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South Bass Trail - 16 members in 55 triplogs have rated this an average 4.4 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Oct 26 2019
Hippy
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 Guides 8
 Routes 4
 Photos 1,834
 Triplogs 643

34 female
 Joined Dec 02 2009
 Grand Canyon
Fifth Annual Moron Festival, AZ 
Fifth Annual Moron Festival, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 26 2019
Hippy
Hiking3.00 Miles
Hiking3.00 Miles
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
Our annual Grand Canyon Moron Festivals are equivalent to a Hippy HAZfest, remember those? If you do, you were doing them wrong...

Ten of the current gurus of Grand Canyon gathered together for a weekend of...well, that's classified.

We had two GC thru hikers, two Arizona Trail section hikers and 3 historians and a couple of alcoholics ;)

As usual yours truly was running a fever and couldn't get much further than the base of the Coconino. Sigh.

Adrian, Frank, Chris and Doug went to summit We-The-Wally while Jamie and I putzed around the top of SBass. Dennis Foster went on a hunt for Chumehuevi Spring (he found it!) and Scott, his wife and their 4 year old boy went down the the hermit shale and back.

Back at the trailhead we regrouped for drinks, tales from the canyon and a philosophical discussion on the pyramids and UFOs of the canyon.

No idea what next year's moron festival will hold on store.
Four of the Morons are in The Valley for the winter, maybe we'll hold a mini moron festival down here. Let me know if you think you're Moronic enough to attend ;)
_____________________
Canyon Freak Adventures!
Apr 14 2019
writelots
avatar

 Guides 19
 Routes 40
 Photos 5,602
 Triplogs 339

47 female
 Joined Nov 22 2005
 Tucson, AZ
Royal Arch RouteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Apr 14 2019
writelots
Backpack35.00 Miles 8,000 AEG
Backpack35.00 Miles6 Days         
8,000 ft AEG
 no routes
Partners none no partners
Title: Their Leader Was Named Patches...

I haven't done a proper trip report in a really long time, but since I asked so many folks for info on this route, I figured I'd better share back with the results of my recent trip on the Point Huitzil/Royal Arch Route. I was joined by Roger (Scat Daddy), Holly (Prehensile Toe) and Holly (Raggedy Ann).

We had a great 6-7 days in the canyon. Weather was that typical spring mix: starting with sunny and cold, moving to hot, moving to windy and wet, back to hot. Ran the whole gammut from sleet to blistering, windless summer. The canyon was - as ever - both generous with her grandeur and adventure and stingy with her creature comforts. I'll state for the record that the road was almost bone dry going both ways - but the ruts between Pasture Wash and S. Bass are no joke. I'm really not sure my Subaru would have made it without some dings to the front "bumper". Think more "gully" than "rut".

The trip started cross-country to find the put-in for the Point Huitzil descent. Thanks to the track from Bifrost, we were able to find the route easily enough, though at one point we walked past a turn and had to backtrack up over a low ridge. There's just so little left of that "phone line", and the "abrupt turns" described in many write-ups don't feel abrupt on that flat ground. Because I'd done the route before, it was easy to find the keyhole. Though I had to love the looks from my fellow hikers who were TOTALLY skeptical that there could be a route down from that unassuming ledge. My group, experienced backpackers but not climbers or canyoneers, were totally game and never once balked at what we were doing. There was the moment where we stepped down one of the 5' drops onto a loose pile of rocks when I said "from here, guys, it's a one-way ticket - unless you think you can climb back up this with your pack". They all affirmed that they were in-it-to-win-it and we scampered, slid, scurried and scree'd down to the floor of the creek. We set up our first camp at a nice patio on the sandstone where we could walk barefoot to a nice clean pothole.

Saying for the day "That (fill in blank with a damaged stock price) is falling faster than hikers off the Point Huitzil Route".

Also - my newish Khul pants which were supposed to be "performance designed for durability" were blasted out by the middle of the day. This began a nightly ritual of sewing and taping to prevent my underwear from being the star of the show. So disappointing. Also, my new Gossamer Gear Mariposa earned her trail name: Patches.

The path down Royal Arch creek was much as I remembered it - impossibly slow and filled with fun puzzles to solve. Must've taken our packs of 25 times, which slows things down a lot. However, there were no pools blocking our path and the cairns are even better now then they were before - no confusing misdirects, just small cairns that you still have to look for to solve the maze. We spent night 2 at the arch itself, and even though I've been there twice, I still feel deeply moved by the magic of that spot. It's not just the arch itself but the way the creek creates pools and falls, the moss and monkeyflower, the views down the narrow slot of the canyon. I was worried from tales of how many more people had been venturing to the arch that there would be lots of human impact in the area, but it still feels nearly untouched. Weather was blowing in, so we sheltered in the ledge and spent the night listening to frogs making more frogs.

Saying for the day "Wait - packs off...again?"

Day 3 was the descent to Toltec Beach and while I knew exactly what to expect, it was made even more interesting by off-and-on rain and sleet. This was my first time leading on ropes so I was more than a little tense. One of the members of my party did their first rappel ever on that 20' cliff. It was inspiring that they all trusted me with their lives, and I was so excited when we were all safely at the bottom that I seriously floated the rest of the way to the beach. We decided that the weather dictated that we wait until the next morning for the hike out to Elves' Chasm. We were in the middle of a rainy afternoon nap when a couple hikers appeared from downstream. They'd hiked the Tonto from Hermit and though they were a bit past their planned itinerary, had been hoping to make it to Elves' that day (and back to camp near Garnet). The trip from Garnet had been unexpectedly rough, and I let them know that it would remain so all the way to Elves. We decided to share our camp with them (by chance we had 2 extra spots on our permit) and it was fun to talk about the AZT with these seasoned long-trail hikers. Larry and Cosmo were great camp guests.

Saying for the day: "She's so bad-ass her pant's can't contain it"

The next morning we all went out to Elves', and we had the place to our selves for the first part of our visit. It was still cool from the rainy day before, but the falls were calling and I stripped to my skivvies and swam to the base. I'm not much into jumping off of rocks, but Scat Daddy did and was joined by Cosmo (Just as we were finished filtering a bunch of water, a couple boat parties came up and we were happy to vacate and leave them to their own brand of fun at the falls.

While our camp guests were eager to top out and headed out right away, our group rested the heat of the day in the shade at Toltec (wait - there's shade at Toltec?). Then we packed our camp and started across the rocky route to Garnet. In retrospect, this was brilliant - the late afternoon shade made this portion of the trek much easier, and we climbed the fun scramble out of Garnet over sandstone ledges and steps with just enough daylight left. Our camp on the Tonto was like my favorite Tonto camps always are: wide open and scenic. While not really a "point camp" that Sirena might prefer, we were still suspended mid-canyon with those amazing sunsets and sunrises that make so many nights spent in the canyon pure magic.

Saying for the day: "Who knew we'd love a tamarisk so."

Final days found us hot and sweaty crossing the Tonto Trail. We only found some warm potholes in Copper, which weren't sufficient to sustain our whole group. So we hiked on to Bass, where the potholes I've found in the past just below the Tonto junction were also dry. Surprising given the amount of rain recently, but not surprising given Grand Canyon. We did find 2 holes upon more detailed inspection, between the 2 giving us exactly enough for one more overnight and our hike out. We had a final beautiful night under the stars, then thoroughly enjoyed our hike out on the beautiful Bass trail.

Now that I've done the Arch 3 times, I can say without any doubt that there are places in this world that don't get old with repetition. They just get sweeter.
Culture
Culture
Throwing a Wendy
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light

dry Bass Canyon Dry Dry

dry Copper Canyon Dry Dry

dry Garnet Canyon Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Royal Arch Creek Light flow Light flow
_____________________
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Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.- Barack Obama
Mar 07 2019
charlomechfry
avatar

 Routes 78
 Triplogs 93

male
 Joined Nov 11 2011
 
South Bass to Boucher, AZ 
South Bass to Boucher, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Mar 07 2019
charlomechfry
Backpack64.43 Miles 9,982 AEG
Backpack64.43 Miles3 Days   19 Hrs   31 Mns   
9,982 ft AEG
 
no photosets
Couldn't have picked a more perfect time to tackle this hike. We have had some great moisture for the past month or so now, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous for the weekend. The trail conditions couldn't have been much better, considering the punishment they must have taken. The snow had already melted off at the top and the mud was not terrible. The Tonto Trail is faint as usual, but we managed to keep track of it easy enough. Boucher Trail was pretty beat up after all the weather, but still whole. The water was glorious! When there was not a small stream flowing in the creek beds at or near the trail crossings, there were plenty of potholes full of water. Had a fantastic hiking partner, met some great people, and really just had the time of my life!

