I am really excited when Bob Bordasch contacts me to say I have been elevated from the alternate list to the main hiking list for this trip. We are doing a Royal Arch hike via Point Huitzil, around the Tonto, and then up the South Bass Trail.
Everyone meets at the McDonalds in Tusayan at 1:00, we drop off a few cars at the Best Western, and then start the drive on Forest Road 328 to Pasture Wash. It has been fairly dry, so the road is in good condition. We don't find anyone at the Havasupai check station, so we start through. At the last moment, a tribal member appears and collects the fee from the last car for the entire group. In just a few more minutes, we pull into the old Ranger station at Pasture Wash and start unpacking. Our group of eleven is camping here for the night and consists of Bert Fingerhut, Bruce Fingerhut, Ben Mahlab, Mark Ristow, Leslie Wyss, Jim Ilchuk, Marcey Olajos, Tom Sisk, Fred Braun, Bob Bordasch, and Richard Perry.
Ahh, the joys of car camping: big tents, thick sleeping pads, extra warm sleeping bags, lawn chairs, lots of food. It doesn't get any better than this.
I wander over to the old Ranger station that has been abandoned for many years and look around some. Several volunteer groups have been out here refurbishing the buildings.
Tom, Bob, and I then drive three cars out to the South Bass trailhead where we will be exiting on the last day of our hike. The views from the trailhead looking down on the Esplanade and Mount Huethawali are amazing. I missed this Geological Survey marker my other time out here due to a lot of snow on the ground. We leave two cars here and head back to Pasture Wash in the third car.
Our plan for tomorrow is to get up early, hike from the Ranger station to the rim, find the point where you crawl through a hole in the rock and climb down a pole, descend to the Esplanade, and make our way part way down Royal Arch Creek where we will spend the night.