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Royal Arch via Point Huitzil - 11 members in 24 triplogs have rated this an average 4.7 ( 1 to 5 best )
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May 25 2021
louie
avatar

 Routes 4
 Photos 84
 Triplogs 14

50 male
 Joined Jan 07 2004
 Phoenix, AZ
Royal Arch via Point HuitzilNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar May 25 2021
louie
Backpack35.00 Miles
Backpack35.00 Miles5 Days         
50 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
We entered the Canyon on 5/25 via Point Huitzil and exited via Royal Arch Route and South Bass on 5/29. There are road routes to get to South Bass TH that are perfectly legit that stay off tribal and private land. I have the track we followed to get to South Bass TH and linked it to this triplog. It was circuitous and added an additional 90 minutes of drive time. We ran into two other groups that said there is a road that skirts the Havasupai fence line at the locked gate that stays off private and tribal land and was a quicker route to connect with pasture wash road. Both routes require high clearance 4x4. This is where I get annoyed with the park service as the backcountry rangers were adamant there is no road access to get to South Bass TH and we would need to park at the gate and hike an extra 7 miles!!! But I digress.

This was the most focused I have ever been on a backpack. I lost track of the numerous points along this trip where not being sure footed or sure handed for the scrambles risked death or serious injury. I was out of my comfort zone for a good amount of time on this trip, but had two solid people with me that helped calm my nerves.

We saved time coming down Point Huitzil, but I would never recommend that route for anyone with a fear of heights. There is a lot of exposure on this route...but then again that is pretty much the norm for Royal Arch route as well. A lot of intermittent parts of this route that leave little room for error. The route posted by Bifrost was a huge help and spot on.

There was water just below where Point Huitzil meets Royal Arch route in the tinaja's which is pretty amazing considering the dry winter and lack of measurable precipitation the last few months so I would feel pretty confident there is water here year round other then maybe end of June before the monsoons hit. Might dry up...but IDK the holes were pretty deep and seemed like they would last. Trying to figure out how to add that location to the water report for this hike. The frogs loved them!!! And some of the nastiest water I've ever drank. Tasted like dirty aquarium water. But it's the best you're gonna get this time of year so when in Rome. I hiked in enough water (3 liters plus two 12 ounce Gatorade bottles and my emergency 10 ounce water pouch I drank) to make it to the spring at Royal Arch...well almost...as we ran out maybe a quarter mile before we got to the spring. So my recommendation is to bring four liters and five if coming in South Bass this time of year to avoid the frog water. Or just plan on drinking frog water.

From the river I hiked up 4.5 liters. I used that as my bladder water which got me within a few hundred yards of the South Bass TH on the hike out before I ran out. The frog water was our overnight camp for the hike out and I cooked and dropped orange flavored electrolyte tablets into my nalogen bottle to make it more palatable in an effort to save as much of the river water as possible to drink while hiking.

Absolutely loved Royal Arch!!! Spent the second day and night there to relax and recover from the hike down and had the place all to ourselves enjoying the pools under the arch. I would stay there over Toltec beach this time of year since it's so hot at the river. It's a bummer no camping at Elves' Chasm, but would just as soon not have to drag my gear beyond Toltec beach as the route to Elves chasm has some exposure as well. Tried to get a private raft group to hitch us a ride to Elves, but no luck...but did score three beers. :) .

I don't climb much, but being on belay my partners were able to pull out the slack as I made my moves so I could rest and didn't have too much trouble climbing up the rappel. The trickiest part is the beginning and then as you climb the hand and footholds get better. The young kid (32) with us didn't even harness and just used the rope to climb up and down so it just depends on your comfort, skill level, and physical abilities. I'm a 50 year old man who hates heights with kids and a wife and can't make moves like I could 20 years ago so I'm all about being locked in.

We decided to go back up Royal Arch and avoid the death trap we felt the Tonto could give us with the heat and water reports stating no water until South Bass Beach. We started hiking as soon as there was enough light to see without headlamps day's 2-5 to avoid the heat. On our way out when we got to the redwall climb it was getting hot and knowing there was little shade at the water holes for our camp we bedded down for six hours under an alcove until the redwall had shade then made our way up and through the rabbit hole to get above the big dryfall.

All in all a stellar trip, but would be better I'm guessing to hit this one earlier in the spring or in the fall to avoid the heat and have better opportunities for some decent drinking water, but the water sure felt good to jump in!!!
Here's a link to a video of this madness. Enjoy the 20 seconds of frogs chirping in the darkness. [ youtube video ]

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Amphitheater Tinaja's 51-75% full 51-75% full
A good amount of water here despite the dry winter and lack of recent rainfall. The frogs loved it and it was nasty water, but it kept us alive and we filtered it with a steripen and a sawyer and no one got sick.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Royal Arch Creek Medium flow Medium flow
There is always water at the spring at Royal Arch to Elve's Chasm. Tastes awesome!!!
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3 archives
Apr 14 2019
writelots
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 Guides 19
 Routes 40
 Photos 5,607
 Triplogs 340

48 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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Apr 21 2017
SlammyG
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 Routes 3
 Photos 134
 Triplogs 3

32 male
 Joined Oct 20 2015
 Phoenix, AZ
Royal Arch RouteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Apr 21 2017
SlammyG
Backpack42.00 Miles 8,000 AEG
Backpack42.00 Miles3 Days         
8,000 ft AEG35 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
GoatManMike
What a trip! I can't believe we pulled it off in 3 days although my feet, legs, back, hips and shoulders sure can. One of the most grueling trips I have been on but also one of the most rewarding.

We camped Thursday night at the ranger station and managed to stir up around 5 to get moving around 6. It was cold and we were all tired from little sleep but quickly found the telephone line and made it to the rim. The route down was a lot of fun as we worked our way down the obstacles. The stick ladder was a bit tricky to get started on but smooth sailing nonetheless. We found the petroglyphs and were all blown away by the number and quality of them. Moki steps were really cool to see and didn't present too much of a challenge as long as we took it slow. There were plenty of tricky drop offs down this route where precarious stacks of rocks helped to make the final step down. It was pretty slow moving until we hit the red wall and eventually dropped into the wash. We picked our way down through the creek bed hopping boulders and following the pretty well cairned path. Some sections the walls narrowed and provided some nice shade but of course the canyon opened up again and let the sun in. Just when we couldn't take any more boulder hopping we rounded the corner and were greeted by the amazing Royal Arch. :y: It was incredible and lived up to everything I had expected. A nice stream flowed through it and we stopped in it's shade for some hard snackage. We opted for the canyoneering route this trip not only to save time and miles but also because, why the hell not!? We found the rap area pretty quick, trusted the loop of webbing that we found and down we went! A bit tricky to navigate the ledges and wet muddy wall but we all made it down just fine. A small scare as we struggled with the rope pull but down it came and we made our way over to the next rap of ~175 ft. Finding the tree to rap from was a bit tricky but we skirted down the left side of the canyon through some overgrowth and found the spot. A pretty scary free hanging rap this time and with the weight of the pack our ATC's were burning up by the time we hit the ground! From here it was some trial and error route finding as we made our way for Elves Chasm. I think we made a wrong turn because we cliffed out and were faced with a short 15 foot rappel. From here it was switchbacks down the canyon wall that eventually dumped us at Elves Chasm where we took a much deserved swim and jump from the short fall!

