I was up late last night trying to hike while it was cool, and then I was up early this morning for the same reason. I felt terrible when I woke up and first I thought it was lack of sleep. After an hour of hiking I thought I might be getting sick. Fatigue wracked my body, my throat hurt, I was vaguely disoriented. I even was tremendously sad, stupidly sad, the way I get sometimes when I’m sick. The last long trail I hiked I came down with a severe flu while hiking, but with great luck it struck just as I was entering another town and I was able to get a motel room and lie in it unconscious for forty eight hours. As I dragged myself along this morning I kept thinking about what to do if I fell that ill here, too ill to hike or even be awake. I had to get to water. There is no surviving this place far from water for long.
It was a hot day again, broiling temperatures. I was heading for the South Bass trail where I would leave the Tonto trail (and perhaps the formation all together) for good. I slogged along, in and out drainages, losing the trail and then finding it, losing and finding. Mid morning I came to a creek and drank the rest of my water, filled up my bottles, drank them again, and left with three liters. As I went I noticed that eventually I seemed to be suffering less (watch yourself like watching an animal in its native habitat). I hurt less, I wasn’t as sad, and I fell into an easier rhythm walking through the black brush, the sun ever present all over me.
I arrived at the unmarked trail junction (no trail junctions are marked in this park) and turned south, ready to bid the Tonto farewell. A short time on this new trail, yet again unlike any other in the park, where for stretches I was walking on solid rock, like slickrock in Utah, rather than decomposed rock, and I arrived back at the Colorado River just above Bass Rapids for my third hitch across. Just as I was picking my way down to the beach, a raft party was packing up from lunch and they readily agreed to drop me on the other side. They took away my garbage and offered a beer (which I declined–drinking beer after hiking in the heat is a bad thing for me) and with hardly a pause I had made the crossing. I had planned to spend the day waiting for a ride, and I still wasn’t feeling great though not the full on bedraggled sick from the morning. In any case it was way too hot to start hiking. From the beach the route climbs 5000 feet up to Muave Saddle on the North Rim. My thermometer read 90 in the shade. I decided to head to a shady little stretch of beach and hang out for the afternoon, only hiking on in the cooler evening if I felt like it. I found another raft group there, a private trip, and I chatted with them a while about rafting and my hike. They left and I had the beach to myself, though three more large motorized rafts passed. As I was laundering some socks in the river two huge motorized rafts arrived and parked, planning to camp for the night. They ended up feeding me dinner, giving me water, charging my phone on their solar charger, and even brought me along on the raft on a little field trip to the falls at the very bottom of Shinumo Creek, a creek I’ll hike along farther up the canyon tomorrow. The water fall was beautiful and the water pleasant to swim/flop in. Like little tadpoles we were. So I never left the camp at Bass Rapids, which is fine. I have plenty of time, and since I already have my plane ticket, no need to rush.