Sunday, April 22, 2007

Scout's Lookout/Angels Landing. Zion NP

This is the second most popular hike in the park, after the narrows. Scout's lookout is at 1'000' and has great views of some of the canyon, and if you dare, Angels landing climbs another 500' and out into Big Bend for some of the most spectacular views (or so I hear ;( of the canyon.
The hike to S'sL takes you up two sets of switchbacks with the second being the infamous "Walters Wiggles". WWs are 21 short and steep swithbacks up the side of refridgerator canyon, cut into the natural slope of the only cliff wall that would support a trail. I am guessing they climb a good 300'. At the top you enter a small plateu that is the lookout. Lots of folks spread out and having lunch, taking in the views.
One of the views would be of the hikers brave enough to venture out towards Angels Landing. I thought that maybe I was in the latter category, so I gave it a whirl. WHOA! A few hundred yards out and I got some serious stage fright and had to crawl back in. It took nearly half the hike back down from the lookout before my heart rate returned to normal ;').
So. To get to the summit of Angels Landing requires that you climb over a smaller summit that is sheer and has no real trail (just chains to hold on to) to a natural bridge of sorts. That would just be a ridge that drops down before reaching the foot of the real summit at 1,000'. Until you get across the bridge, you are on a ridge that varies from a couple of yards ot maybe 15 feet in width, with a 1,000 drop on either side! Chains are set in various locations to help steady yourself, since there is no carved trail. You just use the various surfaces to somehow manuever across. I reached the halfway point of the bridge, sat down on the biggest flat surface there was (to allow my knees to settle from the shakes...), and surveyed it all. Good Giggly Wiggly, what have I gotten myself into! As hard as I tried, it was impossible to not look down, since the ridgeline slanted that ways... I tried desperately to control my imagination and erase the images that kept popping up of the "big slide"! So, I focus on Angels Landing and the hikers that had managed to make it that far. OH NO! The 500' climb/descent was near vertical, again with no real trail and just the chains to control your momentum! I watched some poor soul descending, and he was nearly in mid air, hanging onto the chains, searching for his next foothold! 30 seconds and he takes a step, then starts the whole process again.
Naw, I don't think this is gonna be fun. OK, that is decided. Now, how to get back?! By now, the anxiety and adreneline are running in full gear, and I am starting to feel the first signs of a true panic attack :. I know I have to get back before I freeze up and can't move. So, half crawling and walking I scurry back to the first summit and a spot where I actually have a good ten feet of level ground around me. Whew! Oh. Now I have to go over this next one before I reach the security of Scouts Lookout! I stayed focused eye level and got te heavy lifting done and found a nice solid, sturdy spot to take a seat, well away from the edge :').
Glad that I gave it a whirl. I have a long ways to go in training before I can manage half-dome, and this was definitely setting the bar way too high. Now I know that and will take more gradual steps...

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