Day 2...Long miles and hot sun.. Aside from the stunning canyon views this was a slog of a day with no relief from the sun apart from the shade of a few boulders. The wildflowers were in bloom and the canyon was covered with beautiful greens and yellows. We picked our way along the Tonto before opting for the steep skree filled shortcut down to Bass Canyon. We opted to tack on some additional miles and make our way down to Bass Beach to camp and fill our empty water bottles. Our beach campsite was incredible, cool and secluded with the opportunity for a nice dunk in the might Colorado where we soaked our tired legs in the cold water after a 20 mile day.

Up and at em day 3 as we made the push for the rim. Bass Canyon was amazing! Incredible colors on the canyon walls and lots of green trees to keep the temps cool as we made gains. I was moving slow after our epic trek the day before but eventually made it to the Darwin Plateau where Mike and Mark made a break for Huetawali while I held back, got some shade and hydrated. The final push up South Bass was grueling, the trail was covered in rock fall and incredibly steep. We were all getting hammered but managed to hit the room by two. High fives and fist bumps abound as we trekked down the road back to our car for the long drive back to Phoenix.

A truly incredible trip with some awesome trekking buddies. Not bad for my first trip down into the canyon. I will be back, oh yes I will be back!
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Bass Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Minimal pools. Stale nasty water.

dry Copper Canyon Dry Dry

dry Garnet Canyon Dry Dry
Salt chunks abound

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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1 archive
Mar 05 2017
kyleGChiker
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 Guides 1
 Routes 23
 Photos 351
 Triplogs 30

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
Mar 13 2015
nonot
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 Guides 98
 Routes 249
 Photos 2,067
 Triplogs 495

male
 Joined Nov 18 2005
 Phoenix, AZ
Royal Arch via Point HuitzilNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 13 2015
nonot
Backpack40.00 Miles 7,500 AEG
Backpack40.00 Miles5 Days         
7,500 ft AEG40 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
The road to S Bass was dried out, and the big snow dump had melted, which were my biggest concerns.

The route down the Coconino is truly a wonder, and was glad I finally had the opportunity to check it out. I can only wonder how much effort it was to haul that tree ladder up there (or perhaps down there).

The rest of the route to the arch was fairly straightforward and water was abundant. The arch was impressive and I can see why many people like to camp out right there at the end.

The rappel is fairly straightforward and soon enough I was at the Colorado River. Elves chasm was nice to visit and I grabbed a bunch of water since I wasn't sure whether any of the water until S Bass would be drinkable. As it turned out I had to make it last all the way to S Bass, as even though Garnet was flowing I wasn't sure if it was drinkable. Copper Canyon was surprisingly dry, though I did observe a small pool as I was on the Tonto above it after leaving the canyon.

There was a small pool in S Bass, and I headed down towards the river. The S Bass trail is in good shape up to the rim and I finally spotted the small ruin in the Coconino

Most days I had to hide in the shade between 1 and 4 because of the heat. But the nights were fairly mild and I can't complain too much
Named place
Named place
Royal Arch - GCNP
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

dry Bass Canyon Dry Dry
Dry, 1 small pool about 2/3 of a mile below the Tonto intersection, and one other pool about a quarter mile further down.

dry Copper Canyon Dry Dry
Dry, though I did observe one pool a few hundred yards below the Tonto confluence

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Garnet Canyon Light flow Light flow
light flow, but I have been warned the water here is salty

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Royal Arch Creek Light flow Light flow
Light flow near the arch, trickle and pools in the upper reaches.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Shinumo Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Pretty good flow, observed from across the river.
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1 archive
Feb 15 2015
Dave1
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 Routes 29
 Photos 1,548
 Triplogs 1,802

45 male
 Joined Jan 25 2009
 Phoenix, AZ
Apache Point, AZ 
Apache Point, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Feb 15 2015
Dave1
Backpack25.00 Miles 4,200 AEG
Backpack25.00 Miles2 Days         
4,200 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Parked at Pasture Wash ranger station and walked the rim north-west to Apache Point. Travel is slow through the thick juniper forest and it took me about 4 1/2 hours to get to the point. I tried to follow the Supai phone line but that thing zigzags all over so I gave up. Found a neat fault/cave along the way. Followed the very faint trail down from the rim and around Apache Point, down a ridiculously steep talus slope through the Coconino, and then eventually got down to the Esplanade layer, which in this area is not as nice and flat as the Esplanade over by the Thunder River Trail. It was dark by then so I made camp at the first suitable spot I could find. 28 degrees in the am.

Day 2 I followed the Esplanade in and out of the minor drainages until I arrived at Royal Arch Creek. There's really no defined trail along here but I did see some cairns every so often. I exited from RA creek via the Point Huitzil route.

Heading back to GC Village on 328 I was flagged down buy a Japanese couple in an SUV. They were looking for Lake Powell :-s I got to the BC office right before they closed and picked up a permit for the Yurt in 2 weeks.

Carried 7 liters, drank 3 1/2.
Fauna
Fauna
Wild horse
Geology
Geology
Fault
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Apr 05 2014
toddak
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 Guides 8
 Routes 7
 Photos 1,244
 Triplogs 474

56 male
 Joined Nov 15 2005
 Puhoynix, AZ
South Bass TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 05 2014
toddak
Hiking29.00 Miles 5,000 AEG
Hiking29.00 Miles   15 Hrs      1.93 mph
5,000 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Nice long day wandering the West side. From the old ranger station dropped down the Pt Huitzil route, really enjoyed the log ride and the petroglyphs. Then northeast on the Esplanade to South Bass, down to the river and back up to the rim.
Flora
Flora
Spreading Phlox
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Nov 27 2013
BiFrost
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 Guides 4
 Routes 372
 Photos 8,276
 Triplogs 1,006

51 male
 Joined Nov 20 2012
 Phoenix, AZ
Royal Arch via Point HuitzilNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Nov 27 2013
BiFrost
Canyoneering32.88 Miles 8,609 AEG
Canyoneering32.88 Miles5 Days         
8,609 ft AEG43 LBS Pack
 
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desertrat13
GrottoGirl
John_seJerman
RedwallNHops
This trip was awesome! Joel and Belinda invited me to join them and a few others and couldn't say no to Royal Arch GC. The route starting at Pasture Wash is as advertised...physical, fun, challenging, and true route finding although there are decent cairns in spots. The first two days was all route and canyoneering down to Royal Arch were we camped on day two. Royal Arch was really cool...great pour off and rock spire next to the arch in the creek bottom....the pics don't do it justice.

