Humbled at Angel’s Landing

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…..

1 Comment

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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