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Boucher Rapids via Boucher - 13 members in 33 triplogs have rated this an average 4.5 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Mar 11 2017
BiFrost
avatar

 Guides 4
 Routes 372
 Photos 8,276
 Triplogs 1,006

51 male
 Joined Nov 20 2012
 Phoenix, AZ
Boucher Rapids Hermit Loop, AZ 
Boucher Rapids Hermit Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 11 2017
BiFrost
Hiking35.65 Miles 9,452 AEG
Hiking35.65 Miles   18 Hrs   14 Mns   2.20 mph
9,452 ft AEG   2 Hrs   3 Mns Break
 
1st trip
We had done this loop before but without going down to Boucher Rapids so this time we added that piece. Down Boucher went without any issues and all the steep sections were easy to navigate. Took short break at Boucher Creek before heading out to the rapids. Lunch at Boucher Rapids getting there about noon and took 45 minute break to enjoy the river which was unfortunately muddy brown but still nice to see.

After lunch headed back to Tonto Trail junction above Boucher Creek and started the traverse over to Hermit Creek. We had forgotten how long this section is at about 5 miles but made it to Hermit Creek and took another break to fill up water and recharge for the climb out. It was almost 4pm and Hermit camp site was filling up so we talked to couple of the guys. Water topped off and ready to go we headed up Hermit and the long climb. Slow going uphill and reached Santa Maria Spring as it was getting dark. Another short break and last push to the top.

We knew the last bus was about 730 so at this point we were pretty sure wouldn't make that arriving about 1 hour late. Backup plan was to call taxi from Hermits Rest which would have worked if the signal was strong enough. Tried several times but the call kept dropping before I could tell the guy to send taxi to Hermit's Rest. So we started walking the road back to the Bright Angel Lodge where the vehicle was parked. Long day made longer by extra walk but cool to see the rapids!
Named place
Named place
Boucher Creek Boucher Rapids
_____________________
1 archive
Mar 11 2017
slowandsteady
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 Routes 67
 Photos 966
 Triplogs 694

47 female
 Joined Jan 05 2012
 Phoenix,AZ
Boucher Rapids Hermit Loop, AZ 
Boucher Rapids Hermit Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 11 2017
slowandsteady
Hiking35.65 Miles 9,452 AEG
Hiking35.65 Miles   18 Hrs   14 Mns   2.20 mph
9,452 ft AEG   2 Hrs   3 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
We had to renew our "You're an idiot" badges. :y:
_____________________
Mar 31 2016
writelots
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 Guides 19
 Routes 40
 Photos 5,607
 Triplogs 340

48 female
 Joined Nov 22 2005
 Tucson, AZ
Tonto Trail: South Bass to Hermit, AZ 
Tonto Trail: South Bass to Hermit, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Mar 31 2016
writelots
Backpack50.00 Miles 5,600 AEG
Backpack50.00 Miles6 Days         
5,600 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
And now, ladies and gentleman, an epic tale of adventure, danger and triumph in the grandest canyon on earth...

I've been trying to "get er done" with this hike for years. My concept of hiking the whole of the Tonto from the LCR to Royal Arch Creek seemed doable enough back in 2009 - and now 7 years later I can finally count it finished :y: . The Gems passage between South Bass and Hermit may not be the most difficult portion of this route, but it has proven over the years to logistically challenging and down right elusive. Cancelled shuttles, sick hiking partners and bad weather have cancelled my prior 3 attempts at this stretch of the trail. I vowed that come hell, high water or bad roads I would complete it this year - and the canyon pulled out some of her best attempts at stopping me.

Oh, and doing the trip this way means you have to hike out Hermit, which I hate by the way. Just sayin'.

The days before our hike, a storm blew into Northern AZ which threatened to make the roads impassable out to South Bass. A stroke of luck kept the worst of the moisture away from our area, and the roads were dry and safer than expected. It seemed almost a let-down that there was no mud on the road in, as I'd really sold it hard to my hiking companions not familiar with that road that as was gnarly and potentially dangerous. Of course, the fact that I was still finding red mud in my Subaru 3 years after driving it to do Royal Arch should have been evidence enough. Thanks to Tim for getting us out there safe and happy!

We originally had permits to camp at South Bass TH the night before our hike in, and we were VERY glad we changed our itinerary to drive in and hike down on the same day. Although it meant a very LONG hike in, it also let us spend that 11 degree night in a camping trailer (provided by the most generous Scat Daddy) rather than cowboy camping it. It ALSO meant that we didn't have to carry the gear needed for 11 degree camping with us for the remaining 5 nights ... none of which dropped below about 40. All around, a great choice!

Day 1: South Bass and Rainbows
I love this trail...up and down it is a delight to hike. The little break you get crossing the Esplanade under the watchful eye of Mount Huethawali feels like a piece of heaven. I was making up a little tune (think along the lines of Gentle On my Mind) as we hiked in...

"Well I'm back here on the Esplanade,
Making up a country song,
Hiking in with some of my good friends,
I feel I'm back where I belong,
in spite of this here country song,
walkin' through the canyon once again..."


If you read Sirena's trip report, you'll note that a couple of the folks we ran into that day either knew her or me or both of us, which made for a fun bit of conversation. I love knowing that our community of Grand Canyon devotees is not as big as one might fear, and that we all congregate in season about the waterholes and overhangs of our favorite side canyons.

Our trip for water down to Bass Tanks was hot and stressful, but in the end we got enough to drink to support a dry camp out on the point (always a preference!). I'd like to say that we took the wrong route to the tanks (following the creek instead of the trail) on purpose, looking for waterholes we'd found before. But the truth was that we really had no idea what we were doing, and we made a long trip even longer. Luckily, no permanent harm was done and the worst thing that happened was that we were short on mileage for day 1. We made camp on the plateau just before the trail turned back to the south.

When we set our packs down, I pointed out a substantial storm that was building over the Powell Plateau. We all excitedly headed down to the edge of the plateau to see the river, and the storm kept building. Once we realized that it was actually going to hop across the canyon at us, we rushed back to try to make camp before it hit. Instead, we made camp as it hit - with strong winds whipping our tents and tarps out of our hands and strong spray blinding us as we tried to stake everything down. I think the strongest rain was falling for about 5-10 minutes after we got the tents and all up, but it was never really a downpour. When the drops got more infrequent we crawled back out and were treated to that golden-light show that only a sunset shower in the canyon can give you. Even rainbows to play in!

"There's a storm brewin' across the rim,
but Roger says the chance of rain is slim.
Well either way the wind begins to blow.
The rain it beats upon my face
putting me back in to my place
I just hope it doesn't turn to snow."


Day 2: Helicopters and Bright Sunshine

The morning was brilliant as we watched a (much less spectacular) sunrise. We decided to try to follow a pattern of breaking camp before breakfast and eating later on the trail to make the most of our cooler morning hours. We figured it was about 2.5 miles into Serpentine, and we made it in a little over an hour. The hike back into the back of the canyon was a little more challenging than I'd anticipated - the Tonto platform is narrow going into the back of the canyon, and there were many little twists and turns to navigate. None the less, it was a spectacular morning for hiking - with blooming prickly pear abundant, the sage busting out with dark green foliage and delicate yellow flowers and a cloudless blue sky.

"We're Tontouring into Serpentine,
The rocks are brown, the sage is green,
The cacti have such lovely bright pink blooms,
I hope the canyon's kind to me,
I hope I hike out gracefully,
and not have this big rock hole be my tomb...
"

We filled up a few containers with water in Serpentine. Reports of the quality of this water vary from "just fine" to "damn near poison", and we weren't sure which to believe. Like any seasoned canyon hiker, though, we were aware that passing a water source with empty bottles is tantamount to running with scissors - so we topped of. Some people tried a "blend" of Serpentine water, while others kept it in a separate emergency storage device. In the end, after all was said and done, our feelings on the water were mixed. No one reported major intestinal issues, but I've always had difficulties with my inards on backpacking food and water, so it's tough to say what the culprit might have be.

Like most groups, we don't always hike close to each other, but instead accordion out across the trail. John (who earned the trail name BBJ) was out in the lead - still nervous that he wouldn't be able to keep up (obviously he hadn't hiked with me before!). Sirena was cruising in second, a real force of nature out there on the trail. Then the accordion collapsed behind her when she stopped with some unexplained leg pain.

I'll refer you to her very detailed and fascinating triplog for details on her injury, call for help and subsequent rescue: [ triplog ]. We waved goodbye to the helicopter (video here: ) and then encountered that very surreal moment where there's nothing left to do but pick up your pack and start walking again. Minus one.

The rest of the day felt decidedly anticlimactic. We Tontoured in and out of Emerald and Quartz canyons - both of which were very standard, easy Tonto canyons. As we headed back into Ruby our water bottles were getting down to just the Serpentine blends and we were glad to be approaching what we'd been told was a pretty dependable source. The sun went behind the canyon walls while we collected water and chatted with the group planning to camp there (they were curious about the helicopter since they'd all spoken to Sirena as they passed us).

"I'm looking into Ruby now,
my feet are tired, and are they how,
I'm hoping for just one small bit of shade.
The ground is hard, the sun is hot,
for water we've just this one shot
and miles to go before our camp is made."


