After a good night’s rest, we awoke bright-eyed and bushytailed ready to tackle the adventures of Zion (see previous post for the irony). We packed our bags and ambled toward the park’s shuttle service. Our first destination of two would be The Gateway of the Narrows.
Basically, this was a mile-long trail leading to a small river that wove its way through towering walls of rock on either side. The bottom was covered in river-smoothed stones topped with layers of algae just in case they weren’t already slippery enough; but it’s not like we slipped or anything, I mean, we’re all able-bodied athletes. But in the sake of fairness, if someone would have slipped I wouldn’t have judged them for it. This watercourse, though difficult at times to maneuver it, was worth all the work and wet clothes it required.
The second cry of our hearts was a place called Angel’s Landing. It was a 3.9 mile round trip hike that was steep, strenuous, and not recommended for those with a fear of heights. I took that description with a grain of salt.
We sailed through the first half of the climb. Though I admittedly am no fan of heights, I really had no problem with the hike. It was high, sure, but the path was safe and secure.
All that changed when I realized that the portion we’d been hiking was for grandparents, small children, and people with wooden legs. The real ascent to Angel’s Landing began with a precariously winding trail worn near the edge of the cliff-face. It didn’t even have steps or footholds, just small indentations in the rock perfect for losing your footing and plummeting over the side of the cliff into a rocky chasm hundreds of feet below. But I’m sure it was safe for the most part. That is until the chain handrails – the only things keeping bodies from painting Zion’s floor – were removed during the most hazardous portions of the course.
I went pretty far but had to call it quits on account of the dizziness I felt from realizing my life could be over in one false move. But Faro and Sipe like true national parkers continued to the very top of Angel’s Landing. I hear it’s the scariest/coolest thing in the history of May 22.
During my time watching them climb to the peak, while fighting off hyperventilation I discovered my new favorite sight of the trip. Four jurassic mountains of red sandstone stood aligned in the distance, each one in turn smaller than the last (would make a great snapshot on one of those AT&T commercials, you know, “More bars, more places). Beneath those cliffs ran a dark blue river in the midst of a lush green forest. It looked like something from another world.
We met some great people today. The field trip guide (whose group we crashed for a bit) who showed us the right places to navigate in the Narrows. The Asian lady who sat with me while we watched other people take their lives into their own hands while scaling the perilous pinnacles of Angel’s Landing. The silver-haired tour group with whom we had some good conversation. The guy with the bad knee who used to live in Las Vegas. Or even the dude from York.
But today’s highlight happened at dinnertime, or at least what should have been dinnertime. After a recent diet of granola bars, Doritos, Oreos, apples, and string cheese, we were ready for something substantial and warm. Remember that hotpot we bought at Target? Well, using the visitor center’s outlets, we boiled some water and made a rice dish and a pasta dish. Did I mention that this outlet was located in the one-person bathroom? Did I mention that while Faro and I were inside a lady flicked open the door only to mutter a hurried half-apology and spin away. Sipe right outside heard her say something about locking doors. It wasn’t much but it was warm.
We are on the road again. Almost ran out of gas again. We really got to work on that.
Tomorrow will be grand as we will be spending it hiking the Grand Canyon (come on, aren’t I allowed one cheesy joke every now and then?)
In closing, we all noticed today how friendly and kind people are when you’re on a hiking trail. So many smiles. Too many greetings and well wishes to count. It seems like people, once they get away from society, become these warm creatures they were intended to be. Everybody’s friends on a mountainside. With that in mind, this section of my nightly Wooden reading resonated with me: “People like to help, to be polite, to be considerate. I believe it’s basic to human nature. And it’s a funny thing: when you start displaying courtesy, politeness, and consideration, people start displaying them right back.” What a guy.
- JD and the boys
p.s. – (While talking to Park-Ranger-lady at the visitor center, I discovered that parking and sleeping inside a park after hours is an illegal, ticket-able offense. Who knew?)
p.p.s. (Don’t ask me the how or why but I thought I’d mention that today was the first day that we didn’t see my mom on the roadtrip. We’ve traveled halfway across America, going through three time zones, spanning six days, while hitting 10 different states. But I guess I had to cut the umbilical cord sooner or later and apparently four years of college 12 hours away didn’t do the trick.)