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

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Ruby Creek - GC Pools to trickle Pools to trickle

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Sapphire Creek - GC Pools to trickle Pools to trickle

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Serpentine Creek - GC Light flow Light flow

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

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Turquoise Creek - GC Light flow Light flow
_____________________
1 archive
May 07 2018
autumnstars
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 Guides 25
 Routes 19
 Photos 562
 Triplogs 1,390

female
 Joined Jan 04 2011
 Las Vegas, NV
Royal Arch RouteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar May 07 2018
autumnstars
Backpack41.19 Miles 8,000 AEG
Backpack41.19 Miles5 Days         
8,000 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
I had long wanted to hike the Royal Arch Route, and everything finally aligned to make that happen - and with my favorite backpacking partner! It was well worth the effort, and now we just need to plan a return trip under better weather conditions.


Day 0
Not 100% knowing the status of the road, we gave ourselves all day to drive from Vegas out to South Bass trailhead. We had reports of 5-7" snow on the rim a few days before, so had fingers and toes crossed for the road to be dry. Much to our surprise, the road was actually in really great condition, for what it is. Good clearance needed, but 4WD unnecessary. Some deep ruts in places, but all dry, so an alert driver was all you really needed.
Arrived in time to enjoy lunch at the trailhead, then backtracked a little on foot to check out the road to tonight's campsite - Ruby Point (SE2). Road was fine, just narrow, so we went back for the van and got down to enjoying the views from the campsite and Havasupai Point, a short distance away. Serious relaxation and map study ensued.


Day 1
We started down from the South Bass trailhead a bit later than hoped, after driving over from our night's campsite. To get that really early start, camp right at the trailhead (SE3).
With a plan to set up camp tonight after dropping into the Royal Arch drainage, but likely prior to finding water, we carried 8 L water each in our packs. The weight did slow us down some, but thank goodness for it! It was to be one of those weeks in May where, without warning, it is suddenly high 90s to low 100s :next: need to drink more per day plus unlikely to find much water in puddles. And, indeed, we saw no water today except a very small and rapidly drying puddle in the drainage bottom near our eventual camp spot. Good for wetting bandanas, but not much else.

I really enjoy the descent through the Coconino on South Bass - sloping sandstone ledges where there doesn't seem to be a way from above or below. A great route obviously known long before Mr Bass ever stepped foot in Grand Canyon. Once down, a quick jaunt across the Esplanade brings you to the junction of South Bass and the Esplanade Route, and we turned left into the unknown. :D

The Esplanade Route was just what we imagined it being - a meandering traverse along the Esplanade. This route doesn't go to such lengths as the Tonto Trail to head the many small side drainages it crosses, but that seemed to be more a result of being higher up and already closer to the head of the drainages than by design. Or maybe that IS the design. Regardless, this traverse was pleasant and scenic. We stuck to the use trail, which was easy to follow. Just watch for cairns on the other side as you approach each drainage to avoid potential confusion. Other than the Thunder River / Deer Creek loop, this was my first time doing much hiking west of the Grand Scenic Divide, and there is certainly a different feeling to it. More open, although that is hard to explain to someone who hasn't done much hiking in Grand Canyon east of here.

A little more than half way to our day's destination, we saw 2 hikers heading the opposite direction - they had done a one night out-and-back to Royal Arch only. Said their last trip here had involved doing the rappel in the dark and skipping Royal Arch, so they had to come back. They confirmed no water until shortly before the arch, making us extra thankful for our heavy water loads. These were the only people we saw until reaching South Bass several days later.

More traversing, and the day was really turning hot. At some point, the pace turned into more of a slog than a hike. After dropping into the Royal Arch drainage, we sat in the shade along a ledge (sweet relief!), using a minute puddle to wet our bandannas for neck/head cooling. Deciding this was it for today, we waited until the sun dropped behind the surrounding walls to eat and set up camp. Nice spot under a tree for the night. Didn't really need the sleeping bag, which was to be a consistent trend throughout this trip.


Day 2
Most of this day consisted of limited views while hiking, boulder-hopping, and downclimbing down the Royal Arch drainage. Progress was slowed numerous times by needing to pass packs or find the best way around an obstacle. Our canyoneering experience came in handy for downclimbing, but we also ended up going the harder way several times just because a downclimb looked "doable," so we stopped looking for the easier route. We often didn't go the backpacker way down. Oh well.

Being quite nervous around heights, my husband wanted no part of the infamous Death Ledge route for the major dryfall you must bypass en route to Royal Arch. While I was interested in giving it a go, it seemed smarter to stick together and both use the less nerve-racking RDC bypass. The bypass itself, although narrow and high above the canyon floor, was easy walking. For the climb back down into the drainage, it was good to have a durable pack to avoid wasting time taking it off and passing it down. Some of the "helpful" rock piles hikers had placed as steps were less than stable and best avoided, but we quickly figured out to test them with a pole before applying any weight.

There was a feeling that although we were in an interesting canyon for sure, we could have been almost anywhere in any sandstone canyon. Approaching an innocuous pile of rocks we were abruptly reminded of our location when my husband alertly spotted a Grand Canyon rattlesnake coiled up between 2 rocks. These guys have such a calm personality compared to the Mojave greens we are accustomed to encountering, and indeed the snake didn't move or react when we stopped for photos and to figure a way around. Very small puddles appeared more frequently as we approached the arch, until we reached one final downclimb on ledges LDC with the sound of flowing water below. Stronger flow started slightly down canyon, and remained on the surface all the way to Royal Arch itself.

Royal Arch was pretty interesting, not to mention nice and shady, so we hung out here filtering water and just enjoying drinking as much as we wanted. Walking around without your pack is such a treat when backpacking, not to mention dipping your feet in cool water while enjoying a wonderful view! Eventually, we decided that, although this seemed like an enjoyable place to camp, we would head back up the drainage to camp just above the start of the flowing water. A little less mileage tomorrow with easy access to water for tonight. Camped on flat sandstone - very nice and comfortable site.


Day 3
Today's miles would be short, as we planned to move only to Toltec Beach, day hike to Elves Chasm if the feeling was good, and camp back at Toltec. In retrospect, this may have been a poor plan, as it really upped Day 4's miles, but it was also a good plan as today ended up being the hottest day of the trip (a bit over 100).

The other good thing about today's short mileage was due to my husband's discomfort with hiking, not to mention downclimbing, with exposure. Once you hike up out of the Royal Arch drainage, the route hugs the edge of the cliff band atop the canyon, sometimes mere feet from a potentially deadly fall. There is also exposed downclimbing both before and after the rappel - nothing super technical, just nerve-racking with the pack throwing your normal balance off. The rappel station is nicely tucked back under an overhang (yay, shade!), and we made quick work of such a simple rappel. My husband said on rope was the place he felt most comfortable all day, although I thought it felt strange to be rappelling without a helmet. The rest was easy and we were soon lounging in the only shade at Toltec - a lone tamarisk. The cold water of the Colorado felt wonderful and we spent the day dunking, drinking, and moving as our shade moved. After a brief discussion, in light of the heat and a high mileage day coming tomorrow, we decided against the side trip to Elves Chasm. Oh drat! Will have to plan a return trip now! :D


Day 4
This was one long day in hot temperatures. The first part of the day was pleasant with an early start, and mostly out of the sun until reaching Garnet Canyon. A few of the small drainages you cross before Garnet had a small trickle of water, but were all obviously heavily mineralized, and best avoided as a drinking source. We chose the more direct, but much more difficult, route up out of Garnet, and then spent most of the day Tontouring in and out, on the much more typical trail. Again today, it was hot and we carried heavy water loads, stopping as needed for short breaks when we spotted good rock shade. Upon finally reaching the first arm of Copper Canyon, we found a good rock and waited out the hottest part of the day. Thus ended the last section of the Tonto Trail I had not hiked before. :y:

Unfortunately, by the time we reached the intersection with South Bass, it was fully dark. The overhang campsite just at the intersection was unoccupied except for one very, very, very fat black widow. No matter, as we had to hike to water tonight, and started immediately down canyon. We did come across a group who had hiked down from the rim this day, but they had not looked for water in Bass Canyon nor hiked down to the river, so were not able to provide any information. We quickly left them and booked it down canyon in the dark. Overall, the trail was thankfully easy to follow and, motivated by rapidly declining water reserves, we made good time. At the point where you could just head straight down a rocky ravine as a shortcut to the Colorado, we did just that. The sounds of the water getting closer and closer was amazingly welcoming. At the river, we immediately began filtering water and drinking as much as we wanted.

In the dark, we had missed the cairns indicating the route over to Bass Beach, but probably wouldn't have bothered to move even if we had seen them. We just slept right there on the sloping bedrock by the river. This was strangely restful, even though I ended up getting almost no sleep.


Day 5
Just as we were getting ready to quickly head over to Bass Beach to check out the Ross Wheeler before heading up, a solo west-bound Tonto hiker showed up. She had been planning for water in Serpentine Canyon, which was dry, and had to continue on to Bass. Not sure why she expected water in Serpentine at this time of year, or why she didn't hike down to the Colorado via Serpentine, but the important thing was she had reached water and was okay.

We checked out the Ross Wheeler and Bass Beach briefly, talked with a gentleman heading east on the Tonto from there, and then headed out ourselves. South Bass doesn't offer the most expansive views along its lower reaches, and we trudged slowly ever up. Upon reaching the Supai layer, we found a nice rock overhang, and again waited out the heat. Unlike yesterday, I was the one suffering today, partially from a lack of sleep and also from skipping breakfast to try and save time. Finally emerging from the confines of Bass Canyon, the Supai ledges and traverse on this trail offer spectacular views. Popping up onto the Esplanade back into the sun was harsh, but the remainder of the hike seemed to pass rapidly, and soon we were back at the trail head where a salad and beer awaited. :D

My husband is a very social person, and we soon got to know everyone camping at the trail head. One couple would be heading down to Royal Arch via Point Huitzil in the morning, then back out via the Esplanade route, and wanted water reports. The other 2 were headed down the normal Royal Arch route and wanted input on rope. They had a 60 m rope they were debating carrying because they were not willing to cut it to a more reasonable length. We gave them the 50' 8mm rope we had carried and used, for which they were very thankful.
Culture
Culture
Boat / Ship
Named place
Named place
Royal Arch - GCNP
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
_____________________
"Let it ride / Let it roll / Let it go"
Apr 06 2018
BiFrost
avatar

 Guides 4
 Routes 361
 Photos 7,786
 Triplogs 926

51 male
 Joined Nov 20 2012
 Phoenix, AZ
South Bass TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Apr 06 2018
BiFrost
Backpack22.28 Miles 7,726 AEG
Backpack22.28 Miles3 Days         
7,726 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
slowandsteady
Spent nice relaxing weekend in South Bass Canyon and great change from our more normal itinerary. This trip was all about relaxing, long breaks, and low miles. We arrived at the trail head to find it almost completely full. Several people were just finishing their South Bass-Packraft-North Bass canyon transit so I talked to them for awhile getting interesting details from their trip. They mentioned there were quite a few others on the trail and after starting we passed at least a dozen people in the first ½ mile heading up as we descended the trail. Fortunately, they were all heading up so we had the trail to ourselves the rest of the day.

Reaching the Esplanade, we dropped backpacks and grabbed our day packs for a side trip up Huethawali summit. It’s off trail but marked by cairns on the trickiest part of the summit making it fairly easy to follow the standard route. Took about 1 hour to reach the top and we took a long break reading the register (put there by @Chumley) and also enjoyed a summit brew. After the break we headed back down and resumed backpacking down South Bass Trail.

We dropped down below the Supai, then Redwall and eventually crossed the Tonto. We looked for water near the Tonto junction and only found one very small algae filled pothole. So the new goal was to continue on to Bass Tanks which is about 1 mile down canyon from the Tonto Junction. Sure enough we found good water and several pools in the area. There are also decent areas for camp setup and this would be home for 2 nights. Pleasant evening with some surprise sprinkles but it never amounted to anything and was able to leave the rain fly off for the night.

The goal day 2 was to day hike down South Bass Canyon to Bass Beach and Boat Beach at the Colorado. Total hike mileage was maybe 6 or 7 miles so this was a very leisurely day. First up we visited Bass Beach which is also the spot were pack rafters usually cross the Colorado to reach North Bass Trail on the north side. It’s a small beach but nice and we spent about 30 minutes testing our cold tolerance in the Colorado. After the break we headed over to Boat Beach about 1 mile away and it’s much larger than Bass Beach. When we arrived, the beach was unoccupied, so we had plenty of peace and quiet. We stayed for about 3 hours taking several swims in the frigid Colorado and enjoying beverages and snacks :D . Truly relaxing beach visit but finally packed up and headed out. However, shortly after leaving the beach we passed 2 groups with 11 hikers headed for the beach. Whew! Chatted for a bit and then continued on the trail. On the way back it was a bit warm and still fairly early so we grabbed our camp chairs and sat under a pour off near a seep.

Back at camp making dinner it was close to dark when 3 park rangers showed up coming down the Tonto Short Cut which connects Bass Tanks to Tonto West. They had hiked the Royal Arch Route and were on day 4 of the loop. They checked our permit before asking about the water so we showed them the pool selection. Surprised to see rangers out in these parts but they said they were on a patrol hike and get out more during the high season of spring. They camped close by and it was an otherwise quiet night and again we dodged the rain and had a rain fly free night!
Next morning, we headed up South Bass leap frogging the rangers a few times. Great trip and on the rim by noon!
Named place
Named place
Bass Rapids

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Bass Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
a few very small pools
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2 archives
Apr 06 2018
slowandsteady
avatar

 Routes 67
 Photos 966
 Triplogs 694

46 female
 Joined Jan 05 2012
 Phoenix,AZ
South Bass TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Apr 06 2018
slowandsteady
Backpack22.28 Miles 7,726 AEG
Backpack22.28 Miles3 Days         
7,726 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
BiFrost
_____________________
Mar 22 2017
friendofThundergod
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 Guides 24
 Routes 301
 Photos 8,655
 Triplogs 815

38 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Royal Arch RouteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 22 2017
friendofThundergod
Backpack48.70 Miles 13,900 AEG
Backpack48.70 Miles5 Days         
13,900 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
BiFrost
chumley
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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5 archives
Mar 22 2017
BiFrost
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 Guides 4
 Routes 361
 Photos 7,786
 Triplogs 926

51 male
 Joined Nov 20 2012
 Phoenix, AZ
Royal Arch RouteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 22 2017
BiFrost
Backpack51.13 Miles 14,926 AEG
Backpack51.13 Miles5 Days         
14,926 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Partners partners
chumley
friendofThundergod
The invite for this trip came last minute with someone dropping out but managed to convince my boss I needed time off and made it happen. I've done this backpack before but I missed some cool side trips last time including Elves Chasm so a return trip was a must. Starting from South Bass TH we headed down to the Esplanade and then follow that route over to Royal Arch Canyon. Not a bad trek....longer but easier than the Point Huitzil way to the arch. Eventually we dropped into Royal Arch Canyon and found a spot for the night. No water at camp but was able to find some less than 1/2 mile from camp. Later that night after we had setup camp some good rain and strong winds hit for about 2 hours but it cleared by morning.

Day 2 we headed down Royal Arch Canyon and dropped packs at the canyon exit and day hiked down to the arch. Awesome area as last time so we spent probably 45 mins exploring and taking pics from every angle. Break over we headed back to our packs and started the exit over to the rappel. Rappel was relatively easy because of the solid anchor and rope already in place so we didn't need the rope we brought this time. Quickly down the rope and headed towards Toltec Beach as some rain started to move in. Setup camp on the beach between brief rain showers and tried to stay dry. Fortunately it cleared later in the evening and turned out to be decent night on the beach next to the Colorado.

Day 3 started with fun day hike over to Elves Chasm in the morning. Just like Royal Arch we spent decent amount of time exploring and taking lots of pics. Elves Chasm is very worthy destination and one of the side trips I missed last time. We got back to camp packed up and headed out around noon. First we hiked over to Garnet Canyon and then picked up Tonto Trail where it starts. Once on Tonto it's easy miles and we knocked out quick 6 miles before finding camp on some rock shelves in one of the Tonto Trail side canyons. Pleasant temps this night with no chance of rain and good spot all around.

Day 4 we headed over to South Bass on Tonto Trail finishing up before lunch with a few rain showers rolling through. After quick camp setup that gave us time to head down South Bass Trail to the Colorado and check out Bass Beach and Boat Beach. Cool to see the old boat relic, both beaches and Bass Rapids. Also saw huge boat party stopped just above the rapids. After that headed back to camp and fortunately no more rain but some cool clouds for sunset.

Day 5 only thing left was to hike out. However, @friendofThundergod and I decided to drop packs and day hike Mount Huethawali on the way out. Cool summit to finally get that we bypassed last time....great views from the top for such short day hike. Then it was back down to the packs and the final climb out to the rim. Great 5 days in the canyon and very cool loop! Thanks to @chumley for planning and the invite even if it was last minute :)

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Bass Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
pools in the bedrock

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Garnet Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
some good sized pools in the bedrock

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Royal Arch Creek Medium flow Medium flow
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2 archives
Mar 22 2017
chumley
avatar

 Guides 80
 Routes 681
 Photos 15,084
 Triplogs 1,551

47 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Royal Arch RouteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 22 2017
chumley
Backpack47.62 Miles 13,933 AEG
Backpack47.62 Miles5 Days         
13,933 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Partners partners
BiFrost
friendofThundergod
This one is a winner! :y:

Royal Arch and Elves Chasm were two of the last "must see" Grand Canyon destinations on my wish list, and I was able to secure permits for the end of March. I tend to like spring trips when there are possible issues finding water because I think there's a reasonable chance that winter moisture will fill in the gaps more than some other times of year.

There were some last minute changes to who was going to come along, but it turned out just right. I really think that this is best done with 4 people or less. A larger group and you will really get bogged down in some of the more challenging terrain.

The weather was a question for us, with a forecast calling for rain, wind, and snow to 6000 feet, possibly complicating our trip to the trailhead. In the end, it turned out exceptionally well for us, with rain only causing us to put on gear one time on the trail, and even then, only for about 15 minutes. Other showers fell overnight or at least after we had set up tents. The cold front brought refreshing weather ... a cloudy day in the 50s on the Tonto is one you should never take for granted!

