Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Unfinished Trip to Zion

  I feel like I do a decent job of planning for the trips I take.   Angels Landing is located in Zion National Park, Utah.  Its known for the beautiful sandstone cliffs as well as many other beautiful places to check out.  Our adventure though was set on making it to the top of Angels Landing. It is a 5.4mile hike with 1630ft of elevation gain.  Its labeled as one of the most dangerous hikes in the US, because a handful of people have slipped and fallen to their death.  So we knew what we were getting into. We just didn't account for some crazy weather that had came through the days prior and the effect it would have on the trail.
   Again this trip started from the Las Vegas Airport, we landed around 1PM and immediately set out for Zion National Park.  Its actually a really cool drive, the Landscapes change from desert to mountain as you go up in elevation the mountains continue to rise.  I noticed the snow capped peaks begin to show.  I was so glad I wasn't driving and I could shoot all these places out the window of our rental car.  You ever have those moments where you see pictures in Black and White, it was like Ansel Adams was sitting next to me. That was what flooded my mind as we drove into the park.  The clouds were whisping off the tips.  The contrast from the the snow mixed with the rocks was amazing.  Ansel would have been on top of the car shooting with his giant tripod.

One thing that we didn't factor into our time line on this trip is how much earlier the sun would set then it did in Vegas. So as we arrived at the trail head we were about an hour later than we had planned.  We started out on the trail and as we got about a 1/4 mile into it we ran into some other hikers that asked if we had chains? Brian and I looked at each other confused and both said no.  Not really sure what chains were for we kept going.  The trail starts out flat and you walk along the river that cuts through the valley. 3/4 of a mile into it you really start going up but the view back into the valley is one that is incredible!  Its one that if this is as far as you can make it, thats fine you won't be disappointed! Its from this point I took one of my all time favorite photos!  Keep going though and you eventually come to the Walters Wiggles.  Its a section of zig zags up the mountain that on this trip was frozen ice and snow.  It was here that I realized we needed spikes on our shoes.  By this time my buddy Brian was quite a bit ahead of me so by the time I got to the top, he was no where to be found.  I couldn't find any tracks in the snow, my shoes had no grip and I was pretty much crawling up along a sheer cliff.  There is some chains up top to hold onto in sections but once you get up to Scout Lookout you're basically you're on your own.  My mind was starting to get a little nervous,  my unanswered calls to Brian were getting scarier and scarier every time I called out.  Finally I heard him yell back, he was on the other side of the ridge.  We met up and he said you have to come look at this,  we walked around the ridge and I saw the little ice covered trail up to the top of Angels Landing.  We both stood in silence before we both said we can't do this.  I've never turned around on a hike but without the right shoes and equipment this was a death wish waiting to happen if we continued.  We both agreed we needed to do this one again when there wasn't snow and ice.  Angels Landing Hike

  We headed back down, it was pitch black by the time we got back down Walter's Wiggles and were just making up time to get back down till we saw a set of eyes ahead on the trail.  We couldn't tell what it was but knowing there is Mountain Lions around and this thing was cat like it sent chills down my back.  We made noise and continued on as it had jumped off the trail, we made it to the next switchback and looked back, finally seeing the animal to be one of the cutest animals Ive ever seen in my life.  A Ringtail cat.  Apparently they're super rare to see.  If they are its sad cause they're frekain cute!  We made it back to the river and the stars were out in full force.  I told Brian I wanted to shoot the stars real quick.  The stars always amaze me and seeing them with little light pollution is mind blowing.  Hopefully you've seen a starry sky like that!

   So this one is the one that doesn't have a check mark by it.  Until it does it will always bug me. So cheers to you Zion you won this round. It was a beautiful place to see and check out but I can't wait to go back.  The Narrows, the Subway, and Observation Point are all hikes that I plan on doing when I go back!