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Tonto Trail: Hermit Trail to Boucher Trail, AZ

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Guide 34 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > South Rim
4 of 5 by 13
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 5.85 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,210 feet
Elevation Gain 340 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.98
Backpack Yes & Possibly Connect
Dogs not allowed
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20  2017-04-15
Boucher Hermit Loop
19  2017-04-15
Boucher Hermit Loop
20  2017-03-11
Boucher Rapids Hermit Loop
121  2016-03-31
Tonto Trail: South Bass to Hermit
22  2016-03-07
The Gems - Grand Canyon
11  2015-10-24 Mick
11  2015-02-16
Boucher - Hermit Loop
29  2015-02-16
Boucher Hermit Loop
Page 1,  2,  3
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Apr → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:32pm
Official Route
9 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Baby steps on the Tonto
by HAZ_Hikebot

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Most recent of 13 deeper Triplog Reviews
Tonto Trail: Hermit Trail to Boucher Trail
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Boucher Hermit Loop
T'was the day before Easter and all through the canyon we searched for companions. A bunny was not to be found yet the buttonose chipmunk near and dear emitted strange sounds.

Shivering was the name of the game for the first hour followed by perfection for the balance. After five miles it felt like we were still near the rim.

Just a nice hike until the mother of all wildflower shows along my least favorite Tonto killed the pace.

Lunched in the shade of the narrows along Hermit Creek before hiking out. Denny didn't care for the ascent but found the gear to get us out before the buses stopped.

Great to hike new terrain and Dave had a funny or two to share. Big thx to Wally for driving, he's been under the weather this week.

Bazillion Sego Lilies, brittlebush gone wild
Tonto Trail: Hermit Trail to Boucher Trail
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Boucher to Bright Angel
I was finally able to do something of subsistence in the Grand Canyon. A big thanks to 9L who designed a nearly perfect initial 5 day excursion into the Grand Canyon. This time of year is not the easiest to plan with the lack of water and high temperatures, so our options were a little limited. Nevertheless, we came up with a plan that included starting at Hermit's Rest, taking Hermit Trail to Boucher Trail and then to my home for two nights along the Colorado River near Boucher Rapids. From there it was Hermit's Creek, then Monument Creek and on the final day the Tonto East from Monument Creek to Bright Angel and out.

Quick Anecdote: We had a crotchety SGT in our platoon during my last deployment to Afghanistan. Typical old guy, deployed like four times, woke up at three every day, always grumpy etc anyways, he would always compare me to the young mouthy guy from Biloxi Blues. So every now and then when it was a moment know one was thinking about laughing I would say SGT Blank, "man its hot today, its like Africa hot," and he would reluctantly chuckle. How does this relate to the Grand Canyon? Well just a heads up, "The Canyon is hot, like Africa hot right now!" I found myself repeating that phrase in my head several times over my five days in the bottom of the Canyon and in the absence of another hiker it was just enough to usually make me chuckle.

I drove up on Friday June 6th. I treated myself to some great Thai food in Williams of all places! I am a huge Thai fan and I give this place two thumbs up, Dara Thai Cafe worth a stop for sure. I got to the Canyon when they were still charging admission, but I told the lady of my plans and she just let me in for free and gave me permission to sleep in BCO parking lot, so that worked out just about perfect, gotta love it when things fall together like that. Only problem was the Canyon was bumping and that coupled with a little anxiety literally meant I got about 35 total minutes of sleep. No worries though to echo the words of one of my over-caffeinated drill sergeants, "sleep is a crutch for the weak." That would have to be my motto on day one as my first real intro into the Grand Canyon would be Boucher Trail.

Day 1:

Made first shuttle to Hermit's Rest, 4:30 a.m. Was boots on trail by about a quarter after five, skipped my intended carb loaded breakfast in lieu of 8-9 hour old Thai food that had been sitting in my car all night, turned out to be about only bad decision of trip. Stepped off with over 160 ounces of fluid, visited Dripping Springs, saw no one, loved the mild challenge of Boucher, got annoyed quickly by helicopter traffic and eventually had feet in Colorado River by 11:30 a.m. Tried to eat a little lunch, then literally spent about 4-5 hours in some of worst stomach pain ever. Cant figure out if it was mild dehydration, the Thai Food, first day acclimating to the oven or what, but was literally out of commission lying next to Boucher Rapids in a little grotto of trees until nearly six in the evening.

Day 1 Tally's: 11.7 miles, 5:13 a.m. to 11:17 a.m. Including frozen Gatorade carried nearly 170 oz, used about 80 oz of water and half of Gatorade to reach river.

Day 2: Slept in late. Woke up to find that my picturesque camp site had turned into Kuwait over night and nearly buried me in sand inside of my own tent sans rain fly of course. Lesson learned scorching hot canyons equal thermals and high winds at night leading to lots of blowing sand! My ambitions were a little curtailed by late start but stepped on the Tonto and headed West to Slate Creek, made a couple half-hearted and very cautious attempts at entering the Slate Creek drainage and eventually making my way to Crystal Rapids. I think I know how it can be done, but was not feeling overly adventurous on second day solo in back country and five miles from camp, so I headed back to camp with Slate Creek being my furthest advance west in Canyon now. Did finally get braver and hit up what I thought were some very promising over hangs and caves on way back, but found nothing. Later that evening I read in Spangler's hiking guide that she had actually attempted to drop down into Slate Creek on one of her trips but was probably turned back by the same impassable pour over that I hit in one of the eastern "finger-like" side drainages. I guess if proper side drainage is chosen one can enter Slate, with the attraction being to view Crystal Rapids. I was certainly on the right track, just lacked full commitment I guess and my private beach along the Colorado was calling.

Day 2 Tally's: 10.8 miles :started late 6:33 was back to camp just after noon.

Day 3: Went from Boucher Rapids camp to Hermit's Creek area. There were two other groups there, loved Hermit's Creek, rapids were great, saw a herd of Big Horn, lounged around pool area, day was only slightly diminished by man in HAZMAT suit cleaning the restroom all day. Hermit's Creek was by far the highlight of the trip.

Day 3 Tally's: 10.3 miles, left Boucher Rapids 5:30 a.m arrived Hermits Creek around 9 hiked to rapids and back and a little upstream exploration, lots of rest and relaxation around creek.

Day 4: Easy hike to Monument Creek, left late in morning had no need to rush. Forest service employee let me take a little off my load by allowing me to put trash in barrel on pallet that was being flown out by helicopter later in day. Was fully prepared to pack it all out, but could not turn down opportunity to get rid of three days worth of mountain house packages, and snack wrappers :) Explored the narrows of Monument Creek, real cool! Hiked down to Granite Rapids, watched a few boats go through, prepped gear and made final preparations for longest day yet to come.

Day 4 Tally's: 7.2 miles. Lost a bag of Peach O's to desert Sun, completely liquefied them inside baggie, making them inedible, believe me I tried, it was a very sad discovery

Day 5: Started early, in fact, very early left camp at 3:34 a.m. Plan was to use the generous light from moon, however, there was a slight problem with that, as moon had set before I even stepped off, alas, it would be a head lamp hike after all, not one lit by the moon. Even with following it for the first time and following the first portions of it in complete darkness, Tonto East proved to be a race track and I was at Indian Gardens around 8.

I took a short break and then prepared to take the United Nation's walk up the Bright Angel. Everyone knows the Bright Angel is what it is, so I just appreciated it for its awesome grade and well kept trail.

Day 5 Tally's: 14.9 miles, left camp 3:34 a.m. was on South Rim and walking to BCO lot by 10:20 a.m.

Final Notes and Observations:

My camp along the Colorado had a certain stranded desert island appeal to it. I certainly was not swimming across the Colorado and with cliffs to my back, lots of AEG, and a limited shore line my world for two days was pretty much relegated to about a 45 meter white sand stretch of beach.

One of the guide books I read said something on the lines of, "it is impossible to hike in the Grand Canyon and not become at least an amateur geologist." I think there is certainly some merit in that statement, I found myself pondering rock stuff more than probably at any previous moment in my life. A truly fascinating place...

Lessons Learned: Throw out all preconceived notions about what constitutes an early start when hiking in the Canyon during warm months. Anything after six better not have far to go, 5-5:30 solid start time, 4-5 better, anything before 4 ideal for long days.
Tonto Trail: Hermit Trail to Boucher Trail
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Boucher Hermit Loop
My 5th weekend trip to the canyon this spring entailed a 2-night backpacking trip on the Boucher and Hermit trails.

We started Saturday morning and made good time, stopping at Dripping Springs before traversing around the Eremita Mesa to Yuma Point. 9L and I spotted a couple of deer and a group of three backpackers on their way out. From Dripping Springs to Boucher Camp we saw no others.

The traverse around the mesa is easy cruising but it ends fast when the trail dips through the Supai in a steep, rocky, and difficult to follow section of trail that drops 1000-feet in .75 mile. After a .5 mile respite, the trail makes its final descent through the redwall dropping an additional 1800-feet in the final 1.5 miles to the creek. We were glad not to be hiking out this way! Exiting via Boucher would deliver a solid 3000-feet of vertical in the first 3 miles!

Anyway, a group of 11 backpacks were piled by a boulder, but no campsite had been set up and there was nobody around. Naturally, we took advantage and grabbed the best spot we could find and quickly set up our tents. The beer got stashed in the river, water filtered, and some time to rest and relax. Unfortunately, there's no shade in Boucher camp as any trees that might once have provided it are no longer living.

After a couple of hours we decided to head on the short 1.5 mile hike to the river. Along the way we passed all the people who had left their packs at camp. They were a college geology class from Indiana and were on their 5th night in the canyon. They didn't have tents and didn't seem to mind us camping near them. They took off for Yuma Point before 5am Sunday, and we waited until much later to begin our leisurely stroll across the Tonto to Hermit Camp.

9L got there first and grabbed the best camp spot there ... camp was empty on our arrival. After a while we headed downstream to the river. The section of Hermit Creek that cuts through the Tapeats is awesome. And Hermit Rapid might be the mightiest I have been to. A real treat! On the way back to camp, we headed up out of the creek to visit the ruins of the old Hermit tourist camp. There are plenty of ruins and remnants around, and we marveled at the history of a cable car taking tourists and supplies directly from this spot to the rim at Pima Point. That would have been a sight to see! (Not to mention, an exhilarating white-knuckle ride!)

Three other groups arrived at Hermit late in the afternoon and set up camp. I explored upstream a bit where a series of beautiful cascades appear, one after the other, until you get above the Tapeats layer.

We saw only one mouse run across our little cave overhang campsite, as he figured out quickly that there was nothing for him to get into. We had seen one the night before at Boucher too, but being well-prepared for them, we had no problem with their brief visits.

Monday, I woke up early, and instead of trying to get back to sleep, I got up and started packing quietly. Kyle and 9L were awake by the time I was ready to go, and knowing that I'm slower on the ascent, I headed out to get a head start. I was at the base of the Cathedral Stairs before I spotted them come up out of the creek, figuring I had close to an hour and almost 2 miles on them. I made good time and felt good about my "lead", so I took a detour out onto Lookout Point.

At Santa Maria Spring, I was exploring the old stone restrooms below the resthouse that I hadn't noticed on my 2 first trips past here when I suddenly heard 9L. I was a little disappointed that he had made up the distance in just 4 miles. I was at least hoping to make it to the final ascent above Waldron. Oh well. Kyle was close behind too. We hiked together for a short stretch before 9L took off for the top. I struggled up the last 1000 feet as I always seem to. But apparently I arrived only 10-minutes behind 9L, and Kyle was there just a few minutes behind me.

We stopped in to say hi to Hippy before heading home with the requisite pitstop for wings and pizza in Flagstaff.
Tonto Trail: Hermit Trail to Boucher Trail
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Boucher / Hermit Loop
Our trip started on Saturday morning from Hermits Rest. We quickly made our way down and headed for Dripping Springs. After a quick stop we connected to the Boucher Trail and started the traverse across the top of the Supai. The going is easy along this shadeless section. We continued on and stopped by Yuma Point to enjoy the views which were stunning! From there we continued our traverse and then started the descent through the Supai which was steep and rough. Once at the bottom we proceeded towards Whites Butte. Our original plan was to make a quick summit but I was running low on water and the trail was taking its toll. We decided to continue on which lead us through the break in the Redwall. Again the going is steep and loose as you drop toward Boucher Camp. The lower sections winds back and forth and continued dropping. It seemed like it would never end...

We arrived at Boucher Camp to find two other groups settled in but no one was there. We picked a site and then I immediately pumped water from Boucher Creek. As I pumped I soaked in the beauty of this area and tried to imagine what it must have been like back in the days of Louis Boucher. It must have been quite a site with a tourist camp and a variety of fruit bearing trees. Boucher Creek is a welcome oasis!

Anyways after we got camp set we started the hike to the Colorado. This section of canyon is beautiful. The creek is flowing and the walls rise up around you. We strolled to the river and passed at least a dozen of our fellow campers. Once at the river we took our time exploring the area and got to watch a massive boat power through the rapid. It went so fast as everyone sat in their seat. Didn't look like much fun compared to all the small rafts I've seen fight their way through the rapids. Our return hike was very chill and we all settled into camp for the night.

We woke on day two and took our time packing up. The plan was two hike the five miles to Hermit Camp and then day hike to the river. We started the hike across the Tonto and took a few quick stops to enjoy the views. We all hiked at our own pace and I was the first to arrive at camp. As I neared Hermit Camp I was delighted to see the entire area was vacated! My eyes then lead me to the "Penthouse". The site called to me and I hurried down hoping to beat anyone else just showing up. Naturally I scored the site (see pics) and Hermit Camp would instantly turn into one of my favorite camps ever! Yes I have a lot of these. :)

After camp was set up we made the walk to the Colorado. Hermit drainage is another gem! We lazily followed Hermit Creek and stopped for pics and periods just to admire the beauty! Did I ever say I like the Canyon? If not I am now! :D Hermit Rapid is another strong one. There weren't any rafters as we chatted it up with some backpackers. From there we headed back up stream and cruised by the old cable system set up on the Bright Angel Shale. The operation was impressive. I didn't realize how large the footprint was. It took us some time to walk around. Afterward we returned to camp and several groups showed up very late in the day. They all looked envious at our "Penthouse" location.

I woke on our final day to hear Chumley tearing down camp. I got up and started prepping for the hike out. I was ecstatic to see overcast. It was going to be a cool hike out. Chumley left early as Kyle and I packed up our gear. We started the hike out just as our neighbors were starting to stir. They really slept in. The first few miles were uneventful. The hike up the Cathedral Stairs took some effort. Chumley was up ahead and left several calling cards for us which helped bring out a laugh despite the grind hiking out. See pics. I finally caught up with Chumley near the Santa Maria Spring. We had a chat and then made the hike out.

We've been hitting the Canyon hard and it never disappoints! Every trip leaves me wanting more! I never want them to end. Each one becomes a part of me. Thanks to Chumley and Kyle for coming out for this one and thanks Hippy for putting up with us for the short time we stayed with you.
Tonto Trail: Hermit Trail to Boucher Trail
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Boucher / Hermit Loop
This was a fun three days! We woke up Saturday morning at Haley's and headed over to the trailhead. We decided to hit Dripping Springs first since it wasn't too far out of the way and ended up hiking with a guy from Brooklyn who seemed to enjoy our banter or at least was good at pretending. We hung out at the springs for a minute and dunked our hats/bandanna's and were on out way.

The Boucher Trail is one hell of a trail. Its harder going down then most trails I've ever gone up. Its beautiful and well worth every step, though. Chumley and John quickly broke ahead of me as usual and I had a nice quite morning to myself hiking through the canyon. I missed the turnoff to Boucher Camp and luckily realized soon after that I should have already dropped in. I turned around and met up with them at our camp spot for the night. There would be two other groups there that night. We took our time setting up and I took some time to drink a beer while soaking my feet in the cool creek.

After resting a bit, we headed down creek to the Colorado to check out Boucher Rapids. Everyone had the same idea and we passed quite a few people as they headed back. The Colorado is always nice to see. We headed back and lounged for the rest of the day.

We woke up sunday and took our time packing up. It was going to be a short and easy day. We climbed back up to the Tonto and took it over to Hermit Camp. We were the first ones there so we ended up with the penthouse spot-- John picked the sweet spot. After setting up camp, we headed down creek to check out Hermit Rapids. Hermit Creek is awesome! Waterfalls and areas where it tightens into a slot canyon. It was really fun. We hung out at the river for a bit and headed back. John wanted to make a little loop and take an old trail back up to the Tonto where we could check out the old Hermit Camp ruins. Those were pretty interesting. Its hard to believe they actually used to run a cable car down there. We got back to camp and slowly watched it fill up as more backpackers showed up.

Monday we got packed up pretty quick. We knew it was going to be a trudge back out of there and we wanted to be out pretty early. It was a beautiful hike out and the temperature turned out to be perfect. It sprinkled for a few minutes which was actually nice. John and Chumley finished just a little ahead of me and I finished in just under four hours. Awesome hike out!

Good times and good company! Thanks for setting this up, 9L!
Tonto Trail: Hermit Trail to Boucher Trail
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We left the bus to Hermit's rest at about 9:30 AM and headed down the Hermit, finding excellent trail conditions. Quickly we were onto the dripping springs trail, which had some icy sections and hadn't been pruned yet this year. Onto the Boucher trail, which was the one official trail I had yet to complete to the river on the south side. The contouring to Yuma Point took longer than expected, though it was not that physically difficult. We checked out the potholes and found some nice campsite options, but continued on, scaring up a dozen mule deer soon afterwards. The route down through the Supai in Travertine Canyon is perhaps the most interesting trail routing I've seen yet, and was a victim of the big rain/snowstorm in sections, as some of the more critical portions of the trail are now pretty sketchy and missing important parts, making it more scrambly. The trail down from White's Butte down to the Tonto resembles the Brown's Peak chute more than anything else, and isn't much in terms of a nice mule trail. Also spent some time exploring an old mine in the area not on my map I observed, and some other old constructions. Camped near Boucher Creek, and saw some other group make their way in that night by headlamp.

The next morning we checked out the rest of Boucher Creek to the Colorado. It was pretty nice without much of a trail, but it gets a little narrow in some spots and creates some nice scenes. Then made our way over to Hermit Creek, and noticed it was getting pretty warm in the afternoon. I explored Hermit Creek below the campsite and the trail up to the Old Sante Fe camp, where I noticed that rockfall of a few car and sofa side boulders wiped out a good chunk of this horse trail.

The next day we checked out Hermit Rapids and the nice beach, then packed over to Monument Creek and also checked out Granite Rapids. Monument Creek disappears for the majority of the creekbed between the monument and the river. Finally encountered a raft party - must be too early in the season for the permits to actually get used much. On the way back took the waterfall scramble route back up - that was a lot of fun.

Over to Indian Gardens, passing Cedar Spring, Salt Creek, and Horn Creek. There - we ran into yet more people, including Sirena, on her way to Salt Creek. At Indian Gardens, found that they have installed quite an impressive and excellent set of latrine facilities, 10 stars out of 10. First time actually camping there - it is a pretty nice setup. Hoofed it out the next day, 2hrs 20 minutes to the bus stop, lots of construction on the rim.
Tonto Trail: Hermit Trail to Boucher Trail
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Hermit - Boucher - Tonto - Hermit Loop
One of the best trips of my life. I had always wanted to visit the grand canyon and hike it, but I've heard so many stories about how challenging it is that I was actually getting a bit of an unreasonable fear about the whole thing. So I was thrilled when Rob and Mark invited me to go on their trip in December.

Hermit trail head to junction with the Boucher trail 2.7 mi.
Boucher trail to Yuma point 2.5 mi
Yuma Point to Boucher Camp sites 4.1 mi
Camped at Boucher Camp sites

Boucher Camp sites along Boucher Creek to Boucher Rapids at Colorado River 1.5 mi
Boucher Rapid to Tonto trail junction 2 mi
Tonto Trail to the Hermit creek 1.2 mi
Hermit Creek to Hermit Rapids 1.5
Camped at Hermit Rapids

Hermit Rapids to Hermit Trail head 9.7 mi

I loved the view at Yuma point
Descending the redwall made me pee my pants a little
I loved camping at Boucher Camp -- perfect spot for base camp
I loved camping at the river shore at Hermit Rapids
The view from the top of the cathedral stairs was awesome!

One of my favorite trips ever!
The Hermit creek gorge was amazing
Tonto Trail: Hermit Trail to Boucher Trail
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Boucher-Tonto-Hermit Loop: A first-timer's backpacking trip on the rugged threshold and primitive trails of the Grand Canyon

Day 1 - Hermit's Rest to Boucher Creek
Hermit Trail to Dripping Springs Trail to Boucher Trail to Tonto Trail

We arrived at Hermit's Rest at about 8:00 in the morning, after a long drive up from the valley. Having worked the night before, I was running off of two hours of sleep plus whatever dozing I got in with the side of my head against the truck window during the drive in. My companions for the two night trip were my dad's friend Robert (Bob), who I had hiked with previously on a dayhike down the Hermit Trail to Dripping Springs, and his two friends Mike and George. We loaded up some water in our bellies and basically procrastinated on strapping our 45 pound packs on our backs. By 8:30 we managed to start the steep descent down the Hermit Trail.

I had apparently over-hydrated that morning because I had to stop numerous times on the Hermit to urinate. I think we were still getting used to lugging the heavy packs around, because we took breaks at the Hermit-Dripping Springs junction, and at Dripping Springs-Boucher Junction. When we finally started "down" the Boucher, it felt like we were actually getting somewhere, but not for long. From the beginning Boucher is noticeably more rugged than Hermit, and Hermit it no freeway. We took a couple of breaks along Boucher before reaching Yuma Point, as the day started to warm up and fatigue set in quickly due to the rugged, albeit relatively flat trail.

Boucher's upper reaches offer stunning views of Shiva Temple and vicinity across the canyon, which were welcome. However, I found Boucher's upper reaches to become increasingly tedious as it seems like it traverses the Hermit Shale FOREVER. I realize that Boucher is a primitive trail that relies heavily on finding breaks in the cliffs that are often few and far between, but I was ready to start dropping elevation already! When Boucher finally decides to descend the Esplanade cliff, it doesn't mess around. There is one section that is particularly narrow and semi-exposed, and I think that is the section where I read that some hikers have been known to lower their packs down. It is a little sketchy, but nothing that freaked me out at all. I definitely done (and turned away from) more intense maneuvers.

After the extremely steep descent through the cliffs in the Supai, everyone was hurting and we took a long break at some potholes along the trail. I hadn't been using my GPS, but I turned it on just to check the time. I announced that is was 2:00 PM, which was met with the response of "Already!" I had a hunch that the day was moving faster than everyone realized, so I wasn't so surprised myself. At that point, I think everyone realized that our pace needed to kick up a notch.

After regrouping at the potholes, we continued along a relatively flat but very warm traverse atop the Redwall. The views at White's Butte Saddle were excellent, and another break was tempting, but we pushed on down yet another brutally steep descent, this time through a rugged side canyon carved through the Redwall Limestone. The heavy packs crushing our bodies down the intense grade once again made us fatigue quickly, and a couple of breaks were required before we reached the Tonto Trail junction. All of us were running out of gas.

After a bit of confusion of which way to go at the Tonto junction, a little map reading cleared everything up and descended toward Boucher Creek. A spring was visible in a stunning alcove above in the side canyon, and I yearned for exploration. The brittlebush bloomed in stunning fashion along the Tonto in this area, and I could see ample potential for photography with Marsh Butte looming above as a spectacular backdrop. But alas, the day was growing late and there was no time. Two minutes later we reached the beautiful Boucher Creek, where there were numerous campsites, and everyone dropped their packs. I think almost instantly we all knew that Boucher Rapids was out of the question, and this oasis would be our home for the night. However, I wasn't taking any chances, so I quickly ripped my camera out of my bag and ran up to the brittlebush to snag a couple photos.

After a few minutes, the official decision was made to camp there, which excited me because I wanted to shoot the brittlebush under the better light that was approaching, and Boucher Creek was inspiring me as well. We collected water out of the creek and slowly set up camp. I ran around to take photos in between setting up my little tent and pulling out my sleeping bag and air mattress. I eventually ate dinner, which was a Mountain House beef stew. It was alright, definitely edible, but very mediocre.

