Walk completed August 28, 2011

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Angel's Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

Angel's Landing
 With the approach of Halloween, I thought it wise to enlist an angel for protection from ghoulies and ghosties, and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night. And where better to recruit an angel for that purpose than Angel’s Landing in Utah’s Zion National Park.

The primary rock of Zion Canyon is sandstone deposited millions of years ago by winds when the area was similar to the present-day Sahara, and then buried by ancient seas whose sediments reacted with the sand turning it to stone.  Much of the sandstone has eroded away, and what remains has unusual shapes.  Angel’s Landing is a narrow fin of sandstone rising some 1800 feet above the floor of Zion Canyon. A 2½ mile trail leads to the summit.

The trail starts innocently enough as a wide footpath of moderate grade, providing sweeping views of Zion Canyon as elevation increases. 

Refrigerator Canyon

The trail then enters a narrow riparian slot commonly known as Refrigerator Canyon due to its decided drop in temperature. From there, rapid elevation gain is achieved by a series of tight switchbacks known as Walter’s Wiggles, emerging at a saddle known as Scout’s Lookout. Beyond the saddle, a narrow, treacherous route steeply ascends the arête to the highest ridge where angels are said to land.

Angels can be difficult to find, so it’s always a good idea to have some help when trying to recruit one. My help took the form of my wife, Janet, and our two English friends, George and Ann. I knew that George and Ann would be up to the task, because they had previously helped with some of the End to End logistics, and are planning to walk with me a bit in England to be sure that I don’t get lost among the pubs. Janet has quietly followed me around the world, usually putting up with every crazy adventure I’ve conceived, but she has put her foot down when it comes to walking across islands or climbing towards heaven on narrow ridges in search of angels.

As George and I set off alone up the arête, cheers of enthusiastic support came from Janet and Ann. “Did you leave the car key?” “Is your life insurance paid?”

View from the Top
 Undaunted, George and I proved our testosterone by ascending ever higher along the precipitous route. We imagined ourselves scaling Mt. Everest as we scrambled over areas where even the slightest slip would hurl us to our doom. What valiant souls we were, risking our very lives for the chance to meet with an angel. Higher and higher we climbed – at nearly 5,800 feet, we were far above the highest peak in Britain. Gasping for oxygen in the thin air, we passed over the final ledge to the top. But there were no angels. They had obviously been scared away by the dozens of people having lunch on the summit: old people, young people with small children, fat people, thin people – every one of them oblivious to the sacrifice George and I had just made for the chance to find an angel.

Having failed to find an angel, George and I merely shrugged our shoulders, and descended back to Scout’s Lookout, concerned about the prospect of having to face the Halloween goblins alone.

No Angels on the Summit

© 2010 Ken Klug

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ken:
    It sounds like you are making great progress to being end-to-end ready for next summer.
    That's great to see!
    PS: I am getting new knees next summer, so I hope that more interesting walks will become available again - although I do not intend to match your lengthy endeavours.