Grand Canyon – Part III: Colorado River to Indian Garden [2014/12/06]
If you haven’t already seen Part I and Part II, I suggest you check them out first.
So after bidding adieu (or adios or whatever) to the Colorado, I began the ascent to Indian Garden. The hike to Indian Garden is significantly smaller elevation than the hike from Indian Garden out. I guess that’s good because if I would have known how hard it would the last day, I may have joined the Park Service like one joins the French Foreign Legion. Anyway, that’s a story for another day.
Unlike the South Kaibab trail which is mostly out in the open, the Bright Angel Trail is much more enclosed between steep walls carved by running water. All the way up to Indian Garden, water is not far. Below is a creek I had to cross. I was a bit tired at this point and it looked like the trail was about to get steeper. Remember this creek…
As I was saying earlier, you can see how much more “close” this trail is. There are no vast open spaces at the bottom, just switchbacks that circle around mountains. Up and up you go.
Here are some switchbacks. I thought I had made it pretty far up.
I had not, in fact, made it that far yet. At the bottom of the switchbacks, you can see the creek at which I stopped and took the picture above. You can also see the point, almost in the dead center of the picture, where I took the picture above. You just keep going up and up and up. At the top of the picture you can see the South Rim. It’s still really really far away. Also, I’m not sure, but that may very well be O’Neil’s Butte. Or it’s just rocks. Who knows.
In the picture below you may be able to get a better sense of the scale of where I am. The South Rim is quite far at this point. The red rock that may or may not be O’Neil Butte is significantly below that. The yellowish rocks “just below” the South Rim are Plateau Point which is at the level of Indian Garden. On second thought, maybe that’s not actually Plateau Point. But it is the same level and you can see these switchbacks from Plateau Point. In any case, that is still a pretty good ways up…
In case you were wondering, there are giant rocks.
After more ascending, I’m starting to get to where the plateaus begin. This picture I just took to show the small cabin sized boulder that seemed out of place. The Park Service needs to clean up. See what all those funding cuts do? Anyway…
AND HERE’S IT FALLING ON ME!
No, that’s not true. It was cool looking rock though. The end of this hike seemed long and I think the reasons for this were twofold. One, it was kind of long. But two, it seemed at this point that Indian Garden would be around the next turn. I was making good time, but for about an hour and a half, I thought I would come around a curve and the campsite would be there. The picture below shows my climb up the plateaus, the creek along which Indian Garden lies, and the South Rim through some haze.
Right now, I’m going to use the magic of photography and the Internet to shift time. The following pictures of Indian Garden are actually from the next morning. As soon as I set up camp at Indian Garden, I hiked the mile or so out to Plateau Point to check out the sunset. Just pretend that this is me showing up at Indian Garden in slightly different clothes with the sun in a different position.
Indian Garden is a lot smaller campground than Phantom Ranch. There were only a handful of people camping in it. Again, you feel like you’re in a mini canyon, not a part of the entire Grand Canyon. That said, it’s a nice view to wake up to. I mean fall asleep to. Right.
I would be hard to say anything bad about Indian Garden. It was a bit chilly. And those stupid pretty leaves were falling out of the trees covering everything. THE HORROR.
The previous pictures are facing North-Northwest. Here is a view south towards the South Rim. I asked myself more than once “how in the hell am I going to get up there?”.
Here’s one of those times… “How the hell am I going to get up there?”
At this point, let me pause so Plateau Point can have it’s own page. The view was quite possibly the best in the whole trip. Also, like Buzzfeed, I get paid more the more pages you load! No wait, I’m paying for bandwidth. Well, whatever. On to Part IV!