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31 by photographer avatarfriendofThundergod
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Royal Arch RouteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 22 2017
Backpack48.70 Miles 13,900 AEG
Backpack48.70 Miles5 Days         
13,900 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
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This route and backpack was everything they say it is and more. It was rugged, awe-inspiring and remote. I feel accomplished and elated to have been able to complete this one.

Day 1:

I did this trip with a couple of nagging ailments, so day one became a bit of a slog for me, but it was generally pretty easy. We took the Esplanade route from South Bass to a "dry" campsite just before Royal Arch Creek. Fast times down South Bass, as one would expect and pretty good moving across the relatively nice Esplanade route. A little boulder hopping, but generally pretty good moving down canyon to camp, then a little hunt for water, a quick dinner and a retreat to the tents to ride out a pretty good little squall.

Day 2:

A little slower moving for me down canyon, but not an overly tough route to the arch. The arch/land bridge area is tremendous and a true wonder of the canyon: A short climb out of Royal Arch Creek and then some nice tread to the infamous rappel. There was already a hand line in place, with some well placed/tied knots at the famous down climb, so we naturally utilized it and made pretty quick work of the modest obstacle. I would probably place it somewhere on the level of the down climb and hand line use needed in Phantom Canyon for frame of reference. From there it was dodging rain, light exploring and the usual camp activities.

Day 3:

Day three was Elves Chasm and a backpack that was pretty light in terms of miles, but a little rugged in nature. The Chasm needs no describing and was as nice as they say. Our movement down the Tonto was relaxed and we played the water gamble game perfectly to the tune of a really nice site among some slabs and high above a no name dry fall in a no name wash.

Day 4:

I thought day four was basically going to be just a movement and rest day for me, but it ended up being packed full of some pretty good hiking and new sites. A cloudy morning made for some perfect conditions along the Tonto and the views across the Colorado and north were superb at times. After setting up camp at the South Bass junction, we hiked to the "boat" and the South Bass Beach. The hike down canyon was very green and pleasant with several opportunities for filtering water. The boat was a cool little attraction and we all took a dip in the Colorado at the beach, overall, I think we all enjoyed the hike to the Colorado and its little attractions. I personally think its one of the nicer final descents to the river in the Grand Canyon. The chance of rain flirted with us at camp, but it ended up materializing on the north rim. As a result, we were rewarded with a nice little weather and cloud show along with a pretty nice sunset.

Day 5:

We only had five miles to complete on the final day, so Karl and I decided to add on one last side trip, Mount Huethawali. We knocked out the modest little summit on the way out. We were both happy to have made the pretty quick little detour to the relatively easy summit that we both really enjoyed. There are some great views from the summit and it felt like a fitting way to end our five day trek in the canyon. Unfortunately, after enjoying our moment on the summit, the realization set in for me that we still had to put on the heavy packs and climb out. The climb out did not go as bad as I thought it would, but it is certainly a grind; after about five hours from leaving camp, I topped out, signaling an end to our trip.

A great backpack and a big thanks to @chumley for putting it all together! In terms of non thru-hiking experiences, maybe one of my best ever. It will take a lot to beat this one. I am very grateful to have gotten a chance to complete this canyon gem.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Garnet Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Royal Arch Creek Light flow Light flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Shinumo Creek Medium flow Medium flow
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