This panorama was photographed on February 1, 2009. 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.
The South Kaibab Trail, and we, are now descending through the Bright Angel Shale, and into the wide ranging scenery of the Tonto Platform. Notice the greenish hue of the soft, crumbly Bright Angel Shale right below our feet. The green color comes from a mineral named glauconite, which was formed in the muds that formed the Bright Angel Shale, deposited in shallow seas above a continental shelf half a billion years ago.
We are now deep in the canyon, and the towers, temples, and buttes that were jammed together below us when we looked down from the rim, now soar above us, each with its own unique splendor. Skeleton Point, with its massive Redwall cliffs, looms directly behind us, entirely blocking out everything else south of the Colorado River. On top of Skeleton Point, however, there is a small natural arch, tiny compared to the huge mass of Royal Arch out to the west, but you can spot it here with a sharp eye. Pause this narration a moment and see if you can find it… Don’t feel bad if you didn’t find it. When I stood at this spot, shooting this panorama, I didn’t even notice it. I finally spotted it only when I was stitching together the panorama on my computer, which requires careful examination of the images.
We will have to cross over the river to the Clear Creek Trail to get the best views back to the South Rim, but here, on the south side, looking across the Tonto Platform towards the North Rim, we now see a whole series of massive features jutting up above us. The dominant feature is Zoroaster Temple, directly across the river from us, with Brahma Temple, which is in fact higher than Zoroaster, behind it. Huge buttes and points radiate out from and surround Zoroaster, including Sumner Butte, Bradley Point, and Demaray Point. As impressive as our view of Zoroaster is from here, you need to rest directly at its feet to fully appreciate it, and you can do so by clicking over to this spot on the Clear Creek Trail.
Buddha Temple, across Bright Angel Canyon from Zoroaster, and a bit further away from us here, rises up as high as Zoroaster, and has its own large collection of points and buttes radiating out from and surrounding it, including Sturdevant Point and Johnson Point.
Rising up to the left of Buddha are the twin peaks of the Temple of Isis, named for the ancient Egyptian goddess. We’ll have to move a bit further down the trail to clearly see the inspiration of the name, when our view of Isis rotates a bit more and becomes as a pair of feminine breasts. Directly in front of Isis is Cheops Pyramid. Both Isis and Cheops were named by George Wharton James, a late nineteenth / early twentieth century traveler and writer. James named Cheops for a resemblance he fancifully saw with Cheops Pyramid, one of the great Egyptian pyramids at Giza. James was extending a cluster of features named for Egyptian gods and goddesses which continues further west, including Osiris Temple, and also Horus Temple and the towers of Set and Ra, which all remain out of view for now.
Heading up the trail from here, we will curve around Skeleton Point until we reach the base of the Muav Limestone, and where the formidable climb up to the top of the Redwall Limestone swings into view. Heading down the trail, we continue down through the Bright Angel Shale and across the Tonto Platform to the Tipoff, at the junction of the South Kaibab and Tonto Trails, where we will peer over the rim of the inner canyon for our first full view of the Colorado River.