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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Angel's Landing

USA | Saturday, 1 September 2012 | Views [1106]

Rising up this morning, I have a majestic view of the Watchman and every other giant stone wall around me! "Speechless" is the word I use to describe Zion National Park! It is beautiful! Even though some idiot had to disturb the peace by honking their car horn at 6 AM I was up early to hike up to Angel's Landing, so I had my camera and snacks ready as I prepared my morning tea and a bowl of porridge. Since there's a 30% chance of rain the park rangers didn't allow anyone to start the Narrows hike, and others in our group were headed to Bryce Canyon for the day. Whilst I've heard amazing stories about Bryce I wasn't ready to be couped up in a vehicle for two hours each way. Someday when I ride my bicycle across the country I'd like to visit the whole string of National Parks along the southern half of Utah (Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Natural Bridges, and Arches). With my camera in my pocket, my water bottle attached to my belt loop, and a few energy bars in my back pocket I was ready with several other people to tackle Angel's Landing. Since it's Labor Day weekend the park is very crowded, and at this time of year visitors are obliged to use the park's free shuttle system (private vehicles are prohibited on the roads during the summer). Whilst the sun wasn't fully up over the canyon walls it was still cool, and I was ahead of many members of our group although there were a lot of people heading up, including several children. One girl in our group I've gotten to like is Frances. She nicknames me "cuddles" because I'm a chronic hugger. Frances recently got back from living in England for three years. Lucky her to live there! Before me was the majestic Angel's Landing.

After walking about a quarter mile on mostly flat ground it was then up a series of switchbacks. Part of the trail is constructed and reinforced with "brick" that's actually red rocks taken from Zion Canyon. Breaking a bit of a sweat, I kept going up and lifting my excitement! The view gets more spectacular the higher you go. After nearly an hour I was at Scout Lookout, where I'm only 1/2 mile from the summit of Angel's Landing. It seems like it's at least a mile higher than the canyons below but it's only about 1,400 feet higher. The shuttles and road look like a Tonka set from up there! The last 1/2 mile is along a narrow ridge as little as three feet wide in some stretches, with some that require holding onto chains or rope.

The "tourists" get scared and turn around at Scout Lookout but the "purists" brave it and continue ahead remembering the mantra "the best is yet to come!" Sure enough that was true, and sure enough I bravely continued ahead with a heap of other people. The trail is a walk in the park compared to some of the more extraordinary multi-day hikes I've undertaken but it's still not a walk for the faint of heart. Since 2004 six people have fallen to their deaths between Scout Lookout and the tip of Angel's Landing. Twenty minutes after walking along the ridge I had one of the most incredible views I've ever had! A 360 panorama of blue sky, green shrub, and red canyon! My my...did I just die and go to heaven? It sure felt that way today! Mr. Hanley describes Zion as "Yosemite in Colour" and I sure have loads of colour all around me! Spinning my arms around in a 360 I take in this most incredible 360 degree view.

My father hasn't been many places, but he sure raves about Utah! I always tell my Mormon friends "I can see why Brigham Young and his followers decided to settle in Utah, because there aren't many places more beautiful." I sit and eat a fudge graham Zone Perfect bar whilst chipmunks scurry by. They're brown with black and white stripes on their back and about the size of a mouse. Several members of our group didn't make it up here and they really missed out because I could have easily stayed up here the entire day, or even pitched a tent and camped under the stars. When the other members started to head back down (those who made it all the way to the tip) I decided to follow suit. It was rather difficult physically and emotionally heading back down into Zion Canyon. When we were back at the visitor centre I was looking at a relief map of the park. The upper areas are mostly flat, and you may wonder why. The rock in Zion and the surrounding area is Navajo sandstone, which is rather susceptible to water erosion.

Over the many millions of years, mother nature created the vast and impressive system of canyons that make up this fabulous national park! There are many things I can see or do once and probably would never do them again, but Angel's Landing is one of those hikes I could do again and again and again! After going back to the campsite, several of us decide to go into Springdale (a more accurate name would be "Springboard), which is the springboard and provision stop for Zion. Thomas, Frances, and several others decide to eat at a restaurant but I'm limited on money at the moment so I have to eat cheap if I'm going to eat out. Food at the supermarket is extremely expensive but I got a couple of beef & bean burritos and heated them up in the in-store microwave. For dinner we all had seasoned steaks with vegetables; good tucker after a fabulous day! Then it was time for wine tasting. A camper named Cliff brought several different wines, and even though I didn't have a real cup or glass my trusty billy worked just as well. It's been dropped, dented, and with me on various hiking trips. I had a little too much wine, so I ended up walking buzzed to my tent before dreaming of Angel's Landing. Oh, what a fabulous view I had today! The angel has landed.


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