I got up nice and early to walk to Angel’s Landing. I wanted the morning sun for pictures. It was 37 degrees when I set out. I had a long sleeved shirt and a sweatshirt on. I thought I was going to be cold but I warmed up really fast on this hike.

There are encouraging signs as you set off.

This is a 2 mile trail to Scout’s Lookout and then you can decide if you want to do Angel’s Landing. The West Rim Trail is paved but is very uphill. I figured I could handle that. I’m in moderately good shape. I’m used to exercise. I like to walk. I was hopelessly naive.

The trail starts out by the Virgin River and goes easily uphill.

Getting a little higher.

Then you get to the first set of switchbacks. I knew it was coming. I’d seen pictures.

Holy mother of god. This is where I started swearing. I said horrible things about the National Park Service and the whatever masochist laid out this trail. Actually I thought bad things. I didn’t have the breath to say them out loud. From this point on as you read my descriptions add in expletives every other word if you want a true sense of what I was thinking.

This is a group behind me as we were climbing.

I started telling myself that I just wanted to get to the top of the switchbacks. Then I could turn around if I wanted. When I got there I saw this.

Amazing. I decided to go a little further because a group met me there as they were coming down. They didn’t look like they were in particularly good shape. They were happy. I wasn’t going to give up.

The next section of the trail was my favorite. I would have loved it just for being flat. It turned away from the valley and went in between cliff walls.

Eventually though it started to climb again. I was alone for the most part but occasionally a chipper person would be coming down. It took me a while to realize that these weren’t superhuman marvels of endurance out enjoying their day. They were happy because they were heading downhill. I was going to be happy then too.

At the top of a last set of horrible switchbacks that made me cuss out loud, is Scout’s Lookout. From here it is 0.5 miles to the end of Angel’s Landing.

It takes you out on a ridge that overlooks the whole canyon but to get there you need to climb. This is where people die. I looked at it. I went up a little and then turned around and looked back. As I expected it was a thousand times scarier going down it. I decided that there was nothing out there that I needed to see that badly.

I started downhill determined to be chipper for the poor souls still climbing. The trail was getting busy. I met a bunch of people on the last switchbacks. They were panting loud. That made me feel better. I smiled beautifically at all of them. Lots of them gallantly stood to the side to let me pass. It was a fine excuse for a break from climbing for them.

I met people on the flat part of the trail. The lady said, “We aren’t even close, are we?” I told her that it was flat for a while. I’m so helpful.

On the lower switchbacks I watched people’s progress. I’m glad I couldn’t really see where I was going when I set out. It would have been demoralizing.

When I got back to the car I was feeling good about the day. Then I couldn’t find the car keys. The keys to the rental car that I needed to have back in Vegas three hours away soon. Pure panic. I dumped my bag. No keys. I couldn’t see them in the car. No ranger station nearby. I finally found them in the parking lot. I must have dropped them when I tried to put them in my bag before I left. I got in the car and shook for a while until the adrenaline wore off.