Tag Archives: high altitude

In the Shadow of the Great White Throne

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The morning, I intended to wake up early to catch the sunrise. I didn’t realize how tired I was from all the hiking I did the day before until I slept through my alarm and woke to dawn breaking. I hurried over to Kolob Canyon and made the quick walk down the Timber Creek Trail to a great overlook where I could watch the rest of the sun peaking out over distant horizons.  From this overlooks, not only could I see the main body of the Kolob Canyons but the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was also right out there.

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After some relaxation I headed back to Zion in full light to tackle the one thing everyone recommended to me, Angel’s Landing. After Observation Point, where you can actually look down on Angel’s Landing, I wondering if it would be worth it. But then I just did it because it’s not just the destination, but the hike itself it supposed to be great.

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I found an ostrich farm!

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The Court of the Patriarchs.

And it was. Great and brutal. Insane switchbacks to start, literally crawling up the side of a canyon wall, then level ground for less than a mile before another crazy set of switchbacks called “Walter’s wiggles.” Those were tough; I could finally feel the elevation change getting to me, having come here to hike above 5,000 feet when only two days before I was breathing so much more oxygen at sea level. My tired muscles from the day before were crying and my heart was pumping, but I finally made it to the last half mile, the infamous sandstone ridge where mere feet, sometimes inches, of rock lie on either side of the trail before a thousand foot drop. I loved this part!  Though a chain was installed for the whole half mile, I only used it a couple times to hold onto while letting people pass in the opposite direction. I just scrambled the whole way. I don’t think a lot of people realize how much easier it is if you use your hands and feet! You have to get close to the ground, lower your center of gravity, and climb along and it is so much more fun! There were a lot of people who seemed very scared or stressed and were only continuing along because their friends or family wanted to continue. There were also just a lot of people in general, so many more than I saw on the Observation Point Trail. This is where all the tourists must go! I must have passed by or seen around one or two hundred people in only a few hours. There was no such thing as privacy.

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Angel’s Landing rock seen from the beginning of the trail.

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After the first set of switchbacks.

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Walter’s wiggles. AKA death. 

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But the end destination was worth it! Unlike the day before, Wednesday was sunny and bright! The canyon below was lit up in beautiful hues and you could look up and truly feel like you’re in the shadow of the Great White Throne, the canyon formation that contributed to Angel’s Landing’s name. A minister who came up to this rock imagined this is the place where angels visiting from heaven would come to land on Earth, in this shadow.

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Made it to the top!

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And the other side!

When I finally descended back to level ground, I was beyond exhausted. I decided to walk down the Riverside Walk just to stretch my legs out on level ground before jumping back into the car to head over to my next stop, Coral Pink Sand Dunes. On my way out of Zion, I stopped by the biggest of many rock and mineral shops on the main road in Springdale. They had some awesome stuff! I got a couple gifts for people, agate slices and geodes you can break open yourself, and then a little stone dinosaur for myself. Such a success! The drive out of Zion too, through the Mt. Carmel/Route 9 tunnel, was great. The other side of the tunnel, while still part of Zion National Park, has such a different landscape. It was all beautiful.

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Timer Creek Overlook Trail

0.8 miles, slight elevation gain, 1 hour

Angel’s Landing

5 miles, 1,488 feet elevation gain, 3 hours

Riverside Walk

2 miles, very slight elevation change, 1 hour