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Grassleaf Pea - Lathyrus graminifolius | by Grand Canyon NPS
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Grassleaf Pea - Lathyrus graminifolius

The dynamic interplay of soft and hard layers of stone created an open benchland at the rim of the Inner Gorge called the Tonto Platform. Easily visible from several South Rim overlooks, the greenish Tonto rocks have eroded into an obvious exception to the striking vertical cliffs that characterize most of Grand Canyon. The Tonto Trail follows this natural transcanyon route for 95 rough, unmaintained miles, from Red Canyon on the east to Garnet Canyon on the west. All of this makes the Tonto Trail unique among Grand Canyon pathways. Most descend from the rim towards the Colorado River, but the Tonto Trail offers passage by foot up and down the canyon, parallel to the course of the river. Because of its length, most hikers approach the Tonto Trail not as a single unit, but rather as a series of installments, breaking the route down into four or five sections defined by rim-to-river trails and the natural lay of the land. A notable lack of reliable water makes most of the Tonto Trail a daunting, possibly dangerous, proposition, but the section between Bright Angel Trail and the Hermit Trail is blessed with three water sources hikers can count on. As a result, this segment of the Tonto Trail offers a degree of civility not found elsewhere along the trail, and it is here that most hikers get their first exposure to the unique nature of this singular transcanyon route.


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NPS Photo by Michael Quinn

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Taken on January 30, 2011