Saturday, June 26, 2010

Angels Landing

Walter's Wiggles

Ever since I was a little girl, my mother has told us the adrenalin rush that one can get while hiking one of the toughest trails in Zion National Park, Angels Landing. Since the trail opened in 1926, nine people have fallen to their death off of the dangerous trail. Six of these fatalities happened before we—my siblings and I—finally talked our mother into letting us hike this trail.

In our previous visit to Zion, we hiked the two-mile hike up the West Rim Trail, defeated the 21 switchbacks of “Walter’s Wiggles,” and arrived at the base of the Angels Landing trail. At the base of the trail, this sign awaits:

The first time we arrived at this point, my mother said, “Now is the time that we turn back.” My siblings and I complained, but both my parents remained firm and said that we were too young to take it. At the time, I was upset, but now I totally agree with my parents’ decision. This time, I noticed this sign:

Finally, on July 18, 2008, we were all old enough to convince our parents to go. Here is a word of advise to people who plan on taking this trail in the future, make sure you wake up at 6:30 in the morning to start the West Rim Trail, so that you can make it onto Angels Landing before the sun gets really hot. Angels Landing does not have any shade on it, but it does have metal chains to help you climb up the trail. If you go too late in the day these metal chains become smoldering hot and forces you to make the decision between taking your chances walking across a one-foot trail, 1,000 feet above the ground, without hanging onto anything or grabbing on the chains while they burn and blister the palms of your hands.

The trail begins by climbing up this set of rocks:
Some of the chains were broken while we were there.

Then the trail dips downward onto the thinnest part of the trail before going back up into what’s known as “The Saddle.”

There are some fallen trees that block the pathway on the “upward” part of The Saddle. Those are difficult to maneuver over. Then, there is a giant tree that we chilled out at before continuing to the summit. From the summit, the trolley (that carries Zion visitors to the different trails) looks so tiny!

Here are some different views from the summit of Angels Landing.

A cool side story is that when my mother last hiked Angels Landing, she did it with her family and friend in the summer of 1979. When she was up there, she carved her name in the giant rock that makes up the summit. When we got up there in the summer of 2008, it was still there. Can you see the “Lori R” in the picture?

So, that was my experience hiking Angels Landing. I highly recommend this trail to teens and adults. It is such an exhilarating experience. It’s great for the true EXTREME ADVINTURERS out there.

Until next time!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Donut Falls

As I’ve stated before, one of the items on my Bucket List includes standing under a waterfall. I’ve seen numerous movies where it makes standing under a waterfall look fun, adventurous, and attractive. I can tell you, from experience, that the latter probably isn’t true.

In October of 2007, I went hiking the Donut Falls Trail. The trail was somewhat strenuous and steeply uphill. I admit that my friend and I got tired of the trail and went off trail, following the sound of rushing water. After a few minutes, we arrived at the “donut” we climbed up these steep rocks

in order to sit at the edge of this Donut.

Here is me sitting at the edge.

Underneath this donut is a cave where the waterfall comes down. My friend dipped his hand in the water and told me that it was way too cold to do something as “stupid” as standing under the freezing waterfall. I—being the adventurous person I am—took my cell phone out of my pocket, removed my sweatshirt, and stood right under the waterfall. It was the coldest water I ever felt. You know when you groggily climb into the shower on a bitterly cold, winter’s morning, turn the shower on, and forget to move out of the way before the rush of cold water shoots through the showerhead instantly removing any piece of sleepiness from your body? Imagine that feeling—the feeling of the bitter cold piercing through your skin; your joints freeze and if you’re unfortunate enough to have your head under the water, it’s an instant brain freeze. Hold those feelings in your mind and then imagine if instead of the light flow from your showerhead, it is shooting down on top of you, as if it were coming from a Jacuzzi jet on it’s highest setting. This is what standing under a waterfall feels like. I stood under it for only about thirteen seconds before I couldn’t take anymore. All I felt was a bone chilling cold sweep over me. My t-shirt was so wet and cold that the goose bumps covered every inch of my exposed skin. My jeans felt like a thirty-pound block of ice clinging to my legs. I was grateful that I had a dry sweatshirt to pull over my cold, drenched clothes. It took about ten minutes before my brain freeze alleviated, probably made more difficult by my water-soaked hair.

So that’s my experience of standing under a waterfall. I would definitely recommend it to my fellow extreme adventurers, but make sure that you have something dry and warm to put on soon afterwards. Hypothermia can set in very quickly.

Until next time!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dog Lake

To all my readers, if you are truly out there, I’m truly sorry for not posting last week. Things were just extremely crazy for me. Anywho, I’m hoping to redeem myself this week by telling ya’ll about one of my favorite hiking places in Utah. Up in the very top of Millcreek Canyon, lies a trail that is a family favorite. It’s none other than Dog Lake. I’m not sure how old I was when my family made it a tradition to go up there a couple of times a week. I’m pretty sure it was after we caught the hiking bug in Zion. This trail is about a 3.5 mile hike. Every other day horses, dogs, and bikes are allowed on the trail, though I’ve never brought a dog, nor ridden a horse or bike on the trail.

The trail is somewhat strenuous, due to the steepness of the trail. Parts of the trail are covered in lots or rock, after a lot of uphill hiking; one hits a steep, decline this means your almost there! Dog Lake is a beautiful lake with a nice, cool breeze flowing through it. One thing my siblings and I enjoy doing is collecting flat rocks on the way up, and then skipping them across the lake when we get up there. Utah is surrounded by beautiful mountains, and Millcreek Canyon is a great place to appreciate them.

My family tries to hike this trail at least once a year, if not more. My siblings and I enjoy racing up this trail with our parents close behind. This is the first trail that my family took with my sister-in-law, and when she enjoyed it as much as my family did, we all knew--more than ever--that she belonged in our family. The wildlife on this trail adds another element to it. There are often squirrels and chipmunks peeking down from the trees or darting across the trails. I can't emphasize how beautiful and well worth it this trail is. I highly recommend Dog Lake for a weekend hike!

Me at Dog Lake
(those are my brothers skipping rocks in the background)
Beautiful view from the trail