Day 3 we hiked out of Royal Arch Canyon and over to the rappel which was short and fun considering the time it took for setup. After the rap we headed down to Toltec Beach for a break where it was getting late in the day. Two of the group decided to make a dash for Elves Chasm while the rest of us headed for camp at Garnett Creek.

Day 4 started out colder and overcast but cleared up later in the day as we followed the Tonto Trail over to South Bass Canyon and camp. Along the way there was no water in Copper Canyon which we were hoping to find. We also had some trouble locating water at South Bass but fortunately found isolated pot holes 10 mins downstream. Previous trip reports mentioned good water in both locations so could be more reliable in spring as opposed to fall.

Last day we awoke to much colder temps and overcast. Almost looked like rain or snow but as we hiked out of the canyon it slowly began to clear. We passed Mount Huethawali and the group discussed doing it as a side hike but decided to press on to the TH with celebratory brews waiting at the vehicle :) Great trip and group....have to go back and do Mount Huethawali and explore the area.
Geology
Geology
Natural Bridge

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Garnet Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Nice potholes in the bedrock.
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Nov 27 2013
GrottoGirl
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 Guides 3
 Routes 314
 Photos 11,581
 Triplogs 1,359

46 female
 Joined Sep 18 2009
 Tucson, AZ
Royal Arch via Point HuitzilNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 27 2013
GrottoGirl
Backpack35.93 Miles 8,718 AEG
Backpack35.93 Miles5 Days         
8,718 ft AEG35 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
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BiFrost
John_seJerman
RedwallNHops
Continuing on our Grand Thanksgiving Tradition, we visited the Canyon for the forth year in a row on Thanksgiving. This trip has to be one of the most challenging we've done.

Day 1: Trailhead to Esplanade.
We did lots of down climbing with our heavy packs. We saw some ruins and petroglyphs. The hole in the Coconino followed by the log climb was pretty fun! We made sure that everyone was able to get through each obstacle. I do have to admit that there were a few times that I was scared of my big pack pushing me off a cliff! We stopped for the day at a spot in which we found several potholes with water. Joel and I collected our water without treating it. It was pretty tasty. Joel found that his Nook had died to the cold so I let him read mine. Our camp on the Esplanade was pretty cool - we had nice views AND frost on our sleeping bags in the morning.

Day 2: Esplanade to the Royal Arch.
We navigated around several dry falls before reaching Royal Arch canyon. One of the by passes included the Ledge of Death which has thus been renamed the Ledge of Paralyses by Josh. Joel and Josh checked it out without their packs and then joined the rest of the group. The trek down Royal Arch was sporty. I was glad to have had several canyons under my belt so the only thing challenging was the fact that I was carry the albatross on my back. The campsite at Royal Arch is absolutely amazing. I don't recommend it for sleep walkers! I checked out the surrounding area and found a big horn sheep hangout overlooking the Arch complete with scat. Unfortunately, the cold from the night before killed my Nook and so both Joel and I didn't have any reading materials. Josh had a book and Joel convinced him to cut out some pages! The temperature that night was perfect sleeping weather of about 40 degrees.

Day 3: Royal Arch to Toltec Beach, side trip to Elves Chasm, and then on to Garnet Canyon.
We backtracked a bit and then headed up. It was pretty cool to see the Arch from above the Redwall. The section descending down to Toltec Beach was one of the most technical sections. We had a down climb followed by the 20 foot rappel and then another down climb. While the rappel was being set up I saw a young big horn sheep on the trail below us. When we got down to the beach, we saw that the river was pretty brown so we choose not to collect any water. From there only two of us made the journey over to Elves Chasm due to time constraints. We went light with just headlamps, snack, jacket and water. Elves Chasm is yet another beautiful waterfall in the Grand Canyon. Well worth the trip! We hurried back to our pack and then on to camp in Garnet Canyon. We managed to get to Garnet just as it got dark. There was water in pools in Garnet Canyon but upon tasting it we found it salty. However, some had collected water at a previous drainage which was even saltier which was hard to imagine. I was glad that I had a bit of "fresh" water left over so I only used the salty stuff for meals. This was our warmest night. When I got out of the bag at midnight I saw it was still 50 degrees!

Day 4: We had a sporty climb up through the Tapeats. It was a cloudy morning and it felt like the temperature had dropped a bit since midnight. We had a long journey along the top of the Tapeats to get to South Bass. The top of the canyon was socked in so we only rarely got some views. I was pretty excited to see the area around the North Bass trail since we had just done that trip a couple months ago. Seeing Dox Castle and the Holy Grail were the highlight of my day! We arrived in South Bass to find that everything was dry, which seemed crazy since there had been a good stretch of weather the week before. We had to scout for water. We spread out up and down canyon looking for water. Joel found a pothole in some granite bedrock in the drainage. It was full of algae but to us it was the "Pothole of Life"! Note for future travelers, it would probably be a good idea to camp at the beach if it hasn't rained really recently. That night we finished up the remains of the 5 liters of wine, 8 beers, and 20 ounces of bourbon that we brought with us - I'm glad I wasn't carrying any of it!

Day 5: We hiked out the South Bass trail. We didn't do the optional side trip to Mount Huethawali, guess we'll have to plan another trip with a key swap for South Bass to Boucher in the future (let me know if you're interested). The highlight of this day was completing the car shuttle. None of us wanted to wait so we piled 7 people and 7 packs into Karl's Toyota!!!
Geology
Geology
Natural Bridge
_____________________
Nov 27 2013
RedwallNHops
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 Guides 1
 Routes 10
 Photos 548
 Triplogs 1,290

46 male
 Joined Dec 22 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Royal Arch via Point HuitzilNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 27 2013
RedwallNHops
Backpack35.93 Miles 8,718 AEG
Backpack35.93 Miles5 Days         
8,718 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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BiFrost
GrottoGirl
John_seJerman
Great trip. Loved the Pt Huitzil route down to the esplanade. Such a fun route.
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Nov 09 2013
Dave1
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 Routes 29
 Photos 1,548
 Triplogs 1,802

45 male
 Joined Jan 25 2009
 Phoenix, AZ
Royal Arch via Point HuitzilNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 09 2013
Dave1
Backpack25.00 Miles 4,800 AEG
Backpack25.00 Miles2 Days         
4,800 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
Partners none no partners
The Havasupai gate was manned and I got hit for the entry fee. Wouldn't be so bad if they used the money to do some road maint. FR328 through the rez is in the worst shape I've ever seen it. Deep ruts start right where the road turns to the east and continue to the national forest border. High clearance necessary of course. A Subaru, CRV, RAV4, and similar would probably not make it. At one point you have to drive over half of a dead cow.

