I knew Camille wanted to hike (and, seriously, what else would you do there) and she wanted to tackle the most famous hikes in the park: Angels Landing and The Narrows. The Virgin River, which flows through the Narrows, was running fast and full of debris. The trail was closed (you hike that trail in the river) -- the river was four times higher than the "safe" volume. Angels Landing was open so I spent the weeks before our trip training -- long walks at lunch and climbing the hills behind our ranch in the evenings. Lots of yoga for strength and balance. And prayers that I could handle the steep drop-offs since I am not a fan of heights.
Friday, we arrived in Zion in the early evening. We dropped our bags and headed into the park. We managed two hikes before dark: The Emerald Pools and the Kayenta trail.
The sun cast long shadows on the rock, and it was cold in the shade, but it was so beautiful we hardly noticed.
Saturday, we ate a quick breakfast in our room and headed to Angels Landing.
The trail is divided into three sections.
The first section leads to the base of the cliff, and then climbs, on switchbacks carved into the rock, to a narrow canyon about a third of the way up.
I surprised both of us by handling the steep climb, and the drop-offs, fine. The trail was wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side, and I never looked down, over the edge. We took a couple pictures at the top, before walking through the canyon.
At the end of the canyon, there were more switchbacks. 21 steep, quick switchbacks, carved into the rock, and nick-named "Walter's Wiggles" after the ranger who carved the trail.
I made it to the top, with a short pause at every other turn. "You doing okay, Mom?" "Do you need a break?"
At the top of that section, there was a wide area of smooth boulders where people were sitting, eating their lunch, or waiting for their hiking partners to return from the last leg of the trail.
I stayed on the rocks and waited for Camille. The last section was narrow, with a chain embedded in the rock, along the narrow spine of rock that climbed and crossed to the Landing. She had to pull herself up, using the chain, in sections. Most people turned around. The trail required more upper body strength than leg power. I saw people returning, wearing leather gloves.
I rested near the warning sign that stated seven people had fallen to their deaths on the trail since 2004. We looked it up when we got back to our room, 15 people have fallen since the trail was created. Camille didn't take pictures along the way -- she had promised me that she would not take her hands off the chain. She hiked the last section with a young couple; the wife had done it before and she took a picture of Camille on the Landing.
Afterward, we hiked next to the Virgin River, to the mouth of the Narrows.
And we both slept like rocks that night.