The 5 Stages of a Hike

The 5 Stages of a Hike


It’s 4 a.m. and we’re preparing to hike Angels Landing, one of the most challenging trails at Zion National Park. It is only 2.5 miles long, but steep and exposed in spots near the top.

Getting Ready

Most hikes require a certain level of physical readiness. I jog; my brother walks.  We’re both wearing decent walking shoes, fully broken in. Our packs are stuffed with sufficient water, trail mix, sunscreen, a small first aid kit, and lightweight rain gear. We each carry a pair of trekking poles for better balance and support.

The Trailhead

Facing the unknown can be daunting! Mountain weather often turns stormy in the afternoons, so we hit the trailhead in the dark. Portable lights with bands that fit around our hats throw small pools of light. It’s a bit spooky setting out.

The Ascent

Doubts arise in my mind as we climb upwards through the darkness. The early part of the hike is fairly demanding, but not dangerous, filled with manmade switchback curves cut into the rock. The higher part is exposed. A number of people have died falling from this trail.

The Top

We’re the first near the top. The sun has risen, and we sit at an outcropping looking for the trail upward. It’s hard to spot. From here on we must exercise caution.

We finally move upward into areas where occasional chains have been placed on the inner mountain walls to grasp because the trail is so steep, narrow, and exposed. In one dramatic, narrow spot we look straight down a thousand feet on each side of us.

The top is a narrow ridge with matchless views all around, where we sit contentedly gazing at the jagged mountains bordering Zion Canyon.

Getting Down

Getting down is the most important part! After we descend the tricky exposed sections, we relax and enjoy the trail. Definitely one of the USA’s classic hikes. What’s next? We hear there’s teams that specialize in self-guided foreign hiking trips.

They can arrange your individualized foreign country itinerary, handle logistics and local accommodations, and inform you about the most enjoyable and challenging area hikes, but your daily schedule is your own!

David Lockhart