Angel’s Landing

Angel's Landing is the best hike in Zion National Park. It is the most arduous and the steepest. The hike to Angel's Landing takes the most time, climbs to the highest point, and has the best view at the top. In fact, Angel's Landing is so difficult that six people have died attempting to reach the top since 2002. For the last half mile, there are chains to help keep hikers from being blown off the mountain. There is no room for error. One misstep, one inattentive moment and--pow!--3000 feet down to dismemberment and death. It is important to hang on to the chains especially when the wind in blowing. From what I understand, the wind is always blowing.

No other hike in the park is nearly as difficult; therefore no other hike is nearly as good. One of the other hikes in Zion, Emerald Pools, does not have nearly as much vertical change. The path to Emerald Pools winds gently through a forest inhabited by deer and chipmunks. On occasion, hikers see foxes or colorful, non-venomous snakes. They say that the Emerald Pools hike gives time for both literal and metaphorical reflection.

Ha! I have no time or need for either.

I chose the hardest, most arduous hike and, although I was almost blown away by strong winds, hung on to the chain for dear life, and was terrorized for much of the seven-hour climb, I made it to the top. Of course, there was no time to look around--I had to get back down by nightfall--but that doesn't matter. Admittedly I developed an eating disorder and a nervous tic on the way to the top, but who cares? A lifetime of misery is a small price to pay for achieving the summit. It's not the view that matters; it's getting to the top that is important.

Other lesser people went on different hikes. Their view wasn't as good even if they did waste time "enjoying the view.” Stupid waste of time if you think about it. There is only one path to the top. Emerald Pools? Two words: "Pah" and "thetic"!

Of course, I want the same thing for my children.

Just the other day for example, my child came home from school where she takes three advanced placement classes as a tenth grader. She had been to her daily three-hour heptathlon practice after school. My daughter is the County champion at 800 meters but her javelin throw is weak. I told her that I would not be proud of her until and unless she is the County Champion in the javelin throw and all other events. After dinner, an activity which I limit to eight minutes so that she can be most productive, she went to her room to study. After three hours of studying she fell asleep at her desk with the light on and a book in her lap. I shook her awake. I told her that she must study harder in order to get to the top.

We are surrounded in this country by those who are willing to settle for mediocrity. My child will get to the top. My daughter will go to a top school.

An eating disorder, a nervous tic, and constant fear of being blown off the mountain to her death are all small prices to pay for getting to the top.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *