Hiking Angels Landing in Zion national park

After an early breakfast at the hotel I drive to Zion National Park. It’s only 15 minutes to Angel’s Landing Trailhead, the hike I want to do today. It’s still very quiet in the park, though I see a few people on the trail. It’s -2 degrees Celsius, 29 degrees Fahrenheit outside, so quite chilly. I do warm up quickly though, because I hike on a fast pace as I usually do. The last time I hiked here was in the summer several years ago and the trail was really crowded. Now I only pass a handful of people. I think it also helps that it’s still early, only about 8am when I start the hike. It’s wonderfully beautiful to hike between the red rocks. As I get climb higher I drop some layers, because it’s getting warmer and I don’t need my jacked or hoodie anymore. About half way up the mountain it gets icy and I stop to get my microspikes under my shoes. It’s the first time I use them and I’m amazed by how effective they are. You can walk on slippery ice without problems. I see some other people who have to stop their hike at this point and I’m thankful that I got the microspikes last night. The hike gets heavier from this point and the microspikes and chains along the trail are really lifesavers. After about 1,5 hours I reach the top where I meet two other people. A man called Dale and a girl called Kelly. We start a conversation and enjoy the beautiful view with just the tree of us for about half an hour. Then more people reach the top and it’s getting a bit crowded. We decide that it’s time to back down. Kelly stays behind a bit and I continue my hike with Dale. He’s a wonderful person, I knew that from the first moment I saw him. He’s the kind of person that everyone likes. He’s friendly to everyone we meet and has a lot of energy. His voice and accent reminds me of Johnny Cash. Even though he’s in his sixties, I have a hard time keeping up with him. He tells me that he is a dairy farmer in Iowa and normally works long days. I think that explains his fitness. When we’ve climbed down quite a bit we meet his son in law who stayed behind, because he doesn’t like heights so much. That was probably a smart choice for him, because the climb was very steep over narrow rocks. Dale turns out to have Dutch ancestors as well. His grandpa moved to America as a boy. I find it interesting that I keep running into people with Dutch roots. At the point where the icy part started we meet with Dales daughter who stayed behind there. While we walk down, Dale tells me more about life at the farm and I’m sure my sister would love to meet him as well, since she also works at a farm sometimes and rides a motor cycle just like he does.
Back at the start of the hike I get to meet Dales wife, who stayed there with the grandchildren. They’re a lovely family together.
When I say goodbye, Dale has a special gift for me. A penny from 1943 without copper. He tells me that almost all coins have copper, but not the pennies from that year. They saved all the copper to be used for the war. And so even though this penny in itself doesn’t have much value, together with all the pennies of that year they have made a big difference. “Just like those pennies can make a difference, so can you”, he tells me. “A smiling ‘Good morning!’ like you give to people, can make a difference.”
I am touched by Dale’s words and am thankful that I got to meet him. While I drive through Zion I’m turning on some music by Johnny Cash and enjoy the scenery. About ten minutes later I reached the end of the road and see Dale and his family there for the second time. I join them on a little hike on which their grandchildren also get to walk. It’s a lot of fun to see them together. It really is a loving family and Dale and his wife play a lot with their grandchildren while their daughter and son in law get some time together. We walk by the river and stop at the watersides a few times for pictures and throwing some rocks in the water. The time goes by way too fast and before I know it, it’s time to say goodbye again. I give them my name so we can connect and hope to see them again some day.
I drive more through Zion and stop several times to take pictures of the red mountains. Halfway the afternoon I’m back in the town of Springdale. I want to go to a coffee place for some reading, but all coffee places are closed in the afternoon and so I go back to the hotel for some writing and plan to have an early dinner. I go to the local pub for some nice fish and chips and a cold beer. At the bar is a couple from Australia and we start a conversation. Just like me they’ve traveled a lot and tell me to go to Grand Tetons National Park, under Yellowstone. That had already crossed my mind, but I’m not sure yet, since it’s another 9 hours driving from here. I think I’ll just keep taking it day by day and see how it goes. Today was for sure literally and figuratively oneĀ  of the high points of this trip.

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