Saturday, April 18, 2015

Zion National Park

Angel's Landing
Miles: 5.4 (round trip - out and back)

Are we there yet? Breathe. Oh my God don't look down. Breathe. Sweet Jesus it's hot. Just breathe. Kids hike this?!? No Fing way. Just freaking breathe. Move forward; one step at a time. Oh thank God a traffic jam, we can stop for a minute. Breathe. Look at all those happy people coming back down; so relieved that the rock scramble is almost over. We're moving again. Breathe. Are we there yet?...

And so the monologue went in my head as Cori and I made our way up Angels Landing. Well, the last half mile of it; longest (but possibly one of the most rewarding) half mile of my life.

The trail started out fairly gradual, and grew steeper as we moved upward. After about a mile or so we reached "the wiggles", 21 short, steep switchbacks that lead to Scouts Lookout (as in look out at what you about to get yourself into!). Before you lies "the fin", a thin, narrow ride walk to the summit.

The Wiggles

Headed toward the rock scramble(s)

The rise to Angels landing follows the spine of this rock. It is also refered to as "the fin".

For the next half mile the trail ascends, nearly vertical in some places, approximately 600 ft. to the top of Angels landing (5,790 ft). The path up follows a line of permanently fixed chains and shallow sandstone steps. Just when you think you've reached the top, the trail takes a turn, bringing you higher.

Ascending up Angels Landing

Cori climbing up

After almost two hours of climbing upward from the canyon floor we made it to the top; relieved and proud of ourselves. We stopped here for awhile, and made ourselves the envy of every passerby with our peanut butter and jelly tortillas. Note, next time we go up this we'll bring enough to sell for $5 each.

Views from the top of Angels Landing

Views from the top of Angels Landing

The descent down was steep but faster moving. Due to the amount of people on the trail we would reach a bottleneck every few hundred yards and have to stop and wait for a line of people to pass, but as soon as we reached Scouts Lookout the chain holding was over and the trails steepness allowed us to jog most of the way down.

Trail Traffic

Views on the way back down to the canyon

Views on the way back down to the canyon

My knees were sore from the descent, so when we reached the bottom we stopped at the river to soak my knees. A quick glance around showed that I was in good company. Groups of people were coming down from the trailhead and filing into the river to ice down their shaky legs.

Riverside Walk @ the Temple of Sinawava
Miles: 2.2, Easy

After I climbed out of the river we took a quick break, split a meal of refried beans, and refilled our water. The park has a shuttle bus system that provides visitors transportation within the park so we hopped onto the bus to take the scenic drive. We hopped off at the end of the route to stretch our legs along the Riverside trail.

This trail follows alongside the Virgin river and is the gateway to the parks other iconic hike, The Narrows. Along the way we met a few friendly squirrels and admired the plants growing out from the sides of the canyon walls. Walls like this are refered to as a weeping wall. On the rare ocassion that it rains/snows, water seeps down into the sandstone rocks until it reaches an impermeable layer. Here the water seeps out of the sides of the rocks and vegetation is able to grow.

Weeping Rock

Flowers coming out of the weeping rock

A curious local

This weekend is admission free weekend to all National Parks, and all of the campgrounds were full. So we headed North to Panguitch, UT and got a cheap motel room 15 minutes outside of Bryce Canyon National Park.


  1. Your trip is terrific! Dwight and I hiked the Narrows once - about 6 miles each way (as far as you can go on a day hike, without a permit), all in the river, and a 20-30 degree temperature difference between the Narrows and Angels Landing. Is there any other trail that is entirely in a river??? Tell Cori Kickoff was just as blustery as last year, with vendor pop-ups blowing over, but just a little rain.

    1. Thanks Betty! The Narrows will be next on the list whenever we go back. I'm not sure if there is another HIKING trail that's IN A RIVER.....CRAZY!!!!!