This panorama was photographed on October, 1, 2006. 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.
If you’re standing at this spot, gazing out into the depths of the Grand Canyon, you probably have just gotten off the shuttlebus that brought you here for the visitors center. If you were coming up the trail, and you’re like me, you’d be huffing and puffing and not looking back, happy to see the rim trailhead just a few yards away, and ready to get on the bus. But I like the guy in the blue shirt in this panorama. Just a switchback and a half down the South Kaibab Trail, and he has already found a fine vista point where he has paused, and is appreciating the immensity of the canyon.
I’ve stood at this spot many times, ready to head on down the hiker superhighway that is the South Kaibab Trail, but I do remember the first time I stood here, a canyon novice, ready to hike down into the canyon for the very first time. Plateau Point immediately caught my eye, its gray mass jutting out dramatically from the walls of the upper canyon, contrasting with the dark walls of the inner canyon beyond it, where the Colorado River flows hidden in its depths. And I saw the trail slashing across it out to its tip, just begging you to get out there and peer over its edge. I remember that that was the moment I first felt the true immensity of the canyon, and it probably was the moment that the canyon hooked me for good.
The South Kaibab trailhead is tucked away on the east side of Pipe Creek Canyon. The view here, spectacular as it is, is very constricted compared to what’s to come. But you can already see a bit of the massive walls on the far west side of Pipe Creek Canyon, with Mather Point, and its spectacular view back in this direction of the upper portions of the South Kaibab Trail, sitting on its rim. Below Mather Point, in those massive walls, you can already clearly see all the rock formations of the upper canyon.
Just a few more distant major canyon features are visible at this point. Point Sublime frames a portal of the western canyon along with Havasupai Point. The two of them are only 7 miles apart on a map, but they are 250 miles apart by road, including about 50 miles that require a rugged 4 wheel drive vehicle. From here they are both about 15 miles away as the crow flies. The whitish Redwall Limestone on the top of Cheops Pyramid stands out, but it is still only half visible. The really big views will have to wait for about a mile until you reach Ooh Aah Point.
What is visible here in your line of sight, but you won’t see unless you have very sharp eyes and look very carefully, is the Tonto Trail snaking its way across the gray expanse of the Tonto Platform. Here, so you can see it, I’ll mark the route of the trail for you, along with the string of panorama points along it. What you see here is just a small segment of the trail – it continues on west for some 70 more hiking miles from where it disappears around the corner.
From here we’ll head down the trail, but just a short distance, to our next panorama point still within the switchbacks and the top of the trail, where we will change seasons from fall to winter, and see just how the deep the snow can get.