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EXTREME HIKING: Angels Landing

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Look, we’re not hiking gurus. In fact, we’ve only hiked together a handful of times. Lone Pine Peak and Cowles Mountain are the only two that even come to mind, why? Because hiking just doesn’t do it for BOTH of us. Brandon is more gung ho about climbing large land masses practically naked with just a sleeping bag, where I (Jules) would rather helicopter Jame’s Bond style arriving to a beautiful peak in the swiss alps where a glass of champs and live music awaits me. So, why did we choose to hike Angels Landing? Because it’s listed in almost every magazine, blog, newsletter and article as the top 10-20 “Most Dangerous Hikes in the World”. Not to mention, we were already there trying to score a permit to see the Emerald Pools at Subway (which is a whole other story for another time because THAT never happened).

Here’s a list of why you shouldn’t hike Angels Landing. But what is life without risk? BORING.

At the end of the day, yes, people have died (like, 6 people since 2004) and it’s definitely not for people who are terrified of heights. Let’s just say there were plenty of curious Georges hanging out on the sidelines in everyone’s way with their cheerleaders rooting them on to conquer the hardest thing they’ve ever done in their life. Good for them for taking that leap of faith OR shame on their friends for lying about the extremity of it, regardless, let’s talk about why you SHOULD. Because if you’re going to hike anything, it might as well be dangerous or breathtaking, right? Well, you’re in luck, because Angels Landing in Utah is both.


WHAT TO REMEMBER (especially if you’re hiking in the summer):

As the trail gets steeper and leaves behind a river, it becomes paved. After a series of steep switchbacks, the trail goes through the area between Angels Landing and the Zion Canyon that is a gradual ascent. Walter’s Wiggles, a series of 21 steep switchbacks, are the last hurdle before Scout Lookout. Scout Lookout is generally the turnaround point for those who are unwilling to make the final summit push to the top of Angels Landing. The last half-mile of the trail is the fun part! This can be strenuous for most and littered with sharp drop offs and narrow paths. Chains to grip are provided for portions of the last half-mile to the top at 5,790 feet. <— that last paragraph was totally taken from Wikipedia because who’s taking notes when you think you’re about to die? Moving forward, be the know with the following 6 pointers:

  1. Soak your clothes. Yes, you read that right. Head over to the fountain where the bus drops everyone off (because you can’t just park there) and get your clothes wet. It’s going to evaporate anyway like an hour in, but you need to know that this hike doesn’t really have any shade and this little trick was a LIFESAVER. With that said:
  2. Bring plenty of water/hat, etc. I can’t tell you how many people didn’t have enough water and were asking people for water who were on the way down. Mindboggling.
  3. Try heading out no earlier than 8am and no later than 1pm. If you’re too early or too late you’ll arrive on top with both valleys masked by the shadows from the mountains. While it can be beautiful and less crowded, I would recommend you leave wisely if you want that postcard shot.
  4. Try not to go to the bathroom. Imagine hundreds of people a day climbing a mountain with the same entrance and exit. It’s gross, and all the Rangers seem to gripe about it. Yes, there’s a porta-potty half way up, but if you can breathe you’ll probably throw up. I tried, failed, and got creative.
  5. Bring food. Look, apparently, it’s about 5 hours there and back. Especially if you’re out of shape, scared, or you’re trying to get footage for Spielberg’s next big hit. Personally, it took us 2.5 hours and we took .5 to just hang out on top and have a late snack and feed the squirrels (that are so cute at the end of our video). So I would plan for 3-4 hrs.
  6. Don’t be a jerk or a bad parent. It’s common courtesy to let people pass you if you’re slow or through a path first when coming down. This hike is sketchy and there are LOTS of narrow paths that are shared between hikers coming up and down. Be courteous, and if you’re a parent, assess your kids. This is NOT a hike for a squirmish unruly fam bam. We’re not saying they’ll die, but your probability of them falling to their death will go WAY up.

There’s little things here or there to note but in all honesty it really is a fun hike. It’s just enough in all the right ways: suspense, longevity, and overall accomplishment. We actually did this hike right after we hiked The Narrows. I would recommend doing it by itself, but we definitely proved you can hit Zion National Park’s top attractions in just one day. #goals? Till our next post, enjoy: