This panorama was photographed on February 1, 2009. 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.
The Desert. It truly begins right here. The South Kaibab Trail, and we, have now reached the base of the Redwall descent, and we have left the cooler climate of the upper canyon behind. The Tonto Platform stretches on out below us, and the sea of blackbrush is now lapping at our feet. There are no trees out in that sea, and if you are out on the Tonto in the middle of a hot summer day you will be hard pressed to find shade of any kind. Each year about a dozen hikers die in the Grand Canyon. Most of them die in brutal summer heat in the inner canyon, and many of those are on the Tonto Platform.
The soft, easily erodible Bright Angel Shale forms the Tonto Platform, and the South Kaibab Trail travels right along its upper boundary here for a few yards. The brown, blocky rock in the cliff to the left is the Muav Limestone, and the light brown, crumbly rock sloping off to the right is the Bright Angel Shale.
We are looking off to the east across the Cremation Creek portion of the Tonto. It seems that Emery Kolb, as well as being a prankster, was a bit of a romantic. He found a pit full of ashes in the area, and, with visions dancing in his head of native Americans cremating their dead on the South Rim, and hauling the ashes down into the canyon to be scattered, named the area Cremation Creek, and the name has stuck.
Notice the deep crevasses cutting through the Tonto. The Tonto Tonto trail repeatedly dips down and back up through those crevasses as it travels through the Cremation area, and that, in my estimation, makes for the most demanding hiking section on the Tonto Trail over its entire length of over a hundred miles.
If you are coming up the trail, you have just rounded a corner and the full length of the demanding climb up through the Muav and Redwall Limestone has swung into view. Take a deep breath, and head on up towards our next panorama point about half way up the climb, where there’s a nice little platform where you can rest and enjoy the view.
Coming down the trail, you round this same corner and Zoroaster Temple pops back up into view, now truly towering over the scene. Francois Matthes Point, behind and to its right, offers another dramatic view of Zoroaster from the northeast. When we continue down the trail and head around the corner, we will get to a panorama spot where a wider angle view of the temples and buttes towering over the Tonto opens up for us, and we can get a brief glimpse of a natural arch.