Climb Like a Spider to Angel’s Landing

Climb Like a Spider to Angel’s Landing

Angels Landing, a plateau at the peak of a red rock face, perched in the heart of Zion National Park.

2.5 miles of strenuous hiking up multiple series of switchbacks, including Walter’s Wiggles, takes you to the landing point where some will stay while others scramble to the final landing. Two long series of chains bolted into the rock with steel poles provide a safety net from the 1000 foot drop offs.

I wasn’t sure what the trail would really be like. I knew the distances. I knew the height gain. I know what it feels like to hike up long, steep descents. I have done some scrambling. But I wasn’t sure what these chained sections would be like.

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My first attempt at reaching the summit of Angel’s Landing, I had taken the first shuttle of the day from the town beside Zion park. I darted across the park entrance to catch the next shuttle up the canyon. I disembarked at the Grotto stop, along with dozens of other eager hikers. The herd quickly thinned as the climbing grew strenuous. At the top, many other hikers already milled about. The first series of chains wasn’t nearly as challenging as I thought it would be. I stood on the flat section before the second series, looking up at a daunting rocky climb. I wanted to do it. But, all I could think about was the growing number of people, of various hiking abilities, streaming both up and down sections only wide enough for one. The communication was minimal. The chaos was growing. I didn’t feel this was something I should do. Or that I wanted to do under these conditions.

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Chasing Dreams on a Mountainside

Chasing Dreams on a Mountainside

Mer Glace Peak 10

A couple of years ago, my husband and I travelled to Chamonix, France. The dream was to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc. A 180 km hiking route covering about 10,000 metres of climbing. When we showed up, our excitement was crushed. The snow levels had been high, and the melting process was taking longer than usual. Sections of the trail were closed. Not even guided tour groups were passing through. The Tour de Mont Blanc wasn’t going to happen for us.

Dreams don’t always come true when we expect them to. It doesn’t mean that we should give up on them.

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Reflection: Where Have I Been and Where Am I Going?

Reflection: Where Have I Been and Where Am I Going?

 

Italy - Mortirolo - me with mountain background

This morning, this memory from about six years ago today popped up into my world.  This was the day that I biked to the top of Mortirolo, a very famous mountain in Italy.  This mountain belongs to the professional cycling race known as the Giro d’Italia.  Mortirolo is one of the the most talked about mountains in the road cycling world.   Some of the pro cyclists themselves have claimed it to be the most challenging climb they have done.  Yet, little ‘ole me somehow made it up there, one pedal stroke at at time, pigtails in tow.  It’s true.

Sometimes I still can’t believe that I did make it to that summit.  The picture of me was taken right at the point where I doubted that I could do it, and wondered what I was doing there.  My husband, who has played the role of my coach numerous times over the years, convinced me that I was choosing to talk myself out of it.  He was right.  He told me to do one switchback at a time.  He told me not to stop during a steep incline as it would be really hard, if not impossible, to get going again.  He told me to take a break at the flatter part of each turn.  He told me breatheand to regroup during each break.

Putting the pieces of advice he gave me into action, I made my way up some of the steepest sections of road that I have ever encountered.

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Orcas Island

Orcas Island

We left Friday Harbour on a ferry and headed to Orcas Island.  We didn’t have confirmation of a place to stay that night.  We had contacted one of the few places that may have some vacancy, so we took a chance.  When we arrived, we drove the peaceful, quiet road, easily sinking into the slow pace of everything and everyone around us.  We found the one small ‘main town’ and a lovely breakfast.  How delightful!! The food was tremendous, the view was spectacular, and who knew what the day held?  After our adventures in escaping from the blazing fires in Oregon (Burning Eyes of Fire) we were definitely ready to turn over a new page on our road trip!

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Mountain Man

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I met Vern in an office environment.  We were both in the same role, sat close together, and had the habit of arriving early.  Thus, we quickly got to know a little about each other.

Vern was immediately a very interesting person to me.  It quickly became apparent that he was a ‘no nonsense’, get the job done, kind of guy.  I soon learned that Vern had some very interesting life passions.  One of them being to summit mountains on a regular basis. When I first learned of this, I was instantly fascinated.

I have had the amazing opportunity to summit a variety of peaks on my bike.  Vern was a man who summited monstrous beasts by climbing with his hands and feet.  Continue reading “Mountain Man”