Sunday, January 1, 2012

Angels Landing

I didn't make it to Walkabout goal #2 - the Wave - today... but I did experience 'life elevated' here in Utah, so to speak. This morning, we set off up one of the best (and deadliest) trails here at Zion, Angels Landing.


The trail is relatively short, only 5 miles round-trip, but during that short time it climbs and descends again about 1500 feet from the floor of Zion Canyon. From the canyon floor, people on Angels Landing look like ants.

Having spent most of my time hiking in state parks and rugged areas, I really appreciate a well-maintained trail, even if I can't ride a bicycle on it. Up the side of the mountain we climbed, with switchbacks and cut-throughs making the climb as easy as it could be... after all, I'm about 5000 feet above my home in Dallas here.

There are distinct zones of climbing on this journey, one section is on the front of a sheer cliff face, cut into long swaths with moderate inclines. From here, as I caught my breath, I watched a falcon ride the thermals up the canyon, looking for food. I was really dying, I'm not sure how I could look so much like a fashion model after this climb, but Bart's a genius.

The next section is through a high canyon, appropriately named 'Refrigerator Canyon'. In here, it's dark and cold and you walk to the back of the mountain to approach the summit.

After your chill-down, a few switchbacks lead you up to a part of the trail called 'Walter's Wiggles'. It's the Lombard Street of hiking, 21 bricked switchbacks taking you vertical for a few hundred feet.

At the end of the wiggles, you find yourself in a clearing called Scout's Lookout. You can see the canyon from both sides from here, across to Observation Point (another trail). I am definitely still uneasy with heights, and photos wouldn't do justice. Check this view out:

Although my spirit is clearly not broken, my foot still is, so we did the smart thing and didn't continue across the ridge of Angel's Landing to the terminus of the trail. This little ridge has claimed 6 lives in the past 10 years because it is narrow, slick and violently steep. Only a chain rail is available to lead you over the last half-mile of the trail. Instead of continuing that way, we walked up part of the West Rim trail above Scout's Landing and got a pretty decent view without dangerous climbing. Stupid foot, I have to come back and do the rest of this trail.

From up there, we could see both the west and east sides of the canyon.

Angel's Landing looks a little like a camel laying on the floor of the canyon... the head is in the left half of the frame, the humps are the treacherous back where people have fallen to their deaths.

We met some folks and parted ways with them at Scout's Lookout, but were able to see them from the West Rim. We shouted across the canyon at each other.

Coming back down, there were a few views we had missed, so we captured them. Where's Bart?

And here's a little taste of descent for you. Time-lapse of the trail down. First, the section before refrigerator canyon, then the section down the front of the cliff. Pretty cool. Part 1:

Part 2:

Tomorrow, we'll try to get our permit for the wave as we begin our long journey home. If there aren't any left, we'll continue straight on to Albuquerque, NM. I'm really hoping that 2 of the 20 daily permits for the site are available and we can hike it before heading to New Mexico.

1 comment:

  1. ACK! Hi... we worked together once upon a time in a land far far away called Quest when you were all 2nd tier like and I was... doing something help desk related. I can't recall if I was on the phones or a team lead at that time. I thin kteam lead but who knows. Anywho... You just did FLF with one of my current coworkers AJ and when viewing the hysterical-ness of AJ dressed as a pirate on your google+ account, I decided to look you up and subject you to ridiculious run-on sentences when I found your blog which is awesome because it completely appeals to my people watching tendencies. Here I felt a huge need to comment because I went to Zion many moons ago and fell in love with it, vowing to hike Angel's Landing someday (could not at the time) and here you went and did so making me jealous. Also... AJ says that we're very much alike. To which I decided yes, if we lived in the same place we would likely be in adjoining jail cells laughing hysterically. LOL :)