The temperature was pleasant last night, quite a change from the night before at Pasture Wash. We don't have as far to go today, so we sleep in until around sunrise, eat, and pack our stuff.
In just a few minutes after leaving camp, we come to the large pour-off that is non-negotiable. You only have two options here: take the bypass up on the right side of the drainage or take the scary "Ledge" on the left side. We take the right side. I can't imagine why anyone would go left and subject themselves to that much high exposure. We climb up, do a little crawling under a rock and bush, and go down some steep switchbacks until we reach the creek bed again.
As we walk down the creek bed, Bob points out that this gray section of rock is really part of the Redwall. Its gray color is normal but not often seen. Most Redwalls have a layer of the Supai above it and it is this Supai layer that stains the Redwall with its red color. For some reason, this part of the trail has no other layers above it. Bob's knowledge of Canyon geology is impressive.
We pass several obstacles and down climbs requiring a little bit of scrambling.
During a break, I get a picture of Bert in a stoic pose. He's probably wondering how in the world he ever got talked into leading this hike.
There aren't many blooming flowers today.
We reach a series of rock striations that aren't as hard as these pictures make them seem. Bob tells me these layers of rock are Muav Limestone. They just require a little care as you make your way to the bottom. Bert says on his last hike this way that the entire area below the waterfall was filled with water, which made it quite challenging to get past.
I have lunch near a row of Crimson Monkey Flowers and study my GPS. It shows the Royal Arch is very close now.
I round the corner and all of a sudden I'm at the Arch. It is an impressive formation, much more robust than other arches I have seen. This one does not seem to be in any danger of collapsing.
You can walk behind the Arch, but only for a few hundred feet until coming to the end of the trail and an abrupt drop-off.
There is a tall rock pillar behind the Arch that reminds me of the one at Monument Creek, hence my name for it. Like the one at Monument Creek, I'm surprised this one is still standing.
In addition to community dinners, the group has appetizers late each afternoon. Each person is required to bring one on the hike. Tom is picked to present his today and he spends quite a bit of time preparing it. It is sliced cucumbers with goat's cheese on crackers. He is immediately put on everyone's "bad list," not because his appetizer is bad, but because it's so good. It would be embarrassing if your appetizer were chosen the next day because it would be impossible to compete with Tom's dish.
Fading light brings an interesting picture of the "Monument" looking through the Arch.
We make camp on the slick rock beneath and around the Arch. Tomorrow will involve a little back-tracking until we can climb up above the Arch and eventually make our way to the cliff rappel and then descend to Toltec Beach.