A Travellerspoint blog

July 2021

Utah Again, Day 6: This is...Wow...

sunny 102 °F

Today had a bit of chaotic start. Due to the weather and the tiredness of the new arrivals yesterday, we had planned that we would reserve the Angel's Landing hike for Friday or skip it altogether. We were sleeping in when we got a call that several people were planning on going to Angel's Landing. Daniel wanted to do the hike but Catherine did not, so for today we will have separate entries that detail the day we each had.
Daniel
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I drove with Fr. Michael and Justin to Zion National Park. The other group, consisting of Joe, Jason, Nicole, and Sean, had gone the "scenic route" to the east entrance of the park, which involved driving through the famous tunnel. We decided to go the same way, and stop at Apple Annie's first to get some water.
Angel's Landing is a large rock formation that is one of the most famous and difficult hikes in Zion National Park. Anthony and I hiked part of it last year, although the estimate that we were twenty minute from the top was not exactly accurate. Today we intended to go all the way to the top, which involves some hiking with chains to prevent falling from the drop-offs.
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Some pictures as we went up the mountain. One advantage that we had is that the elevation where we were staying at Brian Head was about 9,600 feet, while the elevation at the top of Angel's Landing is only 5,800 feet. Thus, we were already acclimated to a higher elevation, and the hike was not as grueling as it would have been were we staying at a lower elevation. However, the weather was hot (about 102 degrees) and the hike up is almost entirely uphill, which is difficult.
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We went up very fast, and reached the Owl Canyon/ Refrigerator Canyon area in about twenty minutes, as opposed to the hour and a half it took last year. We had to stop for water breaks fairly regularly.
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This pictures shows the way up the West Rim trail, on the way to Refrigerator Canyon.
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After Refrigerator Canyon we came to the famous Walter's Wiggles. These were named after Walter Ruesch, the first superintendent of Zion National Park. They are 21 switchbacks that rapidly go up the side of Angel's Landing. Because they start when you are almost two miles into the hike already, they are very grueling and slow.
Once we reached the top of Walter's Wiggles, there is a place called Scout's Lookout. It has bathrooms and a lot of room to sit and rest. We regrouped there and planned the rest of our journey. After Scout's Lookout the chain system begins: it is not much of a system, really: it is just chains that you can hold on to so you don't fall off the mountain. Although it looks dangerous in pictures it didn't feel all that dangerous.
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These pictures show some of the steepness of the chain section, and how narrow the path is. The one nice thing is that once you get to this section, it is easier in many ways than the areas before: it is more likely to be flat or stair-like than it is to be an uphill walk. However, the drop-offs are psychologically difficult: Fr. Michael provided the title of today's entry when he said "this is...wow..." as he looked down while taking a step (he also suggested "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" but that was too long for Travellerspoint to use).
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This picture shows the drop-off on both sides at one point during the chain section.
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Taking a step.
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Hiking along the edge.
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Some pictures as we got closer to the end of the section section.
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Fr. Michael, Joe, Jason, me, and Justin near the top. Nicole and Sean had stayed back a bit, but they did reach the top later on.
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We had some snacks at the top of the mountain and rested for a bit.
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Condors! We could see a California Condor drifting from the mountaintop. The pictures don't really do it justice: it was hard to get a decent picture of a moving bird.
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Steep drop-offs along the path on the way down. Fr. Michael and I decided to go down, while the other group waited for Nicole and Sean so that they could take a group picture at the top.
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To me, the way down felt a lot easier.
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The green and red contrast is beautiful.
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These pictures, which highlight the darkness in Refrigerator Canyon against the light shining on the other mountains, seem like they could be an advertisement for the National Parks.
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The lower part of the trail in the afternoon, which was much cooler and more pleasant than the way up. I wore my St. Michael's shirt because of the name of the hike.
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There were a lot of chipmunks on the trail on the way down. They seemed to be showing off how fast and capable they were of rushing down the mountain. They had little fear of humans and would stay about two feet ahead of us, keeping just that distance before skittering off between the switchbacks.
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Some of the pictures I took near the bottom of the hike.
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Can you believe we were all the way up there?

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We waited for a while at the bottom of the trail, at the shuttle stop. Once the rest of the group came down, we got on the shuttle to the visitor's center. Once we were all together, we decided to try going to the brewery, which is right outside the park in easy walking distance. It was crowded, so we tried the Zion Pizza and Noodle Company. That also had a long wait, so we went all the way to Cedar City before having dinner. We went to Centro Woodfired Pizza, which had Rogue Hazelnut beer, a delicious arugula salad, and some delicious pizzas, including a fennel sausage pizza and a pizza margherita. It was a wonderful dinner after the long day of hiking. It started raining heavily during dinner, which made us glad that we weren't caught in the rain on the hike. We then drove back to Brian Head to rest for tomorrow, when we go on our mountain bike expedition.

Catherine
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I went on a hike with my parents, Nick, Crystalynne, Calista, Cecilia, and Gabriel at the Sunset trail at Cedar Breaks, even though we did it during the day. It was a beautiful trail, but very windy. It was the kids' first time getting out on the trail and seeing Cedar Breaks, and they were very enthusiastic about it. They loved the wildflowers.

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After that we went back to the resort. We got in our swimsuits to go swimming, but stopped at the Activity Center to make some slime. After the slime activity we went swimming with Ryan, Kristina, Evelyn, and Noah. It was very fun. After that we all went to dinner at the resort restaurant, which was fun. We had a wonderful day around the resort and at Cedar Breaks!

Both
It was late when Daniel got back from the Angel's Landing hike, and he had a bike ride to do the next day. We were both very tired and went to bed fairly early.

Posted by danielcatherine 07:01 Archived in USA Tagged beer utah hike pizza zion chain condors chipmunks owls angels_landing refrigerator_canyon walter's_wiggles switchback Comments (1)

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