We Hiked One of the Most Dangerous Trails in The World
Updated: May 21
We are on week number 6! We are 2,600 miles away from home. If we drive home at the moment, it would take us about 39 hours non-stop to get back to Boston, MA. Our families back at home miss us and some want us to go home. Should we head back? CORVID-19 is about to explode in Boston. Friends and family, please stay safe. We are doing our best to protect ourselves from getting the disease by going to remote areas. If we do get infected, we'll have to isolate ourselves in our tiny home for 2 weeks...
Week six features tiny home experience at the Grand Canyon National Park, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park. We took most of week off to explore these parks. It would had been difficult to work without having access to the internet.
Week 6 - Most Memorable Landscapes
1. The Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon was on the top of our list of places to visit. We are glad that we finally made it to see the most famous strata, rock layers. Nature is pretty incredible. And, I have never felt so small.
We booked 3 nights. We stayed at the only campground that is open in the winter. It was our first time staying at a campsite!
The pros: beautiful views, minimal driving, easy biking opportunity
The cons: no internet, no running hot water, no wifi, cost
Bike rides at the Grand Canyon
We biked along the rim trails for a couple of miles. The views were incredible. We saw a lot of wild animals.
Mark's goal: getting a haircut at the Grand Canyon
Mark washed his hair outside with our new biodegradable shampoo.
I gave him his second haircut of the trip on our last morning! I accidentally gave him a bald spot. I blamed the cold weather. Plus, we needed to check out by 11 AM. He really wanted a haircut at the Grand Canyon.
Meals at the Grand Canyon
We cooked at campsite. Our first meal, we reheated food that Thuan & Thoa packed for us. The food was so good. For dinner, we made pasta in the dark. We needed a headlamp because was pitch black outside. After cooking, Mark got pasta sauce all over his only jacket. On the next day, we reheated our pasta and ate it at a viewing area. We got the idea from previous visitors who were sipping beer.
You will probably notice our pasta doesn't look so great in the picture, but it tasted amazing. Gourmet pasta and Rao's ragu sauce were delicious. For second dinner, I made fried rice with leftovers from Thoa's Vietnamese food. We used water from the camp's bathroom to wash our dishes. The water was freezing cold. I had a hard time cleaning dishes with cold water...All I saw was white grease. My hands were red. Was it worth it? YES!
Also, we left our dishes outside to dry while we were taking a nap. We arrived late at night. We also had to skip dinner because we did not have time to eat. We realized ravens ate our dried pasta when I started to prep for dinner! They even took the bag with it. Yikes, I am so sorry for littering the park. Mark did not think that ravens would eat dried pasta. The park warned us to not leave food outside...
Mark likes to climb rocks. That's him on that ledge. He said he had to mantle (use both hands to push down in order to pull himself up) to get back to the top...I guess, we're not telling his parents about this.
We managed to get a few shots with my DSLR camera toward the end!
2. Horseshoe Bend
We had planned to wake up early. We wanted to arrive at 6:30 AM to avoid the crowd, but we slept in. We arrived around 8:00 AM instead. There were about 30-50 people at the site when we arrived. We paid $10 to park. Recently, the arrival landscape and shade structures were designed and implemented. It's no longer free to visit. However, it is better for the environment because visitors slowly destroyed the natural habitat in the past.
And, Mark went off to climb the highest point at Horseshoe Bend.
We also made a short trip to see the Glen Canyon Dam! Cindy, our friend, recommended it and it's free to visit!
Mark climbed another rock. We're never showing this to his parents.
3. Antelope Canyon
We booked our tour with the Navajo Group. We saw the Upper Antelope Canyon for the 11 AM time slot. The cost was $80/person. The tour lasted about 1 hour inside the Canyon. We booked it about 5 days ahead.
It was the most expensive and only tour we did during this trip so far. The canyon was definitely more beautiful than I imagined. The Navajo name it Tsé bighánílíní, which means 'the place where water runs through rocks'.
We were lucky to be in a group of 14. Other groups only had 8 or 10 people. Nonetheless, our tour guide was great! Everyone was taking pictures non-stop. I recommend only take pictures at the beginning and the end of the tour. You will get better lighting when more of the canyon was exposed. Tripods are not allowed. The best camera to use is your eyes. Enjoy the moment.
Also, it is important to watch out for sand while looking up. A lot of sand fell on me while I was taking photos of the heart shape shot. My camera was covered in sand. In a sheer moment of panic, I opened my camera lens by accident. I have not changed my lens since. I am hoping I don't need to send it in for a repair. Also, remember to bring cash if you want to tip your tour guide. Most of them wear masks to protect themselves from the sand.
