This time next week I will be a freckly, glistening, sparkly mermaid on the beach of Jamaica, sipping cocktails in the sun.
Just kidding. I’ll be a red, peeling, ginger monster, eating a loaf of bread, and block of cheese every day from the buffet, because it’s my honeymoon and I can do what I want.
All inclusive y’alllll.
Anyway, it’s time to get onto the second half of our road trip in South West America (read part one here).
After our first week in Vegas, we hired a car and drove 160 miles to Zion National Park, in Utah.
As much as I love living in a city, it does make me appreciate the quiet and calm you find in smaller towns and villages, and in the countryside. I really love getting out into the fresh air, walking through the woods, or green grass. And now I can add the desert to that list.
Vegas doesn’t quite cater for ‘quiet and calm’, which was why we were both looking forward to this half of the trip the most. Hiking, in warm weather, surrounded by gorgeous views, and eating dinner outside before getting back to the hotel for the night, is my absolute favourite.
Luckily for me, Ian pretty much plans all of our holidays. My terrible knowledge of geography, and incessant flapping that occurs when I can’t find what I want within five minutes, doesn’t make it difficult to understand why. And because of my ignorance, I really did not expect to be scrambling on my hands and feet up a one and a half thousand foot tall hiking trail, during our peaceful and relaxing ‘holiday’.
And I’m not even being dramatic. IT WAS SO HIGH.
If I had done my research I would have found that Zion National Park is famous for Angels Landing, described by Google as a strenuous and difficult hike. The full distance of the hike is five miles, beginning with well maintained, uphill and windy paths. Which sounds do-able for a young and reasonably fit lady like myself. However, the last half mile, consists of a thin (so thin), trail up to the top, with one thousand foot drops to the left…and right, with only chains to hold onto in parts, and your feet and hands to steady yourself.
I’m going to assume you are thinking that sounds terrifying. And you’d be quite right, it very much was. But it was also amazing.
Over the five years that me and Ian have been together, he has learned that the best way to get me to do anything that has the potential to scare me is to just not tell me about it. So this is how we found ourselves, in our hiking gear, our first day on the bus from the hotel to Zion, where Ian tells the lovely family we are chatting to, and me, that we will be hiking our way up Angels landing.
And if the description above makes it sound scary, then the families reaction of surprise/horror would have really got you going.
Queue incessant flapping.
After much deliberation (me) and persuasion (Ian) we eventually set off. I wouldn’t describe the beginning of the hike as easy, with most of the trail being on a gradual uphill slope. But the real shocker is when you get to the base of the last half mile.
If I was a motivational quote kind’f girl, this would have been my moment to annoy everyone around me with it. But I settled for the constant release of swear words, and squeaks.
It was, in short, terrifying. My legs were physically shaking at the beginning, and I had to stop myself from crying on two separate occasions. And at one point Ian had disappeared from my view, and within 0.05 seconds I had convinced myself he had fallen off the edge. With my beef sandwiches in his back pack. Sob.
But it is one of the best things I have ever done. Finishing this hike, I was so proud of myself. I felt like I could achieve anything. I’m pretty sure I was planning to run a marathon when I got home. Until I remembered hot baths, and Netflix, naturally.
Of course you should only do this hike in good health, with a good level of fitness, and appropriate weather. However there are numerous other hikes at Zion, which we also did, and would one hundred percent recommend. It was my absolute favourite place of the entire trip, and it maybe my favourite place in America so far. I even got altitude sickness/heat stroke afterwards, and it is still at the top of my list.
After two nights, we set off to our next stop at Bryce National Park, Utah. Whilst only one hour down the road, it is completely different to Zion in terms of both scenery, and weather. We had gone from 30 degrees C heat, to much cooler temperatures, and it even started snowing! Thankfully, as I was still slightly ill and shaky, this was a much easier hike, but the views were still beautiful.
The rest of the trip was all a bit of a blur as I was still a bit sick and tired, but if you’re planning a similar kind of trip you should stop by Kanab, Route 66, the Hoover Dam, and of course The Grand Canyon is a must do. We stopped by the Grand Canyon on our way back to Vegas. Whilst we only had time to see the views from the top, I have heard the helicopter ride is a pretty perfect way to experience it, as are hiking the trails there if that’s your thing.
At the end of the two weeks we drove back to Vegas, spending our last night in New York, New York. Taking in the sights for the last time, and trying to win the money we had previously lost, before getting back to reality.
And reality for us was having to repack our entire suitcase on the airport floor, knickers n’all, after it was massively overweight. And then we got home, and I realised five hours too late that I had left a big pile of magazines in the front pocket of said suitcase…
So that was fun for everyone.