We watered up and kept on hiking out to a sweeping vista overlooking a particularly pretty piece of marbled schist. A point camp on the Le Conte Plateau made a wonderful place to watch the stars, regain some much needed nutrients and wonder how our friend was doing up on the rim.

Day 3-4: Slogging Out the Miles

The trail description written by the NPS on this portion of the Tonto is full of warnings about the remoteness and challenge of this piece of the Tonto (which felt misleading since we leap-frogged with 2-3 groups the whole way). However, in the end they say, "..it is mostly just a question of slogging out the miles".

If this is slogging, sign me up for a lifetime of it.

We hiked through Jade and Jasper quickly in the morning before breakfast. We knew from the day before that the heat was on its way, and we wanted to water up before it hit too hard. The Shaler Plateau is beautiful with its Muave cliffs and views of the greater canyon's constriction at the Scorpion Ridge on the north side of the river.

"Turquoise is up around the bend
the trail's red, it's green, it's brown again
It's changing just as quickly as my mind.
I love the canyon's morning light
the wren's call and the raven's flight
the worries of the modern world they mend."


Turquoise is a delightful tributary to hike back into, with lots of great views down into the Tapeats narrows and across the very narrow canyon. The big natural rock tank near the trail junction was a delightful place to rest and filter water - with some amorous frogs to keep us entertained and plenty of beautiful ledges to rest on.

After departing Turquoise, the trail becomes more Tonto like than ever, with a long, relatively flat hike around Castor Temple. It started to get quite hot, and so when we started back into Sapphire, we were really hoping for a shady afternoon siesta. The canyon is quite open compared to the previous Tapeats gorges, though, and the floor is baking in the sun...

...except for the space just under 2 Apache pines at the base of the canyon just below the trail crossings. Glorious pine tree shade! We napped until the sun dipped behind the walls of the rim, then gathered water from the slick rock pools upstream. We hiked on, determined to make enough miles to give us some room for a trip to the river the next day, and we ended up at a glorious rock shelf suspended in the middle of the rocky and dry Agate Canyon.

That night, we played with our headlamps and long-exposure camera shots to pay tribute to our lost comrade. We watched the stars (so brilliant with the late moon rise) and contemplated the nature of the universe that was laid out before us.

Then its back on the Tonto - singing my new lyrics and enjoying the eternal views. Scylla Butte made me think of my favorite Stripey Butte on the AZT Passage 17a, and it made me miss my hiking buddy even more.

"I'm out here on the wide plateau,
how far it goes, it's hard to know
you walk until your feet can go no more.
The side creeks all fall into line
already eight, or was it nine?
the Tonto always has some more in store."


Water was plentiful in Slate Creek, once you get down to it. Of course, like all of the Tonto canyons that deliver a big drop through the Tapeats to get to their floor, you get a nice healthy climb to get back out and up on the plateau again. By this time, though, we were feeling quite strong and it was fun to climb. Besides, it was but a warm up for the big show coming our way at Boucher Creek.

Hiking around Marsh Butte involves navigating some massive landslides that are reasonably recent as Grand Canyon landslides go. We picked our way through boulder fields and dry moraines, hiding from the intense sun under the cover of my umbrella. rounding the corner into Boucher is like entering a whole new type of canyon - the amphitheater created by Topaz and Boucher Creek is MASSIVE, crowned by Vesta Temple.

The descent into Boucher follows a huge collapse in the Tapeats that keeps you looking upstream in Topaz Canyon. It was steep and rugged enough to motivate us to put away the umbrellas and use both poles (and our full concentration) on keeping our feet where they belonged and our pumpkins off the dirt. There was nowhere to hide from the shade, except for about a 3 square foot space at the base of a boulder, where we found our companion John resting and waiting for us to finish the descent. Then we headed over to the babbling base of Boucher Creek to top off our water bottles, dump water over our dry, sweaty heads, and begin the final descent to the river (at last! The river!).

The hike from Boucher creek to the beach is a beautiful and easy walk down the gravel creek bed. I didn't bother to keep my feet dry, but enjoyed the cool water washing through my shoes and soaking my socks. There were lots of new flowers and plants down here, including some gorgeous scarlet monkey flower. By the time we made the beach, there was ample shade and just enough sun to indulge the skinny dipper in the party.

We watched a boat trip run the rapid, wistfully I might add, wishing that we could ride along (freezing water notwithstanding). Though I'd originally intended to camp upstream of the creek confluence, I'd completely forgotten about the GIANT beach downstream. The boys went off exploring and their excited discovery of a practically virgin stretch of white sand where the boaters usually camped got us to pack up what we'd spread out and move. Thus ensued one of the more delightful nights I've ever spent backpacking - with barefoot dancing on the beach, long ballads being sung and Scat Daddy's first cowboy's night out (of the tent). The rapid sang us to sleep and woke us in the morning again, refreshed, rehydrated and ready to climb.

"I'm still singing this here country song,
aren't you glad you've come along
on my travels through the canyon wide?
Camped under a starlit sky
the sand is soft, the hikers high
I wish the boats could offer me a ride..."


Day 5: Finishing the Tonto
The day went precisely as planned. We woke early, followed the winding stream up to its travertine dome and ate breakfast next to a gushing waterfall. We explored the ruins of Boucher's cabin briefly before beginning the climb back out of the canyon behind White's Butte. Then it was across the Tonto again to the next (dry) tributary. There's a beautiful if small campsite at Travertine which was still in the shade when we arrived at lunch time, so we took our siesta there. It was a little difficult to be still, knowing that I was so SO close to my finish point, but the clouds which had kept us cool in the first part of the day had burned off and hiding from that sun was a important part of keeping things fun. Once the death-orb had moved into position to erase our shade, we picked up and started the final leg into Hermit Creek and my last little piece of un-explored Tonto Trail.

I loved the little stretch that skirted the cliffs just above Hermit Rapid, ducking around an ancient juniper that clung to the slopes like a stubborn old man. My vertigo liked it less, though, so I didn't linger. By 3:45 we were in Hermit Camp, doing my happy dance and throwing Wendy's all over the place like I'd done something special. Yes - I was doing the happy dance with my pack ON - that's how excited I was!

We managed to snag the awesome ledge camp just as it got shady and we settled in for a delightful afternoon and evening of story swapping and booze finishing. A wonderful night's sleep was all that was in between me and the only part of this trip that I hadn't looked forward to: the hike out on the Hermit Trail.

Day 6: Did I Mention I Hate Hiking Out Hermit?
Okay... I guess this has become an epically long triplog, and all you really need to know at this point is that I successfully hiked out the Hermit Trail. We did have one fun encounter along the way: a young woman who was traveling from Grandview to Hermit met us on our hike up. She was a solo hiker from Australia by way of British Colombia, and would be traveling into the canyon once more the next day to help bring some food down to a group traveling very slowly from South Bass and out the Bright Angel. She was fun to talk to, and we helped her a little with rides once we got to the rim.

The Hermit is just a frustrating hike out. I actually enjoy the Cathedral Stairs...it's those "paved" ramps in the Coconino that really kill me. My feet don't like that steeply angled tread, I'd rather do steps up any day. But, for all the bitching it wasn't that bad and we were out in time for showers before grabbing an early dinner in Tusayan.

"As I climb all those Cathedral Stairs
the condors circle up in pairs
but they won't get a feast from me today.
I'm feeling good and pretty strong,
though the canyon sometimes proves me wrong
I think I'm gonna make it all the way"


As the sun set on yet another wonderful adventure in the canyon I began thinking about my next big goals, both in the canyon and beyond. I hope all of them provide me with as much challenge, satisfaction and sheer magnificent beauty that this one has.

But maybe, if at all possible, a couple fewer side canyons.

"I'll be back, I don't know when
to hike the Grand Canyon again
You know, I just can't seem to stay away.
There's something there I can't resist
a special kind of magic bliss
Come with me friend next time, and we will play...

...another stupid country song,
I promise it won't be so long,
but then again I always tend to lie.
I'm better off just walking there
deep inside the great rock lair
lets go and hike the canyon one more time.
Fauna
Fauna
Garter Snake
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
Prickly pear and black sage were blooming a lot. Cliff rose and the redbuds in the canyons up above the plateau.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Boucher Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Flow varied by location


water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Hermit Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Looked wonderful!




