If you haven’t read Part I, Part II, and Part III, I suggest you check those out first. These are probably the best pictures of the whole trip. You’ve got to earn them! By looking at all my other pictures and reading my witty commentary! Go back, I’ll wait.
Ok, cool. So after I pitched camp at Indian Garden, I immediately headed for Plateau Point. The sun was beginning to set and I thought it would make for a once in a lifetime view. I’d like to mention that I had already hiked about 12 miles at this point and my feet were a-hurtin’. But the mile or so hike out to Plateau Point is mostly level and, well, how often are you there?
Anyway, enough belly-aching. Without further ado, Plateau Point. The trail there is pretty level. I was really booking it to make it before it got too dark to take pictures. For reference, these are the vast green plateaus from previous pictures. The trail from Indian Garden meanders along before reaching a large open space that takes you out to Plateau Point. This is looking towards Plateau Point. I really had no idea what to expect so I just started hiking.
Once you get towards the edge, there is this strange outcropping of rocks. I wasn’t sure exactly what to do, but I could see a railing out towards the edge. I haven’t mentioned it, but from Bright Angel Campground to Indian Garden and then out to Plateau Point, I basically saw zero hikers. In case my whining about the bridge didn’t make it clear, I’m pretty scared of heights. So seeing this seemingly crumbling stack of rocks at the end of a mile hike overlooking the canyon, I was a bit nervous. But you can see the path the goes out there. And fortune favors the bold. Or at least those who aren’t huge cowards.
I can’t really explain how far out into the canyon you feel. The Colorado River is probably about 1800 feet below you. It feels like you are teetering over the edge.
Down below you can see white water rafters beaching their rafts and setting up camp on the sand bar.
Turing around, you can see the South Rim in all it’s glory. The yellow rocks I was looking up at earlier in the day are now at my feet.
Below you can see how different the outcropping looks from the rest of the green plateau. I’m not going to lie, I was at times convinced it was going to shear off and send me into the Colorado.
Looking back towards the South Rim, you may notice something familiar. Our friends the switchbacks! It’s really amazing to think about how high the yelow cliffs looked earlier in the day.
The strange thing about Plateau Point is that you really are just dangling out on this strange rocky overhang. In case you wanted to see what my finger looked like, here’s a good picture of it below.
Looking back towards the North Rim, you can get another peek at the scale of the Canyon. From the North Rim a dozen miles away, across the green plateaus, down a sheer drop towards the Colorado. It’s big. Grand even.
After an hour or so (and a phone call!), it was time to head back. Here you can see the path across the plateau towards Indian Garden and the North Rim. Indian Garden, the patch of colorful trees, is a little over a mile away at this point. The South Rim is probably only two as the crow flies, but he doesn’t have switchbacks. It’s probably impossible to see from this camera phone picture, but you can actually make out the lights of Bright Angel Lodge and, what I assume is, the main part of the park. Bright Angel and the trail out is almost dead center of the North Rim and I believe the Matherson Overlook (sp) is the closer point to the left.
As you can see from the photos from the rim, the green plateaus are really big and take up a huge portion of the area below the rim. In the next few pictures you really get a sense of that from Plateau Point. This is the only time hiking you aren’t on the edge of a cliff or in a ravine. I felt very exposed compared to the teetering or claustraphobic hikes before and after this. It’s really a remarkable view.
I think what is odd about this view is the South Rim looks like a mountain range. It is about 3000 feet above you and extends as far as the eye can see. If you didn’t look down at the river, you would easily miss the entire inner canyon and Colorado river.
Also, the cacti were purple and I saw a deer. See if you can spot him in the picture below.
I was lying, he wasn’t in that picture. I did take a picture but it came out bad. Sorry.
In return for lying to you and making you closely examine a bunch of cacti, here’s a panorama from Plateau Point. If you click on it you can see it at full size. I may, in the future, try to even out the levels.
After this beautiful hike, it was time to hike on out.. Read on for my narrow escape from the jaws of icy death! Ok, well it took me a while and I was tired. But still. ICY JAWS OF DEATH.