Approaching Horn Creek Campsite
The Tonto doesn't lose any significant elevation as it crosses the drainages of Horn Creek, so one is right back on the 'main plane' of the Tonto Platform as soon as we left the campsite. It was about this point that I noticed some telephone or transmission wires up against the east side of Horn Creek's drainage. The wires seemed to come around from the other side, from the direction of Indian Garden, but I couldn't see where they headed to in Horn Creek -- they appeared to just end.
Cathy's Final Tonto Stretch
Even though it was only 8am, we were now on the final stretch of Tonto Trail before reaching the busy corridor area of Indian Gardens and the Bright Angel trail. Jenn had us stop for one last 'true wilderness' break (i.e. without the crowds of the corridor area).
Watching the hikers approach
The Canyon of Garden Creek
We rounded a corner and had a good view into the side canyon of Garden Creek. Nestled back a ways within was a brilliant patch of bright green and purple - the budding and flowering trees of the oasis of Indian Garden - our next destination.
We soon reached a trail junction. A trail led off to the left towards Plateau Point - an overlook at the top of the Tapeats down towards the Colorado and Phantom Ranch, and is a very popular hike from Indian Garden. Our first obvious sign of the greatly increased traffic this area receives was the trail itself: The Tonto from this point on towards Indian Garden was perhaps four times wider and covered with fine dust - a result of thousands of pounding feet. A marked change from the fresh little path we had been walking on for four days.
As we approached Indian Gardens, we could see a mule train being herded towards Indian Garden from a section of Tonto to the east of Garden Creek. It was like a little scene out of a western, complete with a little cloud of dust.
Soon we entered the shady depths of the trees of Indian Garden. It was a lush and shady place in here - a sharp contrast to the open desert-like terrain we had just come from. It felt very springlike in here - chirping birds, lush greenery, lots of sparkling water in the creek.