Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cross that one off my Bucket List

MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2015 - Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park. I’m not sure how or when I got this bee in my bonnet, but for some reason I felt the need to hike Angel’s Landing. I’ve been to Zion National Park multiple times during a number of Utah Symphony tours over the years, but I’ve only hiked the short distance to Observation Point. I knew that if I was ever going to make the “strenuous, exposed, intimidating” Angel’s Landing hike, it needed to be sooner than later.

I have some trouble with the draining effect of heat, so Randy and I started out at 6:00 am. A one hour drive from St George to Zion, parking and shuttling through the canyon brought us to  the Grotto trailhead (which is also the Angel’s Landing trailhead) stop #6 at about 8:00 am. Equipped with comfortable shoes, water, and hiking sticks, we were ready to go.

It was a perfect morning for hiking, actually a bit chilly at the start. The West Rim Trail is a steep uphill climb. I wouldn’t be rushed. We took our time, stopping when our legs “felt it” or when we were a bit winded. Refrigerator Canyon gave us a little relief for a minute until we came to Walter’s Wiggles, tight switchbacks that seemed to go on forever! I must have stopped at every turn, but I still felt great! Two miles completed, just one-half to go.

West Rim

We arrived at Scout’s Lookout and our jaws dropped to the ground! We were not even close to prepared for what we saw ahead. Talk about intimidating!  The last half-mile is a narrow sandstone fin-like ridge with a 1200 foot drop on one side and an 800 foot drop on the other. People are actually climbing this thing? Talk about scary! We stood there trying to decide whether or not to go on. I could tell Randy was reticent. He left the decision up to me. Hey! This is what we came for! I made the active choice (that’s my motto), grabbed onto the support chain and stepped forward to finish.

Step of Faith

It was exhilarating and overwhelming at the same time! I hardly noticed the effort I was making as I scrambled over the rocks and grabbed at the support chains. I giggled to myself, “What in the world am I doing?” Once in a while I would stop to gaze down at the chasm below. What an amazing view! Drove Randy nuts! “Eyes straight ahead, don’t look down! Just keep climbing!”

This last half-mile up, took us about an hour. I only lost my footing once; luckily a nice strapping young man caught me. I will have to admit I was very relieved to reach the final viewpoint... And even MORE relieved after we made our way back down the ridge to Scout’s Lookout, through the switchbacks, and on flat ground. Randy and I gave each other a high five. We did it!! The viewpoint destination at the top was worth the hike, but the journey itself was my favorite part.

Atop Angel's Landing

Would I recommend this hike to others? I don’t think so. In fact, I was tempted to discourage Matthew, Audrey, and Crystal, when they handed off Addy and Dexter and it was their turn to go. (BTW They made it up and back in three hours - took us five.) After their hike, Audrey exclaimed to us, “I can’t believe you two actually did this!” I can't believe we did either! I’m sure observing us two old gray-haired people coming down gave a lot of hikers extra hope and drive.

Audrey, Matthew, and Crystal on Angel's Landing. 

Am I glad I hiked Angel’s Landing? Of course.

Would I do it again? Ask me next year.

Cross that one off my bucket list.

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