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Tonto Trail: Boucher Trail to South Bass Trail
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mini location map2013-03-24
25 by photographer avatarDave1
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Tonto Trail: Boucher Trail to South Bass TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 24 2013
Backpack56.29 Miles 10,714 AEG
Backpack56.29 Miles2 Days         
10,714 ft AEG30 LBS Pack
1st trip
Got to the Backcountry office Sunday at 8am only to find a crowd of people waiting. Got my number and waited about 30min. Ranger Christy (with a K?)recognized me from a few weeks ago and was cool not to make me fill out the permit or hiker info forms and didn't question me about the route. Awesome! Permit in hand for BO9.

I set out on FR328 from near the kennels behind the Maswick lodge. After mile marker 15, I drove FR2501 to FR2506 to the Boundary Line Road. These 2 roads are quite rough and require high clearance and no fear of losing some paint. Started out hiking along the BLR for about 5 miles until I could make a bee-line through the junipers for South Bass TH. Another 6 miles and I was at the real start to this hike.

Made good time down the South Bass were I found no snow and very little mud. At the South Bass/Esplanade junction I searched for the water cache I had left in 2011 for Liz and Paul but it was gone. Continued on down SB until the turn off for the east bound Tonto. This section of the Tonto is probably the least traveled and can be difficult to follow in some spots, usually on the open Tonto platform. Over all though it wasn't too bad and I only got off trail a handful of times.

I won't lie, this trail gets kind of repetitive after a while as all the side canyons you have to contour around start to look the same. Maybe I was just tired? Glad I finally got this one done though. Its nice to kind of zone out on these long hikes but because of the faintness of this trail you really need to stay alert and watch for cairns. That makes it feel even longer.

It was dark by 7:20 but I wanted to get at least 30 miles in the first day so I continued on by headlamp until about 9pm. If following this trail in daylight is challenging, you know at night its even worse. With Serpentine, Emerald, Quartz, Ruby, Jade and Jasper done I made camp on the Tonto platform between Jasper and Turquoise Canyons. Didn't get much sleep due to the near full moon beaming down on my face (I didn't bring a tent). At 4am the moon finally fell behind the canyon walls but then the mosquitoes came out. I really wished I had a tent.

Even though I didn't get much sleep, it felt good to lay down and rest my legs after 30 tough, up and down and in and out miles. The nighttime temperature got down to about 30 degrees but with zero wind I stayed warm enough in my down bag. As I lay there I noticed some pain in the arch of my left foot. It seamed to get worse through the night and was almost impossible to put weight on it whenever I got up to pee. I wondered how I would do 26 miles tomorrow??? Fortunately I found that once I put my sneakers on and got moving the pain was manageable.

On the trail again by 7am. I knew I had a long day ahead of me but with almost half my water gone, my pack was damn near feather light. Or maybe not. Turquoise, Sapphire, Agate, Slate done. Now just climb down into Topaz, cross over to Boucher, up Boucher to Dripping Springs, up the Silver Bell Trail and across the juniper forest to the Boundary Road. I saw my first hikers in Boucher Camp and then a few more along the trail. The Silver Bell was probably the highlight of the trip. Maybe because I was so glad to be almost done or maybe it really is a neat trail. I'd definitely like to go back and do that one again. The Tonto? Maybe.

There is not much water along this route so I carried all of my water for 2 days (9 liters carried, 8 liters used). Also the Colorado River is running brown right now. I didn't explore up or down any of the canyons due to limited time and energy so all water reports are at the Tonto crossings. Serpentine was running at maybe a 1/2 gallon/minute but most people say the water is undrinkable due to excess minerals. Maybe with a higher flow its ok to drink? Ruby had a few potholes. Boucher had the usual good flow. All others were dry.

With this one done, I have now hiked, in sections, from the Little Colorado all the way to Elve's Chasm. This hike also puts me over 1,000 lifetime miles at the canyon. :y:

edit: slight flow in Sapphire Canyon

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