Emeralds and Angels, Hiking in Zion (Part 2)

Stunning Striations.

Stunning Striations, Zion, Utah.

If you read Emeralds and Angels, Hiking in Zion (Part 1), you’ll know Hubby was not thrilled (umm, extremely nervous), about hiking Angel’s Landing.

For good reason.

It wasn’t the extremely steep 5-6 hour hike with tons of switchbacks that made his heart race, it was the hike at the top of the mountain, on narrow ridges with deep chasms. Did I mention that you get across the most narrow parts by holding onto a chain anchored into the sandstone?

Guess what I found out?  THERE ARE BREAKS IN THE CHAIN!

Wind and water have carved interesting designs as well as caves into the rock.

Wind and water have carved interesting designs as well as caves into the rock.

We warmed up by hiking Emerald Pools. Our guide then led us to the bottom of the Angel’s Landing where we started the steep ascension in full sun. Technically, the trail is called the West Rim Trail until it meets Angel’s Landing.  Hiking along, we suddenly reached the aptly named Refrigerator Canyon, a mile-long shady part of the trail. We cooled off in time to sweat again, climbing Walter’s Wiggles, “steep 21 sharp zig-zags” that lead to Scout Lookout.

"Walter's Wiggles was named after the first superintendent of Zion who helped engineer the steep zigzagging section."

“Walter’s Wiggles was named after the first superintendent of Zion who helped engineer the steep zigzagging section.”

Hubby and Teen Daughter hiking the "Wiggles."

Hubby and Teen Daughter hiking the “Wiggles.”

Hubby and Teen Daughter decided to rest on Scout’s Lookout while our guide James and I continued on. Here’s the thing. It was crowded. Walking on sandstone is slippery, the ground is gritty and the slopes are smooth. It’s hard to get traction or know where to put your foot as you climb up. I didn’t want to let go of the chain (when there was one), and people were climbing down as we were climbing up.

“I’m not letting go of the chain, so you’ll have to place your hands on either side of me and go around me,” I said.

“You come down, then I’ll go up,” I said.

“We’re doing the ‘chain dance’,” I said.

When there were breaks in the chain and we had to “Spiderman Scramble” up the mountain, I told James, “If I had a bucket list, this would officially be off of it!”

There was a point on the one-way trail where it was so crowded, we would have had to wait to keep going. I said I was “just fine” ending our hike there.  James was, too. He said it but we both felt it.

“EXHILARATED!’

Gorgeous view above Scout's Landing but not as far as the peak of Angel's Landing.

Gorgeous view above Scout’s Landing but not as far as the peak of Angel’s Landing.

View to the peak.  Total elevation 5,785 feet. Hike elevation gain 1,488.

View of the trail leading to  the peak. In 1916 while exploring Zion, Frederick Fisher said, “Only an angel could land on it,” giving the trail its name.  Total elevation 5,785 feet. Hike elevation gain 1,488.

I was "just fine" ending out hike here!

I was “just fine” ending our hike here!

Looking down on the West Rim Trail.

Looking down on the West Rim Trail.

Not only were we all exhilarated (except for Teen Daughter, who was out of breath!), we were ready for our next adventure. If I go back to Zion one day, I’ll wave to the Angels landing on the top of that trail.

Then, I’ll gear up and head for the canyons!

(Canyoneering in Zion Harnesses, Helmets & Hooks Part 1 and Quicksand and Teamwork Part 2)

 

sources:  Zion Outfitter, Zion National-Park.com

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