Chasing the light 2019 – Angels Landing by Amy Waller
After months and months of planning and getting everything we need, we were off for our adventure, with our big truck and all the equipment we figured we’d need. We decided if we didn’t have something we needed then we would do without!
Rainy days, cold nights, beautiful sites and lovely company made this trip very memorable. With Mike taking thousands of pictures and me using my phone to take hundreds of pictures we have many special and memorable moments to cherish.
The one thing I really wanted to do on our trip was to hike Angels Landing, which is in the middle of Zion National Park. We had or at least thought had an idea of how it would be. We were told several different stories of the dangers of falling and the 1000-foot drops on each side of us. I made the mistake of watching YouTube videos the day before we were going to do this challenge. Those who know me well know that I am not too fond of heights, so I was really hoping this hike was not going to be as bad as what we had been reading and watching. The YouTube videos did NOT help ease my anxiety. Mike still wonders why I put myself through the torture of watching the videos.
We were told to be on the first shuttle of the morning to beat crowds. I rolled out of bed (Mike was already up) and we got ready. Mind you it’s still dark and cold out as we wait for the shuttle, which leaves at 6 am. The line started to get longer and longer behind us. It seems many others had hear the same thing!
It took about 20 minutes to get to the Angel’s Landing drop off. By this time the sun was coming up and we got to see it peak over the mountains as we started our walk. We walked and walked, uphill the whole way through switchbacks and more switchbacks. Well, we ended up being the last two from the crowd we left with. It felt like we just kept going and going up and up and up. Just as I thought we were getting to the top of the switchbacks we saw more! It leveled out for a short time so we could get our breath and then there it was…they call them Walter’s Wiggles, which is a series of 21 short switchbacks, maybe 20 feet long. It has been said if you can get to the Wiggles you are almost to the top. I looked up and just stared. Telling myself I think I can, Mike was telling me I can do this! So, I started up, at the end of two Wiggles I had to stop cause by this time my legs were shouting at me.
From the trailhead to the top of Angels Landing it’s 2 ½ miles, and I figured by now we had to be there. We make it to the top of the Wiggles (after much stopping) and then the part we heard and read about was right in front of me. The chains and the narrow slippery parts where nearly certain death awaited according to so many of the online videos.
We started the trek over slippery rocks with only a chain to hold onto in the questionable spots. We climbed rocks and relied on the chains cause in some places that is all you had to balance. Just when I think we are at the top I look ahead and there’s more! It was the longest 2 ½ miles I have ever experienced. My brain kept telling me I could do it, but my legs weren’t too sure. This final portion of the climb is where the 1000-foot drops are. The place we read about that was the most dangerous. Even though we were so high up that birds flew below us I didn’t have time to think about or even notice the drop. I was concentrating too much on the chain and not losing my footing. Because we’d left so early we only met a handful of hikers coming back down, so the bottleneck wasn’t too bad.
We finally made it and wow, what a view and what an accomplishment. We took a break, ate a protien bar and headed back down. I thought down would be easier and, in some ways, it was. The biggest dangers is meeting the folks coming up. There is only one chain and both those going up and those going down have to share the same chain. So, some places we had to pass those coming up were questionable. I think I was more fearful of the heights going down then going up. We made it to the Walter’s Wiggles and by this time my legs had no idea what was going on. I told Mike I feel like I could run down but if I ran I wouldn’t be able to stop and that could be a problem.
I watched people heading up and felt a bit bad for them because I knew what was coming. Pain!
After 3 ½ hours we made it down to the parking lot where we waited for the next shuttle to take us back to the Lodge and hopefully food. We were sore, super tired and had an appetite we felt we could eat a feast. We went into the Lodge and when Mike saw that a pizza cost $40 (!) we turned around and took the shuttle back to town. We ate breakfast and then an early lunch.
Needless to say, I felt really accomplished afterwards and was so glad we conqured Angel’s Landing, especially after watching the over-the-top videos! Our legs hurt for several days afterwards! It was an amazing experience. Thank you to my amazing husband for his support and cheering me on the whole way!