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Tonto Trail: Boucher Trail to South Bass Trail
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mini location map2022-11-23
29 by photographer avatarshelby147
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Tonto Trail: Boucher Trail to South Bass TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack81.00 Miles 13,500 AEG
Backpack81.00 Miles5 Days         
13,500 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
A long out-and-back on the gems for Thanksgiving weekend. The canyon was very quiet - especially once out of the flight corridor.

Water report: I didn't bother to look up/down drainages. These were all visible from the trail/ at the crossing. I was traveling fast and weather was cool so water needs were low.
Serpentine - one large pool at crossing
Ruby - several potholes at crossing
Jade - small pool below crossing
Turquoise - pool below crossing
Sapphire - below crossing
Slate - at crossing

Day 1 - I got a midmorning start down Boucher. Within the first 2 minutes on Hermit I saw 4 bighorn sheep chasing eachother across the ravine. I carried spikes just in case there was ice on the way to dripping springs but the trail was dry. Then the long contour above the supai interspersed with delicious first-day snacks (sandwich, blueberries, leftover apple crumble). The washed out drop into the supai is yucky but brief - it actually wigged me out more on the hike up. Down near Boucher creek and on Tonto I spotted 3 groups (the only people I'd see for four days). I stocked up on water at the jct with Topaz creek, anticipating a dry camp and not wanting to take the time at Slate. Then a race against the sun to reach the plateau west of Slate creek, which was much warmer than the cute camps in the drainage.

Day 2 - I was happy to get early sun. I had an ambitious day but I couldn't resist lounging in Sapphire for a bit. There were a few spots with excellent views down the river but for the most part I was racing through drainages. The trail was much fainter. Ruby and Emerald were somewhat exposed near the head of the drainages... Emerald was especially tedious with the sidehilling and bushes. I had to turn on my headlamp at the head of Serpentine but luckily the trail was easy to follow to the next plateau, where I camped.

Day 3 - I left camp early again and day-hiked down to Bass beach. I thought I might see people this day because I think the Bass zone was supposed to be full, but I missed everyone. Following Bass creek down is very cool - I didn't realize how much faulting there is in that area. I spent about 2 hours lounging in the sun on the beach, looking across at the Powell Plateau and Shinumo drainage. On my way back to pack up my camp I saw a little tarantula on tonto - my only one of the season, and very cute! I packed quickly and nipped over to the plateau west of Ruby to camp.

Day 4 - A long day of countouring on my way back to Slate. It's a good thing I had audiobooks downloaded. Clouds rolled in in the late afternoon so I was treated to an orange sunset. It was nice to see the hermit trail in the distance after being so far from folks. In the afternoon I developed some nasty hot spots... turns out even darn tough socks have a mileage limit before they get crusty and need to be replaced. My feet are still healing 5 days later.

Day 5 - I woke up on the plateau east of Slate and had a relatively short day, for once. On my way through Boucher creek I saw no sign of people but I did see some very brave mice. Progress was slow because I had to baby my feet (in clean socks, at least). Boucher actually spreads out the elevation gain quite nicely... a flat section for every ~1k vert. I also love the views along this trail. I was a bit chilled from all the deep shade so I had a nice lunch break in the sun on Yuma point. Then I finally saw another human on the way back to dripping springs! We chatted for a while. He also spends lots of nights in the canyon but this was his first trip on Boucher. Once at the dripping springs jct the rest of the trip was quick. I "juiced" myself with tylenol and caffeine and was able to ignore my poor feet during the final climb on Hermit. Also helps that my pack probably weighed about half as much as on day 1.

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