Acrophobia at the Grand Canyon

Sep 22nd, 2009, 09:16 PM
  #1  
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Acrophobia at the Grand Canyon

I was hoping to take the mule ride on the Bright Angel trail down into the Grand Canyon. I suffer from acrophobia but hate to miss this adventure because of it. I recently heard, though, that it's foolish for me to take this trip -- the precipices are steep, and with a true fear of heights, I'm crazy to do this. Has anyone out there taken this ride? Anyone with acrophobia? I'd love to hear your experience. Thank you.
Roodles is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2009, 10:23 PM
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I am not acrophobic nor have I done the mule ride. I did however just go to Greece this past summer and drove on some fairly mountainous roads with no guard rails. To be honest with you during some of the curves I was scared to death and heights do not usually scare me. We weren't driving fast either. I know this is probably not much of a help. I think it depends on how tough you can be. You seem to really want to go and that is probably the most important thing to help you conquer your fear during the ride. Here is a link to a you tube video of the mule ride http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sScd...eature=related - If you read the first comment under the video someone there states that his wife was afraid of heights until she took this ride - that sounds very promising. Either way the Grand Canyon is beautiful and I believe you will enjoy it with or without the mule ride
melissaki5 is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2009, 11:43 PM
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I rode the mules as a teenager (quite a few years ago!) with my family. I was scared because my mule kept going further and further over the edge of the trail trying to eat grass! The guy leading us down kept telling me to pull the mules head up! Mostly I remember it was way too hot, not enough water & rest stops and then I dreaded going back up once we got to the bottom! My Mom got saddle sores and was completely wiped out the next day! I don't remember liking it enough to ever do it again. I'm not sure what the procedure is if you change your mind and want to go back before the group. Unfortunatly, you won't know how you're going to feel about the whole thing until you actually do it!
Lisa_D is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2009, 12:21 AM
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If you don't ride AND are afraid of heights I can think of nothing more unpleasant than to do this.
lincasanova is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2009, 01:49 AM
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Do not do this. Even the shortest hike from South Rim is scarey. (From perspective of someone also height-intolerant). The mules hang nearest the edge of the trail, not hugging the Canyon wall.

(Also - never, ever take the bus ride into the farthest reaches of Denali in Alaska - the dirt road is 2 mm wider than a bus, the unprotected drop down is seemingly about a mile - and then another bus comes from the opposite direction and it gets worse)
gail is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2009, 03:50 AM
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I really don't think the mule ride is for you. I am only mildly acrophobic but I watched the mules at the GC and would have been petrified taking that trip. Knowing that the trip is safe and the mules are incredibly sure footed only gets you so far. I know going down into the Canyon is an amazing experience (my husband and kids hiked down but I wasn't physically up to the hike) but you can enjoy the area w/o doing this.
Vttraveler is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2009, 07:19 AM
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I would also not recommend this. My acrophobia has developed in adulthood (the second level of the Eiffel Tower, with the wind, openness and low guard rails terrified me, while the top of the tower felt more enclosed and protected, despite being even higher), but I can remember being scared of the edge of the trails at the Grand Canyon when I visited as a young teen.

We chose a horseback ride along the hills near the North Rim (but not at the Canyon or on its trails) instead of mules. I remember vividly thinking I'd be terrified to be atop a spindly legged 4-5' creature going down those trails, as being atop a horse or mule in itself can be scary to someone who isn't so trusting or eager to relinquish control. I was much better walking the trails on my own (though I certainly didn't go all the way down into the Canyon - that's a long hike) because I could stay away from the edges at my own choosing.

I believe it would be a real challenge for you.
kgh8m is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2009, 07:54 AM
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You might want to try jumping out of an airplane first.
spirobulldog is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2009, 08:22 AM
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You have received lots of good advice - but just wanted to point out that for some reason you tagged this California. The AZ/Grand Canyon experts who found your thread - well, it was mostly by accident . . . .
janisj is online now  
Sep 25th, 2009, 07:13 AM
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I have done the mule ride to Phantom Ranch 4 times, so I guess I'm not afraid of heights!!
Although I would recommend this trip to most people, anyone who has a fear of heights probably should not go. The mules DO walk close to the edge and there are many switchbacks on the trip down. When negotiating these switchbacks, you think the mule is going to walk right off the edge, but they turn and continue down the trail (they aren't suicidal or have a death wish!!). But to many folks this will be rather unnerving to say the least.
There are a couple of areas of the trail - one known as the Devils Corkscrew ( a series of steep switchbacks ) and the other one is near the Colorado River (approx 600 ft straight down below) which will probably scare the **** out of you!!

