There is just something special about Zion National Park. It’s a feeling. A zone. It’s Utah’s most visited NP for a reason. Most places in this world I would be happy to see just once, but my much awaited return to Zion consumed me for years.
Early October I knew would be the perfect mix of chilly mornings & scorching day hiking. Just the way I like it. The key was to figure out the new post COVID shuttle ticket game and get early starts. I had 2 days allotted in my packed itinerary and I was going to capitalize. And I purposely waited for weekdays to explore & have some reprieve from the swarms of tourists. The timing did help but this year many people had the same idea that I did for an extended roadtrip to return to some type of normalcy.
I arrived in the town of Springdale to scope out my plan on a Sunday night. Since lodging close by was way out of my price range, I found a cozy spot to car camp for my 2 nights & go unnoticed, while still feeling safe with phone reception, street lighting & next door to some amazing local treats. (If you want to know my hideout, pm me)
I was at the Zion visitor center by 7am each day since it fills up ridiculously early & you don’t want to extend your long hiking days by hoofing it from town too. The shuttle was seamless & I was beaming ear to ear once I stepped onto the trail for 2.5 miles gaining 1488’ in elevation. And I had almost forgotten that only a mere .3 mile on the sandy, flat trail leading to the behemoth climb ahead, I fell flat on my face. Yep. For no reason. My left shin is bleeding and not even a rock in my path. WTF? Only me. Nevertheless, I resumed.
The switchbacks were tough but easily doable with a slow & steady pace. Half the hikers had masks on during the tight corners & most were friendly and encouraging. The path to Scouts Lookout flew by & I was so happy just trudging along in this picturesque playground. Most people took a pit stop to enjoy the views but I had a higher goal in mind. The chain ropes leading to Angels Landing had just opened the week prior & I was very fortunate to have this opportunity to fulfill a dream.
I left my hiking poles in the bushes & reached for the precarious chains to take me to the “top of the world” while there was a break in the crowds. Two way traffic doesn’t work so well on the cliff of a mountain. For once, I focused on one foot in front of the other with precision and care. No mess ups on this route. Sweat on my brow beaded up quickly from both the temperature & sheer fear. Exhilarating to say the least. Encouragements were given & received freely, while we slowly scoured over rocks & conquered our fears head on.
That last step upon reaching the summit was surreal. Truly a feat for the highlight reel. Baby steps along the ledge led to a flat rock where I could simply sit for an hour to enjoy the serenity, feel the fresh breeze, basque in the magnificent views & dig into my lunch of hummus & crackers.
The trek back down I felt like I was walking on the clouds. Light as a feather. Refreshed in every sense of the word…..and I almost turned around to conquer it again!
#onceinalifetime #dreamsdocometrue #earnedit #sayyestoadventure