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Peering from our vantage point, I could see our route traversing for a while, and then I could see traces of the trail further down below the cliffs. Somewhere in between was the descent, but from our current point it was still hidden.
Bob, Pu and Jenn
Start of the Steeps
Before the Descent
Soon the trail stopped its traverse and made a quick switchback to the right and down: the start of the 'steep stretch'. I had everyone take a quick break and I went down to have a look. The path descended steeply and on a somewhat loose but level surface with a fairly exposed dropoff to the left. This section was quite short, though, and a more enclosed but steeper section ensued. I had a quick look down, and it seemed like a steep with-hands downclimb, but not exposed and with big, blocky holds. It only went down another twenty-five or so feet from this point before it bottomed out and a relatively normal trail resumed. Not so bad after all, I thought.
Airiest stretch
I headed back up and debriefed the group. We knew Cathy and Mike might feel more comfortable without packs, so we offered to take them down for them. Mike was ok to try the stretch with his pack; Cathy accepted our offer of pack transport.
courtesy PChen
Sending Cathy Ahead
Carefully, we descended the short exposed stretch (noticing that there were remnants of Boucher's old trailwork here - some old logs and metal brackets and such), and then turned back-out to downclimb the short blocky scramble. Pu took Cathy's pack in-hand and, from above lowered it to me, where I took it the remainder of the way down the steep stretch, and a little ways beyond. Cathy and Mike cautiously and successfully made the downclimb, and came out none the worse for wear.

We did take a few light-hearted pot-shots at what we called Cathy's 'bum violations' (our off-the-cuff term for scooting down steep slopes on one's derriere, rather than properly downclimbing). However, even with the violations, it was Mission Accomplished! I was pretty sure this was the worst the Boucher trail was going to throw at us, even though there was one more 'steep climb' yet to come.
courtesy JInnes
courtesy PChen
Pu the Pack Transporter
Descending the 'steep stretch'
Easy Downclimbing
courtesy JInnes
courtesy PChen
Cathy Descends
Andrew Ferries Pack
Completing the Scramble
After all the downclimbing and pack-ferrying was over, we continued on. The trail did a little more traversing before starting a somewhat tedious descent down a steep, dirt hillside. There are a couple of braided paths in this section, but they all pretty much lead in the same direction -- down the prow of a steep little ridge. Eventually we reached the bottom of the ridge and the flat top of the Redwall formation. We were now at the elevation of the Whites Butte saddle. Whites Butte itself was a small pointy thing a little off to the left in the distance.
Hardest Part Done
More Traversing
Much Lower in Travertine Now
courtesy PChen
courtesy PChen
Waiting Hikers
Catch-up Break
Scenic Sandstone Boulder
Upper Travertine Canyon
Travertine Canyon Route, Annotated
As we had downclimbed the scramble and the subsequent steep dirt descent, the skies had clouded over and the air had become still and humid. It no longer was a cheery, blustery-feeling day, but rather a gloomy and foreboding one. It felt like some precip might in fact be headed our way after all. We debated about whether we should camp at Whites Butte saddle or try and continue on down to Boucher Creek itself (our preferred destination). The group was split, and we decided to re-assess at the saddle itself.
Top of the RedWall
Out of Travertine
Cathy in Travertine

Video clips from the upper part of the Boucher Trail

Video clips from the upper part of the Boucher Trail
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[ Grand Canyon 2010 home page | Introduction | Death Valley | Backpack Prep | Backpack Day 1 - Boucher Trail | Backpack Day 2 - Boucher Creek & Rapids | Backpack Day 3 - Boucher Creek to Hermit Rapids | Backpack Day 4 - Hermit Rapids to Salt Creek | Backpack Day 5 - Salt Creek to Bright Angel Trailhead | Epilogue | Video Clip Index | Supplemental - Flowers | Supplemental - People | Route Description- The Waldron Trail | Route Description- The Boucher Trail | GPS Data ]


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