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Royal Arch via Point Huitzil
14 Photosets

mini location map2013-11-27
92 by photographer avatarGrottoGirl
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Royal Arch via Point HuitzilNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 27 2013
Backpack35.93 Miles 8,718 AEG
Backpack35.93 Miles5 Days         
8,718 ft AEG35 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Continuing on our Grand Thanksgiving Tradition, we visited the Canyon for the forth year in a row on Thanksgiving. This trip has to be one of the most challenging we've done.

Day 1: Trailhead to Esplanade.
We did lots of down climbing with our heavy packs. We saw some ruins and petroglyphs. The hole in the Coconino followed by the log climb was pretty fun! We made sure that everyone was able to get through each obstacle. I do have to admit that there were a few times that I was scared of my big pack pushing me off a cliff! We stopped for the day at a spot in which we found several potholes with water. Joel and I collected our water without treating it. It was pretty tasty. Joel found that his Nook had died to the cold so I let him read mine. Our camp on the Esplanade was pretty cool - we had nice views AND frost on our sleeping bags in the morning.

Day 2: Esplanade to the Royal Arch.
We navigated around several dry falls before reaching Royal Arch canyon. One of the by passes included the Ledge of Death which has thus been renamed the Ledge of Paralyses by Josh. Joel and Josh checked it out without their packs and then joined the rest of the group. The trek down Royal Arch was sporty. I was glad to have had several canyons under my belt so the only thing challenging was the fact that I was carry the albatross on my back. The campsite at Royal Arch is absolutely amazing. I don't recommend it for sleep walkers! I checked out the surrounding area and found a big horn sheep hangout overlooking the Arch complete with scat. Unfortunately, the cold from the night before killed my Nook and so both Joel and I didn't have any reading materials. Josh had a book and Joel convinced him to cut out some pages! The temperature that night was perfect sleeping weather of about 40 degrees.

Day 3: Royal Arch to Toltec Beach, side trip to Elves Chasm, and then on to Garnet Canyon.
We backtracked a bit and then headed up. It was pretty cool to see the Arch from above the Redwall. The section descending down to Toltec Beach was one of the most technical sections. We had a down climb followed by the 20 foot rappel and then another down climb. While the rappel was being set up I saw a young big horn sheep on the trail below us. When we got down to the beach, we saw that the river was pretty brown so we choose not to collect any water. From there only two of us made the journey over to Elves Chasm due to time constraints. We went light with just headlamps, snack, jacket and water. Elves Chasm is yet another beautiful waterfall in the Grand Canyon. Well worth the trip! We hurried back to our pack and then on to camp in Garnet Canyon. We managed to get to Garnet just as it got dark. There was water in pools in Garnet Canyon but upon tasting it we found it salty. However, some had collected water at a previous drainage which was even saltier which was hard to imagine. I was glad that I had a bit of "fresh" water left over so I only used the salty stuff for meals. This was our warmest night. When I got out of the bag at midnight I saw it was still 50 degrees!

Day 4: We had a sporty climb up through the Tapeats. It was a cloudy morning and it felt like the temperature had dropped a bit since midnight. We had a long journey along the top of the Tapeats to get to South Bass. The top of the canyon was socked in so we only rarely got some views. I was pretty excited to see the area around the North Bass trail since we had just done that trip a couple months ago. Seeing Dox Castle and the Holy Grail were the highlight of my day! We arrived in South Bass to find that everything was dry, which seemed crazy since there had been a good stretch of weather the week before. We had to scout for water. We spread out up and down canyon looking for water. Joel found a pothole in some granite bedrock in the drainage. It was full of algae but to us it was the "Pothole of Life"! Note for future travelers, it would probably be a good idea to camp at the beach if it hasn't rained really recently. That night we finished up the remains of the 5 liters of wine, 8 beers, and 20 ounces of bourbon that we brought with us - I'm glad I wasn't carrying any of it!

Day 5: We hiked out the South Bass trail. We didn't do the optional side trip to Mount Huethawali, guess we'll have to plan another trip with a key swap for South Bass to Boucher in the future (let me know if you're interested). The highlight of this day was completing the car shuttle. None of us wanted to wait so we piled 7 people and 7 packs into Karl's Toyota!!!
Natural Bridge
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