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Utah Travel Headlines

Monday, June 13, 2005

Angels Landing in the Rain

In-laws in town wanted to see some of Utah’s best scenery and so I coerced them into hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park. It was classic. They read the description in the trail guide, but still had no concept of the emotions they would feel as they climbed the hogs back. My macho brother-in-law did pretty well going up but freaked a bit on the return trip.

The brochure describes Angles as a fairly short but intense hike with sheer cliffs and exposure. Those words don’t adequately paint the picture. You don’t really grasp what you’ve signed up for until your knuckles turn white because you are holding the chain so tight, trying to figure out where to put your feet, trying not to look down because you know you are climbing over rocks along a narrow trail where 1,330 foot cliff fall away on two sides, just a couple feet away.

Not a good place for someone scared of heights. But it is a thrilling hike and the view from the top is incredible. It’s actually not that difficult, physically. But it is emotionally difficult for some people.

It was pouring rain in Cedar City, as we drove down I-15 heading toward the park. The rain eased as we approached Hurricane and it was only sprinkling as we started to hike. A few lightning bolts lit up the sky and that worried me – you don’t want to be on Angels Landing in a thunderstorm. We figured we’d start the hike and evaluate when we reached Scout Point. Luckily, the sky cleared and we had ideal conditions.

By the time we returned the Virgin River was noticeable higher and muddier, from all the rain coming down up on Cedar Mountain. Large logs were floating downstream.

It’s still too early to hike the Narrows – another of my favorite initiation hikes for visitors. Another couple weeks and the flow should be down enough to challenge that classic route.

- Dave Webb


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