As darkness set in, we noticed the frogs in the creek grew louder and louder. Everyone was beginning to crawl into bed, and I contemplated staying up to attempt star photography. However, laying down did sound awfully good. I decided to lay down until it was fully dark and then get to take some shots, but after minimal sleep the night before and a LONG day on the Boucher Trail, I stayed in bed the rest of the night :zzz:

Day 2 - Boucher Creek to Hermit Rapids
Tonto Trail to Hermit Creek

I slept relatively well, and awoke to the sky becoming light again. Mike was already up wandering about, but I decided to remain in the warmth of my bed for a few more minutes. As George and Bob began to rise, it was time for me to do so as well. I filled the early morning with photography sprinkled in with camp duties once again. The light on Marsh Butte that morning was much better than the previous evening, and the brittlebush were once again revisited. Apparently I had forgotten to stash some of my food in the ratsack the night before, and a mouse had broken into my pack. Fortunately I had way more than enough food for the entire trip, but wasting that food frustrated me enough that I wasn't paying very much attention when heating up my oatmeal and dropped half of it on the ground. The roughness of the morning wore off soon enough, and we collected the days water and broke camp.

We were all aching from the previous days torture, and a short rest was taken after the short ascent to the Tonto junction. As we made our way out on to the Tonto Platform, I kept looking back at Boucher Canyon and getting one of those nostalgic feelings in my soul. I wished I had more time to explore and enjoy the place, and silently vowed to return again someday. As we made our way farther out onto the Tonto Platform, my attention shifted from the past to the present. Although hot and exposed to the sun, the Tonto has stunning views in all directions. Looking down into the Inner Gorge at the Colorado River is breathtaking. I remembered my Dad talking about how he enjoyed the open views of the Tonto during his own Grand Canyon exploits in years past.

Along the way we encountered several other groups going the opposite direction as us, so we exchanged information on creeks and campsites. One group made a particularly good suggestion on the best campsite at Hermit Rapids, our destination for the day. After a nice leisurely stroll on the manageable terrain of the Tonto, we were getting pretty toasty in the sun, and were happy to finally descend to the cool waters of Hermit Creek at Hermit Camp.

Bob headed upstream to collect water, and I followed him as I needed to use his filter. Around the first bend was a beautiful set of cascades flowing down a stair-stepped slickrock outcrop of Tapeats Sandstone. With the harsh mid-day sun beating down, it was in no shape to be photographed at that moment, and immediately I started scheming a plan to photograph it under open shade. Turns out I would reach it just in time on the hike out the following morning. After Bob and I collected water and marveled at the beauty of Hermit Creek, we headed back down stream to relax in the shade and eat with the rest of the crew.

The next leg of our trip would be blast: the mile and a half hike along the waters of Hermit Creek down to the Colorado River. Lower Hermit Creek is a wonderland of waterfalls, crystal clear pools, and beautiful cliffs. In the heat of the day, the company of the creek was welcome. As we approached Hermit Rapids, two other backpacker fellows had also just arrived, one of which promptly stripped to his underwear and sat down in the middle of the creek to cool off. I would converse with them later, and they had apparently descended the Hermit from Rim to River in all of four hours.

The elegant yet powerful sight of Hermit Rapids was one to behold, but our first priority was to find our campsite. We wandered the rocky beach through the tamarisks for a while before we finally found the spot on the bluff that was recommended to us by a hiker on the Tonto earlier. Cheers were bellowed as packs were thrown to the ground for the day, as our campsite offered a commanding view of Hermit Rapids. After relaxing in the shade for a while, Bob and headed upstream a ways to take a dip in the cold Colorado River. The water was frigid, but I was comfortable in the heat for the rest of the afternoon after that pleasant cool down.

I then decided that some contemplative time was in order, and found a couple nice spots to sit along the rapids and gaze into the glorious motion of water meeting rock. As the afternoon wore on, I headed back up to our bluff to eat an early dinner and set up my tent so I wouldn't have to worry about that stuff later when the good photogenic light would be my mind's priority. Dinner was a Mountain House grilled chicken with rib meat and mashed potatoes, however, I don't think there was really rib meat in the thing. Another decent meal, although better than the beef stew the night before. After setting up my tent, I chatted with the boys around camp for a bit before taking off for the creek as the sun grew low and shade began encroaching on the canyons.

I traveled no more than half a mile back up Hermit Creek, but shot many different cascades along the way. I had changed from my boots into the creek shoes I brought, so much of the time I walked straight through the creek which was incredibly pleasant. I even contemplated submerging myself in some of the deeper pools under the waterfalls, but it was no longer hot out and I decided to try my luck photographing the rapids. At the rapids, I tried many abstract compositions with the flowing water and boulders, which seemed to work pretty well. However, any attempts at traditional shots with the river, canyon walls, and sky seem to fail. Hermit Rapids is a difficult place to photograph.

Eventually I returned to camp, tired from exertion via photography. The rest of the evening I spent enjoying social time with my companions and viewing the landscape from our perch. Night eventually set in, and we enjoyed the sky transition into stars. As everyone went to bed, I ventured out to the end of our sandy bluff and attempted some star photography. I used a blooming brittlebush as a foreground, "light-painting" it with my head-lamp. Once satisfied, I turned in for what would be a fitful night's sleep.

