An Easy guide to hiking Angel’s Landing

Angel’s Landing is one of the toughest hikes in the United States. It is by no means an easy hike. Therefore, I will provide you with a quick and easy guide for one of the most highly endurance paced hikes in the world.

Zion national Park is visited by 4.3 million tourists ever year and over half of them attempt the Angle’s Landing Hike. The hike is difficult and not recommended to anyone that has a serious fear of heights. The hike starts across from the Grotto Trailhead, the 6th stop on the Zion canyon shuttle.

Hike Details

  • Difficulty: Extremely strenuous, not recommend for individuals with serious fear of heights
  • Distance: 5 mile round trip
  • Time: 4-5 hour round trip
  • Location: The Grotto Trailhead
  • Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
  • Season: Angels’s Landing is open to hikers year around, but is not recommended during the winter if the trails are icy and slippery.

Before Hiking…

Before you embark on your journey for the hike of a life time. I recommend doing some cardio activities in the gym or outside. The whole point behind this is to build up your cardiovascular endurance for the hike. Before heading out on any major hike or road trip, I make sure to spend at least one week in the gym switching up my routine with HIIT training or Circuit workouts.

Pack Light!

The best way to ensure you make it to the top is by minimizing the weight load on your legs and back. Only pack what you need. Take a few bottles of water, some protein or granola bars, and some fruits (apple’s or orange’s are the best for a hike).

If you are taking a camera like me, make sure to only take the gear you are absolutely going to use. I took my Sony A7riii, 16-35mm lens, and a light tripod. Packing light will ensure that I don’t put a heavy strain on my body and will keep me going for a long time.

Start early

We started our day at 9 am and took the Zion Canyon Shuttle to The Grotto Trailhead and were on our way. Being early means much of the valley is still in the shade and cooler until the sun warms it up. It can tend to get hot, especially during the summer season.

Walter’s Wiggles

Walter’s Wiggles is a set of 21 switchbacks that are very steep and will present a challenge for any climber. This is the real challenge before the view point where the HIIT and Circuit training comes to pay off.

Scout’s Lookout

Just after the switchbacks is Scout’s Lookout, giving you a view of the the whole canyon. Restrooms are available at the lookout point. This is where most people take a break before finishing the hike or if you are afraid of heights this is where you turn around.

The Last 1/2 mile

The last 1/2 miles is what makes Angel’s Landing the most visited hike in Zion National Park. With 1000 ft drop off on both sides, some places are 2 feet wide that require to hang onto the chains bolted into the rocks. The path up Angel’s Landing gives its intimidating reputation and a thrill for some individuals.

Also know as “Hogsback,” the gigantic rock is crowded with thrill seekers. Be careful when you cross path with another hiker and always make sure you are properly secured before you cross. Always hang on to the chain and never let go when climbing, also do not rush the climb be patient and calm. After climbing the Hogsback, it is a flat walk to the viewpoint. Take in the view, relax and enjoy before heading back down.

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10 simple tips for Travel Photography

Thinking about going on a trip or vacation? These tips will help you take great photos and will ensure you are prepared in every way.

  1. Know you camera!

    It doesn’t matter if you have a DSLR or an iPhone. The best way to ensure you get the photos you want is by knowing your equipment and how it works. I recommend you get an entry level to mid range DSLR, if you are starting off. Here are some options for beginners. I started off with the Canon 80D, it is an excellent camera for beginners.

Why is it so important to know you camera?

When you are traveling to a place you are not familiar with, things can change very fast. If you like something you see, it is important to set the camera to the correct setting as fast as possible. So you walk away with that perfect picture.

2. Beat the crowd & stay out late

If there is one thing I hate about traveling, it’s the horde of people at every famous photo location. My solution to this is very simple, wake up early.

 Photog by   Daniele D'Andreti
Photog by Daniele D’Andreti

Waking up early has its own benefits. There are fewer people out on the streets, fewer tourist and even fewer photographers. You get to experience the city for what it truly is. With less photographers out, you are bound to get that unique sunrise shot that many won’t have in their portfolio.

Along with waking up early, staying out late until the streets are empty will give your shots an unique perspective.

3. Do your research

Before hopping on any flight to a destination, I always do my research. Whether it is the best place to eat in Vancouver or it is how to beat the crowd at the Horse shoe bend. Doing your research will help you prepare for your shots in advanced. How crowded is Stanley park in July? What time does the Taj Mahal open? All of these questions can make your travels so much easier. Instagram or Google are both great tools to help you prepare your shot list.

4. Buy the correct lens

My go to lens is a 16-35mm F/2.8, it is wide and fast, it allows me to capture more of the scene. The second lens I take with me is the 70-200mm F/2.8, this allows me to capture a scene from far way without being in someone’s face. By having these two lenses in your bag, you make sure to cover most of the focal range.

5. Back up your files

There is not a worse feeling than realizing that all your hard work and pictures got wiped out from your computer. These things happen often, but individuals do not realize it until it happens to them. It is important to back up your files as soon as you get back to you hotel. I always carry two Western Digital Hard Drives with me at all times. I can sleep peacefully at night knowing that everything is backed up not only once but twice.

6. Photograph the locals

This is probably one of the most important aspects of travel photography. Taking pictures of the locals is a crucial part of traveling. This allows the viewer to dive into the culture, location and the setting of the place. Before you start snapping away, get to know the locals on a personal level. The locals are aware of the area more than tourist. They will be able to give more insight on the best places to eat and sightsee many tourist may not be aware about. This will create a bond with them that will allow them to feel more comfortable when photographing them. It will also make you feel comfortable when taking pictures of the locals.

7. Editing Software

There are a lot of mobile apps that allow you to polish up your photos but nothing gives you more flexibility and room than Adobe Lightroom. The photography plan gives you 20GB of storage, Adobe Lightroom Classic CC and Adobe Photoshop only for $9.99/month. This is the best plan for photographers. It also allows you to sync your edited photos directly to your phone through the Lightroom Classic mobile app.

8. Always shoot RAW

There are two modes in every camera that photos are captured in, RAW & JPEG. When shooting in RAW you get the most flexibility and details from the scene. It also helps you are get the highest quality possible from the scene. Most of the images in Raw are uncompressed an allow you to work more with details in post processing.

Shooting in RAW also ensures that you get better dynamic range, just a fancy word for capturing both the highlights and the dark parts of the scene.

Just remember if you do decided to shoot in JPEG, the images will be compressed and will lose quality. The camera takes the RAW file and compresses to JPEG in camera. You don’t want the camera doing that, unless you are purposely trying to save space on the memory card.

9. Explore your creativity

Chances are that wherever you are going that place has already been photographed a million times. Change things up by trying a different angle, most people shoot from eye level. So don’t be afraid to get low to the ground or climbing stairs to get a different perspective. If you are shooting landscape try adding people to the photo, this adds scale, creates depth and interest in your photos.

10. Put down the camera

This is probably the most important tip I can think of. It is likely that you are not being paid thousands of dollars to photograph a city or landscape. If you are kudos to you, but it is likely that you are there to enjoy and experience the beautiful place you are in. You want to immerse in the culture, the city, and the way of life. So put that camera down and relax for a bit, let the experience come to you and make you lifetime of memories.

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10 must see places in Oregon

While traveling to Oregon, I realized that it has everything I ever imaged and more. It has everything a curious and adventurous traveler is looking for. Its lush landscape and 300 miles of open coast are what makes tourists so attracted to this beautiful state. One of the greatest things about Oregon is its beauty year around.

To check out my full travel itinerary click here

10. Crater National Park

Crater Lake National Park is located in Southern Oregon and is the most popular place in that area. It is the only national park in all of Oregon. Before the crystal clear blue waters of the lake, it used to be a volcano. About 7,700 years ago, Mount Mazama collapsed on itself creating a beautiful rim crater that it is today. Mount Mazama peaked at 11,000 feet The lake is approximately 2000 feet, making it the deepest lake in the United States. The island in the middle of the lake can be visited by a boat tour. There are countless hikes and trails that offer the best views of the the lake from above.

