Angels Landing


I didn't make it to the top of Angels Landing. I debated writing about the hike and letting you draw your own conclusions, omitting the fact that I didn't get to the top and letting images fill in the blanks. I mean, if I'm going to start hiking at 4am, I am probably badass enough to finish the hike, right?

Nope. I didn't.

I got through the first several sets of chains and paused at a place where you have to scoot on your butt, no chains, sheer drop-off 1700+ feet to the valley floor on either side, the last part of the steep saddle before making that harrowing climb to the top.

As daylight broke, I watched as my husband slid down on his butt and I just started sobbing hysterically.

My whole body said no.

My entire being said no.

I cried and cried and cried and Barry stood there patiently. "I'm feeling feelings right now and until I identify what they are, I don't feel safe continuing," I said.

As I cried, I took deep breaths and scanned my body and mind to see what was happening. I held onto this last pole and wailed.

Tears of gratitude. For making it to this place with this man in this body.

Tears of deep pain, anticipating a reaction from my father that my husband would never even dream of having - that me stopping is "sabotaging the mission" and ruining this experience.

Tears for being so in tune with my body: knowing these tears are currently distracting me from the full focus required to execute this hike.

Feeling my feelings is allowing the frigid wind to rapidly cool down my sweaty body, my back soaked from 21 brutal switchbacks. Feeling my feelings is allowing the wind to make my hands numb, even with gloves on. Feeling my feelings is giving me pause to know that my legs are wobbly, like they were after doing stadiums while on the women's rowing team at the University of Kansas.

If my legs are wobbly, my hands are frozen, and my mind is distracted - for the first time in my life - I'm not going to push. I'm not going to suck it up and take one for the team. I'm going to listen to the alarm bells.

I already know I can do hard things, and today I will turn around, 0.3 miles from the top, and live to do another hard thing another day.