Sunday, November 6th
Since I had a full Sunday to explore I decided to do two longer hikes in Zion National Park: Angels Landing and Observation Point. This ended up being pretty much my maximum for the day and I stumbled home exhausted and happy. We now begin The Zion Picture Blitz.
Angels Landing is the most famous hike in Zion, and for good reason. You end up going up a bunch of switchbacks and then out over a narrow, rocky outcropping with huge drops on either side. I did this one first because the magic of scrambling on a narrow path is challenging enough without massive two way traffic that later in the day brings.
The steep ascent is made possible by a large number of switchbacks. My knees hate these going down. Where are the Incas and their insane staircases when you need them?
The summit is fun, I stopped and ate breakfast there, but you’re really here for the trail to and from. My cell phone camera does not handle changes in light well, and hiking first thing in the morning leads to slanty shadows and poor pictures, but it was totally worth it. After breakfast I headed down the trail, my knees starting to ache a bit by the end.
I almost forgot to include this! The sound of a group of hikers, young women who were headed up the trail as I was headed down. The video shows nothing really, it’s just the sound of them loudly singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” although they couldn’t all remember the lyrics and one of them enthusaistically provided the fireworks or drums sound effects that traditionally accompany the performance. It was a fairly random few moments.
Then it was time to jump on the shuttle for a stop or two and start my next hike, Observation Point! This is a longer trail that heads up a series of stretched switchbacks (goodie), through a slot canyon (amazing) and then up and around until you end up high atop a mesa which you hike across to look down the canyon. There is a huge amount of elevation change on this hike, as evidenced by how small Angels Landing looked below me at the end and how much my legs ached. It’s a less spectacular hike, but you pass through many different rock textures and varying formations so it’s a lovely way to see a lot of the area’s different features.
By the time I was back down my knees were on fire. Over 15 miles hiked, most of it going steeply up or down, was definitely as far as my out of shape body was up for. I planned to visit some of the other really short hikes, but I couldn’t even face those. I boarded a totally packed shuttle bus back to the visitors center, and was amazed at how busy it is during the off season. I can’t imagine what it’s like during the summer. It’s hard to begrudge folks wanting to experience it; Zion is a beautiful place.