9. Painted Hills

The Painted Hills are one of the seven wonders of Oregon. These hills are part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, located in Wheeler County, Oregon.  Each color unveils a layer of history dating back to millions of years. The hills are best visited during the sunset hour. The golden glow from the sun lights up the hills in such a way that is pleasing to the eyes. The yellow, red, and pink illuminate and reveal the history of this planet. When I took a glance at them from the viewpoint, it was as if I was looking at a piece of landscape from Mars. These Painted Hills are a must visit for any admirer of this planet.

8. Blue Lagoon

The Tamolitch, more commonly know as “Blue Lagoon” or “Blue Pool” is located in Chinook just off the OR-216 highway. It is off the OR-12 exit, passing the sign for Tamolitch Trail Head. You can park your car there and it is a short hike along side the McKenzie River. The hike is filled with giant lush trees, green moss, and crystal clear waters or the McKenzie River. Just keep going until you stumble upon a huge blue pool that is crystal clear. Before, there was a way to go down to the pool, but because of the recent rock slide the path is blocked.

 Mckenzie River Trail
Mckenzie River Trail

7. Airplane Home

This is no ordinary plane, I did not crash land here. It was built and assembled piece by piece. Believe it or not this is someones home, yes a HOME! The Airplane home is located in the farming community of Hillsboro, Oregon among the tall trees. Ever since I saw this place on the internet, I was very intrigued by it and had to visit. The owner of this extraordinary home is Bruce and is very welcoming. If the owner is home, you can take a tour, but if not then he asks you to be civilized around the plane and treat it with respect. To find the directions you can find them here.

6. Samuel H. Boardman State Park

The Oregon Coast is one of the most scenic on the west coast. Samuel H. Boardman State Park located in Southern, Oregon Park has some of the intersting rock formations in the country. The most famous being “Arch Rock” is just off the coast and can be viewed from the park. The park is located just off the 101-Highway, so don’t miss it.

 Photo by   David Kovalenko
Photo by David Kovalenko

5. Latourell Falls

Latourell Falls is located close to the Columbia River Gorge. This is one of the closest falls to Portland, just 20 minutes away. There is a hiking loop trail that leads you to the top of the falls that is just 2.4 miles. There is also a trail that leads you to the base of the falls, if you are in hurry I recommend taking this trail.

The fall is 225 feet high and is always fully roaring. If you are feeling a little adventurous like me, I recommend taking a walk to the back of the waterfall. Just make sure you have shoes with good grip as the ground is always muddy.

4. Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls State Park is one of the most beautiful parks in all of Oregon. It is located near the town of Silverton, and is a perfect place to go for a day hike. It is just 10 minutes from the parking lot of South Falls, which is the most famous falls in the park and definitely the most picturesque. The hiking trail continues in a loop that leads you behind the waterfall. If you find yourself in Oregon and have a few hours to spare, this is the perfect place to go.

3. Mt. Hood

 Photo provided by Unsplash, photographer Atanas Malamov
Photo provided by Unsplash, photographer Atanas Malamov

Mt. Hood is one of the seven wonders of Oregon. It is located in the town of Sandy, and the volcanic peak can leave anyone speechless. According to statistics, Mt. Hood is the second most climbed mountain in the world. Mt. Hood is also home to countless alpine lakes, a world class ski resort and beautiful glaciers. This is a must visit for any traveler in their lifetime.

2. Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is the icon of the Oregon Coast, specifically Haystack Rock.It is located in northern Oregon, and named after a cannon being rolled up on the beach. Depending on the sea level, you can walk to Haystack Rock and is sometimes covered in water. During our visit, the elements were not in our favor. It was raining with high speed winds, so I had to settle for an average shot on my phone. But don’t let this stop you from exploring such a beautiful place, no matter the conditions. Here is a picture of Cannon Beach under better weather conditions.

