On his first visit to Grand Canyon National Park in 1999, Gary Brown was hooked. So hooked, that year after year he's returned, sometimes with friends, other times alone, to explore the canyon with a pack on his back.
With a background as television show producer, it didn't take Mr. Brown long to decide that the tricks, lessons, and skills he was picking up on his backpacking treks could be helpful to others contemplating a journey into the canyon. The result is Backpack the Grand Canyon ($19.95), a roughly 95-minute-long DVD.
His first attempt at venturing just a short distance down from the North Rim demonstrated first-hand how both the elevation and the steepness of the trail could easily be underestimated. While the experience was exhilarating, it also was daunting.
So when he sat down to produce the DVD that takes you, literally, from both the North and South Rims of the canyon down into its depths and back out again, he realized that would-be canyon backpackers needed to understand the basics, as well as specifics of hiking the canyon's three main corridor trails -- the South Kaibab, North Kaibab, and Bright Angel trails.
In his DVD, after dispatching with equipment and logistics -- chapters that tackle everything from gear, food, and water requirements to how to obtain the requisite permits to venture overnight into the canyon -- Mr. Brown tackles the trails one at a time to explain what they offer in terms of scenery, risks, and payoffs.
He goes over elevation changes, recommended daily mileages between campgrounds, and points out where you can find reliable water sources along the way. Separate "chapters" take you almost step-by-step along the three trails. One chapter serves as a primer on staying at Phantom Ranch, another focuses on winter camping on the North Rim.
Beyond the three Corridor Trails, the DVD touches on the Hermit Trail and the Clear Creek Trail.
It'd be nice if the logistical and gear material was tucked into the back of the main attraction, not placed in front of it, but then, that's why today's DVD menus allow you to skip around to the chapters you want to see.
And keep in mind that this is an introductory video, one designed for novice backpackers who are eyeing a trek into the canyon for the very first time and who might be coming from afar. While we're told that there are "interesting sites" to explore, we're not always told where or what they are. Hopefully a revised edition down the road will expound on these sites.