The mules have a 100% safety record (no one has ever died in the history of the rides), and they take great pride in that. Safety is their number one priority. And they really stress that at the orientation talk on the morning of the ride.
If you want to get a feeling of how high you will be on the mule, stand on the roof of your car. That will give you some idea. These mules are large - 800 to 1000 lbs.

If you decide to go and then get part way down the trail, panic and decide it's not for you, then you will have to dismount and walk back up to the rim, (and you don't get a refund either.) They will not let anyone endanger the other riders or the mules.

I love this trip and I love the mules, and I know that I will do it again, but it isn't for everybody.

Giddyup
Gilbert56 is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 07:47 AM
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<<<(Also - never, ever take the bus ride into the farthest reaches of Denali in Alaska - the dirt road is 2 mm wider than a bus, the unprotected drop down is seemingly about a mile - and then another bus comes from the opposite direction and it gets worse)>>>

thanks for the warning (I usually keep a list of places I DO want to go -- but I think I'll start a list of places I should AVOID.

One other thing that I don't think has been said, once you start you can't just change your mind!! Sorry, but knowing you are afraid of heights -- I wouldn't do it.
sf7307 is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 09:13 AM
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I have a fear of heights - hiking along the canyon was fine, but I didn't go to the edge to look down.

Imagine yourself on a mule - you will go up/down along a wall with the other side down into the canyon. It's like a narrow mountain trail. Like being on a balcony on a top floor.

There are many more activities for you, do not jeopardise your vacation!
Dayenu is online now  
Sep 25th, 2009, 09:26 AM
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One other thing - when you go to book this trip (actually before they let you book it), they will ask you certain things such as "Are you afraid of heights? Are you afraid of large animals? Do you weigh less than 200 lbs? Are you pregnant? Can you speak and understand English?"
If you say you are afraid of heights, they probably won't let you book it, or would advise you against it.

Giddyup
Gilbert56 is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 09:40 AM
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Thanks to katie for adding the 'Arizona' tag to the thread.

Wonder if the OP is still around???
janisj is online now  
Sep 25th, 2009, 09:42 AM
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She fainted and fell into the Canyon
gail is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 09:43 AM
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with the mule she was riding?
Dayenu is online now  
Sep 25th, 2009, 12:07 PM
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OMG, my palms sweat just hearing the words Grand Canyon. I have fear of heights too and my husband made me walk out to the ledge that jutted out into the canyon while he went out on the next ledge to shoot photos. Everyone could hear me screaming "I'm too young to die! My kids still need their motherrrrr!!!!" as he took his photos. Our friends walked out to the edge, and sat down with feet dangling. Then there was this gust of wind....boy, was that scary.

I didn't do the mule ride, down, but did do the mule ride on Molokai. The mules are extremely smart and well trained and know the trail well, they do it every day, nothing to worry about as far as the mules. It's the humans that worry. You may stress over the whole ride that it may not be enjoyable.
offlady is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 12:34 PM
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smart mules????
spirobulldog is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 12:54 PM
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Yes - smart mules!!
It's people that are stupid.
Gilbert56 is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 01:51 PM
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I've done this mule ride. It's about 8 hours on the mule. The scariest was the initial step down from the top to bright angel trail. the mules tend to step on the outside of the trail and being on top of the mule makes the drop look even farther down. I'm not scared of heights at all but the initial 30 min was uncomfortable for me then I got used to it and was ok. I tried not to look straight down though and tried not to pay attention to where the mule's feet was (and therefore I was). The mules, although sure footed, every once in a while would step on a loose stone and would "slip" - that wasn't any fun either.

It's also been said, once you start you can't stop unless you want to hike it back up yourself.
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