Road trip: Lessons from Angels Landing

Angels Landing

A few days ago I climbed Angels Landing in Zion National Park. This 1500 foot climb is billed as one of the most challenging and spectacular hikes in the world, and it did not disappoint. The view from the top is amazing, and getting there even more so!

It’s been many many years since I tried a hike that hard. In addition to the challenge of the elevation gain, you are often hiking next to a sheer drop, sometimes on both sides of the path. During last half mile of “trail” you sometimes have to pull yourself up by heavy chains that are fixed to the rock as you scramble up through boulders.

It was a wonderful, difficult, exhilarating, challenging, sometimes scary, beautiful day; one of the high points of the road trip. Definitely the current ad on my cell phone was a factor in convincing me to try it – especially with its new headline.

Following are some thoughts from the trail that seemed like useful metaphors for achieving goals in general:

  • It’s OK to keep the view and end goal in mind, but to climb safely you must focus most of your attention on the next step in front of you.
  • Identify the next place to step. Again. Again. That’s how you get there.
  • Accept the help that’s available.
  • Rest if you need to. Stop. Refocus. Drink water. It really helps.
  • Pay just as much attention to your footing on the way down. Maybe more, because you are tired.
  • It feels really, really good to stretch yourself!
  • Fellow travelers on challenging adventures are kindred spirits.

Of course, after I finished the hike I got the t-shirt to remind myself that I’m capable of meeting really challenging goals.

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