Who’s idea was it to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon?? Who’s idea was it to hike an extra 3 miles to Plateau Point to get a glimpse of the Colorado River??
Who’s idea was it to look at the “Warning DO NOT go past Indian Garden as a Summer Day Hike” after we finished our 12 mile, 3000 ft, 10 hour hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and most importantly, back up?
Regardless of who’s idea it was. We did it. WE DID IT! I can’t believe we did it.
August 8, 2011 at 6:20am, Nathan, Jonathan and I started our hike down Bright Angel Trail. We were bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and skipped merrily along the path, which was still encroached in shade. We took time to pose for photos, take in the views of the Grand Canyon as the sun was rising over the cliffs, and it was so quiet we heard the stirring of chipmunks in the trees and mule deer eating their morning meal.
We blew right past the first rest area, without even having to top up our water bottles. Then we started seeing some uphill traffic. There was no random chatter from the hikers heading back to the top of the canyon, unless it was to ask how far the next rest area was. Hmmmm…just a little bit intimidating. People were hiking back up to the top with full overnight packs and camping gear. Even in this early stage of the hike we felt sorry for them.
We made it to the 3 Mile Rest House and decided to keep on and we were rewarded for our efforts at Indian Garden. Think lush green trees, vibrant cactus, and the sound of running water through a creek bed. The best part – plenty of shade! We made it to the desert floor at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. But did we stop here? Oh no – let’s keep going? What’s another 1.5 miles to get to Plateau Point and see the Colorado River????
The difference between Indian River and Plateau Point is SHADE. We hiked 1.5 miles to the edge of a cliff in 110 degree heat in the blazing sun. But we made it. Thank goodness there was a water station at the point and a cool breeze. Once the adrenaline wore off and we started our hike back, it was the sight of the oasis at Indian Garden that kept us moving forward.
It took us 3 hours to hike to Indian Garden (at the bottom of the Canyon) and an extra hour to hike to and from Plateau Point. It took us 5 hours to hike from Indian Garden back up to the top of the Bright Angel Trail Head at the top of the Grand Canyon.
I don’t think that I can describe how difficult this was. We took cover in the tiny bit of shade that scrappy desert trees give off. If we hiked for 7 minutes straight, this was a good job. We drenched ourselves in water to keep our core cool as we hiked. Sometimes the effort of lifting my legs to step up 6 inches over the logs on the path was too much of an effort and I started to walk along the rocks at the side of the trail so I didn’t have to lift my legs as high. As we climbed higher the temperature got slightly cooler but the altitude made breathing harder. There was no random chatter, just the sound of deep breaths, the swish of a water bottle, and two phrases: “I just need to rest!” and “how far until the next rest house?”.
As we got closer to the top, the trail got busier with people who did not understand what we had gone through and what we were still going through. Hikers stopping randomly in the trail, people wearing flipflops and eating Doritos, and people that just did not understand how hard it was for us to put one foot in front of the other. Jonathan got his second or third wind and led the way the last 20 minutes of our hike. He was the first one to the top. But we all made it.