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664 Angels Landing - Zion National Park 2012-06-21

The narrow way to Angels Landing

On our first full day in Zion National Park, we wanted to see the central part of the park and sample a few of the trails. Rising early, we took the shuttle bus to Zion Lodge. From the beautiful Lodge we crossed the Virgin River and hiked the short hike to Emerald Pool. The path to the pool was paved and saw a lot of traffic. The Pool, named for the algea growing in it, was more of a subdued olive than emerald in color. Instead, it was more brownish than green. There was not much water in the Pool, so we probably missed viewing the area in it's prime form. The walk itself was an easy grade and easy to follow.

Returning to the trailhead, we re-crossed the Virgin River and then walked up the east bank of the river on an unofficial trail to the Grotto. The short walk was fun with plenty of distractions, including the work of many busy beavers. From the Grotto we hiked to the Upper Pools, then back to the Lodge, and finally on a horse trail downstream to the next bus stop at the Court of the Patriots.

Catching the shuttle we stopped at a museum and then walked the greenway back to camp. Along the way, we crossed a small diverted waterway (a canal-like). We were hot but it was quite refreshing to dunk our heads in the cool water.

For day two in Zion, we returned to the Grotto Trailhead for a hike to Angels Landing. This perilous hike has been the site of quite a few injuries and even fatalities.

The trail itself is amazing. The route climbs as it winds a path through improbable terrain to the upper canyon behind Angels Landing. From the upper canyon, the beautiful path climbs 23 short switchbacks (named 'Walts Wiggles') to Scout Lookout. The views from the Lookout are great, but even better if you are willing to make the traverse to the top of Angels Landing.

looking down at the 23 switchbacks of the Wiggles

Looking down at a few of the 23 Wiggles

From the Lookout, the route to Angels Landing was easy to follow. Stanchions and chains protect the route and in places footholds were carved into the rock. The route was fun and exciting.

We passed a few folks at the beginning of the route and then did not see another person until we arrived at the summit area. After a short visit we reversed our route. We met a few more folks who were following the chains toward the summit as we made our way back to the Lookout.

Along the way, Amy and I discussed the difficulty of the route. We concurred that the route was probably no harder than a Class 3 (you have to use your hands to climb the route) with only moderate exposure. So, if the route was at that grade, why were the chains left in place and maintained? At other Parks, such as the Cable Route on Longs Peak, the cables for that route have been removed. The Cable Route on Longs is much harder than Angels Landing.

Then, on our descent we answered our own question. We had no idea just how popular the route was. Walking back from Scout Lookout to the trailhead, we met the multitudes. At least 200 hikers who were climbing toward the Lookout. It was overwhelming. We then decided that the chains were in place - not to necessarily help the climbers, but to keep folks from knocking each other off of the mountain as they passed one another. We were so happy we did the hike early in the morning. It was a great adventure. If you are ever in Zion, Angels Landing is not to be missed.

We went to the library for the rest of the day and then left the Park the next morning, headed toward Bryce Canyon National Park.

Zion was a good visit, we shall return.

Wish you were here.


Happy Angels Landing trails


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