As I was driving towards the entrance tunnel, a car in front of me stopped for no apparent reason. At first I was annoyed, I had after all been driving for at least half of a Harry Potter audiobook to get there, until I remembered that this was a National Park in the west. Randomly stopped traffic means megafauna. And there was my welcoming party!
Upon entering the park itself, I was immediately awestruck. First by the transition from dark tunnel to grand red rock views, and second by how crowded the park was. There was no parking. In the entire park. I didn’t mind paying the $10 to park nearby (shout out to the America the Beautiful Annual Park Pass, made the few times I had to shell out some cash to access a park no big deal) and set off for the Narrows. In the end I also didn’t mind the crush of people at the beginning of the Narrows, it ended up just adding value when I walked far enough and for long enough to get some breathing space.
I don’t want to be responsible for any stubbed toes or bruised knees, but I managed fine with Tevas and no walking stick.
The next morning I was up bright and early for Angel’s Landing. Got to see the rising sun slicing into the valley, and made it up and back before there were too many people (and got to actually park in Zion). I love the shuttle system in parks, and one of the nice things is that it staggers the crowds. Every 15 minutes another 10-50 people may get off at any stop, but if you wait 7 1/2 minutes, you get a lot of space to yourself.
The early morning pre-hike light.
The infamous trail. Definitely a nice moment, climbing those crazy switchbacks and realizing: this isn’t even the part people talk about.
The views and the fun were totally worth the exertion.