Angels Landing is a GoPro addict’s dream. The well-known walking route in Zion National Park, Utah, finishing at the vertiginous lookout spot called Angels Landing is a must-selfie for every Youtube-posting adrenalin-junkie.
From the Grotto trailhead in the Zion Canyon, the roundtrip hike is about five miles, with a gain in elevation of about 1,500 feet. The summit at Angels Landing stands at close to 5,800 feet. For the most part, the trail is suitable for walkers of average physical fitness; for the final ascent, I would suggest some discretion: best not attempted by those prone to vertigo or anyone of a nervous disposition.
I like to think of myself as someone who suffers from neither of those conditions, nevertheless, I was quite content to reach the vantage point of Scout Lookout, half a mile short of the highest point, and progress no further.
To reach Angels Landing requires crossing the narrow Hogsback ridge, involving circumnavigating several sharp drop-offs, which are only made safe by the use of chains in the rock. Every section of chains is a place for a potential traffic jam of hikers; at times, it is necessary to wait for up to 30 people to pass in the opposite direction before there is an opportunity to advance.
This is not the reason why I am drawn to the great open spaces of the world. Usually, I am trying to escape queues, not join them. I have queues aplenty at home in London: queues to get on a train; queues to get off a train; queues to pay; queues for the toilet. Coming to Utah, one of the most sparsely populated states in the entire 50, I don’t want to queue. If I may be permitted to quote Toyah: “I want to be free.”
At Scout Lookout, I feel free. There is space to wander around; there is somewhere I can plonk myself down where I am surrounded by more chipmunks than I am humans; the view is still amazing.
So, hands up, I admit it, I never reached the summit of Angels Landing; never got my GoPro climax. And never once since have I regretted it.
© E. C. Glendenny
Travel writer E. C. Glendenny waves from Walter’s Wiggles.