Zion National Park Adventures on Angels Landing
Some may think I’m over exaggerating. Some may flat out not understand this post. But when Andy and I were planning our last minute trip to Zion National Park, he mentioned he wanted to hike Angels Landing. He showed me some photos of this one mile round trip hike across a ridge line 5790 feet high. Without knowing the exact height at the time, I knew it looked terrifying and I said enthusiastically, “Nope”!
See I’m terrified of heights. It started in my early 20s and I didn’t truly find out until I was interning at the Reno Gazette Journal after college and I was covering the Reno Hot Air Balloon races and I had to go up in a tiny wicker basket and I quickly realized this was not for me. I don’t do roller coasters, rock climbing (except in a rock gym) and when Andy and I were in the French Alps, I gave Andy my camera to go on the gondola ride by himself and I sat at a cafe and enjoyed an espresso on solid ground.
We met Andy’s sister, Kristan, for the trip and I hiked the 2 + miles with them up to where Angels Landing begins. I decided to try and go up with them. There were so many people trying to get up the first wall of the trail and even more people waiting at the top to get back down. I looked back or should I say down (bad decision) at how far I had gone and was terrified and thought, “How am I going to get back down?” So I decided to stay and wait for them. When you add the amount of people all around you with the fear of heights, it was just too much. After a few minutes I looked again at that first wall. It was pretty quiet then and not a lot people around. So I thought, let me just see if I can get to the top of the first wall now and see what it looks like up there. And to my surprise I did it!
When I got up there, the path looked pretty wide and flat and so I kept going. Of course it got scarier and scarier and higher and more narrow. But I had this crazy adrenaline and determination to not be afraid. Andy and Kristan were way ahead of me. There were a lot of narrow paths and extremely steep cliffs – well, it’s all a cliff really. Some parts were wide enough that if I slipped and fell, I would roll and probably be okay. Some parts if you made the wrong move, well – goodbye forever friends! I was shaking and sweating. Little did I know getting over that first wall in the beginning was nothing. There were times where you are literally pulling yourself up on a chain on the side of this mountain. There was one part where I had to cross a rock about 6 feet across and two feet wide and then a loooong way down over the side. So I crawled on all fours across the rock, crying. I honestly could’ve stopped then, but I just wanted to not be afraid for once. Also I might add the few photos I took, do not look as scary as it was. I was not in the mind set to take photos of me hanging off a cliff! So if you haven’t hiked it and want to see more scary photos, there are plenty on Google Images!
This video from SoCal Attractions 360 is probably the best example of some of the scary parts of the hike that I was not in my right mind to capture. Angel’s Landing – Scariest Hike in America? Sheer Drop off – Zion National Park, Utah
There were also so many people up there, it made it more scary. There were times when I told others to go around me because I was slow and needed to go at my own pace. Times where people didn’t wait for me and zoomed passed me making it all the more scary. I really had to watch every step I made. And for some crazy reason, I was up there by myself thinking, “wow, this really relates to being an entrepreneur.” I don’t know why I went there in my head. I was suppose to be on vacation but I just couldn’t stop thinking about how much this felt like the first couple years I was in business for myself or even now really. Being terrified to get past that first hurdle and just start was huge. People zooming past you while you wait on the sidelines, terrified they will knock you over the cliff. Worried every moment that your foot may slip, or you make a wrong decision out of fear and you’re a goner off a cliff. There were also beautiful moments where you stopped and looked at where you were and what you had done.
And well you know what, I made it to the top alive.
Going back down the trail was definitely just as scary. You have to see how high you’ve climbed and how high you could fall. There was a lot of sweat and tears, my shins were bruised up but I touched the ground when I got back down and had this overwhelming fearlessness that I brought back home with me. Now that doesn’t mean I plan on going back, swim with sharks or go jump out of a plane anytime soon or actually ever. But I do know that sometimes you have to push yourself and get out of your comfort zone in life. I would say I definitely went above and beyond that! Also glad I found out after I had finished that people have died on that hike.
We had an amazing trip though! We also did some backpacking and had some weather too! It was supposed to be chilly and on the day we were packing out, it said a 20% chance of rain. On the last mile of our 8 mile hike out that day, it decided to snow and hail the whole way back to our car! Needless to say, this was an amazingly memorable trip! If you haven’t been to Zion is it one of the most beautiful National Parks. Just don’t head up to Angels Landing if you don’t do heights!