6 Tips For When You Lose Someone in the Grand Canyon

You’re probably thinking, “Wait, what? How do you lose someone in the Grand Canyon? And what do you mean by “tips”? Is this a normal thing that you do?”

I am asking myself the same questions.

Adventures are usually riddled with unpleasant circumstance, but this trip was singular in that respect. Something about that canyon makes everything more grandiose. If you know what I mean.


The Beginning

Our journey into the Grand Canyon began pretty uneventful. None of us knew or expected what was ahead. Or that over the course of the next several hours we would travel as far as a Roman Centurion engaged in a forced march.

But as experienced hikers/travelers through mountainous terrain, three of my brothers and I started out early that Thursday the morning with all the gear we needed to complete the day. It basically consisted of cliff bars, fruit snacks, water, and a light jacket. You know, the essentials. And I say three because they are three of ten. Yes indeed, I have ten brothers. Those with me were Isaiah, Malachi, and Gabriel.

The four of us took the South Kiabab (not kabob like I first thought) Trail from the South Rim to the Colorado River. Isaiah ran while the rest of us walked. Can’t say which of us enjoyed it more because he’s freaking addicted to running. But in this case, by the time we ended the day, we equally felt like we’d been trampled by a sea of horses. Or was it seahorses? Never mind.

Isaiah’s plan was to run all the way to the North Rim and then head back to meet us at Phantom Ranch at the base of the Canyon. The rest of us opted to walk down the trail and meet him at the Ranch whenever he arrived. We would then head back to the South Rim as a unit.

As it turns out, he never showed up. Hence, I will now lay out these 6 pivotal tips for when you lose someone in the Grand Canyon. Never forget them.


Here’s tip numero uno:

This is Obvious, But…….. Don’t Panic

When your comrade fails to arrive at the rendezvous point, a plethora of thoughts will surge through your brain. Questions arise as to his intelligence, and your intelligence (cause people be stupid out in the mountains), and the possibility of death or paralyzation out there on the trail. Or worse, what if he was attacked by thieves (cause that happens).

But the last possible helpful thing is to worry your pretty little self about all the things that “could’ve happened”. Don’t panic. If he died, there’s nothing you can do about it. (If you can’t tell, I’m a highly commited ENTJ. “Say what?” Google MBTI. You’ll thank me later.)

Number 2:

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

Keep in mind the possibility of death, but don’t think about it too much. All the people we talked to on the trail said that humans get lost out there all the time (not that that’s comforting). At this stage, in the event of a missing person, it is critical to talk it out. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of search and rescue. Bring up the weather, the terrain, the food and water prospects. You’ll reach better conclusions if you think together with your comrades.


The Colorado River

And… 3:

Nag the Authorities

It sounds messed up, I know. But what are they there for if they aren’t willing to put up with petty requests from wide-eyed hikers?

But seriously, let someone know. Preferably someone with the resources and ability to help. In our case, we found a stout Park Ranger by the name of Adam. Adam was grand. Like the canyon. But better because he had a phone we could call if Isaiah didn’t show up by the next morning.

Park Rangers have never been my most favorite people in the world. Previous experiences have told me that the majority of their time is spent griping about all the rules and regulations. Campers just wanna have a good time. But in this instance, Adam the Park Ranger came in clutch.


Here’s number 4:

Come Up With Plan B

Hopefully, you’ve figured out by now that you need to adapt and go with your Plan B. Prepared as we were, we actually had a Plan B. No matter that it was 30 seconds old and involved ascending 4,380 feet over the course of 7.4 miles in the dark. Did I mention it was dark out? But we were troopers.

Now let’s take a quick moment to enjoy this photo of one of the stunning views we experienced while on the trail:


Overlooking the Canyon

I share that with you to emphasize that the way down into the Grand Canyon was a dream. In contrast, the way back up was similar to trying to kiss your girlfriend in a movie theater with chapped lips… in the dark while experiencing a migraine and a midget stabbing your feet with a pitchfork.

Yeah, not as dreamy.


The steepest part of Kiabob Trail


This brings us to number 5:

Stay Focused With the Most Annoying Song You Can Think Of…

There’s a well-known story circulating society about a fish named Dory. She went on a long journey with another fish named Marlin. She had this song she used to sing, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming”. It’s annoying as heck most of the time. But I tell you what when you’re out there grasping for breath you’ll sing just about anything.

So in the business world, there’s a lot of talk about grit. Everyone seems to think that the people with the most grit end up going the furthest. I don’t disagree, but I dare those CEOs to hike the Grand Canyon in the middle of the night. The only grit they’ll be caring about is the stuff inside their shoes.

(Side note: Malachi almost got bit by a rattler on the way back up. Heard the rattlesnake right by the trail and we all almost jumped off/fell off the cliff. Malachi wanted to investigate further, which I advised against. Gabriel fled up the trail.)


These cliffs were incredible!


Lastly, let’s take a look at number 6:

Don’t Be Suprised to Find Your Missing Person Sleeping Soundly Back at the Hotel

Five hours after starting at the bottom of the Canyon, we finally got to the South Rim. It was a short distance to the car. Imagine our surprise when, lo and behold, Isaiah’s pack was sitting on the hood. But he wasn’t at the car or in the surrounding area. You could say we were thoroughly nonplussed.

With less than a bar of cell phone service but no other options, I decided to try calling.

The phone rang. Static burst out of the microphone. Somewhere in between the crackles, I heard a very tired voice say, “hello?”

“Hey! Where are you at?” I wanted to yell, but too tired.

“At the hotel.”

At the hotel he says.



Well, that’s the end of the story. Be sure to check out the Grand Canyon if you get a chance! I highly recommend the place if you love the outdoors! Can’t wait to go back and maybe camp in the bottom. Hopefully, I won’t have to hike in the dark again. Just keep in mind these 6 great tips if someone in your group goes missing!

Where will you go next? Have any travel plans for the summer? Comment below!


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