Day 3 - Hermit Rapids to Hermit's Rest
Hermit Creek to Tonto Trail to Hermit Trail

I slept intermittently and horribly, with nightmares plaguing my mind each time I napped. When the sky finally began to lighten, I was relieved. We arose early, knowing we had a long uphill day ahead of us. Bob said he had nightmares too, and said he woke up yelling at one point, which eased my mind and spirit. The others heated up water for their breakfasts, but I didn't bother and just ate granola bars and trail mix, lord knows I had enough left to last me another couple days out there. There were clouds in the sky, making for a nice sunrise, but I only took one photo being at such a photographically difficult location. It was for the better, as I needed to get my bag packed to go. I was more concerned about getting to the waterfalls at the Hermit Creek-Tonto Trail junction anyway.

Our departure from the rapids wasn't super-early, but early enough. I said goodbye to the Colorado River silently as we headed toward the creek. The hike back up Hermit Creek was as pleasant as ever. I skipped shooting a good waterfall shot about halfway to Hermit Camp, thinking to myself "someday". Closer to Hermit Camp, I chose to do a quick shoot of some cascades while the others continued. They had trouble finding a way up the creek bed a little higher, which allowed me to catch back up quickly. We arrived at Hermit Camp and my beloved waterfalls just before the sunlight overtook them with it's nasty harsh light. I quickly shot as many compositions as possible while the others started collecting water for the hike out.

Once tanked up, we started the ascent of the Tonto back onto the Tonto Platform. This was perhaps the busiest section of trail we had seen, while multiple groups going different directions. We were soon in the sun, and albeit mid-morning, it was getting pretty hot. We already felt hot and tired by the time we reached Hermit Trail proper, and the intital ascent up the Bright Angel Shale was rough. We rested once halfway up the Bright Angel/Muav Limestone sequence, and then again right below where the Cathedral Stairs climb up the Redwall. We started catching good shade at this point, and we got some wind in our sails. We steadily climbed the Cathedral Stairs, and continued and at good pace toward Lookout Point. The clouds built up nicely during this section, continuing the shady theme for a while and making for good hiking. I remember having to stop in awe at the view up Hermit Canyon at one point, as the shade made the colors of the rock layers look superb, and the sets of cliffs up and down the walls were stunning.

As we ascended the switchbacks above the Lookout Point saddle, the sun had come and a break was in order. We found shade behind a sandstone wall a took an extended lunch. My stomach had been rumbling and I needed to refuel on granola bars and gatorade. We lost some of our momentum after this, and the next mile and a half of slightly uphill hiking seemed rougher than it should have been. The rest shack at Santa Maria Spring was a welcome sight. We each collected an extra liter of water out of the trough, and took another extended rest. An older gentleman (dayhiker) joined us soon, whom we had seen sitting atop the summit of Lookout Point (George had mistook him for a Bald Eagle for a second). We chatted with for a while before he took off so he could meet his wife after she finished a Rim to Rim to Rim that day.

We knew the finals climbs were going to be brutal, and they were. Bob, who had been in front most of the day anyway, had an appointment with the toilet at Hermit's Rest and set a faster pace than the rest of us. The climb up the Esplanade cliff wasn't too bad, but it started to get tough as we ascended the Hermit Shale out of Hermit Basin. To me, the ascent through the Coconino Sandstone seemed the hardest as the trail is strictly on uneven slickrock or riprap through its entirety, and the uphill is relentless. With Bob nowhere in sight, I called for a short rest at the Coconino-Toroweap contact. We pushed through the final climb through the Toroweap and Kaibab, although the last bit seemed to go on forever. As George, Mike and I reached the trucks, we spotted Bob strolling his way back from the bathroom. Handshakes and high fives were exchange after an exhausting, challenging, beautiful, and above else FUN trip. George and I made our way to the bathroom soon after. We headed straight to Tusayan for a welcome yet slightly underwhelming meal at McDonalds before making the drive back to Phoenix.

This being my first backpacking trip, and quite at intense one at that, I have to say that it was a huge success! I guess I didn't hardly describe my companions in this triplog, but they were a great bunch, and I am forever grateful that they gave me the opportunity to join them. Thanks guys! I could go on and on about my experiences, the things I learned, and what I want to do in the future, but I've already burned through half a day writing this triplog, and I still have a good amount of work to do on the photos. Let me just say that I hope this was the first of many successful backpacking trips for me, and not just in the Grand Canyon, but all over the state of Arizona, the western United States, or even beyond that!
Tonto Trail: Hermit Trail to Boucher Trail
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Down Hermit --> Boucher --> Tonto --> up Hermit. It got quite warm today, I thought I might run out of water but finished with 1 liter left. This is probably my favorite section of the Tonto (although I haven't done Gems yet). I like how it skirts the edge just above the Tapeats layer, giving you a nice up and down view of the Colorado. Saw lots of backpackers on the trail today and one mean park ranger. She called me an idiot (in a condescending manor, not joking) for doing this loop. Nice way to interact with the public :roll: .
Tonto Trail: Hermit Trail to Boucher Trail
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4.5 day trip: The "Gems"

Nice on the rim, the Dripping Spring Trail (Old Boucher) is still recognizable - overgrown but not too bad.

