Thursday, September 6, 2012

Life on the Edge (sort of) part 2

Like I said in my last post, I like to be in places and situations where there's a fair amount of danger. In no way do I mean that I risk my life, but rather that if I did something foolish, I could die or be seriously injured.

The most common way I have lived my "life on the edge" is by hiking on trails with exposed ledges.
From the Glacier National Park in northern Montana to Zion National Park in southern Utah, I have looked over the edge of cliffs that plummeted a thousand feet or more.

Let me say this: I'm not a huge fan of heights. In fact, I used to absolutely hate them, but have since moved much farther down the spectrum to the point that the adrenaline rush from looking into the void vastly outweighs the fear of falling.

The Angel's Landing Trail is one of the most famous in Zion. The stone spire rising 1,500ft from the valley floor appears to stretch so high that it could be the resting spot for heavenly beings. The trail is approximately 5 miles round trip with the last half mile being so exposed that there are chain handrails in the side of the cliff face to provide hikers a bit more security. Over the last quarter mile, the trail narrows to less than 10ft with sheer drops of 1,400ft one side and almost 1,000ft on the other.

I am ashamed to admit this, but the first time my family went to Zion, I didn't finish the hike. I psyched myself out of the last quarter mile. About half way down I realized how badly I wanted to go back and climb all the way to the top. I remember saying over and over, "I should have done it." I can guarantee the next time I go to Zion (one of my favorite parks, by the way), the first thing I will do is head straight to the Angel's Landing trailhead and finish what I started.

That was about 10 years ago, and like I said, I now enjoy the dramatic views offered by being on the edge of a vertical cliff.

I mentioned in a previous post that my brother, Sam, and I hiked the Highline Trail in Glacier this past summer. While not quite as exposed as Angel's Landing, there were still several spots where you wouldn't want to slip.

One of the these spots was the Grinell Glacier Overlook. A side trail about halfway along the Highline, the overlook required a vicious climb of 1,000ft in a little over half a mile. Once we made it to the top, we scrambled a little higher to get better views that were absolutely incredible.

The first photo is from Google Images and it shows the last quarter mile of the Angel's Landing Trail.

The second photo was taken by me on the Highline Trail. If you look closely in the bottom right you can see the trail snaking around the mountain and my brother standing there in a bright blue shirt.

The third photo was taken by my brother at the Grinell Glacier Overlook.


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