You may remember that a few months ago I came to the end of my 101 in 1001 list. The 101 in 1001 is a list I made about three years ago of 101 things I wanted to do or accomplish in the next 1001 days. It’s a bucket list for people who fear commitment and/or buckets.
Upon finishing my 101 in 1001 list, I sat down and made another one, because the only thing I like more than self-reflection is lists. On this list, I wrote “Hike Angel’s Landing.”
What is Angel’s Landing, you may ask? Angel’s Landing is a legen1dary trail in Zions National Park that offers a startling rise in elevation, a precariously narrow trail that involves scrambling on narrow red rock fins, and what I had been told was a very worthwhile view.
I completely forgot I put this hike on my 101 in 1001 list until my family arrived in Zions National Park last week and were discussing trails we could take. It was my dad who mentioned Angel’s Landing, and I said I had always wanted to and they should do it with me. Cajoled, may be the best word. I cajoled my family into hiking it with me.
And the fools followed me blindly.
We were not prepared for Angel’s Landing.
We moseyed over to the trail head about ten in the morning and were greeted by a sign warning that since 2004, six people have died on the trail. We shrugged that off. “They must have been stupid, or hiking in a blizzard, or died from a lightning strike or a random but vicious squirrel attack,” we thought. Surely no trail would claim the lives of innocent hikers who brought proper hydration and sturdy shoes. And so we began casually climbing with no notion of what waited for us on the last mile of the trail.
This. This is what waited for us:
Yes, that is a trail. A trail they let any old moron hike on.
Friends, I consider myself a pretty good hiker, but this trail was hard. And steep. And involved rock scrambling and chain holding and clinging to slick rock canyon walls like a gecko. I also consider myself pretty fearless, and while I wouldn’t say I was afraid on this trail, I was, shall we say, very aware of my own mortality as I peered over the edge at the thousand-foot fall waiting for me if I miss stepped2.
But the view at the top…not to wax poetic, but this was a super ultra mega awesome view.
However, much like the rest of the trail, the ledge on which you soak in said view is both narrow and thousands of feet off the ground, so my dad’s parent instincts came out in full force as we walked along it. He kept a tight hold on the MT and my collars, resulting in us ending up like those leashed children at Disney World that keep scrambling for a better look only to be jerked backwards by anxious parents. The anxiety was merited. It was a long way to fall.
By the time we reached the bottom and were again by the “six people have died” sign, we had an entirely different attitude. As we walked away, my dad murmured under his breath, “Only six3?”
But Angel’s Landing has been hiked. It has been conquered. It has been crossed off the 101 and 1001 list.
- Wait for it.
- Hiking is significantly less fun when you’re pondering your own mortality the whole time.
- It is a remarkable low figure when you consider how many college-aged boys riding a spring break high and trying to show off for their friends hike it. Also boy scouts.