Thursday, November 8, 2012

04 - Angel's Landing

Angel's Landing.  Thank you iPhone panorama. 
  After the first day spent rappelling in to the slot canyon of the Subway, we chose a vertical climb for our second day.  Angel's Landing is one of the most famous trails in Zion, consisting of a narrow path full of switchbacks, steps carved out of solid rock with sheer vertical cliffs on both sides, and an ending upon a monolithic landing 1,500 feet above the canyon floor.
The Trail to West Ridge and the real beginning of Angel's Landing
  We started around noon riding the shuttle in to Zion Canyon and disembarking at the Grotto Trailhead.  The West Ridge Trail led up switchbacks carved in to the rock and paved smooth with the feel of an attraction line at Disney World.  I absolutely loved this hike, but I kept imagining the stunning views were simply green screens and computer animation instead of the resultant wear and tear of wind and water over millions of years. 

The trail along the ridge narrows as you approach the final ascent to Angel's Landing
Sheer drops on both sides of the trail.  If you're afraid of heights, don't look down here.
  Following a narrow ridge to the base of the monolith, the trail thinned to an arm-span while the canyon floor remained hundreds of feet below, unable to hide in periphery.
The views down Zion Canyon were stunning.

  The final ascent consisted of steep layered rocks with steps hand chiseled by park employees during the Great Depression. 
Workers carved steps in to the sheer rock.  They also added a lot of chain.
Enjoying a sit at the top.  A homeless looking man was even having a sleep...
All four hikers successfully at the top!
  Finally at the summit, we enjoyed the magnificent three hundred and sixty degree views up and down canyon.
The view back down the ridge and toward the next day's hike deep in the Narrows. 
  Descending back down the ridge and switchbacks of Walter's Wiggles, we found ourselves on the shuttle once more as dusk set upon the canyon.  A stop at the Zion Lodge for bison burgers was the perfect end to the day and avoided yet another night cooking at the campsite under headlamps.  Thankfully the check for dinner was well under the Disney price the setting suggested.  I guess that's the savings they can pass on when you avoid Orlando as the starting point for building a magical setting.

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