The following is a transcript of the narration for this panorama location. To watch and listen to the narrated panorama, enter the project here at this location and then press the play button.
This panorama was photographed at a spot located below the Supai Tunnel, just after you have passed it on your way down the North Kaibab Trail. But to understand why the tunnel is here, we will go back though the tunnel to the hikers’s rest area on the other side.
On our geologic map of the area, the rest area is located at the orange dot, right next to one of the two big black parallel lines. The lines mark the Roaring Springs Fault, and the area in between them is the Roaring Springs Graben. The rock formations in the graben are dropped down a bit from the rocks outside of the graben. The light purple rock formation, which the rest area is on top of, is the Hermit Shale. The darker blue formation on the map, next to the Hermit Shale, is the Esplanade Sandstone, which, in this area, forms sheer cliffs. The rest area is within a notch, formed by the graben, of those cliffs.
Here are some pictures taken within the rest area. In this one, we are looking to the northwest back towards the Coconino Sandstone, now well off in the distance, and the gently sloping area within the Hermit Shale, below the cliffs, that the trail has followed down to get down to here. On the east side of the rest area, where one of the Roaring Springs Fault lines is located, there is a wall of Esplanade Sandstone. And, to the west, behind the facilities in this picture, and beyond the other of the Roaring Springs Fault lines, is another wall of Esplanade Sandstone. To the south, there is a sheer cliff of Esplanade Sandstone, but we are standing on top of it. We are, as climbers say, “cliffed out”, with no way to continue further down into the canyon without going over a precipice.
But, of course, the North Kaibab Trail doesn’t end here. The trail builders blasted the Supai Tunnel right through the wall on the east side of the rest area, and after you pass through it you are here, safely at the base of the Esplanade Sandstone cliff, and ready to begin your descent down through the rest of the Supai Formation. You can see the steep walls of the Supai on the opposite side of Roaring Springs Canyon, dropping 800 feet down from here to the Redwall Bridge, near the boundary of the Supai and the Redwall Limestone. Beyond the bridge, where we return to the opposite side of the canyon, you can trace the path of the trail as it traverses near the top of the Redwall Limestone, heading for a break where the trail finally passes down through the remainder of the even more imposing Redwall cliffs.
Here, at an elevation of about 6800 feet, there are still some trees, but they will now quickly disappear as we drop deeper into the hotter and drier inner canyon. The tunnel has brought us through a wormhole, from the cool and lush world of the North Rim in the rest area, to the beginning of the desert.
Heading back up the trail from here, we pass through the Supai Tunnel, past the rest area, and up a gentle climb through the Hermit Shale to a panorama spot with a fine view of the hanging valley that the trail wanders though between the Supai and the Coconino.
Heading down the trail, we descend rapidly on a set of tight switchbacks, and then, though yet another break in the cliffs created by the Roaring Springs Fault, down to a panorama spot where we are enveloped by the Supai all around us, and stare at a cliff that the fault has spared us.