When it comes to our personal trips, we can be a bit unorganized or behind in the planning. Sometimes this is because we often don’t know when exactly we’re going to have free time in advance. Other times it’s just that we didn’t get to it. When planning dozens of outdoor adventures is your job, it can be hard to get stoked to plan one for yourself. So after wrapping up a couple photo shoots in Arizona, we found ourselves with a free week in November. We pointed the truck and Airstream to the Grand Canyon.
This wasn’t our first time arriving at the Park’s Backcountry Information Center without a reservation. And not the first time enduring the pessimistic attitude of the rangers that deal with the thousands of backpackers jockeying for the best permit. “So what IS open?” we finally asked the ranger after he went through a long litany of what we couldn’t do. The Hermit-Boucher Loop was the answer; a 25-mile loop that utilized two of the less popular trails heading down from the South Rim. “We’ll take it,” we exclaimed before he could finish describing the challenges of this route. Finally he just let us know that the Boucher Trail is considered one of the more challenging in the park (steep, semi-primitive, not regularly maintained). Little did he know that’s exactly what we were looking for. He double checked our emergency contact info and issued the permit.
The tourist throngs ended after the first mile down the Hermit Trail and we didn’t see another soul for the next three days. Pro Tip: Stick to the more challenging tracks if you really want solitude. Both the Hermit and Boucher trails offered spectacular views of The Big Ditch, sometimes directly below as the track meandered along an edge. The cruiser Tonto Trail is used to connect the loop, so you do enjoy a break from the more strenuous terrain. We camped at the Colorado River one night and then along Boucher Creek the next. The only noise was the river and the only lights were the stars. Maybe this last minute thing isn’t such a bad thing after all.