Zion and the Angels Landing

Well I am still going strong despite everything. I drove through California and Las Vegas which is always interesting to drive through. That place has got to be one of the most visually loud place on earth. I wove around to a place called Red Rock Canyon to find a camp for the night and the next day I got my first good hike in which helped remind me why I came out here. Then I headed north for Zion out across the desert. I arrived late and decided to spring for a hotel room for the night to regroup and get ready for the coming days of homelessness among the canyons of the west.

Driving into Zion was like magic. It brought back all sorts of feelings and memories from past visits and seeing the area covered in snow was something that was really unique seeing as the other times I have been were in the summer months when this area is hot hot hot. I talked to a park ranger to check on trail closings from the winter weather and was pleased to find that only a couple were closed but I was told to watch my step on any of the hikes because snow and ice while walking near the edge of some 1000 odd feet drop is not all that safe with your eyes closed. So I decided to dig right in and I picked a hike that I have been on before called Angels Landing. It is called this for good reason. It is a huge cliff that rises out into the middle of the main canyon here in the park. The only catch is that it is a very strenuous hike involving a huge ascent that takes you hundreds of feet up. The higher I got on the trail the more my muscles moaned at me for being neglected for so long (I'm a bit out of shape is have to admit). Also with elevation came temperature change and with that came more and more snow and ice. Thankfully most of it was packed snow and therefore was not all that slick to walk on.

On this trail the first 2 miles of the trail wind up the side of a cliff which wares you out but is really the easy part when it comes down to it. The last half a mile is where things really get interesting, especially in this weather. You walk along the crest of the rock face to get to the top of the rock in the middle of the canyon. This involves scrambling up rocks and using chains bolted into the rock to keep you balanced as you climb and climb. It is actually a lot of fun in the summer, its just you, the rock, the chain, and you glance to your side to look over the edge of a cliff that drops off hundreds of feet below you. The trick in the winter turns out is all of the snow on the peak that you are walking on. So all of the convenient places to stick your foot as you climb are packed down with snow leaving little snowy slopes as foot holds. This is where the chains really come in handy. I found that its best to kind of grip the chain and pull yourself with your arms and use your body weight as leverage to keep all of your weight on your feet which are standing on those slick little pockets of snow as you climb up. So you really have to watch your footing and take it pretty slow to prevent your feet from slipping out from underneath you and tumbling down to your... I wont say it. kind of freaky to think to much about it. But MAN was it fun.

So I made it to the top and everything melted away. the view from this peak is unbelievable, you turn around 360 degrees and this enormous canyon surrounds you on all sides. It is really inspiring and was totally worth the trek up in the snow. I brought along a little stick of incense with me and lit it and let it burn down into a patch of snow as a way to pay homage to the beauty of the land I was climbing. It is such an amazing thing to be perched up on a rock that is bigger than a skyscraper. This huge mass of stone jetting out of the earth. Such a beautiful thing and I had to make sure to pay my respects to this wonderful creation the earth has given us. I figure as tricky as it was to get up there I may as well thank the rock for safe passage to the top right? Right.

The climb back down proved a bit more difficult and required me to kind of repel down some of the more slippery slopey areas using the chain as my rope and kind of half slide my way down to safety. Really great but I would not recommend this to anyone else unless they are really comfortable and understanding of their capabilities while on trails.

I ended up hiking more along the canyons rim on another trail that splintered off from Angels Landing which was great because I had a chance to hike down some truly snow covered trail. By the time I needed to turn around to get back to my car before dark I found myself hiking through a good 6-12 inches of snow! I love snow and it really thrilled me to no end to be hiking in one of my favorite places on earth in the snow. Really truly a beautiful experience all around and although my body is crying right now from that exhausting hike I am planning to go on an even longer one tomorrow with an earlier start to give myself plenty of time. Its a hike that I have not made before but I am really looking forward to it. Another one straight up the side of the cliff but aren't all good hikes like this? The more strain on your body the more amazing the view I figure. Then after that I will most likely spend one more day and go on an even longer hike all the way down and around the east rim of the canyon but that is all just in my plans, well see how my body holds up.

So that is all for now, I took plenty of photos although I will have to admit that taking pictures was not really what I was focused on while I was up there. I think on this first hike I just felt so overwhelmed by the fact that I really made it that snapping photos was more of an afterthought. Still though, I took a couple HUNDRED I think so no worries seeing what I went through today. Just dont expect any awards for them or anything. I will try and get those posted sometime soon after I go through them a little bit.

OK, thats all for now guys, I will report back again soon so wish me luck on my coming hikes and I will talk to you again in a few days. (I will try and get some photos up before then but no promises, sorry. By for now...

Song of the moment is called "Chimeras" by Tim Hecker, it is hauntingly beautiful song that has put my mind at ease more than once while out here and is highly recommended.

Also, the album I found myself listening to while hiking today is called "Plays Pajama Pop Pour Vous" by Lullatone and is really really beautiful and simple. I think it has got to be the most perfect album ever made for waking up in the morning...

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