Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Angel's Landing Hike ... Intense!

On our last full day in Utah we decided to do one of the more dangerous but best hikes in Zion National Park.  We tackled Angel's Landing.  The Angel's Landing hike is one of the most famous hikes in the world and we didn't want to miss the opportunity to do it.  Angel's Landing received it's name when explorers in the early 1900's were in the region.  When they saw this monolith, they said that it was so difficult to get to that only an angel could land there.  Round trip, the hike is 5 miles.  It's physically challenging and strenuous, but not overbearing. The first two miles to Scout's Lookout are filled with switchbacks and inclines.  It's not easy, but again, not overbearingly difficult. The real challenge is the mental battle that you face when you get to Scout's Lookout and face climbing the last 1/2 mile to Angel's landing.  The actual ascent to Angel's Landing consists of a narrow trail carved out of the rock with 1400 foot drop-offs on either side of you.  At points in the hike you are literally climbing straight up on the rocks and at other points you're walking on a narrow piece of the trail with nothing on either side of you except air and 1400 feet to the bottom! 

This is a video that shows a portion of the trail and gives a really good sense of what much of the hike is like.   The park has placed chains along much of the 1/2 mile ascent that you can hold on to for an added sense of security, but if you're afraid of heights, this hike is not for you.

Once to the top of Angel's Landing it was just amazing.  The view was absolutely incredible!  And, the sense of accomplishment you feel after doing the hike ... it's a good sense of pride. While at the top I thought of the workers who actually carved this trail and how difficult that must have been. I was also reminded of the 10 people who have died on this hike since 1983 and it left me with an eerie sense of "this hike isn't over until we reach the bottom."  For me personally, all of my senses were engaged and I felt so focused on getting myself and my wife back down that I nearly forgot to enjoy the moment of being at the top.  

Things got a bit interesting when we reached the top because it started to rain.  Making it to the top of Angel's Landing was challenging, but getting back down was just as challenging, if not more so.  And, the rain really added a new dimension because the rocks became a lot more slippery and even holding on to the chain proved difficult because it was very slippery as well.  But, thankfully we made it and would love the opportunity to do the hike again.

Me after finishing the entire 5 mile hike.  Both Carol and I were soaked from the rain, but we felt so exhilarated.

I believe this part of the trail is called Refrigerator Canyon.  It was shaded and cool and had a few different spots where you could climb and explore.  Above is me doing just that.

The view from Scout's Lookout.  

This is Carol and I at the top of Angel's Landing.  The view was amazing!

This is the view from the top of Angel's Landing.  At the lower right of the picture you can see Carol's shoe.  Only about 1400 feet to the bottom.  :)

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