The time has come at last for a walk in Zion National Park. This is an iconic hike, like Half Dome at Yosemite. On hikes like this I begin with images already in my head, which makes the experience quite different from most hikes. The imagery matches my mental image, which almost makes it harder for me to really see it. Going barefoot helps – adding a dimension to the hike I couldn’t possibly predict, which helps me keep me in the moment among the incredible cliffs in all directions.
At the famous exposed ridge section on the top, however, an unwanted consequence of going barefoot arises. Of course people notice and I talk about it a lot, but atop a thousand foot cliff I get nervous about people looking at my feet – and not their own! Fortunately on the really scary parts my feet aren’t a powerful enough stimulus to break people’s concentration, but once a woman has to purposely stop looking at me to complete a sequence. The drop-offs really are mind-numbing, and the hand-chains by the steps seem like scant protection. Most of the conversations are thankfully not about my feet, but about how unbelievable it is that people aren’t always falling off of this thing.
We also hike away from the Angel’s Landing formation on the West Rim trail, which provides views of Angel’s Landing itself, which are hard to appreciate while on top of it.
We hike to an ice cold stream before it plunges off a cliff before turning around for the day. Strangely, the icons in my mind are still there, but they are now enhanced and amplified by direct experience.