Day 1:
There were numerous drainages along the Esplanade that had a light flow and small pools, and once we started heading down toward Royal Arch Creek, the drainage through the Supai had near constant pools and flow the whole way. In hindsight we should have camped above the dryfall because once dropping down to the top of the redwall, all surface water was gone. It rained overnight, and the spring at Royal Arch was only an hour or so downstream in the morning, but had we not found a small pool a little bit back upstream, night one would have been less enjoyable than it turned out.

Day 2:
Royal Arch is an impressive feature, and next time I'll make sure to camp here. This would be one of the best camps in the entire canyon. Period.

Heading toward Toltec, I was a little anxious about the rappel, but was relieved to find a handline in place with knots and loops which made the descent an absolute piece of cake. We had rope with us, but didn't need to use it. There was another rope already in place that we used to lower packs, and yet a third rope at the bottom that had been left by previous hikers.

There was water in the Toltec drainage which kept us from having to filter the muddy Colorado River water.

Day 3:
We took three hours to hike over to Elves Chasm and explore the area there. This is in the top 3 of all Grand Canyon gems in my opinion. Back at camp, we witnessed a rafting group pass by before packing up camp and heading out on the Tonto. There's a drainage between Toltec and Garnet that has water, but it's very salty. Garnet had numerous pools of good water. These seem like they would last for a good while into spring or after monsoon rains. Farther east things were much less certain, even with the preceding days of rain. Luckily we found a few tiny potholes of water about 6 miles in and decided to camp there.

Day 4:
On a cool, cloudy morning we headed the final 7 miles to Bass Canyon. I really enjoyed passing by Copper Canyon and the reverse view of Huethewali. The highlight of the day are the views along the Colorado across from Shinumo Creek, which was raging with snowmelt/storm runoff. We set up camp before noon and sat through a brief rain shower before day hiking South Bass to the river to check out the Ross Wheeler and Bass Beach, where we all went swimming in the refreshingly cool water. :)

On the way back we spotted a commercial rafting group and were hoping to see them run Bass Rapid but it was 3pm and they settled into the beach on the north side of the river just above the rapids. Karl and I decided to hike upsteam and see if we could get closer to them, ending up just across the river on the cliffs about 300 feet up. It was mostly disgusting to watch this party of 32+ people infiltrate the beach (so much for GRCA being managed as a wilderness lol) .

Day 5:
Having already summited Huethewali, I opted to sleep in for an extra hour and hike out on my own while the others planned to bag the peak on the way up. I didn't see the sun until I got above the redwall, and after that it was borderline chilly. I reached the top in 3 hours and found entertainment in observing three college students from CU Boulder getting ready to head down for a two night trip. (While they did bring a bag of ice to keep their hot dogs fresh, they decided to sacrifice and not bring the 16oz bottle of ketchup they had! [-( )

Despite the rain and snow, the drive out was dry and uneventful. Except for the rafters and college kids at the trailhead, we didn't see another soul for five days. Pretty much just the way it should be! :D

We could have done this in 4 days, but I'm happy we went with 5. It allowed for some leeway with the weather and assured that the side trips to Elves Chasm and Bass Beach could be made without pushing it too much. I also learned that elves really like to be scratched behind the ears. :-$
Flora
Flora
Redbud Tree
Geology
Geology
Natural Bridge
Culture
Culture
Benchmark
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Bass Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Pools of water 0.3 miles below the Tonto and 1 mile below Tonto.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Copper Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Several small pools at the Tonto crossing.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Garnet Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Big, deep pools. Light trickle between some of them.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Royal Arch Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Normal flow from the spring above the arch as well as in Elves Chasm down by the river.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Seep Spring Dripping Dripping
Didn't go to spring, but drainage at trail crossing had light water flow.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Shinumo Creek Heavy flow Heavy flow
Witnessed from Tonto Trail across the river. Heavy flow. Runoff. Adding darker brown water to the Colorado flow.
_____________________
33s over 45s
Mar 05 2017
kyleGChiker
avatar

 Guides 1
 Routes 13
 Photos 182
 Triplogs 20

male
 Joined May 28 2019
 Phoenix, AZ
Royal Arch RouteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 05 2017
kyleGChiker
Backpack41.25 Miles 9,633 AEG
Backpack41.25 Miles5 Days   4 Hrs   12 Mns   
9,633 ft AEG
 
no photosets
1st trip
Partners none no partners
For my brother Nathan and I, this was our last trip to complete every trail and route on the South Rim. :y: We were super excited about it, especially doing the Point Huitzal Route and the rappel later in the trip. A couple good friends Nick and Caleb, from Michigan and North Dakota, respectively, came along on this trip as well.

Of course the trip starts with a drive on the Rowe Well road towards the South Bass trailhead. This road can be very sketchy, depending on your vehicle and the current road conditions. I have successfully driven it twice in our Suburban (4x4) and once in our minivan (FWD). The road was muddy once in the Suburban and was dry with the minivan. Your mileage may vary, but generally I wouldn’t recommend taking a passenger car on the road. The ruts are generally very deep (6-12 inches) and the last 1/4 mile is very rocky and rough.

In this case, since it was a one-way loop hike, Nathan dropped off the group at the start of the Point Huitzal route, then drove to the South Bass trailhead and jogged back to where we began. We took some time to explore the old remains of a cabin before heading down.

The Point Huitzal route is actually very straightforward (for someone with a basic set of navigation and route finding skills), except for one section. That’s the part where you essentially have to hike on an ever steepening rock face towards the edge of a cliff, then suddenly this gap appears and you drop down into the chute. I plan to write a complete guide on the Point Huitzal route, as no one has done that yet for HikeAZ.

After that, we enjoyed a good bit enjoying the petroglyphs that meet you shortly after exiting the rock crevice. The rest of the route down to Royal Arch is very easy, mostly just following the drainage down. There was plenty of water in the creek when we went for filtering.

Edit: In the original triplog, I forgot to mention the first night of the trip. We spent the night in the main drainage right after descending down the Supai formation. If you've done the route, you'll know what I'm talking about. You get to a very wide slickrock drainage that if flowing strong would make the most impressive of waterfalls. The trail skirts around near the cliff on the right side of the drainage, then you descend down steeply into the drainage (below the falls). There was super strong wind this night that tried to collapse our tent on multiple occasions (Big Agnes Fly Creek UL4--the best tent ever made for low weight and 4 people!). Also, somewhere on the Point Huitzal Route during the sketchy part, we lost one of our sleeping bags without realizing it. Since we had rock climbing gear for the rappel, as well as 6 days' food, our packs were pretty full, so Nick had a sleeping bag on the outside of his pack. How we lost it without realizing it is beyond me. We got to camp, realized it wasn't there, and then Nathan and Nick hiked back up to search for it while Caleb and I took care of the camp chores like tent setup, water filtering, and cooking. Unfortunately, they didn't find it, so Nick volunteered to go without a sleeping bag for the trip, even though it wasn't his bag that got lost. Thanks, Nick!

Back to the original triplog: The arch itself is very impressive and definitely worth the hike, potentially even as a day hike! After a long break at the arch (and of course climbing up on top of it!), we climbed out of the drainage to continue towards our campsite. We chose to do a dry camp out on the Tonto platform for the best scenery. To this day, it’s perhaps the best campsite we’ve ever had in the Grand Canyon. I’d definitely say don’t be afraid to do a dry camp…it can be very rewarding with stunning scenery! :M2C:

Next morning, we picked up camp and arrived in short order at the rappel. Of course, we were prepared for the worst, so we had brought all the proper gear, including our own webbing and rope. We had also taken classes in rappelling so that we knew what we were doing. That being said, there was already plenty of webbing in place at the anchor point (good condition, too), as well as a static rope placed by the river rafters (with knots tied every few feet for hand and foot holds). We opted to use the existing webbing for our rappel, lowered our packs down, and passed the harness and helmet back up for the next person. But once we all got down, we were like, “we might as well climb back up and get our carabiner.” :lol: So Nathan went up the knotted rope with ease and came back down with the carabiner. But of course the rest of us couldn’t be outdone by Nathan, so we all climbed up (no helmet, harness, belay device, etc.) and came back down just to do it! :)

After the rappel, we quickly arrive at the beach, where we set up camp, then went for a day hike over to Elves’ Chasm. What can I say? Elves’ Chasm is one of the most beautiful places in the Grand Canyon! Thankfully, we had solitude because a large river rafting group had just left when we arrived. We hadn’t brought swimsuits (not worth the weight), but we swam in our hiking shorts nonetheless. To this day, that is the coldest water I have swam in! Of course, there was also plenty of exploration, hiking up the canyon, including some stuff that we really should have had rock climbing gear for. But no one got hurt, and we enjoyed seeing the creek/waterfalls upstream of the lower falls.

We filtered a bunch of water at Elves’ Chasm since it is fresh water and much less likely to clog your filter. Of course the Colorado is fresh water too, but there is so much silt in the water that clogging is likely. Actually, we brought our “Kitchen Sink” [Sea to Summit Brand, look for it at REI if you want to buy one] and some alum to settle the water from the Colorado and that worked super well for filter Colorado River water.

