We met friends for breakfast in the hotel and then headed out the the Grand Canyon Visitors’ Center on the south rim near Tusayan. I asked the ranger what was a “must do” for someone who only had today in the park. He said to drive the Hermit Road and stop as often as desired because it was littered with scenic views.
Littered it was.
After lunch, we went back and stopped at several different points. The most dramatic was Maricopa Point. You walk through a small lightly wooded area and then out onto a thin strip of land high above the canyon. The majority of this thin strip of land has no rails or impediments to keep one from falling on either to his/her death. At the end of the strip is a flat, round area (maybe 8 feet in diameter) with a low railing around it. The views are stunning.
This was going to be my first pano of the Grand Canyon. We took a quick walk back to the car to get the tripod and pano head. When we returned, the wind was so fierce, I had to struggle not to be blown over by it. Walking the thin land strip was terrifying! When we finally got out to the end of the point, I was squatting way down to lower my center of gravity (so I wouldn’t be blown off the ledge), and Steve was literally on his knees. At this point, the wind wasn’t just freezing cold, it was also actually terrifying!
As I started to set up the tripod, holding it down at all times so it wouldn’t blow away, I asked Steve for the heavy backpack of camera equipment, which I intended to use as a weight hanging from the center pole to help keep the tripod still. He asked, “Do we really want to be out here right now?” I did. I really wanted this pano. But in that instant a profoundly powerful gust of wind made holding the tripod down almost impossible.
No, it was time to get off of this point. But, I was realizing that we had a difficult decision to make. Could we get off of the point without being blown over the edges where there was no railing at all? I had serious doubts. Would we have to crawl? If we waited, would the wind calm down or become even more dangerous?
We all but slithered off of the point in the whistling, screaming wind. This was absolutely terrifying—utterly dangerous! The short walk, though flat, was physically exhausting. Sadly, no pano.
We returned at sunset. Less wind. A pano or two. Amazing shots. (Check out the pano at this link.)
Our friend, Art Feenan, is correct: the Grand Canyon never disappoints!