Spring break means a long trek, so we put in for the Gems. Our backup plan was the Escalante Death March, but the road to South Bass was deemed to be OK so we went for it.
First obstacle: we start down Rowe Well Road and there is a big sign: road closed. So we went to the backcountry office. There is a big line of people waiting for last minute permits, so I ambushed the ranger putting up the flag and asked about the closure. She didn’t know, so she called head of Law Enforcement, and they didn’t know, so they told us if we had a permit, just drive the road.
Road was dry though rutted. Someone had been out there in the two feet of snow we got last week (more about this later). We paid our fee to the Supai and they took our permit number. Interesting, since I am sure we saw a couple down there sans permit. The mile just past the four-way junction was horrible: I thought I had the wrong road.
Five years ago when we got to Bass Tanks, we hiked to the River. This time we just sat in the shade. Gravity must have increased since then.
We met a group from Tucson hiking the opposite way. They asked how we got to the trailhead, and we told them a friend drove us. "That's some friend!". Of course, since he lives here, he didn't have a long commute. So they told us they tried to get to the trailhead two weeks ago, but the road was so muddy they had to have two people behind the truck trying to keep it from sliding off the road altogether. So THAT's where the ruts came from!
Water in all named canyons except Agate. We were kind of planning on water in Agate, but alas, no water. So, said we, it is about an hour and a half around to Slate, and that is still in our use area. After an hour and a half, I came around the corner and saw that we still had to round Charybdis Rock, and kind of lost it. Three hours later we finally stumble into Slate. However it was a lovely campsite, and we were in fine shape to get into Boucher early the next day.
Met a guy day hiking from Boucher to who knows where, no water, no hat, no nothin’. He declined to chat. Probably dehydrated already.
Boucher was more than full, because a group from Dallas who had wanted to do the Gems but couldn’t figure out the car shuttle decided to go down the Boucher Trail (for their first hike in the Canyon ever!) and it “wiped them out” so they stayed where they were instead of hiking to Serpentine and back, which their permit was for. I questioned them casually and was told they were going to camp “At the very edge of the Boucher use area” and hike out Hermit. Had lots of time to hike to the River. Boucher is such a pretty beach.
|Hiking above Hermit Rapid|
|Victim of dehydration|
|This is the only way to scout Crystal|
|The hole in Crystal Rapid|
|hiking out Hermit|
|Carried my trust squirt bottle, and got two graffiti panels|
Another easy trek into Hermit, and another hike to the River. Get back and lo and behold, there is Dallas trying to camp ON Hermit Creek. The Boucher use area is above the creek. They wandered about for a few hours helplessly, so I finally informed them that their use area was not here. Hermit Creek use area was full, they would have to move. They did. I may have mentioned that I work “with the Park Service”. I did not say “for” because that would be a fib. Anyhow, they left, and we saw them briefly as they started out next day. I informed the BCO that they would probably take two days coming out Hermit, because they were that kind of group, and thus would be illegal again. Ratting people out is a dirty job, but someone has to do it.