Though we’d squeezed a few hikes into the few nice days we had at the Grand Canyon, we were eager to be outside, to feel the hard earth beneath our feet. For that, few places offer as many options as Utah.
Once upon a time, I wondered why anyone would return to the same place over and over when so much of the country (continent, world…) is left to see. Well, now I know. Sometimes you find a place that speaks to you in ways others don’t. Sometimes a place needs more than one visit to explore. Sometimes it’s nice — especially when your life is filled with so much unknown — to be someplace familiar.
And Zion National Park fits all of these for us. We’ve been there several times, but we always love returning. When we arrived in late May, spring had erupted after a rainy, chilly spurt. Of course, that meant lots of people, but we were glad for the sunshine.
We arrived, got settled in, and the next day — Bob’s birthday — headed into Zion NP to Angel’s Landing. When he mentioned he was hiking it for his birthday, the shuttle driver got the entire bus to sing “Happy Birthday” to him — a great way to start!
If you don’t know Angel’s Landing (which we’ve hiked a few times before), the park service has posted this helpful sign at the trailhead:
It says, in part: “Since 2004, six people have died falling from the cliffs on this route.” Ikes! But yes, sadly, it’s true. The hike climbs along sheer drop-offs — I got over a lot of my fear of heights on hikes like this one. We’ve always believed that what makes the hike even more dangerous are the number of people who prefer to rush (overconfident in their footing) and those who get impatient with us slower folks and try to go around rather than wait their turn.
It’s a constant uphill hike. This view looks back toward the start of the trail, and was taken quite a way from the top. The specks on the ropey pale line are hikers.
Two sets of switchbacks await for a total of 22 back-and-forth climbs like this one. This is called Walter’s Wiggles, which is a recognized feat of engineering, has a steep grade and will kick your butt if you insist on racing up rather than pacing yourself. (At our steady walk, we passed several groups more than once because they couldn’t help racing along, only to eventually fall behind. Yes, tortoise and hare do come to mind.)
Speeding along means missing the beautiful little details trying to greet you along the way:
And at the end of the trail? Take a breather, swallow some water, and enjoy the view! (That’s a 1000′ drop at the end of my feet. Which is why I’m sitting on my butt rather than standing on two legs.)
What better reward after a hike like that (and making it up in just 65 minutes without even trying to set a speed record) than….
Kathy’s Famous Carrot Cake at Oscar’s! MMMMMMMM! “Our homemade recipe with an unforgettable cream cheese frosting!” said the menu. Unforgettable is right 🙂
Oscar’s has some great dishes besides that awesome dessert… Among those we went back for was their salad, which was the best side salad we’ve ever had:
While shopping in Springdale, a local store owner asked if we’d hiked Observation Point yet, we had to admit we hadn’t.
Next post, we’ll let you know how that hike was, and how we were, after just a day’s rest.