Hiking Angel’s Landing
The Solo Female’s Guide
A Female’s Guide to Hiking Angel’s Landing
Angels Landing in Zion National Park, is considered one of the top ten most dangerous hikes in the world. There are actual survival guides made for this 5.4 mile hike. According to the Springdale Visitor Center, this is one of the most inquired hikes, second only to The Narrows. The brave are eager and ready to take it on, while the unsure, question stability and search for excuses about the weather, or other concerns for safety. Then, there are those whom I appreciate the most, simply for knowing themselves. They are the ones that squeal and shutter at the thought. They are the ones that look at you like you are crazy when you say you have hiked Angels Landing; these are the people that let fear win. Angels Landing is a towering 5,790 feet above sea level, but the scenic view is well worth the switchback hike up the face of the mountain.
This is a hike you want to start as early as possible, the times vary depending on the season you visit Zion National Park, but get on the first shuttle up the canyon, the crowds are not an obstacle you want to deal with on Angels Landing. You’ll ride to stop “Six -The Grotto”, on the Zion National Park Shuttle System. Make sure to pay attention to your surroundings while riding the shuttle through the main canyon. It is absolutely breathtaking and you don’t want to miss anything. Best part is, the shuttle is free! Leaving from the Visitor Center it is about a thirty minute ride to The Grotto, which gave me time to ponder what I was actually about to do. Is this hike worth the risk? I asked myself. However, my confidence comes from a place of preparation and mindfulness. I was as prepared as one can be for a hike of this nature. With my Patagonia backpack, snacks, a three liter bladder full of water, and a headlamp I was ready to go. Hiking-boots tied tight, hair braided, and camera at the ready, I started my ascent.
Walking briskly, it was not so bad at first. I reached Walters Wiggles, the snake like backbone of this hike. These switchbacks soar into the sky in a rather intimidating manner, but onward nonetheless. After the last wiggle, you reach a clearing, Scouts Lookout, it’s a beautiful view, safely away from the edge, unless you dare otherwise. This is a popular spot for those feeling they have fulfilled their level of adventure, but for those hungry for more, the climb continues. The views become more spectacular with each peak conquered, and soon the chains appeared; a dreaded section for most. Here you must cross a ridge to the summit to finish the hike, and because of its narrow nature, you must hold onto the chains put in place for safety. These chains are also the reason I recommend the early start, because it gets so crowded people have to wait for oncoming traffic, or dare to let the chains go and pass the other hiker. Up you go, breathing, staying mindful, being in the moment, taking in every whip of wind, searching for your next safe step. A calm comes over you, an assurance that this adventure called you here, and that you alone are here because of your will.
When I finally reached the top I was in awe. The view was worth every dread of a misplaced step. Every thought of doubt. and every heavy breath. Soon after reaching the top a feeling of empowerment spread through me. I take a look, almost 1,500 feet below me; Zion Canyon humbly looks but a small crack in the Earth from so far up. I take the deepest breath I’ve taken all morning. I take in the fresh smell of accomplishment and let it nourish my body.
Angels Landing is more than just a scenic view, it’s a test that only the bold will conquer. I finally understood the name, Angels Landing. In 1916 Frederick Vining Fisher said, '“the only way to get up to the peak was to be an Angel”. With that on my mind suddenly, the landscape seemed even more beautiful and fulfilling than before. Rejuvenated by the energy of the hike, I was bursting with pride and joy and I rode that high throughout the decent and for the rest of the day.