Hermit Trail: Top of
the Cathedral Steps at Dawn
Grand Canyon National Park
November 7, 2001
It was a very long, difficult hike and I told myself I was not going to stop and take any panoramas. I started the day at the Hermit Creek campground, 8 miles and 4000 feet below the trailhead on the South Rim. Young, strong hikers 30 years younger than I may hike it in 5 or 6 hours, but I figured it would take me, with a beefy pack over 50 pounds with camera equipment, at least 10.
To give myself a safety margin, I began hiking at 3:40 AM under a bright three-quarters moon. I had a flashlight, with extra batteries, for whereever the trail was hard to follow in the darkness. But the moon was so bright and the trail so easy to follow on the Tonto Platform that I never used it. The stars were brilliant in the desert night sky.
I reached the top of the Cathedral Steps, the first big climb of the hike through the Redwall Limestone, just as dawn was breaking. The scene was irresistable, and I ripped apart my entire pack to pull out the gear: tripod, panoramic mount, and camera. I took 3 panoramas in the space of a half hour, this being the second and my favorite.