Started from Pasture Wash ranger station and went down the route south-west of Pt Hootspa. Went down to the Arch and spent the night there. Didn't go down to Toltec. Exited out back up the RA drainage to the Esplanade trail and South Bass trail. Nice weather! Only 53 degrees for the overnight low. Love this route! My 14th trip to the canyon this year :y:
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Jan 27 2012
uphill_junkie
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 Guides 2
 Routes 9
 Photos 1,486
 Triplogs 944

female
 Joined Apr 28 2010
 Tucson, AZ
Royal Arch via Point HuitzilNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Jan 27 2012
uphill_junkie
Backpack45.00 Miles 7,975 AEG
Backpack45.00 Miles4 Days         
7,975 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
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laurabalaura
Wow, what an amazing adventure this weekend was! A group of 6 of us went to do the Royal Arch loop. Despite hearing of treacherous conditions, Laura had it in her head that she wanted to go via Point Huitzil. The weather gods were on our side for this trip! We had amazing weather during the day (low 60s) and the first and 3rd nights were pretty cold, but night 2 was perfect. I think the lowest it got to was the upper 20s. Not bad for January!

Day 1: We decided as a group that if it looked too sketchy, we'd turn around and start from South Bass. Thanks to Slawa's expert route finding skills and all of our spikes, we braved it down the slippery, adrenaline-rushing slope. The rabbit hole we got to go down & play in and all the amazing rock art we got to see were totally worth the fear this route put in all of us at times. At the bottom of the canyon, we were graced with a really cool ice waterfall. You could see the water running underneath the ice, it was wild!

Even though this route took us a really long time due to constantly having to drop our packs to get through or down some obstacle, we decided to push on to camp under the arch. It was a really really long, wearing day. All the boulder hopping down Royal Arch Creek starts to get to you after a few hours! We made camp just after dark, and again, found it was totally worth it!!!! An abundance of water, scenery and stars made the night amazing. I had carried the Scrabble game down in, so I was making Laura play. She forfeited before the game was 1/2 way over to hit the sack early since we had another really long day ahead of us. :roll:

Day 2: Got up at 1st light and headed out to our first destination, Toltec Beach, where we'd drop our packs, have a nice lunch and then walk packless over the Elves Chasm. The major obstacle we had that day was the 20' down climb we decided to do sans canyoneering gear :scared: . We had webbing and luckily there was a very sturdy rope with nicely tied handholds in it for us to use. Mark, our savior, belayed us all with the webbing. This was where I panicked. I don't think I could feel my arms, hands or fingers for about 1/2 hour after that torturous event, but I survived and onward we went. Once again, the reward of the beauty of the Elves seemed to trump my ridiculous fear of a 20 foot drop! :D Anyone who doesn't take the time to do the side trip to the Elves is just out of their mind. It's mind-blowing beautiful back there! We only went up to the second pool, but man those first 3 layers were beauty enough. I imagine it got better higher up, but we weren't going to do anything we couldn't down climb. Once back at the beach, I think we all wanted to just call it a day and camp on the beach, but the one member of our group who decided to turn around 1/2 way into the Elves hike had left us a note in the sand that he went on to Garnet Canyon. So on we went, cursing him along the way. :) Once again, as nice as it would've been camping on the beach, the site we picked at Garnet Canyon left nothing to desire in the way of scenery. We slept under a hanging cliff, and the stars were out in full force! This was a really nice night too, with no wind. We actually got warm in our sleeping bags!

Day 3: The seemingly never-ending Copper Canyon put quite a beating on some of our crew. I felt fine, but admittedly wasn't enjoying the scenery nearly as much as the first 2 days. Not to mention that the trail was full of evil, vicious flora (if you can call it that!) The prickly pear had their winter coats on!!!! :o Everyone but Mark and I ran out of water, and they had no luck finding any along the way, with the exception of a carcass filled small pool :yuck: . We were quite concerned about whether our desired camp area in South Bass Canyon was going to have water 8-[ . We had filled up at the river before leaving Toltec, but we just didn't have the same terrain as we did the previous 2 days. Luckily once we got to South Bass Canyon and did some exploring around downstream, we found a couple good pools of water. Whew! :D I pumped about 11 liters for everyone and we had an early day that day. We actually got to sit around and watch the sunset and drink the rest of our booze we had brought. Of course, mine was the most popular........hot chocolate with 100 proof peppermint schnapps made for a nice nightcap every night for everyone. And they all wondered why my pack weighed so much....... ;)

Day 4: It was super cold and damp from lots of condensation, and being that we went to bed around 9, we got an early start to our all uphill, 5 or so mile trek out of the canyon. Got to the South Bass TH in about 2 1/2 hours. This was a super cool canyon, but after not sleeping hardly at all for 4 nights, I was a bit on the grumpy side and just wanted to get it over with. I did enjoy the scenery a lot, and luckily the snow wasn't too slippery that I didn't have to stop to put my flight boots on. But man, did that trail seem never ending!!!!! The only motivation I had was a cooler full of beer waiting for me at the truck! :lol: Boy was it good, and boy did I drink them all waiting the 3 hours for the last person from our group to come out. Hee hee! What a way to end an amazing, adventurous trip! :GB:
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No pants!
Jan 27 2012
laurabalaura
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 Triplogs 9

female
 Joined Mar 29 2010
 phx
Royal Arch via Point HuitzilNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Jan 27 2012
laurabalaura
Backpack45.00 Miles 7,975 AEG
Backpack45.00 Miles4 Days         
7,975 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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uphill_junkie
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Oct 03 2011
azbackpackr
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 Guides 27
 Routes 438
 Photos 5,310
 Triplogs 797

68 female
 Joined Jan 21 2006
 Flagstaff AZ
Royal Arch via Point HuitzilNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 03 2011
azbackpackr
Backpack42.82 Miles 4,603 AEG
Backpack42.82 Miles5 Days         
4,603 ft AEG25 LBS Pack
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Just want to get this posted today. It was a great trip, although I will lose two friends: both big toe nails! ;)

We hiked 20 miles from Toltec Beach to the top of the Redwall, partly in the dark, yesterday, that is a tale to tell...

More later!
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There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.
Sep 29 2011
PLC92084
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 Guides 2
 Routes 16
 Photos 219
 Triplogs 355

60 male
 Joined Dec 22 2009
 Vista, CA
Royal Arch via Point HuitzilNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Sep 29 2011
PLC92084
Backpack42.82 Miles 4,603 AEG
Backpack42.82 Miles4 Days      21 Mns   
4,603 ft AEG45 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
1st trip
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HAZ - Event
azbackpackr
Dave1
MaryPhyl
Triplog to follow when writer's block has abated...
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Sep 29 2011
Dave1
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 Routes 29
 Photos 1,548
 Triplogs 1,802

45 male
 Joined Jan 25 2009
 Phoenix, AZ
Esplanade RouteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 29 2011
Dave1
Hiking18.88 Miles 3,232 AEG
Hiking18.88 Miles
3,232 ft AEG
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1st trip
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azbackpackr
PLC92084
Wednesday night: got to sleep at about 11:30p, woke up at 2am. I met up with Liz, Mike, Paul and Zeke at Pasture Wash RS at about 6:45am, Thursday. It was a chilly morning at PW. They were just waking up and getting their gear together when I arrived. I, on the other hand, was ready to go back to sleep. While waiting, I ate my bbq pork and jasmine rice that my wife prepared for me at 2 in the morning (she is awesome!). We shuttled their trucks to S. Bass TH and then went back to PW. Started off for the Pt. Huitzil route at about 8:15.

