Angel’s Landing Trail – Our First Day in Zion
April 19, 2012
(Zion National Park, Utah, April 18, 2012) According to geologist Keith Norlin, the top of the Grand Canyon is the floor of Zion, and the top of Zion is the floor of Bryce. Today, we hiked Zion’s most famous trail from the floor to nearly the top. It’s a strenuous trek, and we start at 10 am. Gradually, the trail steepens until we arrive at Walter’s Wiggles, a series of 21 switchbacks named after Walter Ruesh, Zion’s first superintendent. The switchbacks lead to Scout Lookout, with amazing views below into the canyon, where the Virgin River flows through a plain that eventually narrows upstream to steep cliff banks that force hikers into the water. It’s April; we won’t venture there.
Zion’s peaks tower above us along the way, red, jagged, and beautiful. They have names like Cathedral Mountain, the Three Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), and the Great White Throne. It’s hard not to be inspired by them, or to understand why the park’s founders gave the mountains these names as we enjoy the fruits of our labors at Scout Lookout.
But Angel’s Landing Trail doesn’t end there; it continues up a dizzying, narrow path with steep drop-offs on both sides, with a chain to grab for dear life on the way up and down. A few of us made the white-knuckle decision to head for the top. Note that while this blog includes images from there, it does not include any visual reference to the chains. Thank you for not asking me why.
The afternoon continued with a short walk along Lower Emerald Pool Trail, with great views of a waterfall, the first of three pools, and, of course, more geological insights that could only be learned via the combination of Zion’s spectacular rock formations and a professional geologist alongside to answer questions. Road Scholar has taught me more about this subject in 48 hours than I learned in my entire life.
After dinner, falconer Martin Tyner delivered a presentation on Zion’s birds of prey, complete with his co-presenters Thumper the hawk, and an anonymous but beautiful golden eagle. A grand first day ends with the added satisfaction of knowing that tomorrow will bring more strenuous and rewarding adventures.