Zion National Park and Almost Dying While Hiking Angel’s Landing
Keeping with the pattern of super packed days after doing Upper Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend we headed to Utah to hike Zion National Park! It took us about 2 hours to there from Page, Arizona (where Horseshoe Bend is) and we were definitely ready to stretch our legs. Our main intention of visiting the park was hiking Angel’s Landing but that doesn’t mean we didn’t want to see other things!
As soon as you enter the park it’s a spectacular sight. I don’t think I had any expectations going into it since I had focused on the other sites as prep heading into the trip so I was blown away. To get to the visitor center where all the shuttles leave from you have to drive a winding road between mountains and through one (!) using a tunnel which was a pretty cool experience.
There are 9 stops on the free shuttle which runs all day. You’re only allowed to drive up to like the 3rd or 4th stop so we parked our car at the visitor center and took the shuttle up to the 6th stop (the Grotto) to begin our hike. The first part of the hike is the West Rim Trail, that’s the part in the pictures with the actual winding paths up the mountain and the winding brick path! Boy was that rough. I mean we work out. We hike provincial parks for hours at a time. When we travel we do 12 hour days on our feet exploring. But this?? Oh my god did we have to stop. And stop. And stop some more. Every person we encountered was super cool though and kept motivating us saying stuff like “it’s totally worth it!” and “you guys are almost there!” and “go all the way!”. So we kept going. And going. And then going some more. Halfway through I had decided I wasn’t going to do Angel’s Landing. My legs were tired and I was getting pretty anxious about the elevation so I’d decided that when we reached the start of that portion I’d just wait for everyone else.
Yeah, right. Have you met my friends? Some call them motivating and friendly. I call them pushy. Which I of course say with love. 3 of them had gone ahead while me and the bestie decided to stay behind. Until we got to Angel’s Landing. Then she sang a different tune. “We can’t not go!” “We made it this far!” “We have to!” “For the bragging rights!” So we went. Oh god. We went. Once we started moving it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought it would be so I’m happy she made me go. It’s most definitely narrow and it’s most definitely steep but because of the complicated path you’re distracted from the actual oh god I could die part. The scariest part is easily the parts where the only thing between you and the very long fall is a tiny metal chain (see the pictures!). There’s a certain level of common sense involved here though. The path really isn’t wide enough for two people so there are times where you’re going up and there are other people coming down. This is where common sense kicks in. You obviously have to step a little bit aside to make room for each other, but safely so! We were lucky that we reached Angel’s Landing quite late in the day (around 6 pm) so most people had already been to the top and back. When we reached the top we were extremely satisfied so I can’t say I’m sorry I did it. It was definitely an accomplishment! The way down is obviously just as steep so we had to do a fair amount of it on our butts sliding down slowly but surely but we eventually got down safe and sound!
Overall the hike probably took us closer to 5 hours? Which is actually the average time and quite a surprise to us (considering how many times we had to stop) so we were happy! We did start late in the day so by the time we got closer to the bottom the sun had completely set and we were blessed with the most magical sky possible. Coming from Toronto we’ll never see night skies like these because of light pollution so every chance I get to stare at stars I take. We promptly laid down on the ground while Nate created some magic on his camera and got the best pictures ever. Tripod-less too!
Now came the fun part, doing the last 20 minutes in pitch black. What a joy. Not. Luckily having had no reception in the park we had charge left on our cellphones which provided us with a flashlight because we actually did very little prep (aka we’re clearly city people and didn’t think flashlights were something to consider). We reached the shuttle stop with 15 minutes to spare. Or so we thought. So begins the portion of the evening called Almost Dying.
At some point along the trip our time zones had gotten mixed up so we were operating 1 hour behind whatever the time actually was. Which meant… *Drum Roll* that we had missed the last shuttle. YAY! We waited a very fair amount (read that as 45 long and cold minutes) before we decided something had to be done. We walked across the road into the public washroom/camp area to see if we could find anybody and even knocked on a door or two. But no luck. So while my vote was for you know, staying in the safety of a public area versus WALKING IN THE DARK WITH ANIMALS I got outvoted. We headed back the direction we knew we had come from and luckily the next shuttle stop over (which was about a 15 minute walk) had a hotel with a person working their lobby. They very kindly offered to take us back to our car. Once back at our car we realized we were all too tired, too cranky and too hungry to head back to Toronto that night so we drove around looking for food (everything was closed) and eventually picked a hotel and crashed as soon as we walked in.
Writing this like 2 weeks after the fact I’m finding the entire adventure hilarious of course but in that moment, tsk. I’m just glad it all worked out for the best!