Zion National Park, Utah
I’m a thrill seeker. But if I had to categorize my thrill seeking, I would put it in the “thrill seeking chicken” category. I don’t do scary hikes confidently but rather with a fair amount of anxiety. Accomplishing something uncomfortable has its own reward and that reward is an epic reminder to myself that I am still strong both physically and mentally. And that I am still alive. And that’s why I push myself out of my comfort zone.
Last week I hiked Angels Landing in Zion National Park. The last time I hiked this trail, I was in my 40s with 3 other girlfriends plus 6 others in our group cheering us on from Scouts Landing. When we started up the trail, we had zero idea what we were hiking. We hadn’t read any blogs or watched any terrifying YouTube videos reliving someone elses experience . The only thing we had was 4 adventurous friends willing to egg each other on. We got to the top, crouched low to avoid being swept off the mountain by the horrific gale force winds that sometimes happen up there, snapped a picture, then beat it down in record time. It was scary and the winds doubled the scare.
This year I hiked it as a 54-year-old and I knew exactly what I was getting into. Angels Landing is a thin mountain ridge or “fin” that runs down the main canyon in Zion with an approximate elevation gain of 1500′. The trail starts easy, crossing the meandering Virgin River and then slowly starts to wind its way up the mountain ultimately reaching Walters Wiggles a super fun…said no one ever…set of 21 short but straight up switchbacks which leads you to a flat spot named Scouts Landing. The landing is beautiful and flat and perfect for a quick rest and refuel before the last segment. It’s also the spot to observe those brave souls on the ridge or to watch those hikers who understandably just can’t muster the courage and ultimately turn around. My hubby was my hiking partner this year and once we got to Scouts Lookout we both decided we wanted to get it over with, so we didn’t stop to do any refueling or any observing for fear we’d come to our senses and change our minds . Defeat was not an option because we came to Zion with the specific goal for my husband to conquer his fear of heights.
Scouts Lookout to the top of Angels Landing is a gain of 500′ and about a half mile to the end of the trail following the fin. The trail has intermittent chains to both pull yourself up and keep yourself steady which I found to be very comforting knowing there was a 1500′ sheer on both sides of some areas where a 3′ wide rocky, slippery sandstone trail is all you have under your feet. There is a little scrambling but nothing major. Its slow and steady hiking with a good amount of “positive self talk” going on in your brain but when you reach the top, the thrill of conquering that mountain is unexplainably exhilarating and the views are absolutely mind-blowing! At the top of Angels Landing you are literally looking down the middle of the entire canyon from above. The Virgin River is now just a thin shimmering ribbon winding its way thru the canyon floor 1500′ below, and the multiple layers of minerals creating the colorful mountains of Zion are now at eye level which is such a different perspective than looking up at a canyon!
Climbing Angels Landing again as a 50+ was an exhilarating, adrenaline fueled hike that will stay with me for many years to come. The thrill of that trail should be a definite bucket list goal…even if you are a thrill seeking chicken!
And oh Yes! my husband did make it to the top, conquering his fear of heights!