Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Angel's Landing

They call it "hiking" up Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, Utah. It did seem like hiking. Well, the first two miles did. The path was wide and rocky with creepy tarantulas, but once we trekked up those two miles, everything changed. That's when I faced a rocky outcrop and a few inches of space to navigate around it to avoid a sheer drop. There was a chain embedded in the stone outcrop to help people inch my way to the other side.  
I quickly realized if my fingers slipped from the steel embedded into the red rock, not a chance since I had a cadaver's grip on it, I would drop to my death. I guess it's the same with life--you're moving along at a brisk pace thinking you have everything under control and then the trail takes a dangerous turn and you find yourself plodding forward with the unmistakable knowledge that yes, you are going to die. And not in your sleep. You are going to plummet off the side of a mountain while your husband and son watch in disbelieving horror. 

That's exactly what I thought would happen. But I didn't die. I made it around the outcrop and looked out over mountains stretching into the distance. I shared a smile with my husband and son and said,"Angel's Landing is beautiful." My  husband laughed loudly, pointed up and up a huge mountain in the distance (Partial image below), and said, "No. This isn't Angel's Landing. That is."

Thanks for image!
"I'm not doing that," I said vehemently. And to make my point even more forceful I sat down on the mountain, shaking my head. My husband and son laughed. I saw no humor in the situation. In fact, I was perfectly willing to wait there all day until they came back. Problem was, they refused to go without me. Mom guilt. Is there anything worse? I watched and waited with them as people came back from the trail or went up it. My husband and son kept trying to convince me I could do it. I started to consider it. I even spoke to a girl that couldn't have been more than sixteen as she made her way back. She said it wasn't that hard if you held onto the chains. With my husband and son looking on hopefully, I decided I had to try.
My legs feeling wholly inadequate, I started across the rocky bridge that led to the ascent. I was so terrified that I alternatively cursed and called to God softly in Spanish. I don't speak Spanish with any sense of comprehension, but thanks to a bold and brash aunt and a devote mother, I can curse and pray in Spanish. At this point, my son saw my wobbly walk and started to worry for me. He began to hike to the side of me, on his tiptoes since space was limited, holding out his arms to catch me in case my legs gave way.

I was horrified.

Now just so you don't think I'm talking about a ten year old here. Below is a picture of my very capable son at Angel's Landing. Well, capable of getting himself up the mountain. I knew if he kept doing what he was doing, when I slipped and fell off the mountain, yes I had accepted my inevitable death at this point, that he was going to die as well. I did what any mother would do to protect her child. I lied. 

"I'm fine," I told my son, making a point to tell him he was disrupting my balance with his attempts to protect me. Then I ground my jaw to keep any more rogue Spanish from escaping my lips. My husband seemed to have had no doubt about my abilities. He led the way, looking back with a big, confident grin. Spanish curses would've come in handy for the feelings that went through me when I saw that stupid grin. Oh well, onward and upward. You know, until the drop. I continued up the mountain, crouched low the whole way, like it would hurt less if I was crouched rather than standing up when I fell 1200 feet off a mountain. I had to convince myself to keep going many times, and nearly doubled back when passing the yellow plastic warning tape that looked remarkably like police caution tape. (I later found out a person had slipped off at that exact spot two weeks before.) 

Alive at the top!
To my complete astonishment, I made the top. I was dumbfounded and overjoyed at having survived, and as I proceeded down the mountain, and came across two very frightened Japanese men, I cheered them on. Cheered them on as they passed about a centimeter from me--there isn't a lot of room on the trail, so if someone is passing, you get friendly. One of the Japanese men looked me right in the eyes and said in broken English, "I so scary." Oh boy did I get that. It hadn't been too long ago, that I had been so scary too. I told him it wasn't much further and that he could do it!
As I continued down the path--which seemed infinitely less terrifying--I heard my husband remark on the gentleman that had just passed. He said cheerfully, "That's the cutest thing I've ever heard a man say." I couldn't help but laugh as I decided to forgive my husband for his flagrant confidence and lack of understanding when it came to us pragmatic, barely bilingual cowards. He had, after all, escaped near death with me. Even if he didn't realize it. 


  1. Wow! What an adventure. Sounds like a lot of adrenaline-rush fun. Glad you made it back in one piece.

  2. Ha! Thanks, Marg! It was almost as unexpected as our Edgar Cayce experience.

  3. OMG!!!! I laughed so much!!! Spanish!! I've ever heard any spanish word beyond besos y abrazos...
    Loved this post, Thanks for sharing.

  4. Ha! I can curse and beg God for help in Spanish. And even that I don't do very well. : )

    Glad you liked it!

  5. I Love this story!! I was terrified and was laughing at the same time!! I'm so glad you accomplished this and lived to tell the tale!! You have an awesome should be so proud!

  6. Thanks, Con! Awesome son and awesome friends! : )