Where Angels Land

If you don’t know about Angels Landing at Zion National Park, here’s the description from one of the hiking guides:

“Angels Landing is a destination for those of strong body and nerve — some might even say faith. To get there, you must hike a trail with steep drop-offs on both sides, which is definitely not for small children or those with a fear of heights. For your safety, use the chain handrail.”

It starts across the Virgin River from the Grotto Shuttle Stop…

…winding gradually to higher elevations…

…then back and forth along through the first set of switchbacks…

…back into a side canyon where the air is cool and everything is lush and green…

…which is a good thing because Walter’s Wiggles, a second set of switchbacks, is waiting.

Overhead, a California Condor hovered…

… and we trekked on in the warming sun…

…surprised to see so many people on this very dangerous trail.

By the way, the photo above isn’t even showing the scary — and dangerous — part of this trail. On the other side of the trees at the top of this picture, the trail follows a very narrow ridge from that mini-peak to the next ridge you can see to the left. The trail dips a bit then peaks again (this photo cuts that part of the trail off).

Just a couple of weeks before we made this hike a woman died when she fell off the trail. Lots of speculation surround what caused her to fall — she was an experienced hiker who had climbed Angels Landing many times before. She wasn’t the only person to die on this trail, which is part of its allure.

You can see part of the ridge portion of the trail behind me (photo below). What you can’t see are that the chains aren’t where they’re probably most needed — maybe because the spiney part of the trail is too narrow to even mount them. 

More surefooted and less afraid of heights than when we were last here, I still opted to quit before heading along the ridge. Why? Call me pessimistic or just plain grumpy, but if Bob and I could have hiked alone, I would probably have gone on. Too many people in too big of a hurry to show off how agile and unafraid they are made me more nervous than the trail itself. On more than one occasion we saw people hop along the outside of the trail rather than wait patiently for the next hikers along the chain.

They can live as recklessly as they want — and I’ll stay out of their way.

We didn’t need to get to the top of Angels Landing to see the beauty that was all around us!


About Ellen

Fiction writer and photographer, I travel the country with my sweetheart of a husband as a "full-time RVer."
This entry was posted in Birds, Hiking, National Parks and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Where Angels Land

  1. Levonne says:

    I am so afraid of heights that I could never cross. Wise choice with people not committed to your well being.

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