an outlet of encouragement, explanation, and exhortation

Category: Travel

Angel’s Landing

For those who just want links to the pictures:
Here are the pictures from hiking up
These shots were from on top of Angel’s Landing.
These are the pictures taken on the way down.
The story is below…

A couple of years ago I was watching a documentary on national parks. On segment was on Zion National Park. I was only half paying attention. I noticed a very interesting-looking hike, backed up the DVR, and found that it was called “Angel’s Landing”. So I googled a bit, watched a video of the hike and thought, “I have to do this one!” I knew my son Sam would be interested, so I showed him. He agreed: “We have to do this.”

Then, Sam got married, got a new job, etc… Scheduling the hike was not happening. A couple of weeks ago Frances, Sam’s wife said she thought we should go somewhere for Memorial Day weekend. I thought, “That’s one weekend I want to stay home. Everything is too crowded and traffic is bad.” Then Sam dropped into my office one day and said, “Dad, Frances and I are going to Zion National Park over Memorial Day weekend. Are you coming? I am making reservations to stay somewhere.” Eventually Susie and I decided to join them. We left after
everyone got back from work on Friday evening, between 6:30 and 7 PM. Drive to Vegas and keep going… By 2:30 our time, 3:30 local time, AM, we checked into our room in St. George, Utah and zonked out, having passed one fully-engulfed semi-tractor-trailer rig (southbound) and watching another blowing tires beside us on the I-15.

Saturday we toured Zion and did minor hikes, just a few miles to the start of the Narrows and to Emerald Pools. Sunday we planned to hike to Angel’s Landing with a few thousand of our closest friends. It’s not that long, only a little over 5 miles. All uphill, or down, with the last half-mile a climbing scramble over rocks with thousand-foot drop-off’s on one or both sides. Susie decided she was sore enough from the easy hiking and bad bed. She stayed on the valley floor watching the park movie in a museum and walking gentle shady paths and
chatting with another intelligent woman who was sitting on a nice bench enjoying the view awaiting her husband who wanted to get sweaty and sunburnt.

Back to the hike… below is a link to a few shots from the hike up. They only go as far as Scout’s Landing, about 1/2 mile short of Angel’s Landing, because, well, I didn’t want to die and put my camera in my backpack for the final scramble. You can zoom in on pictures like DSC4409 and similar to see the path of little figures winding up the rock and some silly fools doing stupid stunts up on top of a pile of rock beside a sheer drop-off up on the “landing”. Here are the pictures from hiking up

The top was a gentle curved rock about 20′ wide and a few hundred feet long with a couple of trees for sparse shade. Frances wanted to join the fools standing on the pile of rock; Sam talked her into merely sitting. I stood beside the pile for my photo. When I was younger and stupider I would have stood on the pile of rock. However, I don’t think I would ever have done the Rose-on-the-bow-of-the-Titanic pose on top out over nothing that one girl did. I missed that shot with my camera. Later I heard that the girl was a dancer and claimed to have great balance so she wasn’t afraid. I thought of the gusty wind. These shots were from on top of Angel’s Landing.

I took a lot of pictures on the way down. Some show the path up the foot of the rock. It looks dramatic and was fun; however, it was an easy walk other than being all uphill. My only complaint was the trail surface. I don’t like hiking on cement. Much of the path was roughly paved up to Scout’s Landing. These are the pictures taken on the way down.

I don’t have close photos of the really interesting part of the hike – that last intense half-mile scramble up the rock. Like I said, I preferred staying alive to pictures. I wore a cheap Muvi video camera for that part and collected video footage, but significant editing is required. I have yet to do that editing. (It’s almost two hours of footage, so I expect to need about 20 hours to edit it! When will I next have 20 hours?) I did some exploring in Bing Maps, and I was able to find some interesting views of the hike.

Here’s a quite nice Bing maps view of the Angel’s Landing hike area. (Note that the map can be zoomed and the perspective altered, etc. Play with it.) In the center of the photo you should see Angel’s Landing. Above it, connected by a ridge, you see Scout’s Landing. The easy part of the hike from which I could take pictures ended at Scout’s Landing and the intense portion was across the ridge connection to Angel’s Landing. You can see the easy portion of the hike winding up from the valley floor below and to the left of Angel’s Landing. The dramatic switchback pictures were of the area in the shadow of Angel’s Landing. Then we crossed a footbridge to a long uphill walk to Walter’s Wiggles, the steeply ascending walled-in zigzag switchbacks up to Scout’s Landing. It was at Scout’s Landing that one could decide to continue on to the West rim or to Angel’s Landing. There were portable restrooms, but no water. There was ample area for resting and waiting if some members of a group decided not to continue to Angel’s Landing.

After descending and meeting up with Susie, we did a little more walking that day on the valley floor and in Springdale, and a bit of driving to see a bit more of the park. The short drive up from the river east to the tunnels and rock formations was beautiful.

We left for home on Monday about noon from St. George. We spent 3 hours going the last 12 miles to California on I-15. At least we got to see a couple of people parachute down over the freeway while wasting gas idling in the desert. Our traffic reporting on Google maps was not working; but Susie suggested a call home to Vanrith who helped us scope out the situation. The rest of the drive home once across the state line was uneventful with only a few slow-downs at the expected places. Susie spotted a Greek food place near Baker and I had a Gyro!

It turns out that for me, climbing down and walking down was the killer exertion. Those muscles (quads) were really sore on Monday and are just getting back to normal today. I resumed workouts this morning (Friday). Note to self: My workouts prepared me for walking and climbing up, but not for climbing down!

Just in case you are wondering exactly where this is, here is the Google Map for Angel’s Landing. All in all, not your average hike and I’m glad we went; neither the crowds nor the traffic managed to spoil a great weekend!