Zion NP: Angel’s Landing and Cave Knoll

After picking Trent up at the Las Vegas airport, my plan had been for us to attempt South Guardian Angel on 5/31/16. This was probably my most anticipated climb of the trip, but unfortunately it fell through for a variety of reasons.

We had a few minor delays in Vegas, and didn’t make it to Utah until later than expected. On top of that, I had forgotten to account for the time change from Pacific to Mountain time. In order to have a chance at South Guardian Angel, I knew we’d need to get a very early start…so we were only looking at getting about 3 hours of sleep. I was still fighting off an infection and feeling a little worn down after 3 days of hiking and climbing, and my brother was exhausted coming off a 24 hour EMS shift followed by a full day of travelling.

So we decided to sleep in until 0830 the next day and take things easy. SGA will have to stay on the bucket list for now.

I came up with Plan B on the fly. I’d been to Zion twice before, but never hiked its most famous trail to Angel’s Landing (5,785′).

Angel's Landing, from below

Angel’s Landing, from below

After making the drive to Zion, we caught a shuttle to the trailhead and started the hike. I knew this was a popular hike, but we weren’t quite prepared for just how popular it was. There were hundreds of people up there, and we could only move as fast as the slowest person (not much room for passing).

ye

It brought back memories of Disney World

The final 1/2 mile to the top took us about an hour, as we waited in line for everyone to make their way across the ledges.

The final stretch

The final stretch

I’m really not complaining though. It was a unique trail with awesome views. It just might need a permit system at some point to keep the crowds under control.

Crossing some ledges

Crossing some ledges

View from the top

View from the top

After finishing, we caught the shuttle back to our car around 1345. Since there was still plenty of daylight left, I wanted to show Trent another cool spot I’d discovered when I’d visited Zion six months earlier. We exited the park, drove back to Virgin, Utah, then followed the Kolob Rd north. We pulled off the road a couple miles before the Wildcat trailhead (where we had originally planned to depart for the South Guardian Angel climb), and I led the way to the top of Cave Knoll (6,495′).

On the way to Cave Knoll (South Guardian Angel in the background)

On the way to Cave Knoll (South Guardian Angel in the background)

The off-trail scramble to the top of Cave Knoll is probably the best 3 hour bang-for-your-buck hike in all of Zion. (Technically the bang-for-your-buck is infinite, since it’s in a no-fee area.) And the best part is that nobody seems to know about it. I’ve climbed it twice now, and neither time did I come across so much as a human footprint.

Stopping for a break

Stopping for a break

I mentioned that the route is off-trail. The distance is minimal and the navigation is pretty straightforward, but there is one minor “trick” involved. It’s described elsewhere online. If you don’t know it, you might run into some unnecessary pain and frustration. I decided not to mention it here, only because half the charm of this place is the relative solitude.

Heading toward the top of the knoll

Heading toward the top of the knoll

Most of the route can be walked, but there are a few short/easy class 3 sections.

Standing on the "summit"

Standing on the “summit”

Hiking through the maze of sandstone

Hiking through the maze of sandstone

Red Butte in the distance

Red Butte in the distance

After making it back to the car, we drove a few more hours to the hotel we’d booked for the night in Richfield, Utah.

Published in: on June 7, 2016 at 6:59 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Wow, what a stretch of pure beauty! You guys have seen on top the mountains that most just see pictures. Good going!


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