My dad, the titular Papa, has driven and camped all over the US. I asked him for advice on what to visit in Zion, and he said he regretted never hiking the Narrows. Maybe I’ll make not hiking the Narrows a family tradition.

We left Bryce early to try to beat the crowds, as we wanted to tackle one of Zion’s most notorious hikes: Angel’s Landing.

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The approach, pre-Wiggles.

After a two-mile hike, the last mile of which is a series of steep switchbacks called Walter’s Wiggles, hikers reach Scout’s Lookout. The last half mile follows a thick chain set into the rock across a thin ridge; the story goes that Angel’s Landing earned its name when a group of climbers in 1916 decided it was so high that only an angel could land on it.

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The Wiggles: the first set of switchbacks are set into that rock face.
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The reverse shot, looking down on what we’d hiked thus far.

The second set of switchbacks looking up versus looking down.

I stopped at Scout’s Lookout because I didn’t trust my legs to get me back down the rock scramble to the Landing; Dan went further up the chains until the line of people sniping at each other for not hurrying across a thousand-foot-high thin slice of rock frustrated him. The crowds really got to us here; you’d think people would be encouraging and supportive, but I got the impression the majority of people were impatient to tick off an accomplishment and be done with it.

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The payoff didn’t quite live up to the hype for me, but I appreciated the view regardless of the sour crowd.
Still proud we did (most of) it!
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Here’s a cool lizard I saw, since I got a little negative.


On the hike back down, Dan had the best idea:

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After lunch our legs were still feeling a bit too much like they were made of jello, so we prioritized our remaining planned hikes and headed out to the Temple of Sinawava to walk as close into the Narrows as possible. We walked past a few smaller hanging gardens, where water squeezes through cracks in the rocks and plants take root, growing out of vertical nooks and crannies.

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Thanks to heavy snows in the west this year, the level of water flow was four times the limit deemed safe to hike in any further; the ranger warned us someone had tried earlier in the month and escaped with her life, but the currents of the river claimed her pants (she suffered some non-life-threatening injuries as well). To me, the Riverside Walk made up for the disappointment I felt at Angel’s Landing. Being close to the water, in the shade of the canyon, meant cooler temperatures and a clean mineral smell in the air, and I missed flowing river water after so long in the desert.

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The river was flowing fast and could easily sweep feet out from under someone.

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And on the way back to Bryce, a herd of bison because why not?

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2 thoughts on “Zion

  1. Hey Rebecka,
    Love both Zion and Bryce!! Sorry about the crowds. I went 8 years ago on the 100 anniversary of the park and the trails weren’t too over crowded. Maybe early September is less busy than Spring.
    In any event, did not do the Narrows either, but vividly remember the Wiggles and Angel’s Landing. I did make it to the top, but the final ascent is a bit, shall we say, harrowing with only the chain to grab on to (and a few scrubby looking bushes other than that), and the rock sloping down toward the 1000 meter drop off. Ahem, I was happy to do it, but happy to get down as well.
    One of the more challenging, and scary hikes to have done. I think you were wise, especially with large crowds to beg off on the final ascent. We did not have crowds, and that would have made it too nerve wracking, especially since more than a few have actually fallen on that final part. That would be no fun, to say the least. I have pictures of the valley from the top on google photo somewhere, but have a framed picture of a poster of Walter’s Wiggles and Angel’s Landing in my apartment.
    Good show!! Where are you all off to next?? Great fun following your adventures!!
    Best, Scott


    1. Dan overheard some rangers talking about how quiet the park was during the week we were there or nearby, so I can’t imagine how crazy it must be at capacity!

      I’m way behind on the blog – we’ve been without Internet for most of the last two weeks, so the camera isn’t synced to the cloud yet. We’ve done the rest of the Utah big 5 (Capitol Reef was really cool) and down to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, so onto Rocky Mountain NP later in the week.
      Hopefully I’ll have a chance to catch up soon, we’ve had some amazing experiences! Hope all’s well back in NYC.


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