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 less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Serpentine Creek - GC Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
100' of flow at trail junction

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Slate Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Flowing nicely at the trail 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
No flow - 200+ gallons in rock pool above trail junction
_____________________
-----------------------------------
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 19 2015
friendofThundergod
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 Guides 28
 Routes 314
 Photos 9,133
 Triplogs 868

39 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.
Culture
Culture
Intrepid Back Shot
_____________________
8 archives
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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1 archive
Mar 19 2015
John9L
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 Guides 6
 Routes 174
 Photos 5,294
 Triplogs 1,639

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!
Culture
Culture
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1 archive
Mar 19 2015
BiFrost
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 Guides 4
 Routes 372
 Photos 8,276
 Triplogs 1,006

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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1 archive
Mar 19 2015
chumley
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 Guides 83
 Routes 692
 Photos 16,127
 Triplogs 1,618

48 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:
Geology
Geology
Vishnu Schist
Culture
Culture
Campsite

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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5 archives
Jun 07 2014
friendofThundergod
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 Guides 28
 Routes 314
 Photos 9,133
 Triplogs 868

39 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Boucher to Bright Angel, AZ 
Boucher to Bright Angel, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Jun 07 2014
friendofThundergod
Backpack54.90 Miles 12,700 AEG
Backpack54.90 Miles5 Days         
12,700 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
I was finally able to do something of subsistence in the Grand Canyon. A big thanks to 9L who designed a nearly perfect initial 5 day excursion into the Grand Canyon. This time of year is not the easiest to plan with the lack of water and high temperatures, so our options were a little limited. Nevertheless, we came up with a plan that included starting at Hermit's Rest, taking Hermit Trail to Boucher Trail and then to my home for two nights along the Colorado River near Boucher Rapids. From there it was Hermit's Creek, then Monument Creek and on the final day the Tonto East from Monument Creek to Bright Angel and out.

Quick Anecdote: We had a crotchety SGT in our platoon during my last deployment to Afghanistan. Typical old guy, deployed like four times, woke up at three every day, always grumpy etc anyways, he would always compare me to the young mouthy guy from Biloxi Blues. So every now and then when it was a moment know one was thinking about laughing I would say SGT Blank, "man its hot today, its like Africa hot," and he would reluctantly chuckle. How does this relate to the Grand Canyon? Well just a heads up, "The Canyon is hot, like Africa hot right now!" I found myself repeating that phrase in my head several times over my five days in the bottom of the Canyon and in the absence of another hiker it was just enough to usually make me chuckle.

I drove up on Friday June 6th. I treated myself to some great Thai food in Williams of all places! I am a huge Thai fan and I give this place two thumbs up, Dara Thai Cafe worth a stop for sure. I got to the Canyon when they were still charging admission, but I told the lady of my plans and she just let me in for free and gave me permission to sleep in BCO parking lot, so that worked out just about perfect, gotta love it when things fall together like that. Only problem was the Canyon was bumping and that coupled with a little anxiety literally meant I got about 35 total minutes of sleep. No worries though to echo the words of one of my over-caffeinated drill sergeants, "sleep is a crutch for the weak." That would have to be my motto on day one as my first real intro into the Grand Canyon would be Boucher Trail.

Day 1:

Made first shuttle to Hermit's Rest, 4:30 a.m. Was boots on trail by about a quarter after five, skipped my intended carb loaded breakfast in lieu of 8-9 hour old Thai food that had been sitting in my car all night, turned out to be about only bad decision of trip. Stepped off with over 160 ounces of fluid, visited Dripping Springs, saw no one, loved the mild challenge of Boucher, got annoyed quickly by helicopter traffic and eventually had feet in Colorado River by 11:30 a.m. Tried to eat a little lunch, then literally spent about 4-5 hours in some of worst stomach pain ever. Cant figure out if it was mild dehydration, the Thai Food, first day acclimating to the oven or what, but was literally out of commission lying next to Boucher Rapids in a little grotto of trees until nearly six in the evening.

Day 1 Tally's: 11.7 miles, 5:13 a.m. to 11:17 a.m. Including frozen Gatorade carried nearly 170 oz, used about 80 oz of water and half of Gatorade to reach river.

Day 2: Slept in late. Woke up to find that my picturesque camp site had turned into Kuwait over night and nearly buried me in sand inside of my own tent sans rain fly of course. Lesson learned scorching hot canyons equal thermals and high winds at night leading to lots of blowing sand! My ambitions were a little curtailed by late start but stepped on the Tonto and headed West to Slate Creek, made a couple half-hearted and very cautious attempts at entering the Slate Creek drainage and eventually making my way to Crystal Rapids. I think I know how it can be done, but was not feeling overly adventurous on second day solo in back country and five miles from camp, so I headed back to camp with Slate Creek being my furthest advance west in Canyon now. Did finally get braver and hit up what I thought were some very promising over hangs and caves on way back, but found nothing. Later that evening I read in Spangler's hiking guide that she had actually attempted to drop down into Slate Creek on one of her trips but was probably turned back by the same impassable pour over that I hit in one of the eastern "finger-like" side drainages. I guess if proper side drainage is chosen one can enter Slate, with the attraction being to view Crystal Rapids. I was certainly on the right track, just lacked full commitment I guess and my private beach along the Colorado was calling.

Day 2 Tally's: 10.8 miles :started late 6:33 was back to camp just after noon.

Day 3: Went from Boucher Rapids camp to Hermit's Creek area. There were two other groups there, loved Hermit's Creek, rapids were great, saw a herd of Big Horn, lounged around pool area, day was only slightly diminished by man in HAZMAT suit cleaning the restroom all day. Hermit's Creek was by far the highlight of the trip.

Day 3 Tally's: 10.3 miles, left Boucher Rapids 5:30 a.m arrived Hermits Creek around 9 hiked to rapids and back and a little upstream exploration, lots of rest and relaxation around creek.

Day 4: Easy hike to Monument Creek, left late in morning had no need to rush. Forest service employee let me take a little off my load by allowing me to put trash in barrel on pallet that was being flown out by helicopter later in day. Was fully prepared to pack it all out, but could not turn down opportunity to get rid of three days worth of mountain house packages, and snack wrappers :) Explored the narrows of Monument Creek, real cool! Hiked down to Granite Rapids, watched a few boats go through, prepped gear and made final preparations for longest day yet to come.

Day 4 Tally's: 7.2 miles. Lost a bag of Peach O's to desert Sun, completely liquefied them inside baggie, making them inedible, believe me I tried, it was a very sad discovery

Day 5: Started early, in fact, very early left camp at 3:34 a.m. Plan was to use the generous light from moon, however, there was a slight problem with that, as moon had set before I even stepped off, alas, it would be a head lamp hike after all, not one lit by the moon. Even with following it for the first time and following the first portions of it in complete darkness, Tonto East proved to be a race track and I was at Indian Gardens around 8.

I took a short break and then prepared to take the United Nation's walk up the Bright Angel. Everyone knows the Bright Angel is what it is, so I just appreciated it for its awesome grade and well kept trail.

Day 5 Tally's: 14.9 miles, left camp 3:34 a.m. was on South Rim and walking to BCO lot by 10:20 a.m.

Final Notes and Observations:

My camp along the Colorado had a certain stranded desert island appeal to it. I certainly was not swimming across the Colorado and with cliffs to my back, lots of AEG, and a limited shore line my world for two days was pretty much relegated to about a 45 meter white sand stretch of beach.

One of the guide books I read said something on the lines of, "it is impossible to hike in the Grand Canyon and not become at least an amateur geologist." I think there is certainly some merit in that statement, I found myself pondering rock stuff more than probably at any previous moment in my life. A truly fascinating place...

Lessons Learned: Throw out all preconceived notions about what constitutes an early start when hiking in the Canyon during warm months. Anything after six better not have far to go, 5-5:30 solid start time, 4-5 better, anything before 4 ideal for long days.
Fauna
Fauna
Bighorn Sheep
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Geology
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2 archives
May 04 2013
Tough_Boots
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 Routes 67
 Photos 2,708
 Triplogs 755

64 male
 Joined Mar 28 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Boucher / Hermit Loop, AZ 
Boucher / Hermit Loop, AZ
 
Backpack avatar May 04 2013
Tough_Boots
Backpack30.10 Miles 8,286 AEG
Backpack30.10 Miles3 Days         
8,286 ft AEG
 
1st trip
This was a fun three days! We woke up Saturday morning at Haley's and headed over to the trailhead. We decided to hit Dripping Springs first since it wasn't too far out of the way and ended up hiking with a guy from Brooklyn who seemed to enjoy our banter or at least was good at pretending. We hung out at the springs for a minute and dunked our hats/bandanna's and were on out way.

The Boucher Trail is one hell of a trail. Its harder going down then most trails I've ever gone up. Its beautiful and well worth every step, though. Chumley and John quickly broke ahead of me as usual and I had a nice quite morning to myself hiking through the canyon. I missed the turnoff to Boucher Camp and luckily realized soon after that I should have already dropped in. I turned around and met up with them at our camp spot for the night. There would be two other groups there that night. We took our time setting up and I took some time to drink a beer while soaking my feet in the cool creek.

After resting a bit, we headed down creek to the Colorado to check out Boucher Rapids. Everyone had the same idea and we passed quite a few people as they headed back. The Colorado is always nice to see. We headed back and lounged for the rest of the day.

We woke up sunday and took our time packing up. It was going to be a short and easy day. We climbed back up to the Tonto and took it over to Hermit Camp. We were the first ones there so we ended up with the penthouse spot-- John picked the sweet spot. After setting up camp, we headed down creek to check out Hermit Rapids. Hermit Creek is awesome! Waterfalls and areas where it tightens into a slot canyon. It was really fun. We hung out at the river for a bit and headed back. John wanted to make a little loop and take an old trail back up to the Tonto where we could check out the old Hermit Camp ruins. Those were pretty interesting. Its hard to believe they actually used to run a cable car down there. We got back to camp and slowly watched it fill up as more backpackers showed up.

