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courtesy PChen
Beginning to bloom
Bird of prey above
Down to Monument Creek
The Monument
Pima Point, framed
Bob and his Monument
Nearing Monument Campsite
After a good look at the tower, we turned upstream and covered the final few minutes to the Monument Creek campsite -- another of the official backcountry campsites in the Grand Canyon. This site is a bit larger than the one at Hermit Creek; and it's got a bigger 3-stall solar toilet facility, in any case!
courtesy JInnes
Monument Creek Bathroom
Spiny Lizard
Furry Food Snatcher
Monument Creek campsites
Monument Creek
Lunch and filtering
It was lunchtime, and this was also our spot for filling up all our containers to maximum capacity in prep for the night's dry camp, so we found a cool spot in the shade (each day of our backpack was getting progressively hotter), and dropped our packs. We took turns guarding our gear while filtering water, which was some distance away from where our packs were, for we had noticed some chubby patrolling squirrels about. Pu and Bob went a little downcanyon to find some water to splash around in.
Lunchtime Coffee
With only one filter for all six of us (as you may recall, Pu's filter broke the first time we tried using it), it took quite a long time fill everyone's water containers up. The shade from the overhang that we had all of our packs under went from generous to a tiny sliver by the time we finished up.

With our water topped up and a good lunch in our bellies, it was time for the final leg of the day: another section of Tonto to the Salt Creek backcountry campsite.
Gateway to Tonto East
Switchbacks through Tapeats
Hikers Above
The way east out of Monument Creek is marked by two big distinctive cairns, arrange like a gate of sorts. From here, the trail rises up steeply in switchbacks, quickly gaining the Tonto Platform several hundred feet above. It was then back to classic Tonto Trail: a beautiful meandering trail across the flats.
Monument Creek Campsite
Monument Creek Campsite
East Towards Cedar Springs
courtesy PChen
The Tower of Set
Arid Transyaster
Cedar Spring
The trail led east until it came to a shallow canyon and creekbed. This is the backcountry campsite known as Cedar Spring. It is a fairly open campsite, with not a lot of cover from terrain or vegetation. Would be a hot place to camp in the heat of summer. There was no water in the drainage where the trail crossed, but we could see a water seep visible a little ways down. While we took a rest break here, Pu went down the drainage to explore and take pictures, and came back reporting that there was a very cool pouroff off of the Tapeats just a little ways below.
courtesy PChen
courtesy PChen
Pouroff at Cedar Spring
Bob's macho look
Cedar Spring
We resumed our trek eastwards. The next major stop was our campsite at Salt Creek. It wasn't too late in the afternoon -- we were making decent time.

Interesting variations in rock texture and terrain was the name of the game along this stretch. First, we skirted above very cool Tapeats cliffs that showed an extreme sort of legdeing -- alternating layers of sandstone that stuck out and then not, creating an interesting corrugated look. Then, we skirted the edge of more Tapeats cliffs, this time overlooking a particularly wide swath of exposed Vishnu Schist, criss-crossed here and there with streaks of pink granite. This view was the most extensive panorama of exposed Vishnu along our entire route.
courtesy JInnes
Jenn above the Gorge
Cathy and Mike above the Gorge
courtesy PChen
courtesy PChen
Flowering Agave
Agave Spike Closeup
Across some flats
The Tonto started to curve inwards towards the canyon of Salt Creek -- our home for the night. As we approached, the Tonto follows fairly closely to the edge of an amazingly sheer, vertical cliff of Tapeats (in complete contrast to the 'corrugated' stuff just a couple of kilometres back). Up ahead, we could see the soaring red walls of Redwall Limestone that tightly enclosed the small amphitheatre (known as 'The Inferno') in which the Salt Creek campsite is located, and far above that, the shining yellow buttresses of Hopi Point and Mohave Point.
Extensive Vishnu Exposure
Salt Creek
Above some big dropoffs

Video clips from the Tonto trail on the fourth day of our backpack (click to play)

Video clips from the Tonto trail on the fourth day of our backpack (click to play)
Tiny Humans, Big Wall
A crimson splash
Salt Creek Overview
We continued to contour further in to Salt Creek, and as we did so, the Tonto Platform on the other side of the creek grew closer and closer, until finally we arried at a spot where the creek bed was only a short steep slope below us. The Tonto trail leads down briefly and crosses to the other side here, and a short side trail led a few feet farther upcanyon to the Salt Creek Campsites. We had arrived! And, it seemed that no one else was here.

After setting up our camp, we explored the relatively small confines of the little basin we were in, surrounded on three sides by towering red cliffs. There were some interesting flowering bushes and trees down in the creekbed (some nice Redbuds and also some sort of bush that has nice, four-petaled diamond shaped white flowers). We noted that there was a single solar-composting toilet here, too. Way up above, over 3,500 feet above us, we knew there were paved lookouts and roads and lots of people. They were only a short straight-line distance away, but it might as well have been an entire world away.
Salt Creek camp
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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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