First half images: DSLR camera vs Second Half: phone camera!
I left the Antelope Canyon with sand as souvenir in my hair. And, we won't be able to shower for another 2 days...
4. Bryce Canyon National Park
We thought we left Boston to escape the cold winter, but we saw a lot of snow when we arrived at Bryce Canyon National Park. The highest point at Bryce Canyon is at 9,000 feet or 2,700 meters above sea level. We thought we got the coronavirus, because we confused its symptoms with altitude sickness' symptoms. For precautionary measures, we rested. We made sure we had enough sleep and avoided strenuous activities.
I secretly wanted to see snow at Bryce Canyon. It was beautifully freezing. We only saw ravens and chipmunks. We would have loved to see Mountain Lions...
Meals at Bryce Canyon
We had Indian food for our first meal at Bryce Canyon. I know, it sounds out of place. We reheated our leftovers from the previous night. For lunch, we cooked sausages from Whole Foods. Mark couldn't find good buns to go with our sausages. Instead, we used rice papers and we wrapped sausages with mixed greens. My mom would be proud to hear that I stocked rice papers for the trip.
We ran out of supplies to cook for second dinner. We did not want to eat yogurt again for dinner. We decided to eat at a restaurant. We did not take any pictures, but we filled our bellies with buffet food. It was nice not having to cook and clean dishes using tiny sinks.
Some moments around Bryce Canyon.
I charged my laptop and camera batteries in the bathroom at Bryce during our downtime. I painted my nails while waiting. It was a good thing that the bathroom did not smell bad. I wonder what other visitors thought of me when they saw me in the bathroom. Sorry peeps. It was nice and warm inside the bathroom.
5. Zion National Park
We had about 10 hours to spend at Zion National Park. And what did we do? We decided to hike Angels Landing, one of the most dangerous trails in the world. We planned to wake up before sunrise and drive to Zion. Once again, we were not able to wake up early. But one day, we will.
When we arrived at the Zion east gate, a park ranger measured our trailer's width. A park ranger said, "You have a skinny trailer!" We were lucky that our tiny home met the width standard of 92 inches to go through Zion tunnel. Did you know that there is a tunnel at Zion? We did not. If our trailer were slightly wider, we would have had to pay $15 fee to go through the tunnel.
Wow! Zion surprised me in many ways that I cannot explain in words. The drive through the colorful and textured mountains was simply beautiful. I did not use my DSLR camera at Zion. Sorry friends and families, no pretty pictures here...
The first thing we did at Zion was to use the bathroom.
We took the park's shuttle to Angels Landing trailhead which was stop #6, the Grotto. We planned to hike at 7:15 AM. We wanted to be able to finish early and avoid the crowd. What time we arrived at the trailhead? We arrived at 11:00 AM at Angels Landing trailhead - only 4 hours late. We saw the warning sign, "Since 2004, people have died falling from the cliffs on the route"! It sounds scary, but thousands of people hike this trail. Some of our friends have hiked this trail. They recommended it.
Angels Landing trail takes about 4 hours on average to complete. The first hour was fun and easy. It is a popular trail. We met people who hiked this trail multiple times. The sky was turning grey. It was cloudy.
It began to rain about an hour into our hike. After hiking 2 miles, we arrived at Scout's Lookout, a flat landing area. We saw a lot of people. It rained harder when we needed to do the most difficult part, the last half mile to the summit.
Everyone was rushing to hike back down. People looked scared, miserable, and cold. It was nearly impossible to hike up. Multiple big groups of people were trying to to hike down on a narrow trail with one link of chain to hold onto. They warned us that it's very slippery. We ended up spending a lot of time waiting for hikers to make it down safely.
Every 10 minutes, we kept asking each other if we still want to continue. How hard could it be? There was only .5 mile left to hike. However, people told us from Scout's Lookout it takes at least another hour to hike up to the summit. We could not see the summit from Scout's Lookout.
What did we do? We decided to continue. We were crazy. At least, I thought we were. Mark did not think the hike would be difficult. Honestly, if I didn't know how to rock climb, I would have never agreed to summit. It was freezing cold. I needed to use my upper body and finger strengths to not fall of the cliff. My gloves were wet. My jacket was wet. My hair was wet. Luckily, my feet were dry - thanks to my hiking shoes. I do not know how some people hiked with open toe sandals and chucks. Most importantly, it was not a windy day. Otherwise, I would never summit this scary trail on a cold, rainy and windy day. Friends, if you hiked this trail, you are so good!
