Zion National Park (Angels Landing Again)

My 2019 post, Zion National Park (Angels Landing), is much more informative than this one, this being primarily personal because for the first time I wondered if I’d actually “make it,” respecting the psychological law of hiking that inclines increase several degrees in steepness each year after one turns ~60.

Red Rock Canyon 10/23

Having just flown into Las Vegas in the late afternoon, I drove straightway to Red Rock Canyon, a place my rock-climbing daughters pointed me to a few years earlier. With time enough for one hike, I choose what was described as a moderate 2 hours, Ice Box Canyon. I’m pretty sure I got off trail toward the end, because the boulders kept getting bigger as I went, until they were bigger than ice boxes, at which point I choose to head back down.

Ice Box Canyon in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
Ice Box Canyon in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

The Red Rock area is a dreamland for rock climbers, hikers, and people who want to drive slowly the ~11 mile loop. It’s happily and contrastively juxtaposed to Las Vegas. Last time I heard, Alex Honnold lives there (probably not in Ice Box).

Upper Emerald Pools 10/24

Being sore from “the Ice Box hike,” I entered Zion without an agenda, eventually wandering to the Upper Emerald Pools. There I watched a squirrel on the sand remaining still as humans moved around restlessly (7 second time-lapse video).

Descending, I heard a woman behind me saying I was being stalked by another squirrel. One indeed was following me as though I had anything for it to eat. I firmly told the squirrel that it was wasting its time and it scampered away.

Angels Landing 10/25

Today was my third time to climb Angels Landing, one of the most rigorous and in many ways most beautiful hikes in Zion National Park.

To mitigate crowding, Zion National Park requires one to enter a lottery for a spot on a given day. The day before I had applied for the lottery, and today my name came up on the winning side, just as the email informed me: “Angels Landing: Fall (Hikes on September 1 – November 30) Lottery Results Announcement – Congratulations!”

It was Brent and Steph who, the day before, told me how to register for the lottery. They had not been selected that day, so I was quite happy to see them at the beginning of the trail today. Soon we were separated for most of the trail, but we met at Scout Lookout. That is a false summit for me, because it is high and beautiful. But to get to the Angels Landing, a further half of mile of rocky steps must be traversed. Somewhere during that half, something Brent said reminded me of Macbeth’s

"I am in blood
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’er."

In other words (and ignoring the regicidal blood bit), I suggested to Brent that we had come so far it was easier to proceed than to turn back. Eventually, the three of us ascended the final, steep parts together, happily making it to the top.

Steph, Brent, and me—very congenial trio as we edged up the rock
Steph, Brent, and me—very congenial trio as we edged up the rock

The descent was, as I feared, more difficult on my knees than the ascent. At one moment I quipped about thinking for the first time in life that knee replacement surgery was sounding good (to which younger people laughed), but since running is contraindicated with artificial knees, I’ll ask my PT daughter for some strengthening exercises instead.

Publishing Info

This post was first published on Oct 26, 2023.

Four-day Colorado Road Trip

When my friend from Tulsa, a friend from antiquity (circa 1973), and I planned the road trip about four months ago, it probably involved rigorous backpacking. As it was, we did carry our tents and bags out of his car and set them up nearby in a mist of mosquitoes, and that’s roughing it for a few minutes.

When we started the trip, my friend was named Charles. When we ended it, he was Samuel. His name always was Samuel Charles, but he eschewed “Sam” and so became “Charles” decades ago. Now he’s starting a new chapter in life and going with Samuel. There’s a history of name changes signifying identity changes (think of Abram/Sarai and Abraham/Sarah). I’m going with chaos theory on that one—that a small change can ultimately make a big (and hopefully desired) difference.

map of road trip
The main stops or landmarks for our trip, clockwise, are in bold.

Continue reading “Four-day Colorado Road Trip”