Reading Books
  • Matt

Grand Canyon - 2 Nights at Indian Garden and Plateau Point Hike

Updated: Dec 12, 2021

If you want to hike any portion of the Grand Canyon, you need to apply for a permit many months prior, so this year's trip caught me by surprise when it suddenly came around. When we finally got word that we had won the permit lottery, I had put the trip on the back burner for a while. Unfortunately, if you don't prepare for the events of the future, the future will sneak up on you. We had four months, and in a blink of an eye, one month. Oh no, I'd better prepare! I had never really hiked during "winter" with temperatures this low in the Canyon, so I needed to figure out what to bring. Many hours looking up equipment and what to bring, I put the best pack list together that I could and stuffed it all in my bag. One week away. Shoot, should I stop exercising so I'm not sore? One day away. Is this sniffle something to worry about? Woke up the next morning and I felt great. I guess I have no more excuses - here goes!

When I get nervous about doing something, time flies. Case in point, bam! My ride was sitting in front of my house. Hugged my family, and off I went.

We arrived early evening to our hotel and met up with the other members of our hiking group. Checked into Maswik Lodge's Cottonwood building and dropped off our stuff.

One more look over our equipment

and one final attempt to lighten our load met with little success. Set our bags up against the wall and headed out for dinner.

We got dinner at the Maswik Lodge food court and was disappointed to see that most of the selection was closed for the winter months. Darn! I still got the pot roast, and you know what, it wasn't all that bad. It was this, or a hot dog. I suppose I just wanted to not upset my stomach for any reason. Why do I stress out about these things? Just eat and go. Mother nature is where you're supposed to do your business anyway.

Either way, we headed back and went to sleep. Now, just sleep well, and everything will be alright. But, that didn't happen. The heater was on full blast for hours and fiddling with the controls didn't seem to stop it. I woke up at 2:16 am sweating and a silhouette of my Father-in-law trying to turn it down. After feeling defeat, he saw there was a thermostat on the wall. Gah, really? Needless to say, I slept pretty solid after that.

Morning rolled around and and the time of reckoning has come. Just a quick "tiny" breakfast burrito at the Lodge food court and off we went.

Got in the car, drove around the loop and there it was. Hello Grand Canyon, you big merciless son-of-abyss. Your old friend here. Please don't swallow any of us up. We grabbed our too-heavy bags, said a quick prayer, and down we went.

The backpack always feels too heavy for the first couple miles, but you quickly forget after indulging in the views. All worries faded at that point and I was just happy to be able to be there. Nothing spectacular or out of the ordinary happened on the way down. I was just happy that we all made it safely.

Indian Garden is truly an oasis. I can just imagine the Anasazi people living a peaceful life here. What a treat to see something like this in my lifetime.

Cleared my tenting spot of rocks and leaves and set up my home away from home. Waited for everyone to do the same and read my "Edibles of the Southwest" book until everyone was settled in. I helped adjust some bags, but everyone impressively set up their cocoons. I've gotta say, the cold was harder to function in than I prepared for. If I had to give some advice, bring one extra layer during the cold months. I was freezing until I put on my last layer. The trip was tolerable after that. It truly is worth the investment to buy the warm and light stuff.

Another thing to note is the animals. They all want your food. A bunch of tame, well fed freeloaders thinking they have a right to my Mac and Cheese. I don't think so. Plus, a fed deer is a dead deer. All said, there were ravens, mice, rats, deer and squirrels. Hungry, might I add. I'm glad they had the T-poles to hang our bags. Ate dinner and that warmed me up generously.

When the sun set, the stars came out. A new moon night! Wow! What else is there to say. I can't help but to be humbled by the infinity just above us. Wait, what's that? The Starlink parade overhead, brighter than the brightest star? So cool. After that, a shooting star! Tilting my head north, another slower shooting star! Next, the space-station went by. I can't help but to smile. Jupiter, Saturn and Venus were all visible along with the Milky Way. Just amazing. A sort of Grand Canyon above us. I'm glad I had my stargazer app to tell me what I was looking at.

