As we approached Plateau Point, I snapped picture after picture. I didn't want to miss one second of what I was seeing. I wanted my family, my friends, and all who had supported me throughout this journey to see exactly what I was seeing.
My group all made it to the point before I did. I snapped this picture of Kelly, who yelled at me to hurry up because the view was amazing.
I wasn't expecting to see the Colorado River. I overheard our guide, Seth, telling another teammate how we would be able to hear the roar of the river. But I didn't know we'd actually be able to see it.
As I approached the edge, I heard it -- so much louder than you would ever expect -- and I smiled. This was cool. Then I peeked over the edge. And I actually gasped out loud.
I could SEE the river. It was a beautiful foamy green, and even from this height, it looked enormous. It went on for miles, endlessly snaking through rocks. Seth told us we were a mere three miles from the bottom, which doesn't seem like much when you've already hiked more than six.
After much more picture-taking and general awe, it was time to head back to Indian Gardens. As we started back, I joked with Seth about how the hike had gone so far.
"This hike is a breeze. I don't know what all the fuss was about."
I was kidding, of course. I knew that in the Canyon, what goes down must come up.
But for now, the main goal was to get back to Indian Gardens so we could scarf down lunch. My turkey sandwich had been taunting me for about 2 miles, and I was ready to shut it up.
We hiked the 1.5 miles back to the garden quickly -- it was flat, after all. We left the cactuses behind and were reunited with the trees.
We collapsed at the picnic tables again, dumped the dirt out of our shoes, put on MORE sunblock, and ate slightly too-warm turkey sandwiches, dried fruits and granola bars.
We discussed what was ahead of us. Four and a half miles. Two rest stops. Just concentrate on getting to the next rest stop. Go at your own pace.
Off we went.