The shortest route from Bryce Canyon to Springdale – the small town that I was going to spend two nights in while exploring Zion Canyon National Park – actually goes right through Zion. And the glowing red mountains had me mesmerized from the moment I first laid my eyes on them. So it was 14 miles of me alomost pressing my nose flat against the windscreen while trying to focus on driving.
I had left Bryce Canyon right after jumping off Eechell so I was at my motel early enough to test out the pool with the most amazing view (ever!).
The next morning I was up bright and early, already in the park waiting for one of the shuttle buses by 7.30am. I had planned to do the first part of the famous “Angel’s Landing” trail and wanted to do it before the heat was too overwhelming.
It starts off with a sandy path that turns into a paved trail as it gets steeper. It sure was steep at times! 21 switchbacks is the last challenge before reaching “Scout Lookout”. It was a tough hike but not scary in any way.
At “Scout Lookout” a sign says that it’s only 0.5 mile to “Angel’s Landing”. But that is no ordinary 0.5 mile!
With my fear of heights I hadn’t even thought about continuing all the way to the summit, yet somehow I found myself with shaking legs starting on the last hike (more like climb!) to the top. I quickly stumbled into Lori, a 52 year old woman from South Carolina, and we stuck together for the climb trying to encourage each other.
The trail is across a narrow sandstone ridge with drop-offs on both sides. At times there are chains to hold on to but there are also large portions of the trail where there is nothing but the cliffs.
Almost the entire time I thought about turning around but I got to a point where I was more afraid of climbing back down on my own than continuing uphill with Lori and that’s how I found myself 1488 feet over the canyon floor dropping my jaw over the most spectacular view.
It had taken 50 minutes to reach the summit from “Scout Lookout” which probably makes it the slowest half mile of my life – but also the one that I’m most proud of ever!
The whole hike from canyon floor to summit to canyon floor was 4.8 miles.
Almost back down at the Canyon Floor I joined Lori and two of her friends for a quick detour to “Lower Emerald Pools” which is another of Zion’s signature trails with a couple of waterfalls.
After that I could hear the pool back at the motel calling for me so I dragged my tired feet with me to the shuttle bus.
I was completely awestruck by Zion and there were many more hikes I would have loved to do had I had the time (or just an extra pair of feet I could have used that afternoon?). I think I might have to come back to Zion some day..