Monday, July 6, 2009

USA South West Trip - Mon 6 July


We never thought we could do it, but we did - we got up around 5am, a quick breakfast, and then Billunta drove us all to Zion so we could begin our hike (poor Billunta couldn't come).

Because it was so early, the weather was blessedly cool. We took the shuttle bus to the hike starting point - in our case we choose to do one hike - the Angels Landing - a 5 hour ordeal.

It started out ok, with a gradually inclining winding path going up the cliff. Even then, some of us were struggling - all that junk food on the trip has not helped. Huffing and puffing, we got to a nice narrow canyon path that offered lots of shelter from the rapidly rising sun. Looking around, the scenery reminded me of what the Jurassic period might have looked like, pristine, full of towering rock faces, mountains and lush trees and ferns. The cliff closest to us looked very reminiscent of honeycomb (could you tell i was tired and hungry?)

After a while, we saw some people coming down and, thinking we were more than halfway there, asked "Are we nearly there yet?" People were surprised and looked at us with pity as they told us "you not even halfway yet, and you haven't got past the wiggles yet"! The Wiggles?

No, not the children's singing performers group, that would be rather surreal to see. They meant a very windy steep path just ahead of us. Now that was painful to walk up. Even though it was similar to walking up a long flight of stairs, after the hiking we've done so far, it was torture! Slowly but steadily we got to the top.

A bit of walking later, and we arrived at what we thought was the top of Angels landing - well, instead of Colin. We enjoyed the beautiful views of the valley below us and thought we could sit and rest, as well as worry about the long walk back down - until Colin pointed further out to yet another higher peak and told us "that's where we need to go!" We were not impressed and even getting grumpy at this point. Reluctantly, we followed Colin.

At this point, the hike got kinda scary and very dangerous. I was surprised that a country very into OHS would allow hikers to go up this route, with no railings to prevent people falling (and indeed in the past people have), and a series of chains that you would pull yourself up and around ridiculously narrow ledges (do not look down!). It was more rock climbing at this point. Adding to the difficulty was that people traffic could only go one way, so people had to wait for others to cross first. To be considerate, you don't stay in the middle scared out of your wits hanging for dear life - you go as quick as you can!

Anyway, after all is said and done, it was definitely worth it. An hour later we emerged onto the very top of the peak, to admire more glorious views that the previous view below cannot compare (an idea which we were skeptical of beforehand). We sat on the sun drenched peak to eat lunch with some rather feisty squirrels, who we're not supposed to feed. However, Yujin didn't realise this, and after throwing some food at them, found herself getting swarmed by the little rodents who suddenly became a little aggressive. Quite a sight being on top of the world on a small peak being attacked by squirrels.

We started the long trek back, which took a while but went quicker than going up. We stopped by a horrible smelling toilet halfway up the mountain which was surrounded by barrels imprinted with the words "Human Waste". I feel sorry for whoever is supposed to carry the barrels up to start with, and remove the existing waste - it's got to be the worst job in the world!

As we neared the bottom, we noticed it getting more hotter, as well as people just starting their hike. We were so glad we had left early because we could not have survived that hike with the heat!

We were so relieved to see Billunta at the bottom waiting for us, with life saving cool water and air conditioned car ready to take us to lunch. We were exhausted!

We went back to same diner as yesterday for lunch. I had jambalaya - a Lousiana style dish of shrimp and sausage in spicy saucy noodles - a way to make up for not having gumbo before.

We then headed straight back to the cabin to go swimming in the nice cool pool and hot spa to relive our tired aching limbs. So nice :)

Dinner was had at the place as we couldn't be bothered heading back out, and I was curious about meatloaf - a very American dish that I had not tried it. It wasn't as nice as i thought though, but I was told nothing tastes as good as your mums homemade meatloaf anyway.

No comments: