The only destination for today was the top of Angel’s Landing. An elevation gain of 1488 feet, rated as a strenuous hike, 5 miles round trip, with an average time to complete being 5 hours. The last 1/2 mile is up a narrow ridge with anchored support chains to hang on to.
I knew this was going to be the hike that would be a dream come true if I could accomplish it. Climbing to the top of a mountain has been a life long dream of mine, and this was my chance. (When I read the sign that said 6 people have died from falling off this cliff, I prayed I would not be the seventh.)
We started out our day with a good breakfast and checking out of the lodge. All luggage was loaded into the REI trailer and we were all asked to visit Megan’s room where they had a spread of wraps, lunch meat, veggies, granola bars, chips, peanut butter, etc. all nicely arranged for us to prepare a pack lunch to carry to the top of the mountain. We all did this and loaded up and headed to the trail head.
The path is a paved path and the incline was immediate. The guides said there would be many breaks along the way because this was a climb they like to do all together as a team for moral support. (That should have been my first clue something big was coming) We continued up with gorgeous views. When we reached Refrigerator Canyon, we were cooled by a nice breeze and some shade which is where we took a break.
Next, up the trail was what they refer to as Walter’s Wiggles. This is a series of 21 short switchbacks with extreme elevation.
When you reached the top of this you arrived at Scout’s Landing. Another break was taken here and this was when we could see our destination. The very top of this ridge.
I can only try to explain the feelings I had from this point. They posted a nice sign stating the danger involved.
No photography was taken while we climbed this VERY narrow ridge. I was gripping the chains with all the strength I had in me. I will admit, my eyes never left the side of the cliff, I knew if they had, I would have never continued. A few of us were ready to give up at the half way point, because of the sheer terror of this climb. Our guides patiently talked us through our fear and said they would clear the path. We would take it slow and steady as a team, supporting each other.
There is nothing I could ever put into words that would ever come close to the feelings I had. Our guides talked us through this, repeating over and over, “three points of contact at all times.” Two feet on the cliff and one hand on the chain, or two hands on the chain and one foot on the cliff. Each step was carefully planned before taking it. My knuckles were sometimes scraped from being between the cliff side and the chain and I didn’t even care, I was not letting go for nothing in the world.
When we finally made it to the top and the platform was flat enough to walk, I did this with shaky legs all the way to the end and took a seat. I swear I have never seen anything like what I saw from up there. It was like being on top of the world.
Some of us ate our lunch and some of us just had a small snack. My stomach was not ready to hold down the lunch I had packed, but I was able to eat a bit.
As we all got settled on top of this mountain, our wonderful guides pulled out a bottle of sparkling cider and cups. It was time for a toast, they said, to an amazing accomplishment as a team. None of us even knew they had carried a bottle up the entire mountain side, it was just amazing. So special!!!!
We spent a half hour on top of the world literally, and then headed back down the same way we came up, slow and steady.
When we reached Scouts Landing, they said it was tradition to all huddle together in a circle, so we did. Brian then said, everyone take a deep breath and yell REI, and we all did, but the aroma in our huddle made it quite obvious that we all worked up quite a sweat on this hike!!! It was pretty funny actually, we all had a good laugh at this moment.
A very nice gentlemen even offered to take our group picture.
After this it was back down the steep path to the van. We all had time to change into some clean clothing before the three hour ride back to the Green Valley Ranch Resort where they dropped us all off.
Our last day of hiking was made possible by two special people. I know for a fact, we would have never made it to the top without their support. A special thanks to Brain and Megan (REI guides) for making our dreams come true.
If any of you are ever considering a trip like this, I have a few words of advice.
We were sent the itinerary of the trip and what the hikes all involved. We were not required to finish or do anything we did not feel comfortable doing. My husband and I trained for this for a few weeks before leaving and I truly believed this helped us get the full trip experience with the least amount of discomfort. Also,when mother nature is involved, things can change and you need to be flexible. We were very lucky that we were able to hike the Narrows with the amount of rain that was in the area before we arrived. Our REI guides made this trip very special in many ways, even though we were lodge based. We would highly recommend REI and plan to travel with them again someday.
****These are all our personal thoughts and opinions.