Zion National Park: Hiking to Angel’s Landing

So…I really wanted to update this blog on a weekly basis during our month-long National Parks road trip. I REALLY did. And I tried! But there was hardly any interwebs connection wherever we went, thus making it nearly impossible to do any blog updating. Plus we were camping or backpacking the entire time. No wifi there.

After we experienced pretty much THE BEST TRIP EVER, we came back in August and I had to go directly to grad school. Nowadays, I do NOTHING ELSE except read a shit-ton of books and try to not look clueless in class.

OH YEAH. I digress. Back to the main story…

Angel’s Landing. Yeah, it was awesome. I LOVE ZION NATIONAL PARK! Top 5 fer SURE.

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Waking up to this lovely sight of the sun coming up over the mountains from our campsite

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Our campsite at the South campground

The great thing about Zion is that we arrived in the height of camping season and STILL found ourselves a campsite! The South campground is first come first served, while the other one contains reservable sites. Reservations are not needed, however. It seems that most people camp just for a night or so, while other visitors stay at nearby hotels or lodges.

Even at 9 am, the day was already getting hot.  Joy and I took the free shuttle to the beginning of Angel’s Landing, where we began our 2.5 mile ascent to the top of the mountain. NOTE: Bring a lot of water and start the hike before 9 am, when the day is not too hot and the morning is beautiful. We saw way too many people hiking up the trail around 1 pm with a small bottle of water shared between them. You WILL pass out.

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The beginning of our journey to Angel’s Landing

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Our mascot, Rainbow Pony

The hike has a lot of switch backs on the hike up, but it wasn’t too, too bad. There are plenty of places to stop along the trail and take in the view. Plus it’s paved almost all the way up! Never seen that before.

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Rock scrambling pit stop

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These rocks make me look very short

When we reached the top of the mountain that gives you a 360 degree view of the valley, we were completely in awe. Absolutely. Stunning.

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View of the valley below to the left of us

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“Welcome to your life”

We took in the views, took a deep breath, and then began the real hike up to Angel’s Landing. Yeah, we weren’t done yet. It was another half a mile of hiking and holding onto chains as we ascended up sandstone mountain ridges, passing by mothers and sons, groups of adults, and even some 12 year old Dutch kids and their parents. OH yeah, I forgot – U.S. National Parks are like foreign tourist playgrounds. I think the ratio of Americans to tourists is like 1:1 in these big parks! Asians, Canadians, Europeans, etc. – all want a piece of this nature goodness.

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Hold onto the chains

The last half mile to the top of Angel’s Landing reminds me of Half Dome in Yosemite, except that it’s much less steep and has a bit less traffic. And it’s not as dangerous. Okay, maybe it’s not like Half dome at all except the whole “hold onto the chains/cables” on your way to the very top. Anyway. We did take a lot of pit stops along the way to rest our sweaty bodies while admiring the surrounding mountains and valleys. You have to! How many times will you make the trip to Zion National Park (unless you live in Utah)? Plus the other hikers in front of you sometimes get really slow.

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Another amazing view on the journey up

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The obligatory celebratory hiking jump

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Joy, being pensive

When we got to the top we took some photos, sat down, and slowly enjoyed our lunch. Some chipmunks tried to snatch a few nuts from us, but we always mind the “pack in, pack out” rule, leaving no trace behind. While we saw many hikers come and go once they took their group photos, we minded our time and appreciated the moment.

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Team photo

The descent back down the mountain felt great. That’s the best thing about hiking uphill in the beginning – it’s alllll downhill afterwards! The only drawback is that I’m from the Bay Area and I’m not used to such hot weather (that being mid to upper 90’s and low 100’s). We had been hot as hell and drenched in sweat pretty much since 10 am. As we approached the bottom, we decided that when we reached the river we’d jump right in. IT WAS PERFECT. Cool refreshing water swirled around our tired bodies as we lay down on the sandy bottom of the river.  The day was sunny and hot, and our surroundings couldn’t be any more gorgeous.

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The best f*king feeling ever, after a nice hot hike

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National parks glamour shot

Can’t wait to go back to Zion and do everything all over again! As we left Zion National Park and drove off towards Bryce Canyon, all we could talk about was all the things we we plan on doing the next time we come back. The Subway, backpacking the Narrows, the petroglyphs by the bridge, the Emerald Pools…those will have to wait for another day!

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