Angels Landing summit is the highest point in the background in the first two images. The drop is over 1,500 feet to the bottom. I didn't know at the time. But I knew I did not want to fall.
"If we continue, we're going to finish hiking around 5 - 6 PM at this point" Mark said.
I did not take a lot of photos. It was too much of a hassle and my fingers were frozen.
Two hours after we started, we made it to the top! It was around 1:00 PM. And what did we do?
We got our first picture taken at the top! Crazy hair, don't care. Mark used rain water to fix his hair.
We were cold.
We were wet.
The summit was nearly empty. Four people made it before us. A few others came shortly after. We took pictures for other hikers and they returned the favor.
It was a nice bonding moment.
I brought my sister's blanket so I could wrap it around me when I summit.
And Mark climbed the highest point of Angels Landing trail. A woman said, "That looks so dangerous. Please don't fall."
Meanwhile, I dropped my Invisalign tray. I carefully retrieved it. It wouldn't be good to slide off the cliff over such thing...
Half an hour later, we finished celebrating.
It was time to go down.
The real fun began.
Going down was the scariest part. I had to look down and the drop was steep. If you are scared of heights, this trail should not be on your list. The trail was slippery and also covered in wet sand!
I could not decide if the sand or the rain was worse for the trail.
When we finished the most difficult part of the trail, the sun came out. It stopped raining...How lucky were we? Thank you Zion for challenging us to this fun and wet climb. We are never showing our parents these photos.
We finished at 3:10 PM. And apparently it meant...more hiking.
We hiked to see the Upper Emerald Pool from the Grotto. It was at the same spot we started Angels Landing trailhead.
We finished hiking in an hour. There was still time left!
We decided to check out the Narrows. We walked the River Trail and got to dip our feet in the river! We climbed a small boulder. I guess Angels Landing did not give us enough climbing opportunities.
Mark enjoyed the feet dipping part. He definitely did not like eating his snacks. Or did I get that backward?
We made it back in one piece. Our home is still at the parking lot. We're happy people!
One last thing, the highlight of the day was the sunset view of Zion and our tiny home!
We treated ourselves to Five Guys after 10 hours of walking!
We had to kill 4 hours before we could shower. We forgot that Planet Fitness closes on Sundays between 7- midnight. We had to wait until 12:00 AM to shower. This was the second time we made this mistake. Nonetheless, it felt so great to shower! This Planet Fitness location had a hair blow dryer as well. It was a perfect day.
We slept and woke up with sore legs. I'm probably going to be sore for days. Thank you Zion for treating us to a huge leg workout during the 10 hours at the park. Twenty five thousands steps achieved!
Week 6 - Most Memorable Restaurant
1. Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, TX
Surprisingly, their pizza is comparable to the ones in Italy! Bianco is a quaint location in downtown Phoenix. They have valet parking that costs $15, but we opted for street metered parking. Sorry, we're trying to save money...and I like to walk.
2. Slackers in Page, AZ
We asked our Antelope Canyon tour guide for his food recommendation in Page, only city near Antelope Canyon. Slackers was the first on the list he gave us. We tried their most popular dish, hamburger. It was not bad. We saw both locals and tourists. We heard other restaurants do not taste as good. However, if you want authentic Native American food, they have food event every Saturday. We didn't get to try them...but let us know if you do! There was no sales tax. And, somehow restaurants always get my orders incorrectly.
Week 6 - Random Tidbits
1. We have lots of dead bugs on our tiny home.
2. We traded our propane tank at Home Depot because our tank expired. We did not know that propane tanks expire after 10 years. We use propane for our heater. It is a good thing, we do not have to worry about not having heat unexpectedly anymore.
3. I like to add extra veggies to my burger at Five Guys. Sorry, they just don't give me enough veggies! Plus, I have to finish my mixed greens before they go bad. And thanks for letting us charge our devices while we're eating.
4. I have a small random contribution to society. I help clean bathrooms whenever I can. I apologize, it sounds gross. I make sure I don't touch dirty parts though. Sometimes, people are in a rush, lazy, oblivious or whatever the reason may be. Public bathrooms are usually dirty. Poor workers have to do this on top of their normal jobs. My small contribution is to pick things up or clean the sink. No pics here since no one wants to see dirty bathrooms.
Please help out others by picking up your own trash and/or clean public areas. Small positive actions help me feel happier - maybe it will do the same to you.
As coronavirus is spreading rapidly, we are unsure of our future plans. We have a wedding to attend in San Diego in two weeks. But for now, Vegas, we're coming!
Ngoc + Mark