I’ve heard the stories about this infamous hike most of my life, yet today was the day for me to attempt it myself after forty eight years on this earth. I board the Zion’s shuttle bus at seven a.m. with a handful of other hikers, all of us looking excited and nervous as we make our way to the Angel’s landing drop-off point.
As always, my research beforehand was slim. I knew about the steep drop-offs and the chains. I’ve heard the tragic stories of people slipping to their death. Yet the pull to at least attempt to summit was strong. I down some water, cross the bridge over the Virgin river, and start the ascent.
The sheer magnitude of the red rock walls is overpowering. The trail criss-crosses into the rock steeply as you quickly climb upward. The sun has barely peaked over the mountain tops as my breathing becomes rapid. I down more water and trudge onward.
As I pass other hikers, I am lulled into a sense of safety as I see small children and families, none of which seem worried about the dangers of this hike. Perhaps I’ve been fed misinformation.
I see my first set of chains bolted into the rock face. I grip tightly, and slowly make my way along, the drop-off looming ever closer. I’ve never had a crippling fear of heights before, but basophobia starts to become a reality.
I take deep breaths and rest.
As I navigate the chains and climb to the summit, I find that I’m at the Scout’s lookout, which is only the halfway point. Angel’s landing is before me, seemingly hanging in the air like the floating mountains of Pandora. I rest again, taking in the views from here, and looking at the tiny specs of people climbing the next phase of this hike. I’m freaking out.
I start the next phase, gripping the chains even tighter. The trail becomes more narrow, the steep drop-offs more intense. My anxiety goes through the roof, and it doesn’t take me long to realize there are two types of people; those that make it to Scout’s lookout and those that are brave enough to continue on to summit Angel’s Landing.
I’m a Scout’s Lookout person. I plan on returning to Zion National Park in 2020, and maybe I’ll attempt this summit again.
But this isn’t the end of this story, as I found another trail branching out West from Scout’s lookout called the West Rim Springs trail. I take this epic trail which led to a whole other adventure, but that story is for another time…..