The next day, we hiked a good distance along the Tonto Trail, and camped at a second dry camp (also phenomenal scenery!) here: 36.240124 N, 112.388138 W. Inspired by the Inuksuks we had seen other places while hiking, we built a life-sized Inuksuk of our own on this butte. Its name is officially “Supaiman” named after the Supai rock formation in the Grand Canyon. If you have hiked the Royal Arch Route since 2017, I’d love to hear if Supaiman is still standing! Looking at Google Earth satellite imagery, I think I can see his shadow, but it’s hard to tell for sure.

Our last night we camped at the Colorado River at Bass Rapids. It’s a beautiful place to camp, so if you’re ever hiking the South Bass trail, I’d highly recommend camping on the beach here.

The hike out on the South Bass trail was great as always. The South Bass is probably my favorite of all the Rim/River trails in the Grand Canyon. This is partially due to the trail condition, which is very good, almost as good as the Corridor trails, but without the crowds. In addition, the scenery in the western end of the Grand Canyon is some of my favorite, and the South Bass trail allows for enjoyment of this scenery through its wide side canyons.

In conclusion, this was the trip of a lifetime, and I’m super excited to share it with you, even though it’s so long after the fact.

P.S. I’ll post a photoset eventually, but I took so many photos, it may take a while to choose some favorites to share with you all. : wink :

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Royal Arch Creek Medium flow Medium flow
There was a fair amount of water in Royal Arch Creek.
1 archive
Nov 19 2016
knmurphy
avatar

 Photos 281
 Triplogs 222

40 male
 Joined Aug 03 2008
 Chandler, AZ
South Bass TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 19 2016
knmurphy
Backpack15.60 Miles 4,400 AEG
Backpack15.60 Miles2 Days         
4,400 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
We camped one night on the beach. The hike is beautiful, don't think I'll do it again but it's worth doing.
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Nov 19 2016
VolcanoCLMBR
avatar

 Routes 1
 Photos 1,968
 Triplogs 422

41 male
 Joined Sep 16 2011
 Phoenix
South Bass TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 19 2016
VolcanoCLMBR
Backpack15.60 Miles 4,400 AEG
Backpack15.60 Miles2 Days         
4,400 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
_____________________
The world is my playground!
Nov 02 2016
ultrazona
avatar

 Routes 7
 Photos 955
 Triplogs 181

33 male
 Joined Mar 07 2009
 Phoenix, AZ
South Bass TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 02 2016
ultrazona
Hiking7.80 Miles 4,400 AEG
Hiking7.80 Miles
4,400 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
_____________________
ultrazona.com
Mar 31 2016
sirena
avatar

 Guides 2
 Routes 4
 Photos 3,873
 Triplogs 362

46 female
 Joined Feb 12 2008
 Tucson, AZ
Grand Canyon Gems Attempt, AZ 
Grand Canyon Gems Attempt, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Mar 31 2016
sirena
Backpack11.50 Miles 1,000 AEG
Backpack11.50 Miles2 Days         
1,000 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
Skindy500
writelots
The piece of Tonto Trail in the Grand Canyon between the Boucher and South Bass Trails is known as the Gems because the side canyons are named after precious stones. It's got a narrow window of opportunity because the side canyons only run during certain months. Wendy the Permit Whisperer had gotten 5 nights starting on March 31st at South Bass and ending at Hermit and had invited me and three others to join her. I had been looking forward to this piece for a couple of reasons: it would connect my line from Tanner to Elves Chasm, it's one of the more remote pieces of the Tonto, and I'd get to go backpacking with two of my favorite women, Wendy and India.

We met up with John and spent a chilly night in Roger's tent trailer the night before, camping in the forest outside the park. It was 11 degrees when we awoke at 5am to get packed and meet our shuttle. Tim Wilson met us at the Backcountry Office to shuttle us over 30 miles of dirt road to the South Bass Trailhead. We enjoyed swapping stories on the ride as Tim deftly maneuvered through the rutted road.

I hadn't been on the South Bass Trail since my Royal Arch via Point Huitzil trip in 2011 and I was so excited to see the dome of Mount Huethawali below rising up from the Esplanade. We started down the trail, stopping briefly to look at the small granary. Took a break on the Esplanade to soak in the views, get a snack and look at maps.

The walking on the Esplanade before it drops into the Supai is delightful- flat and fancy, lined with rocks to protect the precious cryptobiotic soil on either side. There were so many flowers in bloom and the types changed as we descended in elevation.

We descended and traversed through the Supai to the Redwall break and switchbacked down to the canyon floor. We met a group of Canadians taking a break and as I walked up and said hi, one of the women asked, "Are you Sirena? I read your blog!" So nice to meet readers of the blog out in the Canyon! They had a fantastic itinerary for 13 days to Bright Angel but I didn't envy their food carry. There were blooming Redbuds in the Redwall that matched Wendy perfectly and white Cliff Fendlerbush.

The temperatures rose as we descended to the level of the Tonto Trail. We met a group at the ledges we'd stayed at in 2011 and one of the members recognized Wendy from the Arizona Backpacking Club. He introduced himself as Frank Feagans, and I recognized his name from the Grand Canyon Hikers and Backpackers Association. After I introduced myself, he said that it was nice to meet me and that he started hiking the Arizona Trail because of me. How nice to hear!!

We dropped our packs with Roger and hiked down to Bass Tanks for some much-needed water. It was getting hot and we were happy to finally reach the waterhole. After filtering, we had a hot little hike up the hill back to our packs and the turnoff to the Tonto Trail going East. I was so excited to put my feet on fresh trail I'd never seen before, heading to connect my line to Hermit.

We contoured along Bass Canyon and decided since it looked like the weather was turning to make camp on a point instead of pushing into Serpentine Canyon. We found a spectacular spot and as we started to set up, the winds picked up and it started to rain. We wrestled with tarps and tents and then got situated as the hardest rains fell. I enjoyed my view out of my tarp of Holy Grail Temple.

The rain let up and we emerged for dinner. John came around with hors d'oeuvers of oysters with mustard on crackers served on a Tapeats slab. We could see dramatic clouds across the way on the North Rim, and then around sunset we were treated to a 360 degree spectacle of rainbows, orange beams of light and snow on the distant North Rim. Unfortunately my photos came out blurry, luckily my companions captured the scene.

There was a chance of rain so I kept the tarp up but slept under the stars. I was awoken several times by buzzing and it took me a bit to realize they were mosquitoes! So strange- that never happens in the Canyon.

We got going around 8am toward Serpentine, Tontouring up and down the rocky slopes toward the bed of the drainage. I felt great and hiked ahead for a bit, loving the feeling of being in my favorite place on a fresh piece of trail. I thought about my plan to traverse the whole Canyon from Lee's Ferry to Pearce Ferry and where I should spend the month of October doing a big chunk.

There was plenty of running water in Serpentine Canyon, but we'd heard that it can cause intestinal distress. Nevertheless, several of us filtered an emergency backup liter just in case we needed it going toward Ruby, our next water source. Temperatures were heating up and the umbrellas came out. We hiked over to Emerald Canyon, lush with greenery and wildflowers of all colors. Only one more side canyon, Quartz, to go until Ruby.

After contouring out of Emerald, I was hiking on a level piece of trail when all of a sudden I felt a "pop" in my left calf followed by pain. I hoped that it was just a cramp that electrolytes or maybe some massage would fix but when I tried to put weight on it going uphill, pain shot down my leg. Me and Wendy, India and Roger sat for a bit and tried an Ace bandage and some ibuprofen to see if it would help.

I hoped that the rest and wraps and meds would help. It didn't. When I tried to walk on it, even with a lighter pack, my leg was painful and weak on the uphills. Not a good position to be in deep in a canyon. The rim loomed ominously far above. Even if I backtracked, I'd have to hike out at some point. Frank, who I'd met the day before, was with another group and said the exact same thing had happened to him in December on the Arizona Trail. He offered some K tape and sincere condolences.

We came to a flat spot and I had to face the truth: I couldn't go on and was going to have to use the SOS function on my InReach satellite communicator. 8 years I've been carrying a satellite communicator and never had to push the button. I was so glad to be able to text the SOS dispatch and tell them the nature of the emergency, so the rescuers knew what to expect when they got there.

The dispatch texted back to say they were on their way. We didn't know how long it would take, but had an incredible spot to wait, fluffy clouds and Canyon views all around. John, the last one in our party, had gone ahead but backtracked after waiting for us and was surprised and sad at the turn of events. Things can change so quickly- one minute all is wonderful and you're hiking through the Canyon feeling like you've just won the lottery, and the next- pain and despair and the end of the trip.

Only one hour later, we heard the sound of the helicopter and we waved a shiny piece of reflectix to show them where we were. It was incredible to see the helicopter maneuver into the landing spot on the Tonto Plateau.

