Royal “Pain In The” Arch (Day 2) – Grand Canyon – AZ (4.21.17-4.23.17)

Mark, ready in the morning, just thinking about the 20 miles to come!

The alarm blasted, waking me from my deep slumber. The roaring of the Colorado had actually been a soothing sound for the night, the tumultuous rush of the rapids faded into a gentle roar that eased us to sleep. I was covered in the rain fly of the tent that I decided to grab around 2am once the temps decided to plummet. The clear beaming stars were starting to fade as twilight made way for the glorious impending sunrise that would drape the canyon walls in golden sunlight. It was time to move! I pulled myself from my sleeping bag and started the morning ritual of hot coffee, breakfast and packing. This morning I had both my hoodies on as it was surprisingly brisk!

  • Hello there spiked friend . . . no hugs please

We really had our work cut out for us as the limiter on this entire trip was the availability of water sources. We chose to camp at the CO River both night 1 and 2 to make it easy for filtering. Unfortunately this plan required a 20 mile push across the Tonto on Day 2 until we finally reached the cool and refreshing Bass Beach. The second day was forecasted to be a warm 94 degrees and we had no choice but to push through it to reach the sweet murky water of the mighty Colorado. Heat was far from our minds as Mark, Sam, and I packed up camp in the cool shade of the canyon.

Looking back west, can you see Mark and Sam?

We were soon strapping on our bags and making our last touch of the Colorado for the next 20 miles before we set out from camp. We started gaining right away climbing over sharp boulders and skirting the river on a small footpath. With a backpack on, maneuvering the trail was a bit precarious, but not too bad. Scrambling up rocks, being dumped into sandy beaches, and cairn finding seemed to be the name of the game. We trekked on, racing the sun and trying to stay in the shade as much as possible, this goal would shortly be proved near impossible however. The cactus that were trailside bloomed incredible pink and yellow colors. The flowers were out and showing their stuff!

Dry fall and Sam haha

The trail wrapped the inner basin and skirted a few unnamed canyons under large dry waterfalls. In one of the washes below the dry fall, deposits of minerals and salt pooled up where the water once stood. Mark and myself threw a finger in and tasted it! Mmmm delicious, salt, I spit the rest out not knowing what was in it. We trekked on enjoying the vast and beautiful views a few hundred feet above the river. The sun had yet to start blazing on us and we were more than grateful.

Garnette Canyon shadowed by Fiske Butte!

We trekked on, finally reaching Garnet Wash which signified the end of the Royal Arch Route and the start of the Tonto trail at its most westerly termis. After a short break in the last shade we knew we would have for a while, we pressed on. The canyon was large and open, we tracked cairns across its wash. The cairns led us to a fin ledge scramble  out onto the tonto where we would be baked by the sun the rest of the day. The scrambles were chill, but fun, and we were soon blasted with both the full sun as well as gorgeous views of the powerful canyon in front of us.

  • Approaching the scramble up to the Tonto trail

Scramble to the Tonto

We trekked on pushing through the heat for a few miles, taking in the sights as they came until finally reaching the skirt of Copper Canyon. This deep and long canyon was riddled with green rocks (oxidized copper), and green scrub everywhere. It was, of course, also a nice treat to our day. We pulled over for some much needed shade behind a boulder before pressing on once again.

Edge of Copper Canyon (click to enlarge)
Mouth of copper canyon, in we go!

Once we were spit from the mouth of copper canyon after a long skirt, we could finally see the edge of the turnoff to Bass canyon and potentially the portion of the river where we would lay our beaten feet for the night. We trekked on, under the hot sun and the miles were beginning to add up on our plumped and swollen feet. We still had work to do, so no need to complain. We pressed on trying to enjoy the views until finally we reached the cutoff for Bass Canyon. We trekked down the steep trail and were pleasantly surprised to find shade which would last the rest of the day. Whew, what a relief.

  • Skirting the Tonto

We continued to pick our way down the rough and rugged use trail until we were finally dumped into the bottom of Bass canyon. Only another 2 miles to the beach! We turned North down the canyon and the views were very different from the majority of the day. Interesting black, white, grey, red rocks were all around us. We snaked down the creek bed until finally once again we were skirting the Colorado river, only this time much lower! We saw river runners camped on a beach across the river and knew we couldn’t be far.

Bass Canyon!
Closer and Closer to the CO we come
Is that a BigHorn Sheeps horn? and Horseshoe, and old nails on a random cowboy fireplace in the middle of the canyon?! Why yes it is!

We walked the final leg of the day, tired and weary. But finally, after a short and steep switchback use trail we found ourselves at Bass beach. I could have bent down and kissed it like a lost sailor that finally reached land! We plunged ourselves in the frigid cold of the Colorado which totally revitalized our beaten feet. As the day came to a close, as we shoveled MountainHouse’s into our gullets, and thought about the next day to come. Beats being stuck at work! Another beautiful and incredible day in the Grandest of Canyons!

The sunset just before the final descent to Bass beach


  • Old tools on the Cowboy Fireplace
  • Salt in the pools, mmmmm salty goodness



  • Weather: Hi in mid 90s, Low in upper 40s, Sunny
  • Water: 6 Liters (including dinner)
  • Food: 1 Power Bar, 1 Kroger Protien bars, 1 Cliff Protien Bars, 1 granola bar, 1/2 bag of gummyworms, Apple, 1 Mountain House: Chicken and Mashed Potatoes, 1/2 bag of Salt and Veinagr Chips, 1/2 bag of Pizza Pringles, 1/2 bag of trailmix, 1/2 bag Boston baked beans, 1 PB&J sandwich, 1/2 bag of Quinoa.
  • Time: 11 hours
  • Distance: 20 miles
  • Accumulated Gain: ~1500 accumulated


  • 58 liter exos osprey backpack
  • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 tent
  • Big Agnes QCORE SLX sleeping pad
  • Cosmic Down Kelty Sleeping Bag (rated to 20 deg F)
  • Jet Boil – Sol
  • Black Diamond trekking poles
  • SPOT Gen3 Tracker
  • Sawyer Squeeze – Water Filter
  • Black Diamond Helmet
  • Petzl Corax Climbing Harness
  • 2 Black Diamond screw carabiner
  • 4 Phantom DMM screw carabiner
  • Black Diaimond ATC Guide
  • 60 meter 9.8mm Mammut rope
  • Webbing, personal anchor
  • 200 ft 6mm pull cord
  • 4 rap rings


  • Wool T shirt – IceBreaker
  • Cotton hankerchief
  • Pearl Azumi arm coolers
  • Arc’teryx hoody
  • Nike running shorts
  • Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
  • Darn Tough wool medium weight socks
  • Threadless hoody