This was my first time doing this route with a GPS and it didn't go as well as I thought it would. We never did find the telephone line. We did, however, find a GoLite umbrella leaning against a log! Zeke had the exact same model with him so Liz snatched it up! WooHoo, canyon booty! :y: We made it to the rim ok but just not in a nice straight line. We ended up at the pour-off just to the west of the correct pour-off that is also to the west of Point Huitzil. I should have just used a compass like last time.

Once at the correct spot on the rim, we had no trouble finding the rest of the route. Its well-cairned and the trails are mostly easy to spot. The hard spots were: the big step down onto the pile-o-rocks (not short person friendly), the cave/log ladder (I think a section of the log has broken off, its shorter now. A rope should probably be used to descend this from now on so the ladder can be preserved), the Moqui steps (which somehow I by-passed last time but couldn't find it this time), and another step down onto a pile-o-rocks.

Zeke is a f-in climber! I don't know how he did it but he got ahead of us and bypassed the cave/log ladder part. As we were looking for the cave hole (I knew where it was but wanted the others to have some fun looking for it), up pops Zeke's head! I guess he found a climber's route and then came up from below. He also whipped right down the Moqui steps section. I cautiously butt-scooted down that part with my pack on, the other 3 used a rope and rappelled down.

Once we got to the Supai layer, the shade mostly disappeared and we really started to feel the heat. I'm guessing it was about 90 degrees by now. We took a long break to have lunch and then enjoyed an easy stroll (compared to the Pt. Huitzil section) down to the Royal Arch drainage. Once we got to the junction with the RA drain/Esplanade Trail we said our good byes as this was as far down as I was going. My original plan was to follow the Esplanade west to Apache Point, climb up to the rim, and then follow the rim back to Pasture Wash RS. At that point though it was already 2pm, it was hot, and I was tired and skeptical if I could make the trek with my remaining water. So I ended up just taking the well-defined Esplanade Trail east to South Bass Trail. I cached some water for the group at a pre-determined location, hopefully they can find it on their way out.

FR328 is in good shape until you get to the Rez. At that point it gets rocky and rutted. I was probably traveling too fast and hit some of the ruts pretty hard. Ended up breaking one of the leaf springs on my truck :tt: .. Also the Rez entry was manned and I got hit for the $25 entry.

Fortunately I was able to get my truck out of there by just going very slow, took about 2 hours to get back to HW 64 (took one hour in).

These trip are getting too expensive for me: $90 for gas, $25 Havasupai fee, one day lost pay (no more vacation time left), $477 for new leaf springs and shocks at Napa. If I wasn't going off-road I would have taken my Civic which would have cost less than half that in gas. :?
_____________________
Apr 05 2011
writelots
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 Guides 19
 Routes 40
 Photos 5,607
 Triplogs 340

48 female
 Joined Nov 22 2005
 Tucson, AZ
Royal Arch RouteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Apr 05 2011
writelots
Backpack45.00 Miles 4,500 AEG
Backpack45.00 Miles6 Days         
4,500 ft AEG32 LBS Pack
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sirena
I've been struggling with this trip report for weeks. I don't know if it's writer's block or just a defensive mechanism, but the words just aren't coming - and for me, that's like, wow, ohmigawd, really?! However, I know better than to poke the muse, so instead I'm doing a photo-trip-report. As many details as I can include will be associated with the images. Everything else just fades from memory just like the bruises, blisters and cat-claw scratches...
Fauna
Fauna
Elk
Geology
Geology
Natural Bridge
Named place
Named place
Royal Arch - GCNP Royal Arch Creek
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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
Apr 05 2011
sirena
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 Guides 2
 Routes 4
 Photos 3,873
 Triplogs 362

47 female
 Joined Feb 12 2008
 Tucson, AZ
Royal Arch RouteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Apr 05 2011
sirena
Backpack45.00 Miles 4,500 AEG
Backpack45.00 Miles6 Days         
4,500 ft AEG40 LBS Pack
 no routes
Partners partners
writelots
Anyone who can locate and complete this rarest of excursions is the most fortunate of hikers.
-from Doug Nering's description of the Point Huitzil Route

To see the pictures in with the text visit my blog, Sirena's Wanderings: http://desertsirena.wordpress.com/2011/ ... t-huitzil/

Last October, I backpacked the Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon. It was one of the most challenging, scenic trips I'd done to date. Challenging not only because of the difficult terrain, but also because of the group dynamic and because the trip leader was woefully unprepared. For the whole story, see my triplog from 10/07/10. After getting off that trip, I wanted to go back- this time on my terms as the trip leader, so I put in for a permit and was rewarded five nights starting April 5 on the Royal Arch Loop by the Grand Canyon permit gods. Originally, it was supposed to be five of us- Wendy, who had been on the previous Royal Arch trip, Chris Forsyth and Russell Ownby, who I'd met through my volunteer work with the Grand Canyon Hikers and Backpackers Association, and Russell's wife, Kandi. Russell suggested we up the ante a bit and go for the loop via the Point Huitzil Route, an ancient Anasazi route that uses some pretty ingenious ways including an ancient log ladder to get through the cliffs in the Coconino. I was a little intimidated by the route, which is supposed to have areas of great exposure, but I know that anything that gives me that feeling of butterflies in the pit of my stomach is sure to provide great adventure and satisfaction once the route has been completed. Unfortunately, Russell and Kandi had to cancel and so it was just Wendy and me that arrived at Chris' house in Phoenix on April 4th to begin our adventure.

Chris was a little frazzled getting packed. You see, he had just come back from an 8 day trip in the Grand Canyon the night before! Chris lives a life many of us would envy- making the Grandest of Canyons his home for more nights a year than most spend in a lifetime. He has a wealth of knowledge about the history and geology of the canyon, besides being an enjoyable guy to be around, and I was looking forward to his perspective on the trail. We drove up to Flagstaff and spent a bit of time in the gear shops, picking up food to go at Pato Thai, and stocking up on Peeps. I think Chris realized this was going to be a little different than his usual trip when we stopped to eat our dinner with a view of sunset and the San Francisco Peaks. All we had to do was get to the abandoned Pasture Wash Ranger Station and set up camp for the night, and after a long drive on a dirt road, we arrived at the defunct ranger station amid the sweet-smelling sage and junipers.

