When your best friend lives cross-country you find yourselves constantly scheming regarding ways to see each other! This year, for our birthdays that lie approximately a week from apart, my best friend Sarah and I decided to pick a middle destination for a weekend birthday adventure! After tossing a few ideas back and forth, Sarah suggested Zion National Park and we soon ran away with planning. I’ve decided in the following post to detail and add insight to the two hikes, Angel’s Landing and The Narrows, which Sarah and I accomplished during our short trip to Zion.
I’d first heard about Angel’s Landing from my brother who had visited Zion a few months ago. He and a friend had nothing but amazing things to say about the hike and the views that it offered, however they cautioned about the last half mile of the hike that was not for the faint of heart. Angel’s Landing is a 5 mile hike that according to the official website takes an average of 5 hours. My brother completed the hike in two hours and it took Sarah and I just under 2.5 hours. Zion has shuttle buses that run ever few minutes that transports visitors to nine stops through the Park, with the total loop taking approximately 80 minutes. The trailhead for Angel’s Landing is at the 6th stop on the loop, Grotto Picnic Area. The trail is quite steep but the first two miles of the trail is well maintained, with a short reprieve at the one mile mark in Refrigerator Canyon where the trail levels out and smells like a Juniper candle. The canyon is followed shortly by a steep zigzag incline that eventually takes you to the last half mile, which lies across a narrow ridge, as seen in the picture above, that is frequented by anchored chains to assist in navigation of treacherous ledges, of which I held a two handed death grip for most of this last hike. There were several warnings along the route regarding deaths that had occurred during the hike, which added a level of caution with regard to where you were stepping. Overall, it was probably the most strenuous, and difficult hike I had ever endured with a spectacular payout that was well worth the exertion. Plus, hiking down was exponentially easier than the initial hike to the top!
On the second, and last day of our whirlwind trip Sarah and I did The Narrows. There are two ways to hike The Narrows, a Top Down (16 mile) hike that requires a permit and the Bottom Up hike where you can hike up stream from the Temple of Sinawava and turn around when you’re satisfied with your hike. The Narrows follows the Virgin River with steep cliffs on either side of you, as such you’ll spend most of your time hiking through water. Upon exiting the shuttle there is a mile paved hike before you reaching the beginning of The Narrows. The hike in general is very much weather dependent as flash floods are a risk. The day we went flash floods were probable which added a bit of anxiety, however we were careful to watch the weather. We rented walking sticks, neoprene socks and hiking shoes from Zion Adventure Company for $24 and it was well worth the investment. The shoes were sturdy in the rocky terrain and the walking stick was critical for keeping us upright. We watched many, many people struggling and falling that didn’t have the appropriate gear. We probably would have hiked as far as we did without the gear we had, having estimated that we hiked 5 miles over 6 hours during our exploration of The Narrows. We made it through Wall Street to the Pair Boulders before turning back, with the added luxury of escaping the crowds of tourists the farther we adventured. Overall, The Narrows hike was amazing, with every corner you turn more beautiful than the last. Make sure you do your homework on this hike because everyone has a different option on what to pack, gear to acquire, and how far to go. I can’t wait to come back and visit Zion again!
Sarah and I are already plotting our next Birthday Adventure! Where should we go?