Anyhow, went to sleep, cozied up in my mummy bag waiting for the next morning. I was COLD. I put on every layer and it was just tolerable enough for me to sleep.

Next morning rolled around and we had one day to do some light activity. We decided to hike to Plateau Point. If you've never been there, go! It's worth the extra hike during the "rest" day. I was so happy to be in the sun. However, the sun has a whole new set of challenges. Went from, "Hope I don't get hypothermia," to "Hope I don't get sunburn." This Canyon is relentless. It's like playing every note at once on a stringed instrument. You just can't prepare for everything at the same time!

We ate ramen at Plateau Point and took in the views. I'm not going to try to describe the views because words just don't suffice. Plus, I'm not a poet. Just watch the video? Had a little picnic on the rocks while stressing about some other hikers getting way too close to the edge. This place is going to humble them if they push too far. We were not made to conquer the Canyon.

Back to the Indian Gardens to rest and pray. I think we were meant to commune in the garden. I'm glad that I had some delightful people to share this experience with. Another evening of keeping warm, eating dinner and resting my mind. All a success! My mind usually quiets down after about 24 hours. Thinking about the hike ahead, I drifted off into a night of good sleep.

I woke up about 6 am, made coffee and a warm breakfast. We packed up and headed off one at a time. I was the last one out and we scooted off.

Just one stare up the canyon wall and a long sigh ensued. But, just like life, one step in front of the other. This place silently teaches me so much. The classroom of life.

We had our goal points in mind, mine being the top of the Kaibab Limestone.

I tried not to think about the distance until then. The rest houses are a moot point for me. We took about 4 hours to get out of the big hole? I was delighted to see the end. The last few hundred yards, I was telling myself that I would never do this again. But, as I'm typing, I'm already dreaming of another adventure! Whadaya say? Let's do it!

I had one real goal during this trip, and it was to see what I truly used and try to pack no extra stuff for next time. These are the items I actually used and recommend (note I am an Amazon associate - any links you click would greatly help support this blog effort at no cost to you - thank you!)

1) Tent - Just choose the lightest freestanding tent money can buy.

2) Appropriate sleeping bag (I clearly need a better rated one!) - Mine is so old I can't find it online. Just a 30 degree sleeping bag that it ultralight will be fine. Pay attention to the weather in case you need a lower temp bag.

3) Sleeping pad

4) Pillow

5) Good backpack - I used the Arc'teryx Bora 80. Look for proven durability and comfort.

6) Tarp for ground

7) Jetboil

8) Fuel for Jetboil

9) Food

10) Spork

11) 1 Nalgene Bottle

12) Gortex boots

13) Crocks- Must have so you don't have to put on your boots every time you move outside.

14) 2 pair of Darn Tough Socks - Including the one you wore in. I never need liners with these. Also, I didn't developed blisters during a 30+ mile hike.

15) 1 pair of warm zip off hiking pants

16) 3 Pair of underwear including the ones you wore in - Just made out of silk.

17) Lightweight fleece

18) Full zip warm layer

19) 2 quick dry t-shirts Including the one you wore in.

20) Base layer shirt and pants

21) Warm hat with face cover

22) Polarized sunglasses

23) Shade hat

24) Head lamp with red light

26) Warm fleece gloves - Liner recommended too.

27) Fun "lightweight" book

28) Permit -

29) Gorp (I always find that I take too much) - Just make your own with what you like.

30) Leatherman tool

31) Ultra Lightweight chair

32) Small hiking bag for day hike

33) Toiletries (Personal preference on what you need)

34) Titanium cup for ramen

35) A well thought out first-aid kit - Will be different for specific needs. Look online for how to build a good one.

36) Warm stuff-able jacket

37) Hiking poles

38) Rain gear - Didn't use it, but that could've quickly changed.

39) Stuff sacks - Get at least 3.

40) GSI Coffee Attachment

I could've cut out 5 lbs of stuff if I had stuck to this. I could cut down another 5-7 lbs if I bought the ultra light-weight equipment. I'd love to hear what items you can't live without (if you think I've forgotten any) in the comments below.

406 views4 comments