The Tonto Trail meanders along the Tonto Platform which is the one, relatively flat and wide formation of the canyon. Some 70 miles long, it is the longest trail in the canyon. Covered in green, broken shale, the platform follows the course of the river and sits above the plunging cut of the inner gorge. The Tonto Trail is where the entire canyon reveals itself. It is where this enormous container of space and time can be seen for its grandness, all while you're being contained by it. Because of this, the Tonto is my favorite trail. Its majesty has moved me to tears more than once.
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There are spots on the Tonto Trail where the path fades to nothing. Experienced guides tell us to follow the path of least resistance, it's where the Tonto always goes. In the constant heat of this rolling plateau—halfway between Grand Canyon rim and Colorado River—the trail morphs into a sentient being. If it were a person, it would be skinny. Very skinny. I find myself talking aloud to the Tonto. Curiously, it talks back.
Long, rocky, ankle-twisting. The descent down the Hermit Trail in Grand Canyon feels a bit like torture. It's not the first rock that gets you. Somewhere around boulder #500 the legs start to scream. There are nine rock slides that obscure the now-forgotten trail. The Park Service is quick to tell you that it hasn't maintained the blasted path since 1931. It shows. The trip is slow. The trail disappears often.