Breathtaking vistas and beautiful backcountry trails are the things Zion National Park is known for. When in fact it is actually an extremely crowded place that has nearly zero available parking spaces for visitors. The signs and brochures had warned us. Park your car in the nearest town and a shuttle bus will bring you in. We, being stupid people, opted for the latter and drove in anyways. Luckily we were able to find the overflow parking that's in the campground and walk to the visitor center tram from there.
Want to see the park? Get your ass in line and enjoy a ride on the tram. They leave every 5 minutes and stay on a tight schedule.
The northern section of the park is off limits to personal vehicle travel. What we thought would be a hassle ended up being the best park transit system I've seen.
Our first walk of the day was a lazy 2.2 mile round trip walk to the Temple of Sinawava. This easy paved path lead us to where the canyons narrow and hiking becomes a trip upstream. Don't want to get your feet wet? Turn around and put your butt back on the tram. We glanced at the trail map and decided on Angel's landing. Looked like fun.
And fun it was. This out and back trail was marked as strenuous because of it's 1,488 feet elevation gain in just 2.7 miles. It was a personal mission of ours to hit the hike with a good pace. Eli is holding down the fort at home and I'm sure he doesn't want to be locked up all day. Then I got a glimpse at the entrance sign and started thinking about where we were really going.
Yep. The sign says people die here. But only seven in the last 14 years? That doesn't sound bad when you take into account how many people go there. See that line of trees in between the mountains? That's a sandstone spine that is 1,400 feet to the ground. It's a shear drop if you step off the path. Oh, and by path I mean some old metal pipe with chains bolted to it so you can have something to hang onto. It's not really that big of a deal. The chains are only in places where the trail is less than 5 feet wide so you don't plummet off the cliff when the wind blows hard... like today. Guess I should hand on tight.
I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start off with the switchbacks on the way up the hill. The backdrop of the canyon is breathtaking. We are getting a good burn and have set a pretty quick pace to make it up the hill.
This is the view from the top of the spine. Take a look at the video below and you'll see what we had to traverse in order to make it. There were a few moments when things got a little tense. Passing people by letting go of the safety chain can wreck your nerves, especially when your foot slips just a couple of inches on the slick sandstone rock. At the 2:09 mark in the video you will see us directly in the middle of the spine. On either side is the shear 1/8 mile drop down. I think I peed a little...
About 25 feet wide here. No chains, no level path. Just don't slip and fall over, or you die.
Today turned out to be something great. Our unexpected plan to take on a trail ranked in the top 10 most dangerous hike in the US paid off. This will be one of those days I'll never forget. This is why we travel. This is why we live on the road.