Monday we got packed up pretty quick. We knew it was going to be a trudge back out of there and we wanted to be out pretty early. It was a beautiful hike out and the temperature turned out to be perfect. It sprinkled for a few minutes which was actually nice. John and Chumley finished just a little ahead of me and I finished in just under four hours. Awesome hike out!

Good times and good company! Thanks for setting this up, 9L!
Geology
Geology
Tapeats Sandstone
Culture
Culture
Cag Shot
Named place
Named place
Hermit Creek
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May 04 2013
John9L
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 Guides 6
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 Triplogs 1,639

male
 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Boucher / Hermit Loop, AZ 
Boucher / Hermit Loop, AZ
 
Backpack avatar May 04 2013
John9L
Backpack30.10 Miles 8,286 AEG
Backpack30.10 Miles3 Days         
8,286 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Our trip started on Saturday morning from Hermits Rest. We quickly made our way down and headed for Dripping Springs. After a quick stop we connected to the Boucher Trail and started the traverse across the top of the Supai. The going is easy along this shadeless section. We continued on and stopped by Yuma Point to enjoy the views which were stunning! From there we continued our traverse and then started the descent through the Supai which was steep and rough. Once at the bottom we proceeded towards Whites Butte. Our original plan was to make a quick summit but I was running low on water and the trail was taking its toll. We decided to continue on which lead us through the break in the Redwall. Again the going is steep and loose as you drop toward Boucher Camp. The lower sections winds back and forth and continued dropping. It seemed like it would never end...

We arrived at Boucher Camp to find two other groups settled in but no one was there. We picked a site and then I immediately pumped water from Boucher Creek. As I pumped I soaked in the beauty of this area and tried to imagine what it must have been like back in the days of Louis Boucher. It must have been quite a site with a tourist camp and a variety of fruit bearing trees. Boucher Creek is a welcome oasis!

Anyways after we got camp set we started the hike to the Colorado. This section of canyon is beautiful. The creek is flowing and the walls rise up around you. We strolled to the river and passed at least a dozen of our fellow campers. Once at the river we took our time exploring the area and got to watch a massive boat power through the rapid. It went so fast as everyone sat in their seat. Didn't look like much fun compared to all the small rafts I've seen fight their way through the rapids. Our return hike was very chill and we all settled into camp for the night.

We woke on day two and took our time packing up. The plan was two hike the five miles to Hermit Camp and then day hike to the river. We started the hike across the Tonto and took a few quick stops to enjoy the views. We all hiked at our own pace and I was the first to arrive at camp. As I neared Hermit Camp I was delighted to see the entire area was vacated! My eyes then lead me to the "Penthouse". The site called to me and I hurried down hoping to beat anyone else just showing up. Naturally I scored the site (see pics) and Hermit Camp would instantly turn into one of my favorite camps ever! Yes I have a lot of these. :)

After camp was set up we made the walk to the Colorado. Hermit drainage is another gem! We lazily followed Hermit Creek and stopped for pics and periods just to admire the beauty! Did I ever say I like the Canyon? If not I am now! :D Hermit Rapid is another strong one. There weren't any rafters as we chatted it up with some backpackers. From there we headed back up stream and cruised by the old cable system set up on the Bright Angel Shale. The operation was impressive. I didn't realize how large the footprint was. It took us some time to walk around. Afterward we returned to camp and several groups showed up very late in the day. They all looked envious at our "Penthouse" location.

I woke on our final day to hear Chumley tearing down camp. I got up and started prepping for the hike out. I was ecstatic to see overcast. It was going to be a cool hike out. Chumley left early as Kyle and I packed up our gear. We started the hike out just as our neighbors were starting to stir. They really slept in. The first few miles were uneventful. The hike up the Cathedral Stairs took some effort. Chumley was up ahead and left several calling cards for us which helped bring out a laugh despite the grind hiking out. See pics. I finally caught up with Chumley near the Santa Maria Spring. We had a chat and then made the hike out.

We've been hitting the Canyon hard and it never disappoints! Every trip leaves me wanting more! I never want them to end. Each one becomes a part of me. Thanks to Chumley and Kyle for coming out for this one and thanks Hippy for putting up with us for the short time we stayed with you.
Geology
Geology
Tapeats Sandstone
Culture
Culture
Campsite
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May 04 2013
chumley
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 Guides 83
 Routes 692
 Photos 16,127
 Triplogs 1,618

48 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Boucher Hermit Loop, AZ 
Boucher Hermit Loop, AZ
 
Backpack avatar May 04 2013
chumley
Backpack31.50 Miles 8,286 AEG
Backpack31.50 Miles3 Days         
8,286 ft AEG41 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
My 5th weekend trip to the canyon this spring entailed a 2-night backpacking trip on the Boucher and Hermit trails.

We started Saturday morning and made good time, stopping at Dripping Springs before traversing around the Eremita Mesa to Yuma Point. 9L and I spotted a couple of deer and a group of three backpackers on their way out. From Dripping Springs to Boucher Camp we saw no others.

The traverse around the mesa is easy cruising but it ends fast when the trail dips through the Supai in a steep, rocky, and difficult to follow section of trail that drops 1000-feet in .75 mile. After a .5 mile respite, the trail makes its final descent through the redwall dropping an additional 1800-feet in the final 1.5 miles to the creek. We were glad not to be hiking out this way! Exiting via Boucher would deliver a solid 3000-feet of vertical in the first 3 miles!

Anyway, a group of 11 backpacks were piled by a boulder, but no campsite had been set up and there was nobody around. Naturally, we took advantage and grabbed the best spot we could find and quickly set up our tents. The beer got stashed in the river, water filtered, and some time to rest and relax. Unfortunately, there's no shade in Boucher camp as any trees that might once have provided it are no longer living.

After a couple of hours we decided to head on the short 1.5 mile hike to the river. Along the way we passed all the people who had left their packs at camp. They were a college geology class from Indiana and were on their 5th night in the canyon. They didn't have tents and didn't seem to mind us camping near them. They took off for Yuma Point before 5am Sunday, and we waited until much later to begin our leisurely stroll across the Tonto to Hermit Camp.

9L got there first and grabbed the best camp spot there ... camp was empty on our arrival. After a while we headed downstream to the river. The section of Hermit Creek that cuts through the Tapeats is awesome. And Hermit Rapid might be the mightiest I have been to. A real treat! On the way back to camp, we headed up out of the creek to visit the ruins of the old Hermit tourist camp. There are plenty of ruins and remnants around, and we marveled at the history of a cable car taking tourists and supplies directly from this spot to the rim at Pima Point. That would have been a sight to see! (Not to mention, an exhilarating white-knuckle ride!)

Three other groups arrived at Hermit late in the afternoon and set up camp. I explored upstream a bit where a series of beautiful cascades appear, one after the other, until you get above the Tapeats layer.

We saw only one mouse run across our little cave overhang campsite, as he figured out quickly that there was nothing for him to get into. We had seen one the night before at Boucher too, but being well-prepared for them, we had no problem with their brief visits.

Monday, I woke up early, and instead of trying to get back to sleep, I got up and started packing quietly. Kyle and 9L were awake by the time I was ready to go, and knowing that I'm slower on the ascent, I headed out to get a head start. I was at the base of the Cathedral Stairs before I spotted them come up out of the creek, figuring I had close to an hour and almost 2 miles on them. I made good time and felt good about my "lead", so I took a detour out onto Lookout Point.

At Santa Maria Spring, I was exploring the old stone restrooms below the resthouse that I hadn't noticed on my 2 first trips past here when I suddenly heard 9L. I was a little disappointed that he had made up the distance in just 4 miles. I was at least hoping to make it to the final ascent above Waldron. Oh well. Kyle was close behind too. We hiked together for a short stretch before 9L took off for the top. I struggled up the last 1000 feet as I always seem to. But apparently I arrived only 10-minutes behind 9L, and Kyle was there just a few minutes behind me.

