24-Oct-2004 -- Three previous attempts have been made on the Grand Canyon confluence. The first two efforts stopped short, at the edge of the South Rim, without even getting a glimpse of the actual site. Photos of the successful visit in 2003 were somewhat "hemmed in," due to the point’s location in a small canyon alcove. On this attempt, my goal was to photograph the point from above, and see what better views I could provide of the surrounding area from a little higher, more open perspective. This visit would also let me improve my record of futility for "most DCP attempts without a successful visit" to three (five, if you count "left back at base camp" attempts at 59N138W and 67N152W). And any excuse to make a trip to the Canyon is certainly worth it. Without a doubt, the Canyon is "the greatest earth on show".
In reviewing the successful Visit Number Three, I was intrigued by features in two of the pictures: one I’ll call "the column" in Photograph #4: View to East, and one I’ll call "the pillar" in Photograph #8: View to Southwest. The proximity of the column to the confluence point seemed to provide an easily recognizable landmark to use in locating 36N 112W from a distance, and the column (also visible in Photograph #6) seemed to provide the perfect perch from which to make an aerial photograph. They would be my two targets.
I had gorgeous fall weather as I drove from Grand Canyon Village on East Rim Drive. Parking at a pull-out about ¾ mile from the confluence, I headed northeast into the Pinyon pine/Utah juniper forest (Pinus edulis and Juniperus osteosperma). Traces of an early season snow dusting remained, although the temperature was quite pleasant. As I approached the rim, I was taken aback to discover a sign stapled to a tree identifying a "Mountain Lion Capture Area" [Picture 10]. As exciting as such a wildlife sighting might be, I beat a hasty retreat and gave the area a wide berth.
Approaching the edge for a second time, the trees thinned before me, and I was treated to a spectacular view of the Grand Canyon, even if its colors were a little washed out in the mid-day light. Using the GPS compass, it was easy to locate the confluence and its nearby column [Picture 3]. Moving to my left, I saw the top of the limestone column I wanted to use as my viewing perch [Picture 4]. A few minutes later I was leaning over the edge to photograph the best view yet of 36N 112W [Picture 1]. The red square in Picture 2 shows the exact confluence location. To my right (south) I could see the area of the rim where the Gallucci/ Hilley party, and earlier the infamous Godfrey Daniels, documented their attempts [Picture 5] from atop the Kaibab Limestone layer.
As previously noted, the confluence point rests at the lower edge of the Toroweap Formation, just above the Canyon’s layer of Coconino Sandstone. Picture 6 shows the dramatic drop-off of the Coconino cliff. Pictures 7 and 8 show the view to the east, towards Grandview Point, Desert View, and the Navajo Reservation beyond. Those of you who are interested in visiting this site will probably find the most feasible route coming through the Toroweap from that direction.
After I left my perch atop the column, I made my way to the right around the top of the confluence alcove. Looking back to where I’d been, I had quite a shock [Picture 9]! If I had seen the HUGE overhang of the top of the column, and the great amount of EMPTY AIR beneath me when I was on the end, I would have never ventured out there in the first place. Over the edge in a rock fall is not the recommended way to reach this confluence. And breaking my futility string of attempts in that manner is not what I want to be my final act on this earth.…