I sat near a 1,500 foot vertical drop and admired the view. It had taken me almost 8 years of plotting and planning to make this trip a reality. The view from Angel’s Landing exceeded expectations and was worth the wait. The early explorers were right.
Angel’s Landing is one of the classic hikes in the American West. The Landing is located in the heart of Zion National Park in southern Utah. Zion National Park is made up of canyons, mountains and maseas. Most visited to Zion visit the Zion Canyon. Due to the size and limited parking in the canyon, only park buses are allowed up the canyon.
I specifically picked my internship to justify a end of summer visit to Zion. I was driving from Colorado to Tennessee with a 5 stops in Utah. Zion was my second to last stop in Utah. I got lucky and one of the Zion National Park campgrounds had room so I go to camp in the canyon. I was most excited about not having to drive into the park really early to catch the first shuttle.
I caught the 6 am shuttle up the canyon to the Angel’s Landing stop. Thankfully, there were only two other people on the bus so I would beat the crowd to the landing. The first about mile is gentle upward slope. It has just enough elevation change to allow one to get into a good rhythm before starting Walther’s Wiggles.
The Wiggles are a series of steep switchbacks to the 2 mile marker on the Angel’s Landing trail. The actual 2-mile marker is a ledge called Chicken’s Coup. It is a resting spot before the hiking gets serious and the real fun begins. There is a nice outhouse at the Coup. I don’t bother with the outhouse but I do take advantage of the nearby rock outcropping to take my pack off and rest my legs. From Chicken’s Coup, it is possible to see the last half mile of trail and get a feel for the view on the landing.
I know I don’t have time to waste. I am trying to get to Angel’s Landing as fast as possible. I want as much time on the Landing as possible before the morning hikes start showing up in large droves. Chicken’s Coup does a decent job at weeding out the faint of heart or the unable, but it doesn’t stop all of them. I can see one of the hiker I started with ahead of me and I know one is behind me. I glance at my watch. It’s been 45 mins since I started hiking. The second bus load is already on their way up and the third is making their way up the canyon.
With that, I set off on the scariest half mile of hiking I have every done. It is impossible not to look down. Each side has a steep 500 ft plus drop of. It would be only too easy to lose my balance and fall of. I make sure to keep at least three points of contact at all times. It takes me a decent amount of time to work my way up to the top. I climb up the last bolder and I am standing on Angel’s Landing.
The view was worth the 1500 ft climb and as scary as the last 0.5 miles was I would do it all over again for the view. The hiker ahead of me gives me a nod and we go back to enjoying the view in the quiet morning air.
The third hiker joins us a little later and the three of us enjoy the view for about an hour. We all share a glance when we hear the laughter of other hiker making their way up.
The other two hikers head out and I stay to enjoy the view and take a few more pictures. Within an hour there are about 30 people on Angel’s Landing. I decided to leave when someone gets out their cell phone to call and have a phone conversation.
I look down and realize that going down is going to be a whole other adventure. It is a lot of waiting for people to pass as well as very carefully picking places to put one’s feet.
I make it down the trail to a Chickens coup. I am stopped by a concerned parent. She points at her two boys and asks if I think she should take them up. I give here an honest description of the trail. She turns around and heads back down Walter’s Wiggles. I take a rest break and people watch.
I couldn’t believe some of the people I finding heading up to the landings. The guy with his infant in a backpack. The lady dragging her two young boys who are shoving each other. The dad on the rest break sharing a 2 liter of Coke with this kids.
I shake my head and start back down Walter’s Wiggles and the bus stop. I take a moment at the bus stop and look up at Angles Landing. I am already looking forward to my next trip to Zion National Park and hiking Angels Landing again.