Day 1- After some morning Peeps and breakfast amid some pre-hike jitters about the route we packed up and started the first leg of the day at 9:45 am navigating from Pasture Wash to the drop-in point on the rim. We followed a closed road and then a well-beat-in path that followed an old phoneline for a while. I had my GPS along, which helped to navigate toward the rim when the path we'd been following vanished in the pinyons and junipers. We picked up a cairned path at the bottom of the drainage and followed it until we reached a dryfall and reached a point where we got our first views of the Canyon at 11:15. There was a cairn marking the descent and after a small scramble at the top, it was all nasty, loose, steep descent on sliding scree slopes. Wendy was having a hard time, going very slowly down the slope and we took a short break when we reached a level area to refuel with some snacks before the real fun began. Several more sliding slopes led us to a prominent cairn that took us down a system of ledges and past our first ruin and pictograph- an upside-down anthropomorphic figure next to a symbol. There was a circle of elk horns in the ruin and I could see the dark cliffs mentioned in some of the trip reports- I knew from my pre-hike research that we were coming to the log ladder. I looked down the slope and saw a cairn sitting on the edge of a steep sandstone slab that angled off into nowhere and knew in the pit of my stomach that was where we were headed next. About this time we saw two dayhikers on the slope above us who had tried to locate the route and hadn't found it, so they were going back. These were the only hikers we saw for six days.

We took off our packs at the top of the slab and Chris went to scout the route. Chris had done this route about four years ago, and was a little apprehensive about whether or not he could locate it again. This part, however was clearly marked with a large cairn at the edge of the slab. There was a step down from the ledge on some unstable rocks. Chris found the hole in the cliff that gave access to the crack where the log ladder was and called Wendy and me over. He said he'd bring our packs to the hole and I can't say that I wasn't a little relieved. The hole is literally at the edge of the sloping cliff, and I edged over and lowered myself into the hole. Now normally when I'm nervous, I have a tendency to use- let's say- indelicate language. This time, I started laughing and couldn't stop- the route is so unlikely and I couldn't believe that I was here, lowering myself into a hole at the edge of a cliff on the way to the famed log ladder. The lateral crack that the hole accesses is surprisingly spacious, with room for all three of us and our gear. I could see the top of the log ladder in the vertical crack that was to our left as we entered the hole. Chris went first and we passed our packs down. Wendy wanted to go next, and I saw that the log wasn't as stable as I'd thought- it twisted as she shifted her weight. When it was my turn, I told Wendy to take a movie of me going down the ladder. I got on the first step without a problem, but then it took me a bit to figure out where to best put my hands for the next step. Then, as I got toward the end, the entire log shifted downward and as a result the video is too awkward for public consumption.

One thing that Chris had mentioned about the last time he'd done the route was that there was one particular slab that slanted away from the cliff that really freaked him out- he said it was on his top 5 most scared moments. This had worried me ever since the idea of doing the Point Huitzil route came up- if Chris was freaked out, how were Wendy and I going to deal with it? Which slab was it? In the beta that I'd collected before the trip, Doug Nering describes the crux of the route: "The sandstone slopes steeply away toward the cliff and there are no holds, only friction." Well, we'd just left the ladder and were greeted by a slab that met just that description. But the payoff in this area for crossing steep treacherous slopes is numerous petroglyphs, so I decided to trust in the tread of my brand-new shoes. The petroglyphs were incredible. So many layers upon layers of art-it was almost too much to process all at once. The petroglyphs are on one of the slanty slabs and we explored them for a while as Chris went off to scout the next part of the route without his pack.

Chris found the next obstacle- ancient Moqui steps (hand and toe-holds that have been chipped into the rock face) that indicated the route. They led to a part where there is a 5-foot drop from one ledge to another, but there is an unstable stack of rocks- basically a big cairn- to step onto. So many interesting twists and turns. Then there were even more slabs. I used all sorts of calming devices, such as singing "Slab" to the tune of "Spam" from Monty Python, and calling the slab all sorts of variations, like "It's a Slaborama" or "This is Slabalicious". We even called it a "Slabmageddon" and a "Slabpocalypse". So it turned out, that there isn't just one scary slab, there are about 15 on the route that would fit the moniker just fine. We used a handline that Chris had put into place down the second set of Moqui steps. By this time, Chris had realized that his "scary spot" from before had come from not trusting the shoes he had on plus inexperience on that kind of terrain. He had also done a lot of off-trail exploring in the Canyon in the years since he'd done this route last that made all the difference. There was more crossing of slabs and one last awkward move and we took a break at a flat spot in the shade of a tree. It was around this time that Chris taught us a saying he'd learned on the river: "Don't celebrate while the water's white". It would become a theme of the trip.

We finally reached the bottom of the Coconino and the ground changed to a rich reddish-brown. There was still one last steep, loose decent down to the more level ground of the drainage below. We were all relieved to see water right as we entered the drainage at about 4:30 pm. Looking back at the cliffs, it was hard to believe the unlikely way we'd arrived here. Here's a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07wzFpNrdz8

Hiking was much easier in the drainage, and there were a couple of pouroffs to negotiate. We'd hiked down into springtime, and there were blooming Cliff Fendlerbushes and gorgeous redbud trees. We decided at around 5:30 to look for a place to spend the night and found a delightful spot at the top of a pouroff with a clear tinaja filled with amorous frogs. It had been an eventful day and we were all pleased that we'd gotten through the toughest part of the route. I was excited to be able to wander around barefoot and set up camp- the forecast was for a clear evening and I adore sleeping under the stars. Chris and Wendy went to bed soon after sunset and I stayed up for a while, listening to music and wandering up the drainage.

Day 2- I was the last to bed and the first to wake up, so I went exploring the terraces above our campsite so as not to wake my companions. We got hiking at 8:30 and in 15 minutes were at the junction with the Royal Arch route that Wendy and I had done in October. There was a lot more water in this drainage than the previous one. 25 minutes later, we were at The Ledge and the Supai pouroff. Chris had never done the Ledge bypass route on canyon right, so off we went toward the Rabbit Hole. We passed our packs through and took the requisite pictures. In October, our group had spent a lot of time on this part lowering our packs and locating the scramble down. This time, Chris suggested that we go over and see if we could do it with packs on. It turned out not to be a problem at all to scramble down the brushy chute and we saved a lot of time. I just love the colorful inclusions in the rock on this part of the route- it adds a nice touch to an otherwise rough and steep descent back down to the drainage.

Once back to the drainage, we negotiated the obstacles of Royal Arch Creek. It was so much easier this time, knowing what to expect, and we were able to wear our packs for much of it. It had been overcast all day, and it started to sprinkle on and off. A little unnerving in a tight canyon, but I knew we would be at our camp in a couple of hours. When we reached the first of the pools that we'd had to avoid in October, a little scouting revealed that both it and the following pool were dry! This made our lives a lot easier, as we didn't have to wade a cold pool or do the exposed bypass. We passed the cairns that mark the exit route from the drainage at 1:45 on our way to the Royal Arch to camp. As we got into the ledges and a pretty waterfall, I knew we were getting close. It was a relief to see the Royal Arch and get underneath it before the rain started falling. Definitely the most gorgeous umbrella I've ever used. We were able to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing at the Arch without having to put our rain gear on. Thankfully, the rain would stop from time to time and we were able to go out and look at the pools and the giant drop beyond the Arch. Chris found an alcove camp while Wendy and I camped beneath the Royal Arch.

