Zion, Part I

We arrived in Zion with just enough time for an evening hike, but not before snapping a pic with their (very original) park sign.

The Watchman Trail was a nice 3 mile out-and-back that got us acquainted with the landscape of Zion. Everywhere you look you are surrounded by magnificent sandstone castle-like structures.

We learned about the Paiute people and the early Mormon settlers who named many of the peaks of the park. The Three Patriarchs, The Altar of Sacrifice, and Zion itself were names given by Mormons who found refuge here. The name of the park seems fitting as you feel as though you are in an otherworldly, heavenly place.

The next morning we awoke to tackle one of Zion’s most famous and terrifying hikes: Angel’s Landing. It was given the name because it was thought that only angels could land someplace so high and precarious. We were about to show those angels just what we were made of.

You can hike Angel’s Landing via the West Rim Trail, about 2.5 miles of cutbacks and 1400+ feet elevation gain. Then comes the fun.

One of the most difficult parts was starting on the chain. Sandstone is slippery, and the first cutback using the chain is almost vertical. This was a turning point for many visitors with incorrect footwear and/or a deep fear of falling to their death.

But we’re leaning into this whole adventurers thing and were wearing our Merrells, so it was a go for us.

We made it across the first ridge thinking we were in the clear, “this isn’t even that scary,” and other foolish things.

Then we saw the real ridge.

The recording on the shuttle bus to Angel’s Landing warns you of long drop-offs and mentions casualties from this hike, but it doesn’t really sink in until you see people white-knuckling a chain bolted into sandstone with eyes bulging in fear.

We continued because there is no more romantic way to die than on your honeymoon.

A challenge on the hike is actually navigating past other hikers. We were wise and caught one of the earliest shuttles, but even on the way back, there was a lot of start and stop. You can see below just how narrow the climb can be; there is often no room for two-way traffic.

In the past, I used to be incredibly scared of ledges and cliffs, but it seems that as I’ve grown, I’ve let that fear fade away.

There’s something really powerful in evolving, especially when it comes to feelings like fear. You don’t have to be afraid of something because you’ve always been afraid of it.

We get to create our own narratives and tell ourselves a new story.

After taking in the views, we hiked out again on Walter’s Wiggles, those vertigo inducing switchbacks, high-fiving and fist-bumping along the way.

Having to stop to let people pass gave us time to appreciate the views all around.

We finished descending the Rim Trail with smiles on our faces and only a few sandstone scrapes from holding on for dear life.

After a much earned lunch at Rosita’s, a local restaurant in nearby Springdale, we headed for a quaint little walk to Lower Emerald Pool. The mid and upper pools were closed due to rockslides, but we were able to take in a beautiful cascade thanks to the melting snow above.

We learned that two very famous hikes in Zion were closed: The Narrows due to the river and Observation Point due to rockslides. We went to bed that night feeling a bit bummed. After such a great day on Angel’s Landing, we wanted to experience those other grand adventures Zion had to offer. But we shouldn’t have worried. We would have another grand adventure…we just didn’t know it yet.

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