Friday, May 18, 2012

Flashback Friday: Angel's Landing

My little brother just got back from a trip to Zion's National Park.  While there, he hiked one of my favorite hikes, Angel's Landing.  Looking through his pictures brought me back to the summer of 2004.  In May, three of my close friends and I took a weekend road trip down to Panguitch, a small town about an hour outside of Zion's.  I was living in the Devonshire apartments where spur-of-the-moment road trips happened pretty much every weekend, but this one definitely sticks out as one of my favorites.
Eric and Kyle were two of my closest guy friends in the ward...oh what crazy memories I have with those two!  Tess had just recently moved in next door and she quickly became a 'bestie'.  She was only with us for a couple months before leaving on her mission, so I am so glad we were able to make as many memories as we did.
On the drive down to Panguitch, we took a quick stop over at Bryce Canyon.  We had made a previous road trip to hike through Bryce, so we only stayed for a short while.  We had a blast staying up all night playing games, watching movies, and simply being crazy.  The next day we drove over to Zion's National Park with the sole purpose to hike Angel's Landing.
 Angel's Landing, measuring almost 1,500ft tall, is about a 5 mile hike round trip.  Usually 5 miles wouldn't be too rough, but considering that you are basically hiking straight up the backside of a cliff, it takes about 5 hours give-or-take.  It is all out in the open, too, so the sun tends to take it's toll as well.  The hike starts on the West Rim Trail (shown below left) where there is a gradual uphill climb several hundred feet for about 1.5 miles.  Then the trail leads you through Refrigerator Canyon; the only part of the hike that is shaded.  As you turn the corner at the end of Refrigerator Canyon you look up and see that the trail then continues with 21 crazy STEEP switch backs called "Walter's Wiggles" (shown below right.)  When you finally finish all of the switch backs the trail plateaus on Scout Lookout.  This is where most hikers stop if they are afraid of heights or not in a condition to finish.  The last half mile is along a trail with sheer cliffs on both sides.  The narrow trail drops 1200ft on one side and 800ft on the other.  There is a chain embedded into the rock to help guide hikers along the path.
 The above pictures do little justice to how intense the switchbacks are.
 Making our way through Refrigerator Canyon.
We found a fun little cave along the way that we couldn't resist jumping into.  Kyle found some time to meditate...I was just glad to have an excuse to take a break!
 The last half mile, Angel's Landing Trail, was the most amazing part of the hike.  I remember feeling so small looking around at the cliffs beside me.  We had a blast pulling ourselves up the chain and were even able to snap a few pictures in the process...I just couldn't look down!
 Looking at these pictures gives me total vertigo.  I'm still shocked that I was fine while on the hike, although when Eric was posing for the below picture, I had to close me eyes!
 The view from the top!
It was such a gorgeous day.  The hike literally kicked my butt, but it was so much fun and totally worth it.  Zions continues to be one of my favorite places in the world to visit.  The beauty is indescribable and when you finally reach the summit there is such a peaceful feeling looking out at the view.  We stayed there for awhile just trying to take it all in.
What a great memory.
 The below pictures are views from the bottom of the trail looking up and then from the top of the trail looking down...pretty incredible!
On a total side note...Kyle and Tess ended up getting married a few years later.  It all started from this memorable road trip.  They are such an amazing couple and have the most beautiful little family.  I'd say that's a pretty successful road trip!

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