; you’ll have a greater chance of success if you know what you’re getting into. You’ll also more likely succeed if you travel simply, use gear wisely and constantly refine and lighten your systems. Read More

Ultralight Backpacking Gear set up around camp

Grand Canyon Thru Hike Expedition Gear Planning & Food Prep

Stripped Down Grand Canyon Gear List, Food & Cache Prep For Major Thru Hikes, By Mike St. Pierre

Once you know where you’re going and how long you’ll be on your expedition-style long-distance thru hike, you can determine the gear and food you need and plan out the caches you’ll have to prepare. For people doing the Appalachian Trail or Continental Divide Trail, your “caches” are your resupplies; for people hiking below the rim of the Grand Canyon or traversing Tasmania, it’s a bit more involved. Read More

Ultralight Backpacker looking at wall of Grand Canyon

Long-Distance, Lightweight Thru Hiking Gear List (for the Grand Canyon)

Stripped Down Thru Hiking Gear List for Lightweight & Extended Backcountry Adventures, By Mike St. Pierre

As an ultralight long-distance adventurer, I dial in my systems to conserve energy with every step I take. The lighter my gear, the further I can go; the less weight I carry, the less the strain on my body and the less food I need. Going light just makes sense. And it absolutely doesn’t mean I’m uncomfortable when in the backcountry. I’m always warm enough, well fed and hydrated, and I sleep well at night. In this blog post, I share my thru hiking gear list from my recent 200-mile off-trail section hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon. This extreme adventure incorporates long-distance hiking, rock climbing, canyoneering and serious map and compass skills, and is one of the most difficult thru hikes in the world. Water is scarce, established trails nonexistent, and the terrain is steep and difficult to navigate. It’s a trip that fewer than three-dozen people have done (consider that 40 people summited Mt. Everest in one day in May 2016!). Read More

Backcountry meals in vacuum-sealed bags

Food Prep & Recipes For Ultralight Thru Hike Adventures

Stripped Down Ultralight Recipes, By Mike St. Pierre

Mike St. Pierre always travels light, but he had to rethink his backcountry food practices for his thru hiking adventures below the rim of the Grand Canyon. On his first trip, he carried seven to nine days of food at a time and averaged 1.5.lbs. of food per day. St. Pierre needed more food his second week because of the energy he would be expending making his way through some of the gnarliest terrain he had ever traversed. He needed light, compact food that would be easy to carry. Food had to be instant (i.e. everything was prepped such that all he needed to do was add water). The food had to be rich in nutrients. To maintain his current body weight (he’s 5’8” and 145lbs.), he needed roughly 2600 calories per day the first week and 3000-4000 the second week. HIs goal: carry a pack that weighed less than 30 pounds—10.5lbs. of food, 15lbs. for gear and camera equipment and 6.6lbs. for three liters of water. Read More


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