South Bass to Boucher-Grand Canyon

"Your life is in your canteen, draw it down with a zealous eye."--Gass

Down South Bass-Up the Boucher via the Tonto WestFive days, forty three miles, 10,000' + elevation gain/lossThis hike began at Bass Camp, 28 rough miles of back road west of Grand Canyon Village. Although this site is now isolated, it was once home (built in 1880) to William Wallace Bass and family. Bass was an industrious pioneer of Grand Canyon tourism. Bass introduced adventurous people to the canyon for forty years before selling to the Fred Harvey Company. He built the trail that we would take down close to the river. The Bass camp was demolished in 1937 per the Park Superintendent. The feral mules that created the Tonto trail were eliminated. The Bass corridor has returned to its natural state. All proposals to make it an industrial tourist site has been rejected by the NPS.The expedition group (PIC by Mooseman)Steve (El feo)John (El viento hediondo Grande)Mooseman (El buen)El Lobo (Malos)We started the steep descent at 8:00 A.M. and just before we arrived at the Tonto Junction Steve almost stepped on this poor guy.PIC by MoosemanAt first we thought it was the Grand Canyon Pink Rattlesnake but the color was salmon. It has since been identified as the rare Massaugua rattler.After our wildlife observation we headed down the Tonto west where we would trek 28 distant miles to Boucher Creek and then up the killer Boucher trail. The Tonto trail follows the Tonto platform for it's entire length, winding in and out of side canyons with multiple drainage's.The Tonto west is the faintest of paths, hard to follow in places with small stretches that overlook the Colorado.This area (The Jewels) has the reputation of "no man's land" because of limited water and extremely difficult emergency escape routes. Our plan was to stop at Serpentine, Turquoise and Slate Canyons.Backcountry and GCFI had told us that there was water in each of these drainage's. We travelled along the top of Serpentine with much trepidation as we could not see any sources of water below. No water would put us in a decision making process to either make a difficult climb down to the Colorado River or continue on to Turquoise and pray that we would find water at that location.The temperature was in the 80s. Steve, a self proclaimed "water freak," is always after us to carry more water. Why didn't we listen?PorqueAt the very end of Serpentine our anxieties ended with the discovery of several water pockets. (tinjas) That evening while enjoying gourmet freeze dried meals we were startled by a lone hiker that stumbled into our camp in serious need of water. He came in from the East where few travel in that direction. When we asked where he had come from, he replied "Copper Canyon" Copper Canyon was many miles to the East? He said that he had been boiling his water and requested to use our filter? He said he was from Sedona and we thought that he had seen too many vortexes. We gave him a plentiful supply of water and offered our camp to him. He then told us that he was with a group that had done the Royal Arch route. He had left his group behind and missed the turnoff to go up the Bass Trail. He did not have a map. He was insistent about getting back to the Bass turnoff even though there was little day light left. He said that he had a radio and had contacted his party at the top of Bass and they were waiting for him. We gave him explicit directions to the well marked turnoff. He left in a hurry and we all hoped for the best. It seemed like his judgments made him a candidate for update to the Death in the Canyon publication. We started out early the next morning and found water pockets in Turquoise and Slate on subsequent days. We would arrive around 2:00P.M. and have a leisurely afternoon.This section of the Tonto offers it's own set of unique rewards in the form of solitude and the opportunity to experience the canyon's natural rhythms for extended periods of time. PIC by John DA JackalMooseman would usually take up some distance to the front or the rear.In the evenings he would camp a good distance away from the rest of the group. He would spend the afternoons reading "The Man who walked through time" by Colin Fletcher who traversed the Canyon in the early 50s.Perhaps the Mooseman shared the same thoughts that Edward Abbey once articulated: "I find that in contemplating the natural world my pleasure is greater if there are not too many others contemplating it with me at the same time." Or, he thought that he was "The Man who walked through fumes" when he walked too close behind John DA Jackal, perhaps the most prolific windbreaker ever to travel the Canyon.We reached Boucher Creek early Saturday morning and decided to knock out half of our torturous climb up the Boucher and camp on the Redwall close to White's Butte.Louis D. Boucher, the Grand Canyon "hermit" built the trail in the 1890s. Along side Boucher creek he worked a copper mine, built a cabin, planted an orchard and worked a garden. We visited the ruins of his cabin.What a great camp view we had! El Lobo Grande PIC by John DA JackalSunday morning we climbed out and headed for the showers. John and I stopped at the Beaver Street Brewery in Flag for fabulous burgers and brews. This trip was a rewarding experience, thanks to John, Mooseman and Steve for the time we shared. The weather was close to perfect. The trip was well planned and executed. Everyone contributed to it's success.Men Behaving BadlySteve for barking profanities at John and I when we would ask Steve questions in Espanol.John DA Jackal for reading the trails illustrated map countless hours and then asking if the Colorado River was Boucher Creek!!!John DA Jackal for polluting entire side canyons and then pleading"Hey it's the freeze dried food"John DA Jackal for not bringing any deserts and then greedily looking at El Lobo's stash like a hungry coyote.Steve for complaining about the noise El Lobo Grande & John DA Jackal made coming back from the Bright Angel Bar bar late the night before we went hiking.Steve for making his lovely sainted wife Joyce, carry two gallons of water when they go to the movie matinee, and then refusing to spring for any popcorn.Mooseman for acting like an adult the entire trip.Mooseman for being a lightweight farter.El Lobo Grande for consistent bad behavior the entire trip. (After all we were hiking the Tonto (Spanish Translation: silly, foolish) Trail.

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