Angels Landing

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It was a very long night back at camp with wind rusting our rain fly and my terrible cough that I’ve been fighting for weeks.  I felt like I hadn’t slept a wink when we heard Ben’s parents break camp at 6 AM and head home.

Left on our own, Ben and I debated quite a bit how to spend the morning before we headed home (and based on how sick I was feeling, I was tempted to drive home immediately) , but ultimately decided to tackle one of the park’s most iconic hikes, Angel’s Landing.  Our tent seemed more like an enormous kite in the gusting wind as we took down camp, and I worried that we’d blow right off the top of the landing.  Gratefully, the wind died down by the time we caught the shuttle back up the canyon.

The hike was significantly steeper than our Hidden Canyon hike, and this time we were hiking at a really good clip.  We were passing groups of hikers right and left as we sped up the steep switchbacks in the cool morning air.  Despite my congestion and my cough, I was actually rather enjoying myself as we climbed in the strange pink glow of the red rock canyon.

I was hoping for a bit of a challenge, and I suppose that is exactly what we got.  We cranked up the switchback portion of the hike in no time at all, and soon we were clinging to chains on the top of a narrow trail with very steep drop-offs on either side.  Despite the signed warnings, I hadn’t been all that nervous, since both Ben and I know plenty of people that have done the hike and we fancy ourselves to be somewhat adventurous.  As the trail got more treacherous though, I realized that all it would take was a small stumble on the uneven trail to end up tumbling to an untimely death.

I must have looked as nervous as I felt, because Ben kept asking me if I wanted to go back, but I declined. It really isn’t a good weekend adventure with Ben if I don’t fear for my life at least for a minute!  The last half mile of trail took nearly as long as the previous two miles of switchbacks had taken as I agonized over every footstep, anxious to make sure that my footing was sure before I shifted my weight.  In most cases, there is really nothing preventing you from toppling  off the edge of the cliff, 1400 feet above the bottom of the canyon.

As we crept up the insanely narrow ridgeline, we laughed at the comments of our fellow hikers.  One announced that he was sure any hike this scary must be illegal, and another decided there should be a t-shirt announcing that you had had the crap scared out of you on Angel’s Landing.  Despite my nerves and my sudden heightened awareness of my fragile mortality, I was feeling kind of proud that in lawsuit loving America, we still allow and promote adventurous hikes such as this.

Our arrival at the landing entailed a taking a few photos as proof we’d made it before I was ready to make the return trip and hang out somewhere a little less unnerving.  The harsh mid-day light wasn’t very photogenic anyway, and we were anxious to get on the road toward home.

Gratefully, moving down the ridgeline was considerably easier than the uphill trip had been, so even though I still clung to the chains, I was able to relax enjoy the view a little bit more and we were much more able to chat while we walked.

Once we hit the top of the switchbacks, we quickly hit our hiking speed and finished the two mile descent, now in full, hot sun, pretty quickly.  The sign indicated a four hour round trip hike, and we rolled at two hours and 45 minutes.  Pleased with our final day on our weekend roadtrip, we jumped in the car to drive home. Our national parks pass is officially my new best friend.

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