Standing on the top of narrow spin of rock in the middle of the Zion Canyon, I watched the sun rise over the eastern hills as it illuminated the red rocks and river below. It was one of those moments. Perfect. Peaceful. Still.
The day after running the Zion Half Marathon, I ventured deeper into Zion National Park for an early morning hike up Angel’s Landing. Iconic in the park, this hike challenges thousands of people each year – their courage, strength and comfort. But the serenity is amplified by these same attributes.
Starting at the Grotto in the heart of the National Park, Angel’s Landing climbs for 2.4 miles along switch backs. Exposed, the trail hugs closely to the side of the rock form and through a crack in the main wall to continue up the back side of the landing. A little over half way, the trail reaches an open plateau named Scout’s Landing. Pause and take in the views looking toward the narrows from here and down the way you came.
If you are afraid of heights, this is a great place to hang out while the rest of your group continues up. From here the hike follows a skinny ridge of rocks for the last mile. Use the footings that have been dug into the rock and hold tight to those cables when the wind blows.
Through the shaky knees and strained breathing, I kept going. Walking slowly along the upper ridge like the roof of the park (and pitched as steeply) as the sun breached the eastern valley walls, I reached the summit – Angel’s Landing. The park’s lush river valley and colorful rock cliffs stretched before me. Blue, green, gold and cyan danced in the morning sun and shifted as the sun continued to move west across the sky.
I sat and soaked it in. I had run 13.1 miles into the park the morning before, hiked dozens of miles over the course of the week leading up to it the hike, and seen miles of beautiful desert, mountains, and rivers on my road trip through Utah. And while my toes were sore at the summit, my soul soared alive in the beautiful morning’s glow.