Angel's Landing is the most famous trail Zion National Park. It's a dangerous trail that leads to a 360 degree vantage point with steep thousand foot drop-offs on all sides. And we survived it by ... not doing it! Well, not completely true, we did the first 2/3 or so of the trail, and then substituted another trail that still had steep drop-offs and plenty of chances to die ... just not quite as imminently as Angel's Landing can offer. We're plucky and determined hikers, but we're not crazy, and didn't think the risk was worth it, especially since it's a heavily travelled trail and dangerous situations can arise from passing other people.
See that mountain up ahead - that's it. We started out at around 9 am, on March 18.
Looking back into Zion valley as we climb the first part of the trail. I liked the way those trees in the foreground lit up as the sun started climbing over the mountains.
You can see the trail snaking back down into the valley:
Already there are very steep drop-offs - the shrubbery on the right conceals it, but if you went over that edge, you are going to fall for a while! At least this part of the trail is really wide, lots of room to pass people safely.
I love rocks ...
Ed on some switchbacking trail. This is an old trail, dating back to the 1930's. They were a little more aggressive in carving out trails back in the day, I doubt they would develop a lot of these trails if making them today, partly to not have such an impact on the landscape, and partly for liability reasons - modern lawyers would never allow them!
This part of the trail is called "Walter's Wiggles", and is a set of 21 switchbacks that climbs a steep portion of mountains, hard to see them from below, but you can see another guy halfway up that gives you an idea of them.
You can see them a bit better looking down:
We made it to Scout's Landing - this is where the Angel's Landing portion of the trail leaves from, and this is where we chicken out (it was a planned chickening, I had researched it the night before and we decided it was too risky. If you want to see more of this trail, google Angel's Landing, there are some amazingly frightening photos online).
You can see some hikers setting out on this first part of the trail (below), where you have to scramble for footing while holding onto a chain. It doesn't look that scary in the photo, except that you have to pass people going the other way at the same time, and the photo doesn't show the 1000 foot drop-off that is just out of the right hand corner of the frame, obscured by bushes.
Here's what we are going to do instead - see, lots of steep cliffs and chances to die, but way less traffic and wider trails with no scrambling:
This is looking down from Scout's Landing at the departure point for Angel's Landing - I wasn't kidding about the drop-offs! Those are cars parked in that triangular part of road down there - it's a little further from the ground that I like to be on skinny, irregular trails.
Just some more beautiful rocks ...
A view of Angel's Landing from the trail we took instead (the West Rim trail):
These flowers were on almost every trail - I think they might be Indian Paintbrush?
Zion has some mountains called checkerboard mesas, after the pattern created from erosion:
Just some more interesting rocks:
Heading back down Walter's Wiggles - it would be steep without the switchbacks!
Parts of the trail hug a cliff ...
Back down at the bottom of the trail - here's another view in the mid-day light.