Gratitude Trip: Grand Canyon – Day Three…

Tom hiking along the mighty Colorado River.

Bright Angel Camp to Indian Garden

Another wonderful morning waking up to the sound of the flowing creek near our camp and the magnetic red rock all around us. We began our day early once again to maximize our time without direct sunlight. Our challenge for the day: An area known as “The Corkscrew”. After a hearty breakfast of pancakes and syrup, plenty of sugar for fuel, we began by crossing a suspension bridge across the mighty Colorado River. We had seen the creeks and other tributaries that feed into the Colorado.   However, the Colorado’s power speaks for itself.

On the way up we pass an abandoned mine that brings back days long-ago when the canyon was mined for cooper and other valuable minerals. We continued up a winding series of switchbacks that comprise the “Corkscrew”. As you make your way up, the full majesty and scope of the Canyon becomes obvious. All obstacles to a full and complete view are removed and the natural wonder of this place becomes clear. The reality is this is not just one canyon, but many that combine together to create a very grand canyon.  There are so many levels to the rocks, each foot encompassing ten thousand years of earth’s history (outdating human occupancy by more than two billion years). The Canyon has a way of right sizing even the biggest of egos by silently reminding us that we are not so important in the larger scheme of things.

Fooling around out on “The Plateau” with a father and son hiking together in the Canyon
The Corkscrew heading towards Indian Garden.

At Indian Garden, we headed out to what is known as “The Plateau”.  The Plateau has what is generally regarded as the most spectacular view of the Grand Canyon.  You can see the trail to The Plateau from the South Rim.  I had seen years before when I brought my mother here but never thought I’d actually be standing there.  From The Plateau, it’s about seven miles down to the raging Colorado River.  The only real noise you can hear is the Colorado and it’s rapids.  While on The Plateau, I kept thinking to myself “if these rocks could talk!”   I imagined the Native American ceremonies that took place here as well as the civilizations that pre-dated the cultures that we know of.   People have lived here 15,000 to 20,000 years ago and we know nothing about them. To be standing temporarily on this sacred spot again reminded me of how small and irrelevant I am in the larger scheme of things.   It reminded me to make the most of the very brief time I will present on this planet and hopefully make some minor contribution to making it a better place.  Some stayed to watch the sunset, but I decided to head back to camp and get ready for the final day of hiking, almost straight up vertically on a series of switchback’s, all the way to the South Rim. 

Tom out on “The Plateau”.

As I laid in my tent that night, again watching the stars in the clear night sky above me, I came up with my gratitude list for the day.  On my third day in the Canyon, I was grateful for: the privilege to spend time in such a miraculous place; the sense of comaraderie that had grown in my group; a father and son who I got to know very well that day who were hiking together and making a beautiful memory that neither would ever forget; my body permitting me not only to make my way up to Indian Garden, but to then head back down the Corkscrew to help another hiker who could not make it; the cool water of the creek that kept me from over-heating in the brutal mid-afternoon sun; and, anticipation of the day to come and accomplishing the hike without any concern that I would not be able to make it. 

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