Found people at Dripping Spring, headed down the Hermit. The Hermit is annoying - up and down and up and down before the redwall plunge. A bit hot out. Made it to the creek, tired, found a few backpackers but didn't talk much.

Left the next morning - travertine canyon is obviously named - very interesting. Boucher was flowing - interesting old cabin site. Back up to the Tonto - Slate was dry. Not good, and I ended up having less water than I thought at the end of the day.

That evening into the next morning the big rains hit. Seemed about 2 inches to me. Had an inch around my tent. Filtered water while in my sleeping bag - that's a first. But the water was sorely needed. Thank you for inventing tents with tub floors. I wake up - there is no water to be seen. I was on a ledge well away from the main drainage. If only it was bright out I could imagine seeing the maelstrom during the shower.

The next day the Tonto is getting worse. There are places there are 3 separate trails 20 feet apart, then they go their separate ways. Some veer off and just end. Gets overgrown in places too. Hoofed it a bit past Ruby to somewhere around Quartz. Found pools in nearly all the drainages. I think my water concerns are no more, but after the scare at Slate I continue to overload and carry more than needed.

The next day I make it to S Bass a little past mid-day. I take a wonderful hike down to the river, find the beach all to myself, and take a few photos. Find a backpacker on the way back to camp - he's had a rough time, without the rain I wonder if he would've just perished out there, but he's on the trail and bound to complete his itinerary - he seems in a good mood too. I guess I would if I'd have been off-route for days and just found the trail again.

The next day I hike out - 3hrs 10 mins from my camp @ Tonto intersection (I was good until the Coconino and dragged that last mile) and hitch a ride back to my vehicle with a ranger also leaving that same day. We caravan back to the highway before parting ways, thankful we both make it without mishap.

Water report
3/16: Dripping Springs - dripping, 2 small pools
3/16: Hermit Creek - flowing @ Tonto
3/17: Travertine - dry @ Tonto
3/17: Boucher Creek - flowing @ Tonto
3/17: Slate - dry @ Tonto and below Tonto, looking upstream looked dry, no water shining on the pouroff, but did not investigate
3/17: Agate - dry

3/17 8PM -3/18 3AM is when the big storm hit

3/18: Agate - 2 small pools were all that was left near the Tonto, may not last long, the canyon doesn't seem to "hold" the water
3/18: Sapphire - small pools in canyon @ Tonto
3/18: Turquoise - trickle flow, large pools @ Tonto. However the potholes of water was reddish/tannin colored, either from the water or the bottom of the bottom of the pothole, likely the latter, the east arm had clearer pools that won't last long.
3/18: Jasper - small pothole pools @ Tonto
3/18: Jade - small pothole pools @ Tonto
3/18: Ruby - trickle flow, large pools @ Tonto
3/18: Quartz - tiny pools @ Tonto (more in the side drainages)
3/19: Emerald - small pools @ Tonto
3/19: Serpentine - light flow, big pools @ Tonto *warning that this water can be too high in mineralization for some
3/19: South Bass - pothole pools between Tonto and pouroff before the beach

In addition there were a few small pothole pools in many side drainages after the storm. I was surprised that more weren't flowing, given that while it was raining there was 1-2 inches of water everywhere, including around my tent (well high above the main drainage)

S Bass trail conditions were surprisingly good after the snow. Snow from trailhead to just before you reach the esplanade and melting fast. Road conditions to S Bass are awful, bring 4WD high clearance with a locker preferable and expect lots and lots of mud and slip-sliding...Each vehicle got 60 degrees sideways a few times. I brought home at least 30 lbs of mud stuck to the vehicle (running boards hold it). Or else postpone until it dries out a bit.

Permit $$
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Map Drive
Connector trail - Not Applicable

To Hermits Rest Trailhead
From Flagstaff head west on I-40 for 30.4 mi to SR-64. Turn right/north and follow SR-64 55 miles to the park. You will receive a map & information at the GC park entrance.

Hermits Rest is at the west end of Hermit Road. Hermit Road is a restricted area, you must take the free-bus. Keep in mind the bus ride is over a half hour long each way when planning your hike.

Backpackers with a valid backcountry permit can drive private vehicles to the Hermit trailhead. A numerical code (provided by the Backcountry Information Center) is needed to open the Hermit Transfer access gate. Use the keypad mounted on the steel post that supports the gate to enter this code. Drive to Hermits Rest and follow the dirt road 1⁄4 mile beyond the end of the pavement to the trailhead.

During the winter the Hermit Road is open to private vehicles and no special access is required.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 239 mi - about 3 hours 58 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 344 mi - about 5 hours 28 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 91.9 mi - about 1 hour 49 mins
$17 3L Hydration Bladder
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