We stopped in to say hi to Hippy before heading home with the requisite pitstop for wings and pizza in Flagstaff.
Fauna
Fauna
Canyon Tree Frog
Geology
Geology
Chert Travertine

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Boucher Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Nice flow below camp. Plenty of cool water for filtering or dipping your feet into. Not more than calf deep in the deepest pools.
Above camp, you can hear the flow while descending down the trail, but it goes underground before reaching camp.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Dripping Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
More than a quart, but not quite a gallon/min. A second spring about 20 yards farther up has a nicer pool built to hold the water for filtering. Avoid the one by the sign unless you are sticking your head under the "Drip"

dry Fourmile Spring Dry Dry
No sign of water.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Hermit Creek Light flow Light flow
Refreshing and cool. A couple of knee-deep pools, otherwise just a shallow stream. No problem filtering or taking a shallow dip.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Santa Maria Spring Dripping Dripping
Dripping from the pipe. Trough was full and easy to filter from if needed.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Topaz Canyon Light flow Light flow
Didn't venture far upstream, but all the flow in Boucher Creek below camp was coming from Topaz Canyon.
_____________________
33s over 45s
Mar 15 2013
nonot
avatar

 Guides 98
 Routes 249
 Photos 2,067
 Triplogs 495

male
 Joined Nov 18 2005
 Phoenix, AZ
Boucher TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 15 2013
nonot
Backpack43.20 Miles 2,290 AEG
Backpack43.20 Miles5 Days         
2,290 ft AEG40.8 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
We left the bus to Hermit's rest at about 9:30 AM and headed down the Hermit, finding excellent trail conditions. Quickly we were onto the dripping springs trail, which had some icy sections and hadn't been pruned yet this year. Onto the Boucher trail, which was the one official trail I had yet to complete to the river on the south side. The contouring to Yuma Point took longer than expected, though it was not that physically difficult. We checked out the potholes and found some nice campsite options, but continued on, scaring up a dozen mule deer soon afterwards. The route down through the Supai in Travertine Canyon is perhaps the most interesting trail routing I've seen yet, and was a victim of the big rain/snowstorm in sections, as some of the more critical portions of the trail are now pretty sketchy and missing important parts, making it more scrambly. The trail down from White's Butte down to the Tonto resembles the Brown's Peak chute more than anything else, and isn't much in terms of a nice mule trail. Also spent some time exploring an old mine in the area not on my map I observed, and some other old constructions. Camped near Boucher Creek, and saw some other group make their way in that night by headlamp.

The next morning we checked out the rest of Boucher Creek to the Colorado. It was pretty nice without much of a trail, but it gets a little narrow in some spots and creates some nice scenes. Then made our way over to Hermit Creek, and noticed it was getting pretty warm in the afternoon. I explored Hermit Creek below the campsite and the trail up to the Old Sante Fe camp, where I noticed that rockfall of a few car and sofa side boulders wiped out a good chunk of this horse trail.

The next day we checked out Hermit Rapids and the nice beach, then packed over to Monument Creek and also checked out Granite Rapids. Monument Creek disappears for the majority of the creekbed between the monument and the river. Finally encountered a raft party - must be too early in the season for the permits to actually get used much. On the way back took the waterfall scramble route back up - that was a lot of fun.

Over to Indian Gardens, passing Cedar Spring, Salt Creek, and Horn Creek. There - we ran into yet more people, including Sirena, on her way to Salt Creek. At Indian Gardens, found that they have installed quite an impressive and excellent set of latrine facilities, 10 stars out of 10. First time actually camping there - it is a pretty nice setup. Hoofed it out the next day, 2hrs 20 minutes to the bus stop, lots of construction on the rim.
Fauna
Fauna
Mule Deer
Named place
Named place
Whites Butte Yuma Point

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Boucher Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Decent flow, above ground almost entire way to river. It does diminish in the above-ground portion, but is flowing strongest near the campsites and near the beach.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cedar Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
From the Tonto, I observed pools and the rock pourovers were wet.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Garden Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Very nice and cool, as usual.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Hermit Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Nice flow, and cool.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Horn Creek Light flow Light flow
Very light flow through Horn, did not taste it, due to the radiation warnings.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Monument Creek Light flow Light flow
Light flow near the creek campsites and at the river, dry in between. A bit more than a trickle.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Salt Creek Light flow Light flow
Had a light flow, did not taste it, worried it would be too mineralized.

dry Travertine Canyon Dry Dry
Dry at Tonto crossing, and wherever the Boucher trail goes through, the inaccessible Travertine spring below the Tonto was dripping as usual.
_____________________
http://hikearizona.com/garmin_maps.php

Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, ankle-twisting, HAZmaster crushing ROCKS!!
Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, shin-stabbing, skin-shredding plants!
Hike Arizona it is full of striking, biting, stabbing, venomous wildlife!
Feb 23 2013
toddak
avatar

 Guides 8
 Routes 7
 Photos 1,244
 Triplogs 476

56 male
 Joined Nov 15 2005
 Puhoynix, AZ
Boucher TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 23 2013
toddak
Hiking25.00 Miles 5,000 AEG
Hiking25.00 Miles   12 Hrs   30 Mns   2.00 mph
5,000 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Another rim to river route: down Hermit, Tonto west then down to Boucher rapids, return up Boucher and Dripping Springs, which had a bit of snow and ice on them.
_____________________
Dec 20 2012
sguffey
avatar

 Photos 69
 Triplogs 4

49 male
 Joined Oct 09 2011
 Gilbert AZ
Hermit - Boucher - Tonto - Hermit Loop, AZ 
Hermit - Boucher - Tonto - Hermit Loop, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Dec 20 2012
sguffey
Backpack28.50 Miles 340 AEG
Backpack28.50 Miles3 Days         
340 ft AEG31 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
One of the best trips of my life. I had always wanted to visit the grand canyon and hike it, but I've heard so many stories about how challenging it is that I was actually getting a bit of an unreasonable fear about the whole thing. So I was thrilled when Rob and Mark invited me to go on their trip in December.

----Summary----
DAY 1
Hermit trail head to junction with the Boucher trail 2.7 mi.
Boucher trail to Yuma point 2.5 mi
Yuma Point to Boucher Camp sites 4.1 mi
Camped at Boucher Camp sites

DAY 2
Boucher Camp sites along Boucher Creek to Boucher Rapids at Colorado River 1.5 mi
Boucher Rapid to Tonto trail junction 2 mi
Tonto Trail to the Hermit creek 1.2 mi
Hermit Creek to Hermit Rapids 1.5
Camped at Hermit Rapids

DAY 3
Hermit Rapids to Hermit Trail head 9.7 mi

Highlights:
I loved the view at Yuma point
Descending the redwall made me pee my pants a little
I loved camping at Boucher Camp -- perfect spot for base camp
I loved camping at the river shore at Hermit Rapids
The view from the top of the cathedral stairs was awesome!

One of my favorite trips ever!
The Hermit creek gorge was amazing

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Santa Maria Spring Dripping Dripping
_____________________
Nov 22 2012
GrottoGirl
avatar

 Guides 3
 Routes 314
 Photos 11,581
 Triplogs 1,359

46 female
 Joined Sep 18 2009
 Tucson, AZ
Boucher TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 22 2012
GrottoGirl
Backpack32.23 Miles 8,279 AEG
Backpack32.23 Miles4 Days         
8,279 ft AEG50 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
1st trip
Joel organized an awesome loop in the Grand Canyon for Thanksgiving. This marks our third Thanksgiving under the Rim. For once, we had awesome weather.

Day 1 - Hermit's Rest to Yuma Point

We started out on Thanksgiving day by stopping at the backcountry office to check water and trail reports. I drug in my pack to weigh it. With 8 liters of water (dry camp planned), 4 days of dinners/breakfasts for two people, the usual items, plus ipad, solar charger, GPS, and my camera it weighed in at 53 lbs. Joel's was a lot ligher since we decided to go tentless and filterless so he carried my ipad/charger for half the day.

We started our walk at Hermit's Rest. I went to put on my backpacking boots and realized that I forgot to switch out the Superfeet with my hiking boots. I had no insoles! Luckily, my friend had new boots and she hadn't decided if she'd use her orthotics or just the insoles that came with the boots. She gave me the cheap insoles and on we went.

There were six of us on the trip. This was Josh's first time to the Grand Canyon so it was fun to watch his reactions to the sites and wonders that the Grand Canyon has to offer. I was able to impart some of the knowledge that I learned from our last trip to the GC, which I hope gave him a basic understanding of what he was looking at.

Along the first part of the trail, I told Josh to look for the footprints in Coconino Sandstone. He was able to spot them without any trouble.

Dropping our packs at the junction, we went onto Dripping Springs for our lunch stop and replenished some of our water. Dripping Springs has a great place to hang out underneath the overhanging Coconino. The Hermit Formation has eroded away underneath it. Within the Hermit layer we found some bulbous rounded blocks known as an example of spheroidal weathering. We also spotted some cracks that had been filled with sandstone from above (which is less erosive so it sticks out a bit). We also saw some evidence of Liesegangen rings. On our way back to our packs we spotted Kaibab Limestone blocks full of fossils plus a slab of Coconino sandstone with more tracks.

We wandered along the trail which ran a few feet from the cliff along the Hermit Formation. Finally we came to Yuma Point where we camped our first night. As we got close to Yuma Point we noticed that there was a slab of rock that was just held up with a small piece of land forming a window.

After we set up camp we went exploring. We found a spot where a painter had dabbed his brushes on the rocks. Plus we scrambled down and saw the window up close.

We had an after dinner reading time in which we read from Harvey Butchard's hiking logs. Then we went to bed under the stars.

Day 2 - Yuma Point to Boucher Camp

We awoke to a sunrise glow just after 6 am. The sun wasn't going to rise for about an hour but there was a nice yellow-orange color in the sky to the east. It was nice to see the sunrise without getting out of a tent! I could make out the shapes and the details of the canyon coming awake as the sky brightened. I'd have to say that sleeping without a tent definitely has it's advantages...

The hike from Yuma Point starts with a plunge through the Supai Group into Travertine Canyon. I was having one of my scared-y cat days and so it was a bit nerve wracking with the heavy pack. We then contoured over to the saddle next to White's Butte.

In true Harvey spirit we had to climb White's Butte. We had read the night before that he had completed that bit of exploration in 37 minutes. We were happy to complete it in less than an hour complete with a nice break on top!

