We only had one full day to explore the Grand Canyon, so we woke up early to head out to Bright Angels Landing to Plateau Point, a 12.2 mile round-trip hike. We wanted to save our freeze dried breakfast meals for our time at Havasu, so our breakfast was for champions: ritz crackers, salami, and clif bars.
I haven’t hiked anywhere else than Washington and it made me appreciate hiking up mountains instead of descending into canyons. You can get really carried away hiking down into the Grand Canyon, but hiking back up was the most difficult part. There were a ton of signs reminding people how much water they should pack, signs of heat exhaustion, and how hiking down means you have to hike back up. We met this guy who was by himself carrying only a gallon jug of water and he was talking about how he wanted to hike all the way down to the Colorado River and back up. We thought he was crazy since people usually camp within the canyon for a night and then head down to the Colorado River – yeah right.
On Bright Angels Landing, there were rest stops at the 1.5 mile and 3 mile mark which included restrooms, shaded rest areas, and emergency 911 phones. After we passed the first rest stop, a ranger asked us where we were headed to. When we told her we were headed to Plateau Point she told us to drink a lot of water, that it would be 94 degrees, and our total time to complete the hike would be around six hours. Challenge accepted.
It was easy getting down to the final stop of Bright Angels Landing which was called Indian Garden, an oasis in the middle of the canyon. There were tons of cacti and lush greens everywhere. There were also small campsites where hikers can explore longer within the canyon and rest up before making their way down to the Colorado River. It was another 1.5 miles off the trail to Plateau Point. The trail was pretty flat, but there was absolutely no shade since you were literally in the middle of the canyon surrounded by all it’s beauty! Once you got to Plateau Point, you can see how massive the Colorado River is flowing through the Grand Canyon!
We headed back to Indian Garden and ate some snacks and took in all the shade we could before we started our journey back out of the canyon. Also, the squirrels out there are vicious. Don’t feed them!! I was enjoying my almonds while one of them stared me down, yelled out some high-pitched battle cry, and charged straight at me. I grabbed my hiking pole and held my stance.
Anyway, hiking back out of the canyon during high time was pretty miserable – not going to lie. The heat was no joke! At some points I wanted to cry because of how exhausted I felt climbing almost 4,000 feet back out of the canyon, but I kept reminding myself that I couldn’t even waste ONE TEAR on crying. I needed to save all water and salt reservations in my body. Jordan and I wanted to get out of this canyon ASAP. Jordan had dried up salt from his sweat all over his face and even on the straps of his backpack.
We finished in six hours (just what the ranger said)! Doing the math… 12 miles round trip with 6 miles descending 4,000 feet and 6 miles ascending 4,000 feet… we averaged 2 miles per every hour. We hauled ass on this hike!
We headed back to camp and started digging $4 worth of quarters to take an eight minute shower at the campsite. While we were in the parking lot, we saw a family of moose and some kind strangers gave us four gas cans and two beers since they were leaving on a plane the next day. Can’t say no to free beer.
We drove out to see the Desert Watchtower which was a 25+ mile drive to the other side of the rim of the canyon. Along the way back, we drove to some viewpoints and then had dinner at the Yovipa Tavern. We rewarded ourselves with burgers and beer. After dinner, we tried catching a shuttle bus up to Hermit’s Road to see the sunset, but the rangers weren’t very nice about bringing more people up near sunset. So after being ignored three shuttle buses later, we caught just the end of the sunset within the canyon.
Next stop, Sedona!