Monday, September 8, 2014

Birthday weekend getaway!

 So a little over a week ago I celebrated another birthday. The hubs treated me to a weekend getaway to sunny St. George. On the agenda was a visit to Zion's National Park to conquer Angel's Landing

Just to preface- I am not an experienced hiker. I enjoy a leisurely hike through the woods, on a trail. Recently I mentioned to the hubs that I would like to do more hiking so he thought this would be fun. We have been to Zion's a couple of times and talked about the hike but my health wasn't great at the time and decided against it. I thought, on the brink of my 38th year that it would be a great time to do this hike.

This is us at the beginning with Angel's Landing behind us. See my smile? I was excited for this fun adventure. I had no idea what was ahead of me. :o)

It's sometimes difficult to tell scale in a picture. Even with the heads in the bottom of the picture it's difficult to tell just how tall this peak is.  

The hike starts off gradually and eventually leads into a series of switchbacks. If you've ever been to Disneyland or any amusement park you know how horrible those switchbacks in line can be. These weren't too different. I quickly became aware of how difficult this hike was going to be for me.
(If you look closely you can see people on the different ledges of the switchbacks)

Here is a look down at the trail from high atop the switchbacks. If this seems crazy to you, you haven't seen anything yet!

The weather was gorgeous as we started out. It definitely got warm, even hot as we were hiking but there was a cool breeze that came through to cool us as we continued on. 

After the first series of switchbacks we walked along a canyon for a bit. This was an easy trail that meandered along. It was a nice break from the steady climb we had just come from.

The views were spectacular!

I took this pic in the gift shop before our hike started. I thought it was a bit funny sounding. We have a lot of Walter's in our family. I giggled at the sticker having no idea what I was in for.

Walter's Wiggles is no joke! This is a series of 21 steep switchbacks. At this point in the hike i was struggling. I've talked about my health here on the blog before. It is nothing short of frustrating. I pushed myself but knew not to push too far. I had to take lots of breaks. The hubs was super supportive and never complained once.

We finally reached the Scout Lookout point. I knew there was more to come but wasn't really looking forward to it at this point. The hubs asked if I wanted to turn back but I figured I'd come this far, I might was well keep going. Anyway, I wanted to reach the top.

I took pictures of the signs before I packed up my camera for the rest of the hike. I know it's difficult to see on the screen my picture of a sign but basically the rest of the hike is along a sandstone ridge using chains to help along the way. 

There are warnings to those fearful of heights. You just don't mess around up here.
Luckily the forecast was great and we had no lightening strikes to worry about.

It was pretty crowded at different points on the trail. Sometimes we had to stop and wait for people to come down before we could continue up. I was grateful for those times to rest. My legs were tired and I used the chains to my advantage using my upper body to keep climbing. 

Here's a pic of the river and road below. And this wasn't even the highest point.

We would come to the end of a series of chains at the top of a ridge and I would be so excited thinking we were there. And then I would turn my head and see more people climbing and realize I wasn't there yet. I just wanted to be done!

This guy kept encouraging me and helping me along. There were so many little things he did that touched my heart. It may sound cheesy but I just kept thinking "He really loves me. He really cares" I didn't even need to ask for help, he was just there. If that was the only thing I learned on this hike it was enough. He carried the pack with all the water. Every time I saw an older person or even a young kid on the hike and said "See, even they can do it without trouble" he would remind me of what I've been through and the mountains I've already climbed, encouraging me to go on but supporting me if I didn't want to continue. He really is the best! 

We finally came to the last big haul. If it looks like it's almost straight up, that's because it is!
We rested for a moment while people came down including a young couple with an INFANT in front snuggly carrier. Seriously!? 

We finally made it!

I really wasn't very happy. I was glad to be at the top but I was so spent. I asked the hubs if he would call 911 and have them air lift me from the top. I was not looking forward to the climb down.
"Take my picture so I have proof I did this and let's get the heck off this mountain!"

It really was something up there to look around at the valley below; to look at all the sandstone mountains and the canyon; to think about our beautiful earth and God's wondrous creation. Moments like that are awe inspiring.

We trekked down pretty quickly. My legs felt like jello and my upper back ached from pulling myself up the chains. We scrambled down the rock and jogged a lot of the way down. I scoffed at people passing us when we were headed up but realized when I was going down that it was much easier to use the decline to my advantage. 

The 5.4 mile round trip took us about 5 hours. Only 1 1/2 hours of that was to come down. When we reached the bottom we headed straight for the drinking fountain to fill up with cool water.

I have to say, as miserable as it was, I do feel a great sense of accomplishment to have conquered Angel's Landing. And if asked if I'll ever do it again the answer is a firm and certain...

After a few days of resting sore muscles I'm happy to be back at my sewing machine :o)



Funky Kim said...

I'm so stinking proud of you! Happy Birthday!

Aoife said...

Holy cow, that is one awesome hike to have tucked under your belt :) Happy Birthday!!

Little Quiltsong said...

Wow - good for you!! Not sure if I would have persevered. Frame the picture - Great Keepsake! Happy Birthday Emily!

Jocelyn said...

Amazing pictures! Happy Birthday!

Anita said...

Congrats on your big accomplishment! It's always nice to have someone cheering you on :)

Yvonne said...

What a great story! Amazing that you did it. Alex did too bit I never scary! Love the pictures!

Linda R said...

WOW.... way to go!!! Kudos to you and your super awesome hubby. Tks for sharing the pics.

Bev said...

Your photos are gorgeous, short of pre-arranging a helicopter to meet you at the top, your husband sounds wonderful and like he did the most to help you. Happy Birthday and thanks for reminding me of the advantages of the sedentary lifestyle...on flat land...with Sonic...and a couch for naps....XO

Miggsie said...

Thanks for sharing your birthday adventure - what a great accomplishment! You are blessed to have such a supportive and encouraging hubby. Happy birthday!

Susie Q said...

This birthday hike sure seems like a Crazy Old Lady thing. So glad for you that you DID IT and that you are smart enough to be happy with once. The pictures tell an incredible story.