Then we headed down a steep, steep drainage down into Boucher Camp through the Redwall Limestone. We found a spot for our camp and then headed downstream to Boucher Rapids. The walk down to the rapids is nice and easy. It is quite scenic as well due to the somewhat narrow walls. We checked out the Colorado River which was running higher due to a controlled flood release to help naturalize the river. It was interesting to see the river running faster, higher, and browner than usual. I wasn't to impressed with Boucher Rapids as there wasn't any great canyon views from the beach. We've been spoiled by some of the river beaches we have been to in the past.

On the way back we hunted down Boucher's mine in which we had read that Harvey had often camped in during bad weather. We found it and looked it in. We did find that it was warmer in the mine than outside. We found some bat guano and someones panties..

Then we checked out Boucher's Cabin. It was a small cabin with very little room. I guess hermit's don't need much! Unfortunately, some recently also had checked out the roofless cabin and mistaken it for a toilet - ewww!

Again we had an after dinner reading from Harvey's logs and also had a nice night out under the stars.

Day 3 - Boucher Canyon explore and Tonto Trail from Boucher Camp to Hermit Camp

In the morning we went to explore up canyon. We got the idea from reading Harvey's notes and I'm really glad we did! We wanted to go as far as Harvey had went his first time. As we explored we found the spring feeding the creek. We also discovered that the creek bed was dry upstream from the spring. We continued on and found the horseshoe shaped limestone that we could use like stairs to rise to the next level. We saw fossilized worm burrows in the limestone as we climbed.

We continued until we were stopped by a 10 foot fall in which we thought one might be able to bypass by climbing to one side. We figured that this is where Harvey had stopped the first time he explored the canyon. Harvey had mentioned that he had gotten back to camp in some amazing time by running the flats so we decided to do just that. We got back to camp in 50 minutes which is pretty good for 2.5 miles of canyon terrain! To my dismay, I found that my GPS was missing! I headed back up canyon and luckily found it only about .25 miles from camp.

We had lunch and then headed out to Hermit Camp. Along the way, we soaked in the views from the Tonto. Around each bend you get to see something new! We had a break in Travertine Canyon. I had been curious as to why the canyon had this name and as we continued along the Tonto trail I looked back and saw an amazing site. Where the canyon came through the Tapeats you could see that there were a few springs seeping through. Where the water had come through the ground the minerals had deposited as travertine. It actually looked as though the travertine had flowed over like cake frosting. In some spots it looked just like the Tapeats had melted! I couldn't get enough of the view!

At camp we explored up stream to some cascades. Then we settled in for the night. I was figuring we'd be pestered by mice since this is a popular camp area but we didn't see any.

Day 4 - Hermit Camp to Hermit's Rest

We got up early since we needed to hike and drive home to Tucson. Josh and I explored the Hermit Camp ruins while the rest of the group started up. We found the remains of the old tram that used to bring supplies from Pima Point on the rim. We also found the old cellar, toilet, and other historic things. The Santa Fe Railway and Fred Harvey Company built Hermit Trail and Hermit Camp in 1910s for tourists. It was used until the 1930s when the Bright Angel Trail and Phantom Ranch was opened to the public. After 40 minutes it was time to hit the trail.

This was my third time up the Hermit Trail but it had been a while and I've done a lot harder trails in the Grand Canyon since then. It was nice to feel like I could just fly up the trail compared to my first ascent!

We stopped briefly at the top of the Cathedral Stairs. I had a quick conversation with a Raven who was waiting to rob tired hikers of their snacks. Then we continued on until we found the rest of the group hanging out at one of the saddles.

We stopped at Santa Maria Springs. It is always a welcome site as you know you are getting closer to the rim. I hung out waiting one of my friends who was having an issue with her right leg. Even though she was having problems she was making good time. I hung out with her until the Taroweap. I just wanted to be done hiking so I continued on past. I completed the climb out in about 6 hours.

We stopped in Flagstaff on the way home for pizza and then a stop at Macy's for coffee.

What a great way to spend Thanksgiving weekend! No cooking - No Shopping!
_____________________
Nov 22 2012
RedwallNHops
avatar

 Guides 1
 Routes 10
 Photos 548
 Triplogs 1,290

46 male
 Joined Dec 22 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Boucher TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 22 2012
RedwallNHops
Backpack32.23 Miles 8,279 AEG
Backpack32.23 Miles4 Days         
8,279 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
The canyon never disappoints! One of the best parts of the trip was seeing an amazing view of Vishnu Temple from the Tonto. Methinks I need to climb that soon...
_____________________
Mar 17 2011
Vaporman
avatar

 Guides 2
 Routes 4
 Photos 8,687
 Triplogs 931

42 male
 Joined Mar 28 2005
 SLC, Utah
Tonto Trail: Boucher Trail to South Bass TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 17 2011
Vaporman
Backpack47.00 Miles 6,000 AEG
Backpack47.00 Miles4 Days         
6,000 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Woohoo! I've now hiked every section of the Tonto trail and etc from Royal Arch to LCR. :y:

I've been thinking about hitting this rugged Gem Route for some time now and knew to finish the Tonto I'd eventually have to put it behind me. Not the most adventurous, exhilirating or breathtaking section of the Tonto, but there was still loads of great views, perfect weather, good company, and it all went down without any issues. Definitely not a back way to spend 4 days of backpacking. :D Good water in about half the drainages with the best tasting being from Boucher creek. There was a light threat of rain but nothing manifested itself and good thing because I went without a tent to save weight. We started from the South Bass TH with about 2 gallons each making my pack weight a rediculous 50 pounds. :o With our heavy packs, we carefully made our down the scenic South Bass to the junction and headed east on the Tonto for our first night at Ruby Canyon with 15 miles under our belts. :sweat: In between Bass & Serpentine canyons, we met a rugged older gal who was soloing the whole thing back and forth who informed us that there was good water in most of the canyons and we all dropped a half to a full gallon of water each. :lol: Good thing too, because like I guessed from the Paria and LCR gauges, the Colorado River was a ragging flow of chocolate milk. ;) We found some good sites in Ruby Canyon and slept well that first night... The next morning we slept in a bit and got a late start, but we only intended to hike a relaxed 10 miles that second day. That afternoon, we rolled into Turquoise Creek were we refilled on water, I took a much needed bath, and chillaxed by the creek for a couple hours. :DANCE: Full on water, we found a campsite with sweeping views on the ridge between Sapphire & Agate canyon so we could soak in the evening canyon views under a full moon while playing a few camp games. :) By Day 3, the routine of going in & out of canyons was getting a lil old but we again only had about 10 miles before reaching our next camping spot and the perennial Boucher Creek. We rolled into there by early afternoon and took a quick nap before we venutured out to explore up & down Boucher Canyon. Four of us went down to Boucher Rapids and managed to get there just in time to see some hardcore rafters going thru them. :o Back in camp, we played some more dice games, I kept my chess board in my pack after getting whooped a few times already :? , and got our gear ready for the hike out before retiring early. On Day 4, we woke up early & ate a hearty breakfast before slowly climbing our way up the steep Boucher trail. :sweat: Scott & I were deemed the faster, ones so we got the keys to go drive back to the South Bass TH to pick up the other vehicle. Todd got an early start and was waiting for us at the Dripping Springs junction and talked us into going out that trail instead of the Waldron trail since none of us had yet to hike up that trail yet. The lower section of rather scenic & exposed but the upper section goes up a brushy drainage where we topped out around noon and then we had a 3 mile roadwalk to get back to the Jeep left at the Waldron TH. :sweat: The drive to pick up the truck at South Bass TH took us 2-2.5 hours and we got stopped once to pay the $25 Havasupai fee. Another great section of the Tonto, but I doubt any of us will be rushing out to do it again any time soon. ;)
Flora
Flora
Agave varietals
Fauna
Fauna
Bighorn Sheep
_____________________
Yea, canyoneering is an extreme sport... EXTREMELY dramatic!!! =p
Oct 23 2010
PaleoRob
avatar

 Guides 172
 Routes 229
 Photos 6,082
 Triplogs 1,117

40 male
 Joined Apr 03 2006
 Pocatello, ID
Boucher TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 23 2010
PaleoRob
Backpack27.00 Miles 2,290 AEG
Backpack27.00 Miles4 Days         
2,290 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
azbackpackr
raywing
squatpuke
4 Days in the Canyon or How I Hiked the Boucher Trail in Low-Top Shoes

When I was out in Round Valley this past summer, visiting some rock art sites with Liz, she had suggested that I come along on an upcoming Grand Canyon backpack in October. I didn't commit at the time, but when Liz again suggested it to me later, I mentioned it to my wife. It turned out that she had to be in Phoenix that weekend to present at a conference, so I decided to say yes to the hike.

