Sunday, May 16, 2010

Angels Landing :: The Prelude

Hidden amongst the shadows of the morning light, the trail winds its way along the Zion Canyon Valley, up that “short” wall on the left, through Refrigerator Canyon, up to the West Rim and on towards Angels Landing (the top of that center peak).

Actually, even in the full light of day, the trail is discernible from ground level only in a few places (like that diagonal “line” towards the top of the short wall).

Heartbreak hill. That's what I called this steep section nearly a mile into the trail. It's that “diagonal line” shown in the previous photo. And it seems like it will never end. And what's around the corner? Why, yet another steep section!

As you can see, the trail is paved though it isn't exactly like a walk in the park. In some sections the pavement is much rougher than in others. It is uphill all the way, some portions are quite steep with sharp drop-offs. In most places the trail is at least three feet wide so there is plenty of room for faster hikers to easily pass the slower ones (like me).

Taken on the way back down, this shows the switchbacks that had to be navigated before getting to the steep section shown in the previous photo.

The trail weaves its way though the Zion Canyon Valley. Looking back towards the start of the trail on the other side of the river (photo taken on the way back down).

Once into Refrigerator Canyon, the trail does level out somewhat for a short distance. Enough to give your legs and lungs a break. Then onward and upward.

After nearly a mile through Refrigerator Canyon, you get to Walter's Wiggles, comprised of 21 short but very steep switchbacks and named after Walter Ruesch, the first superintendent of Zion National Park. In 1924, he helped design and engineer these switchbacks. (Photo taken on the way back down.)

Ascending the last of Walter's Wiggles you arrive at a broad area called Scout Lookout. There is more to come, and believe it or not, the easiest part is behind you!

To be continued... Angels Landing :: The Overture

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