Day 3- Up before everyone else again, I had one of my favorite moments of the entire trip- early morning yoga and dance as the sun was rising on the ledge next to the dropoff past the Arch. What a way to start the day! Before we left, Chris went and cleaned up webbing left by the group that had rappelled off the big drop since his trip in February. I would totally love to come back to do the route down to Elve's Chasm someday. I also went to check out the path that goes to the right of the drop. It is right on the edge in places but gives an incredible look at the Arch, the drop, and the canyon below. Here's a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlTJbNNqXdk

Sadly, it was eventually time to leave the Royal Arch and head toward the next part of the route- hiking up and out of Royal Arch Creek and toward the rappel. The weather was cooperating as we hiked up the break out of Royal Arch Creek and had a last few interesting spots to negotiate while contouring above the creek. Soon the views opened up toward Stephens Aisle on the Colorado River and the Explorers Monument. There were several types of wildflowers blooming and we soon saw the giant cairn by the edge of the plateau. Chris and I went to check it out- it matches a benchmark from the Matthes-Evans survey of the early 1900's. The views from there are wonderful up and downriver. After a snack break we continued contouring over toward the rappel. There was a short scramble down on sharp rocks to the rappel platform, but this time Wendy and I were able to do it with our packs on. Last year, Wendy and I had spent a good amount of time waiting on the platform because there were so many people on the trip, which only made us nervous. This time, Chris efficiently set up the rappel and Wendy went first. I went next and after having done the long rappels on Weaver's Needle in February, this rappel seemed like it was over before it began. Down came our packs and poles, then Chris. We had one last part where Wendy and I passed our packs down the crack below the rappel, then it was time for the steep, loose slope down to Toltec Beach. We reached the beach with plenty of time to relax before dinner. Only the weather had stopped cooperating and had turned nasty. It was windy and threatening rain and Chris and I got our tents set up and Wendy set up her tarp and bivy. What followed was one of the windiest evenings I've ever had the displeasure of enduring. Wendy and I went exploring up Toltec to a beautiful salt-encrusted seep. We tried to make the best of our camp, but the sandstorm made it tough to relax and even more difficult to eat. I had to take my contact lenses out and put on my glasses for the rest of the trip because my eyes were getting blasted with sand. I spent part of the evening on some rocks next to wet sand by the river before going into my tent. The tent only served to filter out the larger chunks, so when I went to lie down, everything was coated with superfine sand. I had to sleep with a bandanna tucked into my hat and scarf over my face so that I wouldn't be subjected to a fine rain of sand on my face every time the wind blew.

Day 4- The night's sandstorm didn't do anything for anyone's disposition in the morning. Especially Wendy, who hadn't slept all night. The weather looked like it had taken a turn for the worst. Chris said something really glum, like "This is when the fun ends". I had to disagree- it was going to take more than a sandstorm and some bad weather for me not to enjoy the Canyon. The forecast had been for a storm to arrive on the weekend, but it looked as if it was here early. We went back and forth about whether to visit Elves Chasm. Wendy hadn't made it there when we were here last October, and Chris and I had both already seen it, so we left it up to her. Though she hadn't slept last night, she decided that she'd regret it if she skipped it. So we packed up a snack and some water along with our rain gear and hiked the nasty little path over to Elves Chasm. The mile and a half took us an hour and a half and Wendy was cursing every steep up and down, knowing that we'd have to repeat all of them on the way back. It was sprinkling and we all took great care on the slippery-smooth polished rocks as we hiked up the sidecanyon toward the waterfall.

Totally different experience seeing Elves Chasm in the rain- when I got here last October, I was on the verge of overheating and jumped in to cool myself. There would be no jumping in today, but it was still a lovely place to look at. We stood admiring the waterfall for a bit, then retreated to a dry alcove for lunch before hiking back to Toltec and packed up. The original plan had been to take a layover day at Toltec so that we had all day to enjoy Elves Chasm. None of us wanted to even look at Toltec a minute longer than necessary after such a crappy camp the night before and we'd already done the waterfall thing. We wore our raingear as it was sprinkling while we were negotiating the man-eating razor-sharp rocks on the way to Garnet Canyon. That piece of the route is nasty! But the payoff is getting to Garnet and climbing up the Tapeats to the Tonto Trail. It was much colder today, and we had to put extra layers on when taking snack breaks.

It was such a relief to be on the Tonto Trail and be able to stride out for the first time in days and days, even if we were soggy. I'd brought my umbrella for shade on the Tonto, instead I used it for the rain. We cruised along the Tonto for a couple of hours until we reached the sidecanyon before Copper and made camp. I love contouring on the Tonto- I never understand people who get irritated by it. We'd been toying with the idea of hiking out a day early, but realized that it was probably best to stick with our itinerary, which would give us the whole day to hike out from the Bass junction, do our 3.5 mi roadwalk, and drive out on what was probably going to be a really bad road because of the storm. It was a wise choice.

Chris and Wendy shared his two-man tent instead of Wendy having to set up her tarp and bivy in the rain. I am not crazy about sleeping in a tent, (I prefer under the stars) so I was really irritated when the ground had gotten saturated in the middle of the night and the stake holding the fly vestibule was ripped out by a gust of wind, waking me with a cold spray of water. I woke up and went out into the rain to re-stake my tent and find the biggest rock in the area to put on it, swearing up a storm the whole time. Then I realized that the fabric of my tent fly had begun to stretch out and it was touching the mesh in several places, letting drips into my tent. Wendy, after laughing at being woken up by my stream of obscenities, offered me her bivy to use in my tent to protect my sleeping bag and I was able to go back to sleep.

Day 5- All night we'd heard the steady sound of rain on our tents. The ground outside my tent was a mucky mess from my midnight scrambling to restake. We'd left a plastic scoop made from a gallon water jug outside as a rain gauge and we were all thinking that from the sound of last night, that it would be full or overflowing. Surprisingly, there was not even an inch in the jug. The upper layers of the Canyon had been enshrouded in fog which finally lifted to reveal the snow-capped canyon in all its glory. I have never been at the Grand Canyon when it has had snow on it so this was quite a treat! Here's a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuU_9_BzyeY

This day was most notable for the ever-changing weather. We had rain, blue skies, sleet, and sun- sometimes all within a 10-minute period. Chris pointed out different landmarks along the way as we contoured along the Tonto. We filled up water at Copper Canyon, which had a snow-capped Mt. Huethawali sitting atop Evolution Amphitheater. In October, Wendy and I had camped on the point right before the turn into Bass Canyon and Chris and I went out there and watched rafters go through the rapids. We reached the South Bass junction and set up our tents in a dry spell. Wendy had a perfect Wendy-sized alcove for her bivy and we ate dinner up there before retiring for the evening. Right after I got into my tent, there was a barrage of sleet and small hail that came rolling underneath the fly of my tent. Good timing. Tomorrow's hike out was going to depend a lot on what kind of weather we were going to have.

