Angel’s Landing:

The trail head was the most boring thing I had seen at Zion Canyon. Sister spun in circles as we walked a wide, blacktop paved, straight-as-an-arrow trail, which led us toward the massive promontory overlooking the canyon below. Despite the obvious change in altitude required to reach even the lower ridge, the path had little incline. I wasn’t entirely convinced were were on the correct trail, but eventually it met the base of the cliff and with a marked increase in inclination, began a series of switchbacks known as Walter’s Wiggles. The day’s boredom was officially over. Looking back down the wiggles, it occurred to me that one could jump from the edge of one switchback and entirely miss the one directly below. In only a few minutes of walking, we had reached a dizzying height. Eventually, the paved path emptied out onto a moderate sized landing of red sandstone. “We made it to the top” I declared as sister squealed in delight, throwing her hands out as she ran a wide circle around my legs. The landing was wide enough that several groups of hikers could rest easily, but narrow enough that unless I looked down at my feet, blue sky filled my entire field of vision. The feeling of exposure made me uneasy. I sat down so that the sky below couldn’t suck me off the ledge and to the canyon floor some thousand feet straight down. Father walked confidently out onto the landing. Looking around he said “No, we still have to cross the ridge. That’s the top, over there.” He pointed across a razor narrow ridge, at a block of rock which was indeed clearly the summit. My stomach sank as I imagined walking across that ridge, narrow as a sidewalk, vertical as building, jagged as a tooth. As nervous as I was, Sister took off down the path at a near run. Mother yelled at her to hold Father’s hand, and the two of them started across the broken blocks of rock which served as the trail. Mother would remain on the landing with Brother, so I had to decide quickly if I would go to the summit, or stay behind. I swallowed back my fear, and set out with much trepidation. There was a guide chain I could hold onto, but my sweating palms didn’t give much assurance that I could actually keep my grip, should it be needed. To both my left and right, I could see the ground below,as distant as the view from an airplane window. Despite my fear, I forged onward. After several feet, the chain guide ended abruptly at a notch in the rock, where I had to choose whether I would take a wide step across, or sit down, step in, and climb up the other side. I crouched down and in a feeble voice called out “…dad?” “What?” Father called back. “I need help.” He turned and faced me for a moment, “Just step across, it’s easy.” I looked again at the notch and had to admit “I’m scared.” even as Sister pulled on Father’s hand in her excitement to continue. “Well, either come now or go back and wait with your mom.” he told me. Carefully, I turned around and made my way back to the landing. I sat on a rock next to Mother as she held Brother in her arms. I looked down at the canyon floor, feeling rather dejected that my sister who had yet to start school was already brave enough to tread where only angels land.