Day One:
I drove down to the Canyon on Friday night and spent the night at my friend's place. Our meetup time was 9am at the Hermit Trailhead. I was already in the Park, but Larry, Liz, and Ray were driving up from Flagstaff. I got a garbled call from Liz at 8:45, but couldn't make out what was being said. I called back a bit later, and ciphered out that they were still outside of Tusayan, so I decided to head over with my friend to grab some breakfast. Turned out we had to go back to my friend's house to grab green chilis, so by then it was 9:15. I got a call from Liz letting me know she was on the Hermit Road. I was on my way towards the Hermit Gate anyway, so I ended up getting to the trailhead not long after they did. In my rush to get out of my friend's place, though, I left my awesome lunch in her fridge! DOH! So I had to run up to the snack shack at Hermit's Rest and buy a prepackaged ham sandwich. Ick.
I got back to the trailhead and everyone was still making those tedious last-minute adjustments, so I joined in. We finally passed the info sign for the Hermit Trail at 10:30 - a little late! The drop down the Kaibab went swiftly, and we made a stop not too far down the trail to get out of our fleece gear. I had packed for warmer weather, so I had no long sleeved anything. The rim made me rethink that idea, but I didn't have much of a choice, and I knew we were going to get warmer as we went down. A mile (okay, 1.1 miles) below the trailhead, we encountered the reptile tracks in the Coconino. We stopped, gawked, and gabbed for a while until Larry mentioned that we might want to get a move on if we wanted to make Boucher Creek before true dark. We all knew we were late getting off the rim, so we humped our packs onto our backs again and headed downhill. The Waldron Trail junction passed quickly, then we hung a left on the Dripping Springs/Boucher - stopping first for a quick photo op at the junction. We made good time along the Dripping Springs Trail, though we were growing hungry. The group was well-matched and well rested - no one ended up miles ahead of anyone else along this portion of the trail. We passed blue spruce hiding in the shade of the towering canyon walls. When we hit the Boucher junction, it was time for lunch, according to most of us. We slipped off our packs about 20 feet down the Boucher in a very light drizzle to eat. Liz talked about some people from San Diego that her and Ray knew. Little did I suspect this would be a continuing theme for the entire hike! We needed to get moving, and the sky was still spitting rain at us, so Larry led off, followed by Liz, myself, and Ray. We discussed geology and the views until I was overcome by the need to find a bush. This was also a portent for the day. I ducked off the trail and fell behind everyone while I lightened my load. I caught back up with Ray not too far down the "trail", as it followed its broken path across the top of the Supai, overlooking Hermit Creek. Liz and Larry had stopped for a quick break, and when Ray and I caught up we admired the view for some time. The Hermit Trail was obvious on the eastern canyon wall, and Larry said, "I bet when we're coming back across there, we won't be able to see the Boucher." It was only moderately rough going - the trail was defined by wear, but went over boulder falls, in and out of small drainages, and in some cases vegetation made it harder to see where the trail went next. The group spread out some again, with Larry and Liz in front and Ray and I at the back. There weren't miles in between us, though. We were within eyesight most of the time. As the trail closed in on Yuma Point, the crew began closing up - perhaps because the trail got easier as it got closer to the point. We all took a break at Yuma Point, admiring the awe-inspiring view spread out below us, as well as the neat potholes of water at the point. We discussed how Yuma Point would make a camp site, but we all wanted to push on. We could see down into Travertine Canyon, and see where the trail crossed the saddle by White's Butte, but it was hard to see how it got to the saddle or where it went from there. I led off and we all made good time until we got to the top of The Descent at the head of Travertine Canyon. At first we joked about how it was not terribly hard, compared to other descriptions. "Lowering packs on this?" we asked - "It isn't bad at all."
Then it got bad. The trail got extremely steep and ill defined. There was one section where a washout made the trail a little less than one body-width across, wedged between an overhanging cliff on the right and a 100' drop to the left. That was followed by a 20' downclimb/scramble. That is probably where some people rope down packs, but we all were confident and made it down without any major issues. Then the switchbacks started, the first one being steep, indistinct, and half-covered by a recalcitrant tree. A water bottle popped off of my crappy carabiner and almost plummeted to its doom, save for Larry's quick action. The group quickly sorted itself into two separate groups again - Larry and Liz out front and Ray and I in the back. Ray and I talked trash about each other, the trail, etc. on our decent. We dubbed ourselves the B Team, because we obviously weren't keeping up with the other two. It was mentally and technically demanding - with lots of loose rocks, steep, short switchbacks, and many places to lose the trail. The physical aspect was secondary to the technical aspect of it - foot placement was critical, but so was route-finding. Both the A Team and the B Team lost the trail in several places and had to back-track to get back on trail. Ray and I both complained that it wasn't our muscles causing us to slow down and causing pain - it was our knees. The switchbacks were so short and so steep that ever step jarred your knees. We finally spotted a flat spot in the trail as it contoured around the west rim of Travertine Canyon, and by the time we got to it the light was starting to fade - the sun was below the rim, but true sunset wasn't for another hour. Ray and I caught up with Liz and Larry, and we took a quick break while they headed out again. About a quarter mile down the "flat" section of trail (which was only flat if you compared it to The Descent of the Boucher), my ham and cheese sandwich wanted out, so I had to take another bathroom break. Very bad. :( I think they thought I died, since when I caught up with the group, Liz was sitting on a boulder with her first aid kit out, asking if I was okay. I had to explain the situation, and that I had anti-diarrheal pills. She kindly donated one of her Cliff Shots and I gulped down a couple Ibuprofin. We got back on the trail and caught up with Larry and Ray at White's Butte Saddle. Larry and Ray had briefly scouted the descent into Boucher Canyon, and said it looked steep. Liz's GPS put us at 1.5 miles from Boucher Camp. We put it to a vote, with Liz and Larry wanting to continue and Ray wanting to stay at White's Butte. My vote was obvious since I was feeling like crud. Larry said "I guess its a tie, but I think safety gets a vote too." Thanks Larry! We set up camp at a nice, broad area at White's Butte Saddle. Only problem with the site was the lack of water.
Fortunately for us, I remembered seeing some potholes with rainwater on the trail leading into camp. Feeling Liz's Cliff Shots and the Ibuprofin (and minus my pack), I took off with 2.5 liters to fill. The water was ugly but drinkable, and came back to camp with enough water for us to have hot food instead of cold Spam. I also produced two Cags - a special surprise in the Canyon. Ray professed it was the best beer he had ever drank. A good meal and a good deal of bull shooting occurred until about 7pm, when Ray retired. Liz started doing yo-yo tricks by headlamp, which worked well until her sting malfunctioned. Liz stated her desire to get an early start the next day, in order to get down to the river. Larry and I all agreed. Then we all went to bed.

Day Two:
I awoke slightly stiff, but downed a couple Ibuprofin with my morning oatmeal. The sun wasn't yet up, but I was, so I putzed around and started getting my gear together. The rest of the crew was getting up with the usual whining and moaning. Ray and Liz sparred back and forth, but since I was done with breakfast I decided to head back down the trail to tank up - despite only being 1.5 miles away from Boucher, I always try to have lots of water. Ray and Larry came along, back to the little pool I used the night before, while Liz got her kit together. We quickly hiked back up trail and came to the pools. Larry was slightly incredulous that I would drink from such a pool, while Ray was suspicious that his filter might clog up once we got to pumping. Well, the water was tea-colored after being pumped, but it was certainly drinkable, although Ray's pumping left much to be desired and the filter needed to be cleaned mid-pump.
Back at camp, Liz was standing around, putatively waiting for us to return. When we hoisted our packs, though, Liz still had some last minute details to go over. ;) No worries, it was still early, and we hit the trail. The saddle was easy going, and then we hit the drop down into Boucher Canyon via a steep tributary. Unlike The Descent into Travertine, however, this drop was not bad. It was steep, absolutely, but the switchbacks were in much better shape and easier to follow. I think that having a night's sleep under our belts helped out as well. Once we dropped below the Redwall, it was easy cruising down relatively gentle switchbacks on a wide trail to the junction with the Tonto. Larry was screaming down ahead of everyone, but Liz, Ray, and myself were all moving at a comfortable pace. Ray quipped that we were all on the A Team today, and that Larry was on the Super A Team. The hike down was really beautiful, and when we finally dropped into Boucher Camp it felt like heaven on earth. We had different beautiful side canyons stretching in all directions, with a babbling brook, a faint waterfall from an alcove, and trees. Best of all - not a soul in sight. Liz, Larry, and myself got our campsites staked out and set up, and we threw on our daypacks to head down to the River. Ray needed more time, so he declared that he'd join us. Downcanyon.
The hike from Boucher Camp down to Boucher Rapids is beautiful. The canyon winds through Vishnu Schist as it drops rapidly. Wildflowers were still in bloom at the bottom of the canyon - quite the contrast from the changing oaks at the rim. The stream was flowing basically the entire way down to the confluence with the Colorado. At one point we could hear the mighty current pounding against the rocks of Boucher Rapids, and I got goose bumps while my heart started racing. Larry, Liz, and myself spent a good hour at the beach, waiting for rafters to appear with beer, as well as Ray to come downcanyon. No rafters ever arrived, but the beach was secluded (though it offered poor camping), but when Ray showed up we did pump some water from the creek. Not long afterward we headed back upcanyon. We found a sign for Larry - a quartz cross in the Vishnu Schist, while Ray wore the ram's horn with pride. Just before reaching camp, Liz found the old cabin at Boucher Camp, which we spent time exploring. Larry found the "prospect" marked on Liz's topo. We hiked over to see what that was all about - someone spent a lot of time making a 30' deep tunnel into the Vishnu Schist. I can't imagine why. The group then split up - I went downcanyon again to bathe, which I sorely needed. The others did the same elsewhere. By the time we got back to camp, it was time to start cooking dinner. Much bull shooting occured in Boucher Camp that night, until lamps went out and we all went to bed, lulled to sleep by the music of Boucher Creek.

