There’s something about climbing to the top of a mountain or ridgeline and looking out across the landscape laid out below that always appeals to me. I think it’s the sense of perspective, literal and figurative, that I get on the world and the places I travel. There’s no place I like to do this more than along the rims of Zion National Park.
I’ve found few hikes as rewarding, both mentally and physically as those that climb up and out of the floor of the main canyon and up to the heights of the plateaus that drop off in dizzying cliffs to each side. The hike from the Weeping Wall to the eponymous cable works ruins at the top of Cable Mountain is one of the toughest day hikes I’ve attempted, though that could be my memory playing tricks on me. At roughly 16 miles round trip, over half of that straight up the switchbacks rising up from the valley floor, it’s taxing on the way up, and death to sore knees on the descent. Once you reach the edge of the cliff that looks out over Angel’s Landing and the north end of the Main Canyon, it’s impossible not to feel like all the pain was well worth it.
In 2012, I did this hike looking for something off the beaten path in Zion, and when I got to the top, I wound up having the entire place to myself, a true rarity in one of the country’s busiest National Parks. I sat on the edge of the cliff, my feet dangling 2000 feet above the valley floor, and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that had been smashed in my pack. It was the best pbj I’ve ever had, though that could be in part from the amazing view and the company I kept, as falcons, ravens, and vultures whipped around my head and chattered busily at my intrusion into their domain.
Up there, above the crowds and the bustle, the only sound the wind rustling through raven wings and the irritated screeching of angry falcons, my head cleared and I felt a zen-like calm overtake me. It’s a feeling I now chase, looking for those cliff-edges and high peaks just to sit and take stock of where I am, and where I’m going. It’s one of my favorite experiences and one of the reasons I love hiking as much as I do.