Bullet to Polly's in 4 days

Nick

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Hey BCP'ers. I need some advice. I'm heading out backpacking in Grand Gulch this weekend, entering at Bullet with @Artemus, @Jen and @neiloro. We have 4 days and the tentative plan was to go down Bullet to GG, then down to Polly's and out the top of it. Basically this route:

Click here to view on CalTopo
My question for you all, is this too aggressive for how much time we'll likely spend poking around in ruins? With the side trip up GG to Green Mask, I figure about 30 miles is realistic based on the lines drawn and keeping in mind they are never as much as they really are. Anyway, would we be happier to cut it short and spend more time poking around or does this seem pretty legit?

The permit is for entry at Bullet but I suppose we could turn up GG and head out further north as an alternate option which would also eliminate the need to do the out and back to Green Mask. Thanks in advance for your wisdom.
 

xjblue

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Did just that almost, with 4 days/three nights on the trail, minus the side trip to Green Mask but we did do a decent time consuming climb to a site we couldn't access on day one, and went down past Polly's to the next site at the end of day 3. Spent night three at the mouth of Polly's, day 4 we ended up hiking up Polly's and back down un-burdened, then we packing out Govt. trail due to being tired and pretty dehydrated the night before, neither of us had done Polly's before, and I didn't feel like route-finding with a bike ride to do to retrieve our vehicle from Bullet TH right afterword. It worked out and was probably the right decision for us. We did get a fair enough amount of poking around in. And had we (me mostly) been feeling better would have got even more poking around in that last evening at Polly's mouth.
 

gnwatts

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I would bypass Polly's and use the Govt. Trail. Gives you more time to explore, maybe below Govt. Trail in GG.
 

gnwatts

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I have, and there is some interesting stuff. It is a thrash for a bit, some of it can be bypassed but not all. It is a nice little canyon, but you have some great ruins down canyon from Govt. Trail in GG. If it were me, with the time you have, exploring more of Grand Gulch is a better option. Go back another time and check out Polly's. You could spend a couple of days in there. So much to see. I love the Government Trail.
 

BryanG

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Honestly, whatever you decide will be great. You could just camp at the mouth of Polly's on night 3 and play the last day by ear. If you are beat then go out Gov. trail (which is a very straight forward hike) or if you still have the energy to push through some over growth, head out Polly's canyon. To hike from the mouth of Polly's to Gov. TH via the government trail takes no more than 2 hours so you could spend the morning exploring the ruins to the south if you decide not to go up Polly's on the last day.
 

BryanG

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That is a hard question to answer... It really depends on how far you are willing to go. At least a 1/2 mile and look up to the left. If you continue about 2.5 miles down GG from Polly's I believe you will see 3 sets of ruins along the way.
 

xjblue

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We are doing the same route the following weekend! I've been concerned about finding water, but with the recent rain I hope things are in better shape.

We had it pretty dry that time so you've always heard our hike 2 miles for water story... Should be better as it seems like it has been a little wet and wild going in to spring, @Nick & party will have fresh intel at least...
 

Nick

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Where are you guys getting your intel as far as water locations? I have a map I got from someone a long time ago that marks springs but I was planning on talking to the ranger about it. Anything else out there?
 

IntrepidXJ

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Where are you guys getting your intel as far as water locations? I have a map I got from someone a long time ago that marks springs but I was planning on talking to the ranger about it. Anything else out there?

When I called to reserve my permit a few months ago not only was there a recording about limited water availability and dry springs, the ranger I spoke with also gave me the same speech about possibly having to carry all our water.

Definitely talk to the ranger/volunteer when you pickup your permit. It's been a dry winter and spring down there.
 
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Nick

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Yikes! I'm going to call tomorrow and see if they have any updated info. Having to load up with water for some sections is doable, but packing all water... uhhh no.
 

mike_offerman

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The ranger station keeps a record of people who report back to them about water availability. They also collect their own information. Unfortunately when you call, you don't end up talking to the people at the ranger station, but they might have some recent info.
 

Nick

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Crap! So I'm seriously wondering if this just isn't the year to do this trip. I have a backup plan but most of the time in my experience when people say "it's dry out there" the springs are still just fine. But I've never backpacked GG. Not sure what to do here...
 

IntrepidXJ

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Crap! So I'm seriously wondering if this just isn't the year to do this trip. I have a backup plan but most of the time in my experience when people say "it's dry out there" the springs are still just fine. But I've never backpacked GG. Not sure what to do here...

I didn't mean to scare you away from doing the trip, just passing along the info I got when reserving my permits. I'm sure there is water to be found, plus it just rained over the weekend, it just might not be as easy to find as usual. I'd just make sure to find out where there is water when you get your permit at Kane Gulch.
 

Artemus

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Not to throw a monkey wrench in but here goes. My experience in GG has been mostly day hiking except for a trip all the way down the canyon from, I believe, Bullet trailhead to the San Juan river where we got picked up by friends on rafts. We had long dry sections but were able to piece together camps close to springs - very poor springs but enough water for our group of about 6. That was in April 2004. Maybe we prepare to carry 5 liters each in from the Bullet trailhead and be prepared to walk right back out the following day if we see no water. In other words, if we find no water, dry camp one day and come back out. The water we found on our long trip was often poor, as far as silt and I seem to remember clogging up a filter or two. I have a magic wand and will simply drink the silt.
 

Nick

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Not to throw a monkey wrench in but here goes. My experience in GG has been mostly day hiking except for a trip all the way down the canyon from, I believe, Bullet trailhead to the San Juan river where we got picked up by friends on rafts. We had long dry sections but were able to piece together camps close to springs - very poor springs but enough water for our group of about 6. That was in April 2004. Maybe we prepare to carry 5 liters each in from the Bullet trailhead and be prepared to walk right back out the following day if we see no water. In other words, if we find no water, dry camp one day and come back out. The water we found on our long trip was often poor, as far as silt and I seem to remember clogging up a filter or two. I have a magic wand and will simply drink the silt.

You're making the backup plans sound pretty awesome.
 

mike_offerman

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On March 16th, just before the area received a bunch of precip, we went down the gvt trailhead and back up Pollys. Didn't go up or down Grand Gulch, so don't know the water situation there, but there was running water higher up in Pollys at the junction where you turn South in Pollys. Not much help if you are at the tail end of 4 days, but nice to know it is there.

https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=37.43396,-110.07867&z=16&b=t
 
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