Marcos came out first to assess the landing spot and check in with me to see how I was doing. We were marveling at the flying expertise required to fly and land in the Canyon when just like a movie, the pilot took off the helmet to reveal a beautiful blond woman who introduced herself as Heather.

Medic Drew listened to my story and looked at my leg, confirming my suspicions. I felt bad having to call for help, but really there was nothing I could have done to avoid the injury. I thanked all of the rescuers profusely for putting their lives at risk to come get me.

I gave good-bye hugs to my hiking companions and got suited up to go for my very first helicopter ride in the Canyon. I've always wanted to see the Canyon from a helicopter- but I thought it would be part of a tour. Heather lifted off and away we went, traveling over the same path that my next 4 days would have covered. As sad as I was to be injured and leaving the trip, the ride was so exciting- seeing the Colorado River rapids, side canyons and temples of the Canyon from a different perspective is always welcome, no matter what the circumstance.

The helicopter eventually gained altitude and just like that, I was above the rim and landing at the airport in Tusayan. Trip over. What a strange turn of events- just hours ago I was walking deep in the Canyon, and now I was back at the Rim with all the tourists. Ranger Scott gave me a ride to the village and I took the next shuttle to Flagstaff.

I am so grateful for my hiking companions Wendy, India, Roger and John for being supportive and hope that they enjoyed the rest of their days hiking to Hermit. Nothing but the highest regard and appreciation for Drew Yamamoto, Marcos Escobedo, Ranger Scott and especially pilot Heather Sour for getting me out of there safely. Also thanks to Sarah for a place to stay in Flagstaff and to Li and Jerolyn for the ride to Phoenix, where Brian picked me up.

My DeLorme InReach turned what could have been a lengthy wait for help into a timely extraction. A million thanks to Leigh Anne and Dr. Denny Thrasher, who donated the InReach to me for my 2014 thru-hike.

I went to the doctor four days after it happened, nervously awaiting the diagnosis. It was just as I suspected: a partial tear of the medial gastrocnemius muscle. No hiking for 6 weeks and I will have to do some physical therapy to rehab it. I'm also wearing a very attractive compression sleeve that goes all the way up to my thigh.

I was supposed to take my brother Shawn and his girlfriend Sarah on their first backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon for a four-day trip, hiking in on April 11. Instead I had to get them ready and send them off on their own.

This hike was going to connect a line for me from the Tanner Trail to Elves Chasm, looks like it will have to wait for a return trip.
Flora
Flora
Blackbrush
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
So many wildflower and cacti blooming!
_____________________
"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view."
-Edward Abbey
http://www.desertsirena.wordpress.com
Mar 07 2016
autumnstars
avatar

 Guides 25
 Routes 19
 Photos 562
 Triplogs 1,390

female
 Joined Jan 04 2011
 Las Vegas, NV
The Gems - Grand Canyon, AZ 
The Gems - Grand Canyon, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Mar 07 2016
autumnstars
Backpack52.59 Miles 10,895 AEG
Backpack52.59 Miles7 Days         
10,895 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Day 0
A simple drive over to the canyon to camp at Mather turned unexpectedly interesting. Just as I was setting up my "rim tent," heavy wet snow began to fall. It snowed heavily for many hours, a fun turn of events for a Las Vegas resident. Still managed to make it to the ranger talk about mountain lions. Who knew they have a 5.5m (18ft) vertical leap?

Day 1
The day began by scraping my car windows clean of snow and ice - thank goodness for that ice scraper my dad insisted on giving me when I moved to Vegas! :lol: Wanting to get an earlyish start, I moved my pack to the passenger seat and crammed the wet, snowy tent in the trunk. After some snowy road conditions, and obligatory elk stops (No, I'm not a touron - they were IN the road), the Hermit parking lot was pleasantly sunny, and I took my time prepping to head down. Hermit was mainly snow free, but the logs were slick with frost and best avoided. The hike down was uneventful and the familiar landmarks seemed to pass quickly. As the first arrival at Hermit Creek, I picked a site and settled in. It was by no means a quiet night at Hermit with a large boyscout group plus an arguing couple beside me, and I was happy to have the sound of the creek nearby to help drown it out.

Day 2
The goal today was Slate Creek, 10.8 mi away. I was excited to be headed toward unfamiliar territory and get started on The Gems in earnest. The section of the Tonto Trail between Hermit and Boucher provides stunning views of the Colorado River, and I spent some time soaking in the scenery. At some point before Boucher, there were 2 men headed in the opposite direction and we talked for a bit. They were doing a Boucher :next: Bright Angel Loop, and were the only people I interacted with until hiking out of the canyon 5 days later. :y:
With no recent water reports, I made a stop at Boucher Creek to top off my water load at 2 full days' worth. This was a theme for the trip - always carrying too much heavy, heavy water. Guess it was good for my fitness level, though, and it was definitely good for my peace of mind. The rest of the hike to Slate was mostly scenic, if uneventful. The climb out of Boucher via Topaz was initially steep, but my legs were happy to go up after all of yesterday's down. Hiking toward the back of Slate, the water in the drainage sparkled invitingly. Nice campsite and flowing water for tonight's supply.

Day 3
Today's goal was Turquoise, 9.3 mi away. Although some find it tedious, I find something strangely game-like about "Tontouring" around the drainages. It's a puzzle to assess where the trail will come out and how it will avoid or traverse the various obstacles you can see across each side canyon. The views aren't half-bad, either. Arriving at Turquoise, it was a bit of a downer to find no flowing water at the crossing after Sapphire was flowing nicely. Could have hiked down-canyon ~30 min to flowing water (heard and seen from above), but I simply didn't feel like it and ended up filtering from a pool below the dry falls. Enjoyed some exploration up-canyon, above the seeps. When backpacking, it is a wonderful feeling to walk around free of your pack! Another nice campsite tonight.

Day 4
The park had inserted an extra night in the Ruby Use Area to my permit, expanding my options for today. Ruby was a beautiful canyon of ledges complete with a small waterfall, and I decided to spend the night. Nice campsite and again flowing water for tonight's supply.

Day 5
I reluctantly broke camp and left Ruby, possibly my favorite camp spot of the trip. Today was short mileage, and it passed quickly. As expected, Quartz and Emerald were both dry. Reaching Serpentine Canyon, there was flowing water and lots of frogs. They didn't seem deterred by the alleged poor quality of the water here.

After a long break, complete with foot soak in the icy waters of Serpentine, I made a fateful decision... To decrease my mileage the next day, I decided to push on past Serpentine to near the boundary of the use zone and set up a dry camp on a point overlooking the Colorado and Bass Canyon. The nicely sheltered spot I noted in Serpentine Canyon would have been a better choice. Weather predictions had run out by this time, but I was not worried as I settled down for the night under cloudless skies. At approx 2:30 am, the warning sprinkles began and I jumped out to set up the rain fly. Out on the point, the wind gusts were intense, and I had staked my tent lazily. With the wind, I couldn't get out to fix the staking problem without having the tent potentially escape entirely. Although the most important things (sleeping bag and clothes) stayed dry, the bottom half of my ground pad and inside the bottom of the tent were pretty soaked by the time the rain and wind let up at approx 4 am. Pack towel to the rescue! I placed it between the wet ground pad and my dry sleeping bag and caught a few hours of sleep.

Day 6
What should have been a mellow day was derailed somewhat by low-lying clouds and sleepiness from my rude awakening by the storm. Snow was visible on both rims, lasting well into late morning. The trail through Bass Canyon passed quickly, but the trek from there to Copper Canyon seemed endless. With grey skies overhead, I was anxious to find a protected camping spot, resulting in many stops to check every ledge. At Copper, I spotted the perfect overhang, clearly used previously, as evidenced by rock "seats" and a pile of very old cans on a shelf. After the early morning rain, I found enough water in shallow potholes along the canyon bed - score! Time to explore. Shortly, I noticed a very weathered coil of rope behind a rock above a dry fall. At some point, someone must have left it there for "next time," but next time never came. Interesting. The sky finally cleared up and the night was beautifully star-filled.

