AUTHOR: linda TITLE: Story about Angel's Landing DATE: 9:04:00 PM ----- BODY:
Today was devoted to an adventure in Zion National Park, about an hours' drive from Cedar City. Named sanctuary by the Mormons that discovered this place, biblically-named sandstone cliffs rise over a thousand feet from the Virgin River below... a majestic masterpiece of a thousand colors and shapes and types of landscapes.

More beautiful than I could describe or show here. I'm in love with Yosemite, but this is the Yosemite of Southern Utah.

Only shuttles are allowed within park boundaries, so we joined other visitors on the way to the Grotto stop, where the scenic five-mile trail to Angel's Landing starts. On the way there, a group of four -- a couple with their parents -- entered the bus and sat directly across from us with smiles all around and some comments:

"Where y'all from?" asked the elder.

"San Francisco," J. replied.

"Ah, well we used to live there. In the East Bay. Concord." Then, "So -- is that where you're from?"

"Uh, he is, I'm not. Southern California," I said.

"Los Angeles?"

"Uh, yes."

Ok, so in my parts, that'd be considered nosy, but around here I get the sense this is the normal way to proceed with strangers. Smile, ask where they're from, make nice conversation, gather info. Got it. Well anyway, I did like the gal's leather Harley cap.

Getting started on the hike was easy. It was humid and cloudy; perfect for taking pictures. And since it's after the summer rush, not too much traffic. Interestingly, nearly the entire trail was paved -- which usually indicates it's an easy trail, suitable for the cooler-and-stroller crowd, but since this area is made of sandstone rather than granite as I'm used to, I noticed that the trail would otherwise be unwalkable under all the feet that turn it into sand.

After a few loops on West Rim, the trail entered Refrigerator Canyon... such amazing colors.

Quickly the trail climbs toward 5,000 feet on Walter's Wiggles -- a stone and masonry wall engineered in 1924 made of 21 switchbacks. Sounds intense, but that's nothing compared to the 99 switchbacks on Mount Whitney at 12,000 feet in sleet... But, that was three years ago. Scouts Lookout was the pinnacle for us. The trail went on for another 500 feet to the tip of the ridge, but -- look at the trail!

It's a scramble across the tops of stone, with merely a chain-link in the sandstone to keep you from falling the 1,200 feet to ceratin death in the canyon below. So, we were satistified with taking fabulous pictures at the Lookout instead.