Angels Landing

 The adventure begins...

The adventure begins...

I think you could spend a whole week in Zion National Park and only scratch the surface of its majesty. For a great glimpse - if you have just one day - take the trail to Angels Landing.

We arrived early, right at dawn, and parked at the Visitor Center.  From there, we took the Zion Shuttle Bus - no other vehicles allowed into Zion canyon. After a half hour, I exited the shuttle at Stop 6 while my friends rode on to the Narrows.  I crossed the road, took a bridge over the river, and found myself at the beginning of the trail.  A concrete path followed the uniquely colored river until a series of switchbacks began to quickly take me up into a secluded canyon.  I enjoyed my solitude as I walked, which was only occasionally broken by people coming down the mountain - early risers who conquered the landing before I had even awoken.

Exposed switchbacks gave way to a beautiful canyon walk, where chipmunks were happy to try to steal my food the instant my backpack was put down.  Soon enough, I arrived at the halfway point, called Scout Lookout, a bit of a plateau with restrooms (!) and the opportunity to determine truly whether one was afraid of heights.  Many people decided they were and rested at this plateau while the others excitedly pressed onwards.

 Hello, I would like to eat your trail mix.

Hello, I would like to eat your trail mix.

I made some friends after taking a family portrait for them, and we set off towards the landing.  Thus began the real challenge of navigating narrow steps carved in the sandstone, our only safety found in a link chain anchored at waist height.  The camaraderie and encouragement was extraordinary as we traversed the insane spire of the rock, often with only enough room for one person to pass at a time.

 The Virgin River

The Virgin River

Finally, we arrived at the summit called Angels Landing.  The river curved gently around us, some 1500 feet below.  The valley stretched far into the distance, an unimaginable scene white and red-orange rock, with deep blue above and beautiful green down below.

 Unbelievable vista

Unbelievable vista

My hiking buddies and I swapped photographs and spent a long time at the summit, thoroughly enjoying the view.  Soon, though, it was time for me to head back down the trail and reunite with my friends - with a full heart once again.

 The descent begins

The descent begins