This panorama was photographed on October 1, 2006. The following is a transcript of the narration for this panorama. To listen to the narration, enter the project at this location and press the play button.
Most South Kaibab Trail hikers stop for a bit of time at Cedar Ridge, the flat area in the Hermit Shale. They take advantage of the three-holer outhouse, or maybe grumble about the lack of water if they came unprepared.
But we are several hundred yards away, out at the end of a long, narrow spit of land. We are standing on the very top of the Esplanade Sandstone, which is the very top formation within the Supai Group. The Esplanade below our feet has weathered in its characteristic way, forming smooth, sensuously rounded orange shapes. We are seeing here just a bit of what the Esplanade Sandstone can do – head out west beyond the Grand Scenic Divide and see the Esplanade there, and you will see miles and miles of fantastic orange mushrooms, gargoyles, and all manner and shapes of Esplanade Sandstone creations.
Look around you here and the ground is falling away almost all the way around us, but straight ahead of us down the spine of the ridge stands O’Neill Butte, its top just about level with us. It too is capped by the Esplanade Sandstone, which forms its upper sheer walls. Want to climb it? Better have your ropes and courage ready. Here’s a picture I found of the route you have to take up its east face. It’s rated 5.8, which is about as hard as it gets.
Zoroaster and Brahma Temple, in the distance behind O’Neill, are grayish in indistinct in the shadows on this partly cloudy day, but I like days like this. When you are patient, and this is a beautiful spot to sit and relax and be patient, you’ll see pools of sunlight breaking though, forming lovely highlights in the scene. Here a patch of sunlight is highlighting the wall around and below Yavapai Point, and the curved amphitheaters of Redwall Limestone stand out in particular. I also like the bright wall of light in the distance, with Havasupai Point at its tip. Closer by, Maricopa Point, Powell Point, and Hopi Point, closely bunched together along the West Rim Drive, are swinging into view.
Below us, the Tonto Platform, past the shadow cast by O’Neill Butte, is nicely illuminated. If you look at the wall of the inner canyon on the far side of the river, just to the right of Plateau Point, you’ll see some intriguing purplish splotches. They are formed by the Hakatai Shale, a colorful ancient rock formation over a billion years old. We’ll get much better views across to the Hakatai further on down the trail.
Heading up the trail from here, we first have to work our way back along the long spit of land to the trail, and then head up though the Hermit Shale and into the lower portion of the Coconino Sandstone to another spectacular panoramic spot sitting right on the spine of the ridge. To head down the trail we still have to backtrack the same way, but then immediately drop down into the Supai on the east face of the ridge, and traverse along the side of the ridge to our next panorama point, sitting right on the saddle between O’Neill Butte and Cedar Ridge.