Time to share some photos from my hike with my brothers in Zion National Park in southern Utah. We did Angel's Landing -- a moderate to strenuous hike to the top of a huge cliff:
That's a view of the Angel's Landing cliff from about halfway up the elevation. By this point, we've come about 2 miles, and only have .5 miles to go. But see the edge of the cliff that's facing us in the photo? Yeah, we have to climb .5 miles up that edge. It's almost like rock climbing in some parts, but the park rangers have very thoughtfully strung some bits of chain on the parts that otherwise don't offer much to hold on to. And there's only one or two parts where the cliff drops off sheerly on both sides. (I'm not afraid of heights, but people who are might have difficulty with this portion of the hike.)
From on top, you have a spectacular vantage point from which to view a much shorter but still impressively tall cliff below:
As well as many surrounding cliffs of equal height:
This shot is actually looking back on the trail from near the top. If you look to the lower left of the photo you can see some of the chain along the trail.
It's amazing to see how huge these cliffs are, and then to be above some of the really huge cliffs, and to have climbed up on top of one! It's breathtaking. Or maybe it was just the hiking itself that took my breath away. This was my third time on this hike, and it was by far the most difficult. The trail is estimated at 4 hours round trip. At some of my best condition, I've done it in about 2.5 hours. This time, we were on the trail for 6 hours! We had to rest quite a bit:
There's Alden and Zac in one of the rare bits of shade on the trail. We were resting about halfway down the seemingly endless switchbacks, seen here from above:
Actually, there's a good half mile or so of the trail that is relatively flat and shaded. At certain times of the year, there is some runoff that runs along this shady part as a little creek, and then flows off as a brilliant waterfall near the beginning of the trail. Unfortunately the creek was dry while we were there, but the trees and shade were lovely.
On our way down, some hikers on their way up (suckers) told us there was a rattlesnake up ahead. Yikes! I'm not afraid of snakes the way I am of spiders, but I still don't very much like them, and especially not the poisonous ones with scary sound effects devices and diamond-shaped patterns on their scaley little backs. So I was following behind Alden, when his passing along the trail sparked some movement along the side of the trail, and suddenly I saw the rattler:
There he is on the right side of the trail near the plants. He's actually only a baby and was much smaller than he looks in this photo, but I wasn't terribly close to him (thank goodness), and had to use my zoom. He had poked his little head up and was staring at me in that mesmerizing way that snakes do, so I held really still until he decided I wasn't a threat, put his head back down, and slithered on his merry little way. I breathed a sigh of relief and went on my merry little way too.
So now that I've shown you a scary little snake, I'll show you a fluffy little cloud to make you feel better:
There were about three or four German-speakers on the trail with us, and one German-speaking man said to his German-speaking Frau "Komische Wolke!" and pointed up to this funny little cloud. And I agreed, so I snapped a photo. That's not camera blur, that's cloud blur. It looked funnier in real life.
Finally, here's a view from near the bottom of the trail looking up at an enormous side cliff. The beautiful drips of color are probably several hundred feet long.
If you get a chance to visit Zion National Park, and I hope you do, because it's one of my favorite national parks in Utah (and yes, we have many of them), then give Angel's Landing a try. If you dare.
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