Day 7
Hike out day. I had no idea what to expect from South Bass Trail, and it turned out to be an interesting change. Odd how, in caparison to most trails in Grand Canyon, you hardly notice the Redwall ascent, at least not in the sense of one continuous push. Unique trail that I would hike again. Met 2 maximum-size (or slightly above) groups on my way up. They wanted to talk way too much for a person who hadn't had any human contact in several days, but at least I could help them out with a very recent water report. Didn't head over to the granary, so I have something new to look forward to the next time. A few small patches of snow near the top, but mostly melted. Climbing the last bit of trail, I saw my ride standing at the trailhead. Nice timing, as he had arrived only 5 minutes before me. Also, he had a delicious sandwich, fresh carrots, and fresh fruit in hand for a lunch. :y:
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
Just beginning

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


water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Hermit Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Normal flow conditions

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Jade Canyon (Gems unofficial) Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Pools near Tonto crossing



water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Ruby Creek - GC Light flow Light flow
Flow at Tonto crossing.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Santa Maria Spring Dripping Dripping
Only dripping from pipe, but trough full.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Sapphire Creek - GC Light flow Light flow
Flow <1 min above Tonto crossing

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Serpentine Creek - GC Light flow Light flow
Flow at Tonto crossing.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Slate Creek Light flow Light flow
Flow <1 min above Tonto crossing

dry Topaz Canyon Dry Dry


water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Turquoise Creek - GC Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Pools at Tonto crossing. Flow ~30-45 min down-canyon from crossing.
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"Let it ride / Let it roll / Let it go"
Mar 19 2015
friendofThundergod
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 Guides 24
 Routes 301
 Photos 8,655
 Triplogs 815

38 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
S.Bass to Silver Bell, AZ 
S.Bass to Silver Bell, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Mar 19 2015
friendofThundergod
Backpack53.00 Miles 10,900 AEG
Backpack53.00 Miles4 Days         
10,900 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
John put together a nice four day trek to the Gems for the six of us. The shuttle was our biggest obstacle entering the trip. However, Karl and I solved that problem by volunteering to drive both cars back to our end trail head (Silver Bell) and then hiking the 11 miles back to our starting TH South Bass. I will admit I had lost some of my enthusiasm for the 11 mile road walk to start our trip, so on a suggestion from Chumley and John we asked the guy at the reservation boundary gate if he wanted to make a little extra money. He was unable to help but his uncle took up our offer and followed us to silver bell and then dropped us off at the TH for S. Bass, saving us 11 miles of forest road walking and putting us just a couple hours behind the main group.

We reunited with the group at a cool little camp site located along the ledges of Serpentine Canyon. The shuttle help turned day one into a nice pleasant hike down S. Bass, with time enough left over to make a trip to the Colorado. The only blemish on an otherwise perfect day was me missing the ruins coming down S. Bass.

Day two was a pretty modest 10 mile movement to our next camp. We all left late and found the Tonto to be warm at times, but managed just fine. Another cool camp, another night sleeping on ledge for me and another late night for me ;)

Day three required an earlier start with 15 miles of the Tonto to cover to get to Boucher. I loved the Tonto at moments and cursed it at times, but generally enjoyed it. We seemed to all cover the Tonto pretty quickly and made it to Boucher just in time to enjoy our non-shaded site. We located the route down into Slate Creek and mulled a potential trip back, but not in the works for day three. The only other eventful activity of day three was the trip down to Boucher Rapids.

I dreaded day four a little because of the climb up Boucher. However, I did not find the climb to be that bad and I was at Dripping Springs and the start of the Silver Bell before I knew it. I really liked the Silver Bell route. It was a little challenging, but nothing overwhelming and a great way to hike out of the canyon. John and I reached the vehicles first and drove to the boundary line road. When Chumley arrived we just picked up the rest of the group as they came out along the Boundary Road, once all accounted for it was to Flag for pizza.

Final thanks to John for going through the permit process and keeping me safe, Chumley and Karl for driving, some props to Kathy for hanging in there with a cold and a special thanks to clairebear for watching my delinquents.
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Mar 19 2015
Tough_Boots
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 Routes 67
 Photos 2,708
 Triplogs 755

64 male
 Joined Mar 28 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
South Bass to Silver Bell - THE GEMS, AZ 
South Bass to Silver Bell - THE GEMS, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Mar 19 2015
Tough_Boots
Backpack51.00 Miles 11,050 AEG
Backpack51.00 Miles4 Days         
11,050 ft AEG37 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
9L put together a real hum-dinger of a trip :)

Thursday morning we headed down South Bass. We did some miles on the Tonto, hit the Colorado a couple times, and camped in some beautiful places. Sunday finally arrived and we headed up. There is no warm up-- just up. And then there is more up. And a lot more up. And then there is a cooler with beer.

Great time with some great people :D
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Mar 19 2015
BiFrost
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 Guides 4
 Routes 361
 Photos 7,786
 Triplogs 926

51 male
 Joined Nov 20 2012
 Phoenix, AZ
South Bass to Silver Bell - THE GEMS, AZ 
South Bass to Silver Bell - THE GEMS, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Mar 19 2015
BiFrost
Backpack51.48 Miles 9,238 AEG
Backpack51.48 Miles4 Days         
9,238 ft AEG
 
1st trip
The GEMS in the Grand Canyon was the objective for this long weekend. John9L set the route and planning the hike so we had to just show up. However, we did have a shuttle to setup and Chumley suggested we ask the Res gate guys for a ride. So while the others headed down South Bass FOTG and I managed to get one Res guy for a modest fee to shuttle us back to South Bass TH. We were about 2 hours behind the others but no problem and we made Serpentine Canyon Camp 1 by early afternoon. Early enough to venture down to the Colorado to enjoy the river.

Day 2 it was 10+ miles on the Tonto Trail over to Turquoise Canyon for the second night. Passed thru several side drainages along with Ruby Canyon where we had lunch and grabbed some shade before reaching Turquoise. Nice camp with some narrows and rock benches for camping.

Day 3 was the longest day at 15 miles of nothing but Tonto Trail. We passed several more of the Gems Sapphire, Agate, and Slate in route to Boucher and Camp 3. Somewhat hot on the Tonto so we headed down to the Colorado to cool off. Then back to camp at Boucher and relaxing evening listening to the frogs.

Day 4 we all headed out early to get up the trail before the heat set in and have time to make the significant climb up Boucher Trail. We took a break at Yuma Point enjoying the great views and then continued on to Dripping Springs for another short break. Then up the Silver Bell Trail which I'd never been on before. Cool trail but the bottom is really rough and unmaintained. Nice to take a different exit out of the canyon for a change. Finally made it out with the rest of the group waiting so we could hit the road for Flag to enjoy pizza and wings at NiMarcos. Great weekend in the canyon!!

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Boucher Creek Medium flow Medium flow
decent pools in and around the camp area

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Dripping Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Ruby Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
small pools with light trickle

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Sapphire Creek - GC Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
small pools with light trickle

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Serpentine Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
small pools with trickle

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Serpentine Creek - GC Light flow Light flow
light flow with multiple pool options

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Slate Creek Light flow Light flow
small pools with light flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Turquoise Creek - GC Light flow Light flow
small pools with light flow
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Mar 19 2015
John9L
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 Guides 6
 Routes 174
 Photos 5,073
 Triplogs 1,634

male
 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
South Bass to Silver Bell via the Tonto Trail, AZ 
South Bass to Silver Bell via the Tonto Trail, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Mar 19 2015
John9L
Backpack53.75 Miles 10,500 AEG
Backpack53.75 Miles4 Days         
10,500 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Another memorable trip to the Canyon is complete! A group of six of us made the trek along the Tonto through The Gems over the course of four days. This was an amazing hike and we covered a lot of ground. Water was our biggest concern but we found plenty. Shade was also a premium. The following is a day by day triplog of our adventure.

Wednesday, March 18
Our group left Phoenix on Wednesday evening in two vehicles and made our way to Flagstaff where we topped off gas and grabbed some food at Crystal Creek. From there we drove all the way to the South Bass Trailhead. FR328 was completely dried out and relatively easy to follow. The Havasupai Gate was unmanned but we had to pay the following morning when arranging the shuttle. We camped at the South Bass Trailhead and turned in before midnight

Thursday, March 19
We woke on Thursday morning and started getting geared up. Karl and Lee left fairly early in the two vehicles to set up the shuttle. They paid a Havasupai member at the entrance gate to shuttle them between FR2501/2506 and the South Bass Trailhead. The total came to $100 ($25 for each vehicle and $50 for the shuttle). This worked out really well!

The rest of us started hiking around mid-morning and took our time dropping down the South Bass Trail. This trail was dried out and in excellent condition and easy to follow. We made decent time as we reached the Esplanade and then started the drop into Bass Canyon through the Supai and Redwall. This Redwall break is quite possibly the easiest break outside the corridor. The trail makes an easy descent through the break and then it’s high speed along the Bright Angel Shale. We arrived at the Tonto junction and gathered all four of us and then made the last few miles to Serpentine Canyon where we found cool and clear water and plenty of campsites.

About an hour after getting camp set up Karl and Lee showed up to our surprise. They told us about hiring the shuttle and this saved them at least two hours of hiking. They got situated and then our group day hiked to the Colorado River. The route down the wash is fairly easy to follow with a few minor obstacles in the way. We took a break at the Colorado River and I filtered three liters with my Sawyer Squeeze. The river was murky but easy to filter. From there our group returned to camp and settled in for the evening.

Friday, March 20
Our group started hiking around mid-morning as we only had ten miles to reach Turquoise Canyon for our second night’s camp. The going was easy at first but became more difficult as the sun beat down and temps rose into the 80’s. We reached Ruby Canyon around the five mile mark and took an extended break there. Ruby provided the rare opportunity for shade and there were a few small pools of water right at the trail crossing. We all rested here and filled up on water and drank electrolytes. From there we continued the final five miles to Turquoise Canyon where we set up camp.

Turquoise Canyon had lots of good camping available. FOTG and I selected sites under an overhang while the others set up just below us. There was good water available about a minute up canyon. After getting camp set up I went for a solo walk down canyon. I was surprised to find a full blown creek about a quarter mile down canyon. This area is so lush and beautiful! I spent just under an hour exploring. I wish I had more time and energy. I was curious if one can walk all the way to the river or if any obstacles impede progress. Anyways I returned to camp and all of us settled in for another night in paradise!

Saturday, March 21
All of us left camp fairly early around 7am. We have a long day ahead of us. We need to cross three major drainages and make it the fifteen miles to Boucher Camp. We wanted to get a jump on the heat. The first few miles were in shade and the temps were cool. All of us made good time as we reached Sapphire where we found good water at the crossing. We continued on and reached Agate which was dry. It was another five miles to Slate where we took an extended break in the shade. There was plenty of good water at the Slate crossing. Once again we refilled and drank electrolytes. From there we continued east and passed the monument that provides access to the bed of Slate Creek. FOTG and I wanted to go down there but didn’t have the energy. We want to plan another trip in the future.

It was a long day hiking but we finally reached Boucher Camp and set up camp. Afterward the four of us settle next to the creek in a shaded area and waited for Karl and Kathy to arrive. Sitting and relaxing is such a treat in the Canyon. It’s nice to not move after the long mileage day! Karl and Kathy arrived soon after and set up camp. From there the five of us, excluding Kathy, day hiked down Boucher to the river. This is a very easy hike and it was nice seeing the river up close for the second time. We all returned to camp and settled in for our last evening in the Canyon.

Sunday, March 22
All of us were dreading the hike out Boucher. The plan was to start early and exit the Canyon via the Silver Bell Trail. We’ll have to walk a few miles cross country through the forest and connect to the Boundary Road where the two vehicles are parked. The hike up Boucher was the typical grind but was easier with the early start. I hit the trail right at 6:30am and had cool weather and shade all the way to the top of the Supai. I continued the sunny traverse to Dripping Springs were I saw FOTG on the lower portion of Silver Bell. He said he would wait for me near the top.

The hike up Silver Bell was a joy! The old route has deteriorated but is easy to follow although very steep and loose in places. I didn’t realize how much elevation you gain there. You basically have to climb the Coconino, Toroweap and Kaibab layers. The climb is around a thousand feet and it took some effort! I met FOTG when the trail levels off in the forest and we followed an old road for a bit and then went cross country through the forest to the Boundary Road. Once there we headed west and connected on FR2506. The vehicles were about fifteen minutes down the road. We were both very happy and spent when we reached the vehicles. From there we played roundup and gathered the entire group. After that it was off to NiMarcos in Flag for pizza and wings!


This was one hell of a trip! We covered a lot of ground and saw a large portion of the Grand Canyon. Be careful when planning this hike because some of the drainages are seasonal and will dry up in the hot months. Thanks to Chumley and BiFrost for driving! And the entire group was a lot of fun and I look forward to the next adventure!
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Mar 19 2015
chumley
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 Guides 80
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47 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
South Bass to Silver Bell via the Gems, AZ 
South Bass to Silver Bell via the Gems, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Mar 19 2015
chumley
Backpack51.80 Miles 10,767 AEG
Backpack51.80 Miles4 Days         
10,767 ft AEG39 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
So this trip covers what is commonly known as "The Gems" -- The Tonto Trail between South Bass and Boucher.

For people who make this journey, the biggest factor is water availability. The NPS officially reports that there are no reliable sources of water along this route, though seasonally water can be found in some of the drainages. For those who read this doing research for a future trip, I'll start with the water report. (You may view the map and click each water source to see reports from trips other than this one.)

Water Report:
The 2014/2015 winter was near normal for precipitation in northern Arizona. It was unusually warm however, and most storms dropped rain on the south rim rather than snow. On our trip start date of 3/19, there was no snow pack anywhere on the south rim. There was no mud or any other sign of recent moisture on the road. The last precipitation had fallen on 3/2 ... a storm that dropped 1-2" of rain in the canyon with about a foot of snow on the South Rim. So it had been totally dry, sunny, and warm for 16 days when we began our hike.

In order west to east:
Bass: dry with isolated pools 1/2 mile below Tonto
Serpentine: pools and light flow at crossing. Nobody got sick from drinking it.
Emerald: pools and light flow
Quartz: dry
Ruby: dry with a few pools in rock
Jade: dry
Jasper: dry
Turquoise: pools and light flow above Tonto crossing. Very nice flow down canyon from crossing.
Sapphire: some pools and a light trickle at Tonto crossing.
Agate: dry
Slate: pools at crossing, light flow and larger pools just upstream of crossing
Topaz: dry
Boucher: flowing as normal. A reliable source all year.

A different time of year, or a different quantity of precipitation over the winter and your results may vary. Turquoise and Slate seem to be the most likely to find water. Serpentine is apparently fairly reliable in cooler months, but some have reported stomach illness due to mineral content. We did not experience that and 5 of us drank plenty from Serpentine.

The Gems:
Not really sure why it's called this. Of the officially named canyons (Serpentine, Ruby, Turquoise, Sapphire, Agate, Slate, and Topaz) one could argue that there are a few minerals that aren't gems. The unofficially named canyons don't help. In any case, it's all a ruse of reverse psychology since there are no rocks in any of these canyons that resemble their given names. In fact, there's nothing exotic, or particularly scenic about any of this trip! It's as if the names are given to give a false impression of something special!

Don't get me wrong. You're in the Grand Canyon. Thirty miles of absolute solitude in the middle of one of the 7 wonders of the world. On several occasions I looked around and felt incredibly small. It's a great perspective. But unless you are motivated to hike a trail just because it's on a map, this isn't the most scenic or interesting route you could spend your time on. (And yes, I realize there are plenty of people who are motivated by that).

The Hike:
John put this together, and I appreciate his planning. He was confident about our water sources (but gave up on Serpentine and hiked to the river to filter after a passing hiker told us a friend had gotten sick two years ago -- the rest of us drank it and survived just fine.) Approaching each drainage, we all would begin to doubt if water would be available, but it's amazing how accustomed you become to thinking a small pool is more than enough! Water was never a problem for us. I think we all carried more than necessary in anticipation of not finding any.

The Tonto is a great trail when it's out on the platform parallel to the river. When it dives into the drainages, it's a pain in the ass. If it was all on the platform, the hike would be so much more pleasant, but I would guess far more than half of it is in the drainages. The northern/western half is much rougher than the southern/eastern half. Serpentine, Emerald, Quartz and Ruby especially. The southern/eastern half canyons are easier to get through, with the exception of the two miles getting out of Slate Canyon which is rough. The descent into Topaz/Boucher is steep and loose, but at that point, you can see water and know that camp is near, so motivation and adrenalin easily overcomes the rest.

On our way out we opted for the Dripping Springs Route, formerly the Silver Bell Trail - the original trail built by Boucher from above Dripping Springs to his camp near the river. This old route is the real gem on this trip and a very pleasant way to exit the canyon without dealing with the crowds and tourists one would normally encounter by exiting on the Hermit Trail.

The Group:
It was great to hike with Kathy, Karl, Lee, John, and Kyle. Everybody is independent and hiked on their own, but also of similar ability and speed that we were all within a short distance of each other each day. It was nice to gather together each night at camp for dinner and desserts. Some people snore louder than mating canyon tree frogs, but luckily, ear plugs were packed and sleep was not interrupted. Also, some people seem to think that 4:30 is a perfectly normal time to get up in the morning. I'm still not sure why. :zzz:
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dry Agate Canyon Dry Dry
Dry at the Tonto crossing

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Bass Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Secondhand report from other hikers. Small pools in the rock 1/4-1/2 mile down from the Tonto junction.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Boucher Creek Light flow Light flow
Nice consistent flow. Some short sections go underground between Boucher Trail and the Colorado River.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Emerald Canyon (Gems unofficial) Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Visible pools and some light flow between them at the Tonto crossing

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Jade Canyon (Gems unofficial) Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
No flow visible. One pot in the rocks with 20 or so gallons available for filtering



water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Ruby Creek - GC Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
No flow at all at Tonto crossing. A couple of small pots with stagnant water.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Sapphire Creek - GC Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
A few small pools and a light trickle at the Tonto crossing

dry Serpentine Canyon Dry Dry
No flow from Serpentine at the Colorado. Trip down from the Tonto was dry the entire way.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Serpentine Creek - GC Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Dry 100 feet below and 100 feet above the Tonto crossing. But pools and light trickle at crossing were enough for a night at camp. Reports that Serpentine is mineralized did not prove true for our group. Water tasted fine and 5 of us filtered and drank several liters each with no ill effects.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Slate Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
A couple of stagnant pools at the crossing, but 50 yards upstream, light flow and small cascades at least as far as 300 yards and probably farther. I didn't explore any farther.

dry Topaz Canyon Dry Dry
No flow in Topaz, but who needs it with Boucher so close?

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Turquoise Creek - GC Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Dry at crossing, but a seep just upstream provided a light trickle. About 300 yards upstream a good size tub about 3 feet deep provided plenty of water, and a good place to take a dip! The tub is very sheltered and should hold water for a long time into the hottest and driest times of year.
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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