Monday, November 25, 2019
Start: Bright Angel Campground
End: Indian Garden Campground
Miles: 4.5 (+3.0 for Plateau Point)
Elevation gain: 1400′
After a long, relatively cold night (perhaps 35 degrees, but near enough to the creek to be a damp cold), we were awake at 6am and emerged from the tent by 6:30am. We made hot tea and a small hot breakfast and then packed up, leaving the damp tent for last. Due to our proximity to the creek, we had condensation on both the fly and the inside of the tent. We headed out by 8:30am, crossed the Silver Bridge, and hiked along the relatively flat River Trail to the River Resthouse.
The view of the inner canyon with the sunlight slowly creeping into the canyon was beautiful. At the Resthouse, we took a short break for second breakfast, and then started the climb up to Indian Garden.
We arrived around 11:30am, and had our pick of tent sites. We picked site 14, because it was more separate and private than the other sites, with an actual view of the canyon walls. The other sites were more tucked down into the deciduous trees and closer to each other.
It was sunny and warm (low 60s), so we hung out the fly, tent, and footprint to dry, along with some of our clothes. While we waited for the sun to dry them, we sat at the picnic table under the sun shelter and ate our lunch. Once we were done, we set up the tent and our bed rolls, and then packed up a backpack to take a stroll out to Plateau Point.
We were hoping to eat dinner and watch the sunset while soaking up the warm sun, but as we were walking out to the Point, dark rain clouds began to pass overhead, driven by high winds. Closer to Indian Garden, the gusts were up to 40 MPH. As we got out to the Point, the winds were gusting closer to 60 MPH, making us stagger on our feet. One gust caught up a huge scope of sand and grit and threw it into our faces; I just managed to duck my face in time to avoid getting sand in my eyes. It did stick to my lip balm and sunscreen though, and I found sand in my hair later.
Out near the Point, the trail narrowed down at a few spots to perhaps 6 feet wide, with large, 500+ foot drops on either side. With the wind gusting, it was very intimidating and made for some high-anxiety moments. So instead of hanging out as we originally planned, we took some pictures and then headed back to our tent site.
Once back at the site, we decided to just give in to the inevitable and started preparing dinner. With the wind, it took a bit longer than usual for the water to boil, but our metal box (located at each site to prevent trouble rodents) acted as a nice wind break. We had tea and stew for dinner and chocolate pudding (which I bought in Lone Pine after the JMT) for dessert. The wind and clouds made for a cold evening and we got into the tent shortly after sundown (5:18pm). Around 6:45pm, it began to rain; there was a 20% chance of rain and/or snow tonight. Regardless, it should stop by midnight and tomorrow should be a beautiful sunny day.