A recent chain of events (a record-breaking polar vortex which led to a four-day school cancellation which led to a reorganization of the photo cupboard) brought to light a long-forgotten photo album of our first Southwest road trip.  Turns out the husband and I (but mostly the husband – you’ll see his massive camera in several photos in this series) took more and better photos back then than we did on a similar road trip last summer, and I thought I would share some of them with you in a series entitled “A Photo Journey.”  I hope you enjoy them, and even more, I hope they inspire you to travel.

We arrived for our short stay at Zion National Park in southwest Utah with one goal in mind:  Summiting Angels’ Landing.  I’m here to convince you that it should be your goal, too.

Angels' Landing panoramic view

Though it’s only 5.4 miles round trip, it’s not an easy hike.  Zion’s literature describes it as “strenuous,” and it’s not just physical exertion that will have you nodding your head in agreement.  Anxiety may escalate as you work your way up the rocky outcropping.

The park pamphlet cautions people to avoid this hike if they are with young children or have a fear of heights.  Then it shows a little cartoon of a stick person falling.  Yes, this can be a dangerous hike.  People have fallen to their deaths.

Still, risky though it may be, there are many reasons you should consider hiking Angels’ Landing.

Reason #1:  You can skip your morning run, or burpee set, or whatever it is you do to torture yourself into a healthful state.  This hike is your day’s exercise.

Angels' Landing route up
I  love my hiking poles! What’s Leki’s motto?  Four legs good – two legs bad?  Couldn’t agree more.

Reason #2:  You will be surrounded by massive rock walls.  This will give you a sense of perspective.  You will be filled with a feeling of wonder.  You will have deep thoughts.

Reason #3:  You will have a chance to take some great pictures.

Angels' Landing Graham 1
This is not a great picture.  I cut off the husband’s foot – a photographic no-no.
Angels' Landing view
Much better, but (sigh) I think the husband took it.

Reason #4: You will get to hike up a fun feature called Walter’s Wiggles.  Who wouldn’t want that?

Angels' Landing Peg on Wiggles
Zigzags keep things interesting.
Angels' Landing Walter's Wiggles closeup
If you’re feeling guilty about skipping that early morning workout, you can try running up Walter’s Wiggles. I count a mere 23 switchbacks. Let me know how it goes.

Reason #5:  You can challenge yourself and conquer your fears.

Angels' Landing outcropping
Yes, you will need to climb this narrow fin of rock.
Angels' Landing hand rail
No, using the chain is not cheating.  It’s smart.  Also, pack away those hiking poles.  They’ll only trip you up on this section of the hike.  Tripping up here is, uh, deadly.

Reason #6:  You will earn hard-won bragging rights.

Angels' Landing Summit Graham
“I’ve been to the top of Angels’ Landing.  Have you?”
Angels' Landing Summit Peg
Bagging the summit makes you 37.2% tougher.
Angels' Landing Postcard
Send this postcard to your friends.  It will have them thinking you’re some badass rock scaler.

Reason #7:  You will be awestruck by the views.  (But don’t lose focus – that’s a 1500-ft drop!)

Angels' Landing Summit view 1Angels' Landing Summit view 3Angles' Landing Summit view 2

There.  I’ve given you seven good reasons hike Angels’ Landing.  So unless you’re a small child, suffer from vertigo, or have an extreme aversion to zigzags, get out to Zion and do this hike, you badass.

Bonus experience:  After you hike down, you can soak your aching, sweaty, odoriferous feet in the North Fork Virgin River, which is right there in front of you.

Angels' Landing zee finish
I call little waterways like this “foot danglers.”  Now you can, too.

Bonus scenery: When you depart Zion after your amazing hiking feat and head toward Bryce Canyon National Park, you will pass Checkerboard Mesa.  If it gives you an urge to pull out your checkerboard and trounce your travel partner, so be it.  I hope you win.

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Happy hiking!


Posts in the A Photo Journey series:

 

 

28 thoughts

  1. This is my favorite of all of your stories, Travel Architect. The photos are tremendous and the sense of triumph upon achieving a challenging summit is never forgotten. The only thing you missed is the “oh s…” moment when the climber on the summit looks down at the steep, exposed trail that must be traversed the other way! Nice job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dave! I can hear your inner hiker coming out in your comment.

      As I remember it, we turned around to start down-climbing and felt our stomachs lurch into our throats. The hike down that fin of rock is a scarier experience than hiking up it. I made the conscious decision to give all of my attention to the descent and eschew the photography. It was definitely an “oh sh%!” moment – several moments, actually. They just didn’t get documented on film.

      Like

  2. Amazing post!! I love the shot you got of Walter’s Wiggles. I did the Angel’s Landing hike in 2009 and haven’t had the nerve to do it in the few times I have returned since. It has been too crowded on the trail and some people just don’t understand trail ettiquette and saftey. With a two-way trail and that level of hazard, the crowds have made me nervous. What an amazing feeling and spectacular views when you get to the landing though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And I’d love to take credit of the photo of Walter’s Wiggles from a distance (the shot in which I added “Our destination.” Unfortunately, that was taken by ??? I scanned in a postcard we got at the park. I’m not even sure where you would have to be standing to get that shot.

      Liked by 1 person

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