Saturday, June 13, 2015

Angel's Landing, June 6th, 2015

I moved to southern Utah ten years ago, almost to the day. I am an awfully ignorant fellow, and had never heard of Angel's Landing. It is sort of a rite of passage to locals, and I understand why this is so. I have gone up it repeatedly, but never made it past Scout's Landing before.The journey is short, merely an afternoon's hike. The end is the hard part.
To get there you can drive in or take a bus, and then, crossing a bridge, you take the right-hand of the path. A long, paved path comprises the majority of the journey, and on Saturday it was inundated with people from all over the world. It is a narrow path that cuts into the mountain, curves northward into a gulley, and scales the side with multiple switch-backs. A short, intense set of them is named "Walter's Wiggles"; a disarmingly lighthearted moniker, given their intense grading. At the apex you're dumped onto a dirt path, which goes from dirt to angled sandstone, and this is where the fun really begins. I cannot emphasize enough the need for good, grippy footwear. The sandstone is often covered in a fine layer of loose sand, and it is very easy to lose footing. In several spots there is a chain that you can grab onto for support, but with so many people in the path it was very easy to form traffic jams. There are many spots where using the chain is actually counter-productive; and in those places it is better to scale the rock face with fingers and toes. To complete the path all the way to Angel's Landing, there is a very narrow, vertical land bridge that requires strong legs and decent endurance. Notably there are spots along this path that really demand upper-body strength to scale.

Of note, I am normally terrified of heights, but I deceived myself with a little narrative: "I'm just a rat on a staircase in a big mansion. Yes, just a rodent looking for crumbs on the stairs." It really worked at helping me obviate fear.

I would like to thank Brian Heritage for joining me on this adventure. He definitely helped keep the mood elevated.

That narrow land-bridge is absurd.

Note the perspective drop on the left.

Brian is courageous, but a little crazy.

Acoustics here were excellent.

My grimace needs work.

The wildlife is extremely fat and tame.

That peak is the goal.

Very close to the edge.

Nailed it.

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