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mini location map2020-10-30
59 by photographer avatarJohn9L
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North Bass TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack33.00 Miles 8,500 AEG
Backpack33.00 Miles3 Days         
8,500 ft AEG
Linked   none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
After six years, we finally returned to North Bass and completed the route. Chumley and I went here in September 2014, with a planned 3 day backpacking trip, but had to alter our trip to a day hike due to heavy rain in the forecast. We said we would return and it finally happened.

October 29 – Thursday
We left Phoenix around 10am and made the drive to the north rim. We did a short hike off the Kaibab Plateau and then headed to Swamp Point. The road is in good condition with a few rutted sections and a bit rocky by Swamp Point. You’re good with high clearance when it’s dry. We would camp a short walk from the trailhead in a nice area with outstanding views of the canyon. Also, Karl & Kathy met us at camp and would be joining us for the backpack.

October 30 – Friday
The morning started slow as we waited for the sun to rise and then packed up our gear. Once we were ready, we made the very short drive to the trailhead and started hiking. We made quick work of the first section as you drop to the Muav Saddle where we checked out the cabin. It’s in great condition and you can sleep inside if you choose. From there we continued down as the trail hooks and then switchbacks down to White’s Creek. The trail is steep and loose in spots but easy to follow.

After we arrived in White’s Creek you basically follow the creek bed down. It’s slow going as you rock hop and work your way down canyon. Some sections are heavily overgrown but you just push through the brush and follow your general heading. We eventually hit the traverse along the Supai and then made the steep and loose descent through the Redwall. You have to be very careful with your footing as you descend. With some work we got back to the White’s Creek and then took a break. After our break we continued down and found good water in the creek bed. From there we continued down as we worked our way to the narrows. The narrows start with the chock stone and a drop to the creek bottom. We took our time in the narrows & made a short side trip into Redwall Canyon. There are a few easy scrambles until a 12 foot dry waterfall. It’s doable but we decided to turn around here. From there we continued the last mile or so to Shinumo Creek where we selected the prime campsite at the confluence. We set up camp and then settled in for the evening. The hike in took a toll on us & we were glad to be done for the day.

October 31 – Saturday
We took our time as we started our day with coffee & breakfast. Our plan is to day hike to the river as a lasso loop. We would leave camp and head down Shinumo Creek. The going is relatively easy as we crossed back & forth along the creek. Most of us walked right through the water which was chilly & moving fast. Careful footing was important. We passed the bypass trail and kept heading down canyon. We then hit the old camp area where we found an old foundation and other signs of occupation from the Bass days. And just below this we checked out all the old mining relics which were really cool to see. After we had our fill we continued down creek. The going was a little more challenging because the vegetation was dense and the social trails are not as defined as up canyon. With some effort we arrived at Shinumo Falls. The falls are great but it’s hard to get a good look because the canyon is very tight. There’s no way down so we backtracked to the exit route that leads to the Colorado River.

We arrived at an amazing beach site at the bottom of the bypass trail. It was a beautiful day and we settled in to enjoy lunch and the Colorado River. We would hang out for a solid hour and we discussed our options. I wanted to go to the far beach at the bottom of South Bass but I also wanted to hike up Shinumo Creek from camp. Judging by the time, I could only do one so I decided to head to Bass Rapid. Karl & Kathy would join me while Chumley headed back to camp to hike up Shinumo Creek. The going was relatively easy as we followed a defined trail. We arrived at the far beach site and took a variety of pics. We then stopped at another beach on the way back. From there, we returned to camp and arrived there around 4:30pm. Chumley would return from the top portion of Shinumo and we all settled in for another night.

November 1 - Sunday
We had a big hike to get back to the rim so we started relatively early around 7:30am. We hiked down Shinumo Creek the half mile to the bypass trail and we were able to keep our feet dry. Once we hit the trail it was a slow grind up hill and back into White’s Creek. We took our time and took breaks as needed. Next up was the Redwall which was another grind but went well. The next couple of miles were fairly straightforward as you hike up the creek and take a short bypass when necessary. We found some water we missed on the hike in and topped off there. We continued on and arrived at the benchmark that starts the big climb back. At this point, it was everyone for themselves. The climb up was long and challenging as shade is limited and you need to watch your footing. With much effort I topped out and was physically spent. I would rehydrate and eat. The other arrived up top a few minutes later. We took our time packing up and would head to House Rock Road near Wire Pass to car camp another night and then returned to Phoenix on Monday.

Final Thoughts
This was a hell of a trip and was a lot harder than I remember from our 2014 trip. Carrying a heavy pack made a big difference. North Bass is one of the more challenging routes into the Canyon. I want to say it was harder than Nankoweap but it’s been 7 years since I’ve done that & my memory is hazy. I definitely recommend North Bass but not until you have several backpacking trips completed below the rim. The scenery and history is fantastic but it’s very hard going. Be prepared for a challenge and you’ll enjoy this hike. Also, I wish we had at least one more day down there. It would have helped to break up the hike out into two days. Thanks Chumley for driving!
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