9L put together a plan and secured the necessary permits and whatnot a few months ago. Something came up at the last minute and he had to bail, but as good friends must, we happily carried on without him! In fact, I've adopted Ryan as my new 9L-replacement figure. He even drives!
We set out from the valley Thursday morning for the drive to the canyon and set foot on trail before noon. Ryan hadn't been to Dripping Springs before so I made sure we took that short side-trip. A ranger was day-hiking the route and I was happy to have our permit checked along the way.
Once on Boucher we encountered nobody else until settling in at camp. Along the way, we took the side trip to Whites Butte. It was the 4th Grand Canyon Summit I'd done that FOTG hadn't
, and my 8th overall. This one is 100% worth the price of admission, assuming you're already walking by it for some other reason.
There was a lone hiker at Boucher when we arrived and we set up camp and got chores done before darkness set in. It was COLD! There's something about the temperature extremes at the beginning of a new season, and combined with the lack of cold-cutting warmth of a fire, it was sleeping bag time by 7pm. My thermometer showed the low to have dropped to 38 ... exactly as forecast. But it felt like 18 when sitting out under the stars.
Friday we headed five miles across the Tonto to Slate Creek where we had intended to explore downstream to Crystal Rapid. Just before reaching the drainage we encountered our only other hiker on the day — it was Dave1
— who informed us that he had not found any water there. The Colorado was muddy and I was counting on something in Slate and didn't fully load up before leaving Boucher, so with no extra water we wouldn't be able to make the full 15 mile day plan.
Nonetheless, we continued on and found the route down into Slate and were relieved to find numerous, large, clear, and cold pools in the bedrock narrows. After a few minutes of filtering and topping off, we set off downstream. A few minutes later Ryan let out a blood-curdling scream (possible exaggeration) as he sipped from his bladder and learned that our life-saving water would plummet to the bottom of the Great Salt Lake. I subsequently dipped my tongue in a few other pools to find the same result. As neither of us now had any drinkable water, we turned around and headed back to Boucher, appreciative of the cool weather and light breeze.
All rehydrated there, we took a leisurely trip down to Boucher Rapid before heading back up to camp as daylight waned. It was somewhat warmer, but we still sat in sleeping bags in camp. The low showed 42.
Saturday we made the short trip across the Tonto over to Hermit Creek. We arrived before anyone else and secured the penthouse spot in the overhung cliff band. Despite my plans for OnlyFans stardom in the open air toilet there, I was surprised to find a pfancy new solar facility! A two-holer with all the amenities one could ever imagine to find at such a remote camp including doors and a roof! I wonder if other high-use canyon campsites have upgraded facilities too? If nothing else, the legacy of the last administration should include this pristine poo'er thanks to the GAOA!
Afternoon took us down Hermit to the river ... truly one of the little gem hikes the canyon has to offer. My OnlyFans must not be the only talent I have because I was successful like no other trip before when mooching a beer from the rafters scoping the rapid. And with that, Ryan and I carried 8 of the best canned macro-swill one could hope for back to camp to share with five ladies who had arrived while we were gone. Of course they were asleep before it got dark, so we shared with the grungy hippie from Flagstaff instead.
It was noticeably warmer, both in the evening and overnight, dropping only to 46.
The five ladies quietly departed for the rim at 3:45am (hoping to beat the heat!?) while Ryan and I waited until a little bit after 9
. We placed a friendly wager on if we would pass them on the way out, but despite making it back up before 1pm, we could not make up the 5-hour head-start they had on us.
Ice cream cookie sandwiches are a requirement for any hike that ends at Hermit's Rest, and we cursed 9L's name the whole way home, wondering what kind of person makes a permit plan that ends on a Sunday necessitating a post-trip drive on I-17? In the end, I didn't care, because I wasn't driving! What a game changer!
Thursday to Boucher: 11.28mi, 1684aeg, 5:42
Friday to Slate: 10.85mi, 2034aeg, 4:40
Friday River: 4.28mi, 579aeg, 2:22
Saturday to Hermit: 5.43mi, 1029aeg, 2:16
Saturday to River: 4.74mi, 799aeg, 3:38
Sunday to Rim: 7.96mi, 4569aeg, 3:51