Day Three:
Day three dawned dismal and overcast. Larry and I shared the same thought; I don't like the look of those clouds. We tried to pack up camp quickly, but Ray and Liz got to discussing old times and it took us two hours to finally clear out of Boucher. We headed back up to the Tonto Platform and started cruising eastward.
I love the Tonto. The views were gorgeous, and the hiking was easy. I slow down significantly on the uphills, but Liz and I were moving along at a decent pace, while Larry was way out in front and Ray only about a quarter mile ahead. We caught up with Ray at the head of Travertine, which was totally dry. While Liz and I were snacking, Ray took off. Not thirty seconds later, we all heard an enormous crash and boom. Our first thought was rockslide, but nothing came tumbling down on us, fortunately. The clouds were moving in faster, so I picked up the pace. I had just caught up with Ray when the rain started coming down. We all changed into our rain gear, trying to keep ourselves as dry as possible as the squall dumped water on us. I looked across Travertine Canyon, just before hoisting my pack - sure enough, there was a fresh rockfall on the west side! I can't believe we had just heard that massive wall of rock come crashing down.
I was the first with the gear on, and since I didn't want to get caught in serious rain, I booked it. The Tonto provides some easy cruising, so I just put myself in high gear and made tracks across the platform. I shot some pictures of Hermit Rapid and recovered Larry's dropped water bottle, and was the second person from our crew to make it to Hermit Camp. We were just 15 minutes late to get the ledge camp, but it turned out alright. I staked out a spot and set up camp. Not long after I had my tent up, Liz and Ray came rolling into camp. The original plan had been to hike down to Hermit Rapid, but that plan began unraveling. Ray didn't care much about going down, Liz was tired, and I was concerned about flash flooding in the canyon. Larry decided to hit the trail anyway, and took off for the rapid. The rest of us sat down to eat lunch, when the skies opened up again. We changed venues and took our lunches in our tents. I love my Eureka! Zeus Exo II. The vestibule was perfect - I sat inside the tent but had my food outside the tent. No crumbs inside!
Liz berated us for hiding from the rain, so Ray and I emerged and decided to go for a swim - I figured it would be easier to get away from a flash flood at camp as opposed to being closed in downstream. The water at the swimming hole was chilly, and little spotted fish Ray and I labeled "nibblers" kept nibbling on our toes. Liz finally convinced us to get "all in", so we did. After a hearty cannonball and some shivering moments on the nearby rock to dry off, I felt pretty good. Good enough to take a nap, in fact. Liz and I headed up to the campsite, while Ray stayed down to practice his pumping. I laid out on the sand and took a siesta while Liz talked about her experiences in the canyon. I was paying attention, mind you, I was just also in a happy place without a care in the world.
Larry made it down and back to the rapid in 1.5 hours, and then took a dip in the swimming hole as well. Before dinner, I took a stroll up to the old resort with my Geiger counter*, but before making it back to camp, ran into Ray and Liz. We headed back up into camp and did some more exploration. We found the remains of the old tramway, a toilet, as well as some modern day left-behinds, including some Chef Boy-R-Dee and "Ranch Style Beans". I voted to eat the beans that night. The others demurred. I didn't really want to pack out another can anyway, so no beans it was. After dinner back in camp, Liz and I explained that we were hiking out early. Ray didn't believe us, but that was his issue. Larry said he'd stay with Ray. It was decided. Another early night as the stars wheeled above us.

Day Four:
I awoke at 2:30 and went promptly back to sleep. I awoke again at 3:30 and figured I had better get up. I woke Liz up and made some oatmeal. After some shuffling and bumping, we had both packed our gear and hit the Tonto at 4:30 under an almost full moon, and with no headlamps. The Canyon was amazing - lit up with that pale blue-white light. We made the junction with the Hermit Trail in no time, and then began what I called The Grind. Nothing left to do but grind it out. We slowly ascended the Hermit Trail towards the Cathedral Stairs. By the time we had cleared the Redwall, the sky was beginning to grow light, but the sun hadn't risen. We trekked along the Supai, slowed by irritating rockfalls both large and small. Liz and I sang camp songs, sailor songs, and railroad songs to pass the time. Liz also kept a constant watch for the other members of our party. The going was slow, but I felt good. I wasn't hurried, and my temperature management plan was working perfectly - since I had taken off my fleece at the intersection of the Tonto and the Hermit, I had maintained a constant temperature. While the higher elevation cooled things, the advancing day warmed things, keeping me in balance. I loved it!
We took a decent break at the not-so-comfy Santa Maria Springs rocking chair, and then made our final ascent on to the top of the Supai. The end was in sight, with less than two miles to go. We slogged it out, pushing towards the top. I think that whoever designed the steps on the Hermit wasn't 5'2". My legs burned, but I kept pushing through. The end was finally in sight when I saw the glistening of car windshields. I was the first out of the canyon, and I promptly took off my pack, pulled out my camp chair, and kicked back to wait for Ray and Larry. Liz did exactly the same. We didn't have to wait long. Ray came literally running down the last stretch some half-hour after we got out. A quick round of congratulations and it was off to Maswik lodge for some overpriced but dang satisfying food. Ray, Liz, and I enjoyed a post-hike celebration in the parking lot as Ranger Friendly drove by, and then it was splitsville. This was one of the best backpacks I've done, and Larry, Ray, and Liz are all awesome to hike with. I'm looking forward to our next trip.

*I brought down my pocket Geiger counter, a Ecotest Terra-P made in Ukraine, for this trip. I was especially interested to see what sort of beta/gamma counts I could get from various locales. I tested our camp at White's Butte Saddle (.10 uSv/hr), Boucher Camp (.18 uSv/hr), Boucher Creek (.12 uSv/hr), Hermit Creek (.12 uSv/hr), Hermit Camp (.27 uSv/hr), Bright Angel Shale above Hermit Camp (.34 uSv/hr). The last location, the Bright Angel Shale, was hot enough to trigger the built-in alarm in two separate locations, preset to .3 uSv/hr. Kind of interesting. I can't wait to take it down to Horn Creek and see what kind of readings I get there!

A Note on the Title
This trip was my first backpacking adventure using low-cut trail shoes, as opposed to hiking boots. Larry said to me at Boucher Camp, "I can't believe you're hiking the Canyon in those. Don't you need the ankle support?" I have strong ankles. After seeing others use hiking shoes in Grand Gulch on trips, I figured I'd give it a try myself with my Chaco Redrock Mesh shoes. Ventilated for breath-ability and lightness. I have always loved my Chaco shoes, but even moreso now; I didn't have a single hot spot to tape. Out of our whole group, I believe I was the only one who didn't need to tape anything on their feet. I also didn't need to wear sock liners. And then I strapped them on again today and wore them to work. I'm sold on them for backpacking - if they can handle to Boucher, they can handle any trail I throw at them.
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Autumn Foliage Observation Light
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Wildflowers Observation Light
_____________________
"The only thing we did was wrong was staying in the wilderness to long...the only thing we did was right was the day we started to fight..."
-Old Spiritual
My book, The Marauders on Lulu and Amazon
Oct 23 2010
azbackpackr
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 Guides 27
 Routes 438
 Photos 5,310
 Triplogs 797

68 female
 Joined Jan 21 2006
 Flagstaff AZ
Boucher TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 23 2010
azbackpackr
Backpack27.00 Miles 4,550 AEG
Backpack27.00 Miles4 Days         
4,550 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
PaleoRob
raywing
squatpuke
Well, PageRob and Larry (Squatpuke) have already written this up. In fact PageRob has written a veritable BOOK about this adventure! However, as trip leader and permit holder, I thought I should put a word in, plus a few photos.

Basically, this was just about the most fun backpacking trip I have been on in years. A fun group. It was great to hike with my old pal from San Diego, Ray, who was my very first backpacking pal back in about 1971. I had not seen him for 20 years, and he up and decided to go on this hike, having never before SEEN the Canyon, let alone hiked it. However, he had several recent Sierras trips under his belt, so I thought he would do fine and he did. Larry (squatpuke) had gone on my South Bass trip 3 years ago. And of course, we all know PageRob.

Thanks again to Larry for his fantastic hospitality at his home in Flag both before and after the hike. To Rob for all the wonderful information about geology and fossils, etc., etc., plus the fact he knows a whole bunch of off-the-wall songs like the ones I know. And to Ray, for keeping us in stitches (and groans), and for driving (and for successfully demonstrating the California Stop.)

Just read the other write-ups!
http://hikearizona.com/x.php?I=4&ZTN=1443&UID=0

It was fun to hear Ray call me by my old nickname again, too,
Lizzo
_____________________
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.
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average hiking speed 2.14 mph
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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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