Zion National Park

As with Arches, I had unfinished business at Zion. I skipped the Angels Landing hike last year and was determined to complete it this year.

Lets back up… before I left I contacted Lisa, an old college friend, that I have kept in touch with over the years. I let her know I would be heading out West and not too far from her home in Las Vegas, NV where she lives. Zion was only 2.5 hours from Vegas so it would make for a beautiful and convenient meeting place. As I was heading out west I heard (in Iowa) that she would be joining me at Zion! I replied that this was the happiest I have ever been in Iowa. =)

As I did last year I stopped in Panguitch, UT to stay at the Canyon Lodge motel and do laundry. The owners of the Canyon Lodge are great people and really nice. They also have updated their rooms and are quite nice.

I wanted pizza and they pointed me towards C Stop Pizza and Deli. I had the Hawaiian pizza. It felt good to eat a lot of food after a long day and thow a few pieces in my cooler for the next day.

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I arrived at Zion early to get a parking spot near the visitors center and Lisa was to meet me later in the morning. I wanted to do some shopping at the visitor’s center, make some coffee and organize my backpack. She arrived around 10:30am (oops time change!) and we were on our way to Angels Landing. It really was so nice to see her again and we spent the time hiking up the mountain catching up and enjoying each others company. We both are shy of the camera so… we regretfully only came out with one picture of the both of us at the park.

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Though it has been 18 years it still seemed as we were the same silly people who knew each other back in school at Saginaw Valley State University. I could not find her when she arrived at the park and I called to find out where she was standing. She said “I’m outside the visitor’s center with a walking stick.” I looked around and EVERYONE had a walking stick. I knew at that moment that we were going to have some fun as that might be a joke I might play on someone.

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Photo of Lisa and I while we attended SVSU (18 years ago!)

We hiked together for about 2 miles and enjoyed some great views while climbing out of the canyon. I also shared with her my desire (if I died) to tell my mom some grand story about my death. You know… died fighting a bear or fell off a huge mountain.

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We eventually arrived at the chains section. As we started I somehow lost Lisa! I waited for about 20 minutes and thought well… she either fell off the mountain or went back to Scouts Landing where many people stop. Since I didn’t see any worried hikers or screaming I figured she was fine and I continued on my way.

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The view of the final half mile is a really great sight. Basically you will have to hike up the spine of the mountain below.

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As you can see from the pictures there are not that many trees or opportunities to take a rest. It was the middle of the day and we were in southern Utah in July so it was very hot. I took a number of breaks ascending the mountain as I felt like I was about to faint a few times. I really am a weakling when it comes to altitude. This is unfortunate because it really limits me at times in some parks.

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The final push!

As with every national park people are friendly and more than willing to take your picture if you are alone. I met a number of people just taking a break or patiently waiting for people going the opposite way to pass. I had originally wanted to go first thing in the morning to avoid the heat but heading up later in the morning meant less traffic on the chains.

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I finally made it!

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I finally made it to the top and couldn’t believe how high I climbed that day. The valley and mountains were beautiful. I compared the top of Angel’s Landing to walking on a roof as the sides were slanted towards the cliff face.

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You can see the road 1500 feet below.

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Heading down was a lot easier than pulling and climbing up. I quickly navigated my way back to Scouts Landing where I found Lisa. Yay! She didn’t fall off the mountain!

We started our way down the mountain and what I thought was going to be an easy stroll turned into me complaining about my knees. Am I really that old?!?

 

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These 28 switchbacks are called Walters Wiggles.

After hiking down the mountain we stopped to soak our feet in the Virgin River before heading back to the visitor’s center. The water felt so great on my feet. A lot of other hikers had the same idea and trickled in and out after their hikes. I had swam in this river the previous year when doing the Narrows hike. It is cold but refreshing.

We were staying at the Best Western Plus about 30 minutes west of the park in La Verkin, UT. It was a very nice hotel with a nice pool and breakfast in the morning. On the way to the hotel we saw (from separate cars) a really cool sunset. I wanted to stop to take a picture but didn’t want to hold us up (once again) to take another picture.

We were hungry and it was already 9pm so we went to drive around and find some food. We stumbled into the Stagecoach Grille. We asked if they would be open and they were more than happy to seat us for dinner. The food and staff were excellent and I could see why the place was packed. The owner came over, bought us another beer and was telling us how he had bought a barn and then used it to incorporate into the design on the restaurant.

The owner had lived all over the world but decided to settle in the area after he fell in love. He also was bragging about how many of his employees are dating or already have been married. He seemed like an amateur matchmaker. He had done a great job of attracting tourists as well as locals. I would definitely recommend eating here if you are in the area. I laughed when in using the men’s room I saw a sign that said “Hell Yes You Can Leave the Seat Up!”

After we left we went back to the hotel and had a nice night of talking and resting from the hard day of hiking. It was nice to see Lisa get a break from working so much, raising children and finally have some time for herself. She looked so happy and I realized after hanging out with her that day that I really would like to spend some more time with her in the near future. =)

The next day we had breakfast and Lisa was back on the road to Las Vegas and I was on my way to California and Sequoia National Park!

To be continued!

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