Might be cool the document our adventure in some of Utah’s hidden treaties… or even less hidden treasures.
Today I hiked Notch Peak, the second highest vertical drop cliff in the US, second only to El Capitan. The cliff faces were wild and total vertigo inducing. I’m not one to be afraid of heights but this combined with some pretty high winds got me.
Notch Peak is truly stunning, in the sheer magnitude of that drop. Way back, I flew my airplane over the top, to get a sense of the 3000 foot drop. It kind of freaked me out, a big mismatch between what I was seeing / sensing, and what the instruments were saying. (Stable air day, little to no wind - that terrain has my respect.)
Here’s my contribution to this thread: Stansbury Island
There’s a lot of folks out there shooting things, and racing around in ATVs. I had to get up and away from that, so 4-wheel drive to the spine, then hike up from there, then fly the drone to get some video & photos.
Looking east across the GSL to Antelope Island, with the snow-capped Wasatch of Davis County in the backgroud:
Flying the drone back from the top of the island before it gets dark:
Here’s a short video of topping the highpoint of the island at sunset, looking east:
I’ve stood atop many different peaks, rock faces and cliffs and there was just something about this that freaked me out - the sheer magnitude of it must be it. The wind of course was not helping any of the matters at all up there.
The first place we stopped to get a view of the cliff was on a semi steep hill, I decided to sit down there and eat a sandwich and take some pictures. The second I pulled out my phone and started viewing what was I was looking at I felt a distinct urge to lay down and even a slight sense of paralysis, like any unintended move could send me hurling off the cliff. I think the slope, the wind, the camera view and staring down a height like that just combined to get me. I’ve never felt fear of heights before, so I both wanted to get out of there and kind of relish what I was feeling. Logically I knew I was perfectly safe, my senses were telling me everything else though. I continued to feel that way strangely until I stood up and started moving again, and then I felt just fine, although the act of standing up felt like the most courageous thing I had done in a long while.
We went up to the top of the cliff and the wind was not so extreme and I began to find courage again, so I sat down maybe 6’ from the edge of the highest part of the cliff. I then turned over onto my stomach and began to crawl towards the edge of the cliff, getting to maybe 2’ of the edge when the wind picked back up and began to blow my hat off. The action of grabbing my hat and again the wind brought back all of those feelings. Again, I was perfectly safe, but just couldn’t get myself to go the rest of the way. I’m old I guess.
What I find fascinating is that fear I felt, just because I had never felt a real fear of heights before (I’ve been on heights and felt what I would call rational fear - of knowing that if I fell I would die and so be extra cautious - but this was not really rational - if that makes sense). Typically I can calm myself or work my way through things that make me afraid or nervous - nothing doing on this one. Fascinating how a 300’ cliff, just as deadly, doesn’t make me feel that way. 2000’ definitely does.
I wonder if I was harnessed in if I would feel fine, or if the wind wasn’t there if it would have made a difference. I might try and do it again in the fall.
On another note, they had these massive Great Basin Bristlecones in the canyon walking up - several feet in diameter. I know they’ve calculated other bristlecones like Methuselah to be thousands of years old, these certainly must have been this old too, most of them still alive. I wanted to pick up some of the wood of dead bristlecones, but thought it might be illegal. Got home and found out I was right. The wood doesn’t decay, it erodes just like rocks.
I used to be a climbing enthusiast and guide. But having a rope and a systematic approach is different from walking near a virtual drop. One has to always be aware of wind and also “ball bearings,” small stone under foot can send someone right off an edge.
Anyway, the closest to a panic attack occured on Angels Landing. I know, I know, a million people do it, (and believe me, that day 1/2 a million we’re trying…) but, the lack of a rope, the chaos of people freaking out while others we’re literally climbing over everyone; as well as the knowledge that people have indeed fallen or have been tossed off, gave me the worst sensation.
It’s a place of ghosts
I’ve done Angels Landing a number of times, but the last time (actually now about a decade ago) there were so many people there, the chaos made it feel very unsafe for me. I’ve decided I won’t go back… unless…
My business partner went down to St G and Zions did a ‘soft opening’ where basically they opened and didn’t tell anyone. He had driven up to the entrance, nobody was there. Saw the park ranger who told him the park was open but no bus service so they could drive wherever they wanted. He said they virtually had the park to themselves and a few other curious folks.
Very nice. Having been outside lately, I am beginning to dislike ATVs and can’t stand irresponsible firearms users. I shoot/shot more than most people (10k-20k rounds/year), but try not to be a Richard.
Sadly, Angel’s Landing has been ruined by Instagram. It was never overly crowded until every 20 year old decided they had to post selfies on top. I’m with you, while it is a fantastic hike and view, the number of people on it have ruined it.
The Bristlecone pine trees are fascinating, they’re humbling reminders of how brief civilization has been. Spread over a vast geographical area, they only grow on certain ranges, at certain elevations up high, with limestone soils. I’ve see them on Wheeler Peak, Mount Charleston (just outside Vegas), the Alta Toquima range in central Nevada, Mount Moriah just over the Nevada border, south of the Deepcreeks.
Trying to imagine how things were 4500+ years ago when some of these trees started growing… it’s helps put the problems of today in a different perspective.
Here’s a Bristlecone from Mount Moriah, NV, a week after we spanked BYU in Provo, 54-10:
A fairly big Bristlecone forest on Mount Charleston, about 20 miles west of Las Vegas. (It’s a big elevation jump from LV to 11,000 feet, but when Vegas opens back up, and you get sick or people-watching on strip, or don’t want to be in triple digits, a trip up Kyle Canyon is well worth it.)
Yes pretty fascinating to see them and realize they are the ultimate survivors. We could tell in the canyon we were walking down that there had not been significant rainfall to bring any sort of stream bed activity in at least a year, yet here these trees were, just strings of life going through layers and layers of dead bark. An interesting parallel to our own lives.