Day 6- It was mercifully clear when we awoke in the morning, but we were guardedly optimistic after going through the changeable weather of yesterday. We had been speculating for a while about what kind of conditions we would encounter on the upper reaches of the trail and our roadwalk and if we were going to be able to drive the 30-mile dirt road. I was hoping that most of the snow had melted, as I am not a fan of the white stuff. We made it on the trail around 8am. I really enjoy the South Bass Trail. It is a beautifully constructed and laid-out trail and I was with two people who also appreciated trail construction, so we were all geeking out about it. The lush area right before the Redwall break is fantastic and after being on the Royal Arch Route, the wide trail felt very fancy and almost luxurious. We were all excited to reach the level part of the traverse in the Supai and get a break from the climb and enjoy the views. We reached a snow-free trail on the Esplanade and stopped short of the Royal Arch junction to refuel for the final push to the rim. The weather was cooperating and couldn't have been more perfect. There was visible snow up ahead and Wendy and I used bread and tortilla bags over our socks to keep our feet dry. As soon as we passed the Royal Arch Route junction, we saw lots of footprints, which made our lives a lot easier. Now we knew that the trail had been broken through the snow. There was just the perfect amount of snow- enough to attractively coat the trees and trail without causing any issues with traction. The last mile and a half went smoothly and we were on the rim by 1 pm. There were several cars at the trailhead, and the road was clear of snow but very wet.

After a break, we started out on our 3.5 mile roadwalk back to the Pasture Wash Ranger Station. At first the slippery mud was kind of funny- we were sliding around and sometimes our feet would get sucked into deep spots. The humor lasted about a half a mile, and then we realized that the mud was going to make it a much more difficult roadwalk than we'd been expecting. In fact, I can say unequivocally that that was the most demoralizing, unpleasant, wet, squishy, unstable, slippery, piece of crap that I've ever had the displeasure of walking. Chris went ahead and Wendy and I plodded on- I was glad we had the bread bags on our feet so that they at least weren't wet and cold. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally saw the Pasture Wash Ranger Station and Wendy's car. Wendy had baked brownies for our trip and we'd saved one apiece for when we returned, plus there were some celebratory Peeps left. It felt so good to take my slimy, mucky shoes off, change my stanky clothes, and take a wet wipe bath. I realized that I had not taken my first aid kit out at all during the trip- not one ibuprofen or piece of moleskin was needed for the whole six days. Somewhat refreshed, we had one last leg of the trip to go- the dreaded drive out on 30 unpaved miles of muck. The water was indeed still quite white. Wendy managed to drive her little AWD Subaru Baja like a champ as we white-knuckled it down the road. There were times when the car would slide sideways down the road as Wendy applied the gas and a couple of spots that required her quite some time to get out of a rut. We all cheered when we saw the blacktop of Hwy 64. Finally, all the obstacles of the trip had been surmounted and now all that was left was an ordinary car drive home.

I am so glad that I decided to do this route again with a small group. The fact that I'd been on much of the route before made the Royal Arch Loop appreciably easier the second time around. The Point Huitzil Route was an incredible way to get through the Coconino and an experience I'll never forget. I am usually a little morose upon leaving the canyon, aching for the next time I'll be able to return, but there was no need on this trip. I knew that in mid-May that I will be back, this time on the river volunteering on an Arizona Game and Fish fish survey. I will be hiking in on the South Kaibab and taking out at Diamond Creek- 12 days of getting to see the Grand Canyon in a completely different way. I can't even describe how excited I am- I have dreamed of rafting the Colorado for years and years and finally the right opportunity came together. I had to laugh when I saw the first three areas we'll be working on the river trip- Upper Bass, Garnet, and Elves- guess I'll be back in the neighborhood before long!
Fauna
Fauna
Canyon Tree Frog
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Oct 09 2010
joebartels
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51 male
 Joined Nov 20 1996
 Phoenix, AZ
Royal Arch via Point HuitzilNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Oct 09 2010
joebartels
Canyoneering7.10 Miles 1,800 AEG
Canyoneering7.10 Miles   6 Hrs      1.18 mph
1,800 ft AEG
Canyon Hiking - Non-technical; no rope; easy scrambling; occasional hand use
A - Dry or little water; shallow or avoidable water; no wet/dry suit
III - Normally requires most of a day
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1st trip
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BobP
Tortoise_Hiker
wallyfrack
We headed in with some key info from Dave. It took some time to figure out the route. Once you know it your next adventure should move right along. While we were doubting Dave's thoughts on "this isn't as bad as a ML" in hindsight I'd have to agree. The ML is repetitive and mixed routes. Whereas this is three spots of concern. Two drops with the tree ladder in the middle. The difference here is I can't do it without the help of others. Wally helped me in the two six(ish) foot drops and Denny helped me up the ladder.

Most of the time was consumed above the first six foot drop. Since we weren't 100% sure the crack was close. Not to mention we arrived in the area on route I suggested we take. (anyone that's hikes with me knows my route finding deficiencies :D )

We had lunch in the shade shortly after. After which we decided to continue down for 45min. None of us wanted to be coming up the incline after dark. After the second small downclimb we were able to increase the pace to easy off-trail canyon hopscotch.

What took us 4 hours to descend was a quick 2 hours back to the trailhead. I'm glad to know this ancient route now, it's pretty cool. Bob noticed two other "ladders" lying down in the crack. The rock art is cool too if you're into that stuff. We passed three backpackers on the route up. They were using a rope which would make the two down climbs easier. Though I don't think I'd want to be out there with a big pack :scared:

Thanks everyone for a great little adventure!
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Oct 08 2010
BobP
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59 male
 Joined Feb 26 2008
 Scottsdale, AZ
Royal Arch via Point HuitzilNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Oct 08 2010
BobP
Canyoneering7.10 Miles 1,800 AEG
Canyoneering7.10 Miles   6 Hrs      1.18 mph
1,800 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
joebartels
Tortoise_Hiker
wallyfrack
Thanks to Dave for the beta on this hike. I really enjoyed it and will definitely go back at some point. The day started out hiking in the junipers...after about a half mile we logged in a point in the GPS to follow. The route we took out was more direct but also more bushwacky then the route back. The highlights were the super smooth 700ish year old branch/ladder. The petroglyphs and pictos were pretty pumpkin awesome also. The original plan was to hike to the Arch and back but we changed plans to shorten it after we spent too much time in the beginnig. The trip was a success because we were out hiking and enjoying ourselves. Thanks to everyone for joining me on this great adventure.

The "ladder" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5PnYB00UO8
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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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