  Photo by    Caleb Jones   , provided by Unslpash
Photo by Caleb Jones , provided by Unslpash

  1. Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls is the most visited place in all of the Pacific Northwest.It is located just off the 84-Highway and 30 minutes from downtown Portland. This place is perfect for a quick getaway from the city. The Falls plunge a whopping 620 feet from the top to the bottom of the second waterfall. In order to get to the bridge on the second level, it is a short 5 minute walk from the viewpoint. This is the most busiest places in Oregon. I recommend going there super early in the morning to get some quite time before the horde of tourist start to flow in. If there was only once place to see in Oregon, I would highly recommend this place.

I hope you have an adventure of a lifetime in Oregon, and the elements are always in your favor.

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Hike of a lifetime in Kauai

The micro climates of Kauai have created some unique and breathtaking landscapes. Waimea Canyon is one of the most picturesque landscapes in Kauai. The orange and red dirt makes it feel like you are on mars. 

We headed out from the The Koloa Landing Resort and made our way towards the Waimea Canyon in Kōkeʻe State Park. Make sure to keep reading until the end, there is a bonus viewpoint.

How to get there?

  1. Take HI-50 W to head towards the town of Waimea.

  2. Make a right on the HI-550 N.

  3. Keep driving until you hit mile marker 13.

  4. Turn right on to Puu Hinahina viewpoint parking lot

We were not ready for this!

Once you park your car, take the steps up to the Puu Hinahina viewpoint to catch a glimpse of the Waimea Canyon. Walk back towards the end of the parking lot and you will find the canyon trail to your right.

The Canyon trail hike to the Waipo’o falls is about 3.6 mile hike round trip and takes approximately 2.5 hours. As soon as we parked our car, it started raining cats and dogs and then 2 minutes later it was gone. That is something you are going to have to get used to. After the rain stopped, we grabbed our bags and headed down the canyon trail. I was wearing my white converse and my 2 other friends were wearing their workout nike shoes. We had clearly underestimated this hike and the weather. More on how that turned out later down the page.

Walking through a rain forest

We were really excited for this hike, as this was the only adventure activity we had planned in Kauai. Ten minutes in to the hike, we started second guessing our situation at hand. We could keep going or we can go back. The trail was muddy, it was raining, and I had expensive camera equipment; but this was our only chance to hike in Kauai. As we approached the hike, we told ourselves “this is going be a hike of a lifetime”. After that we never looked back, we wanted that view point and that secret waterfall at the end. It was like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Slipping, Falling, and more slipping

WEAR THE CORRECT SHOES, I can’t emphasize this enough wear your hiking shoes. Although there were some women who did the hike in sandals. There were 3 year old kids hiking along the way. I will admit I was the first one to fall on my butt with my camera in my hand. It is not worth it people, put those cameras in your bag and take them out once you get to the view point.

Walking over tree roots, climbing down trees, crossing a big puddle while holding on to a rope with one hand, strolling through lush green landscapes felt like I was in the amazon rain forest. I could not believe I was here..

About half way

About half way you will see a junction and a small parking lot. Pro tip: Only drive to that parking lot if you have a 4-wheel drive. You will see a sign for Canyon Trail and Waipo’o Falls. We didn’t take the Canyon Trail and continued to the falls. The trail starts to get more treacherous as you go further into the hike. There are switchbacks going up and down, watch where you step, and double check you have proper footing before taking the next. During the rainy season, which is almost all the time, it can get very slippery. There is one part in the hike where everyone slipped. My friend George kept on slipping “every step” he took, or at least that’s what he said.

Once you get closer you will start to get a glimpse of the Waimea Canyon on your right side. Go up a few rocks and you will arrive at an open mountain covered in red dirt. Be careful because there are no guard rails, the ridge seems to fall straight down the canyon.  

Don’t stop there, your reward awaits

As the clouds are rolling through, you can admire the sheer beauty of the Waimea Canyon. Keep going straight and the mountain starts to curve to the left, follow it down, make a left, duck under some trees, and squeeze through some big rocks and your reward waits at the end.

This is where the Waipo’o Falls begin. I wasted no time, I set up my camera and walked right in to the small pool. Be careful stepping on the rocks, the water can make them slippery. Although it is not the waterfall you see from the lookout point, it is better than the big one.

Hike of a lifetime?

If you ask me, this hike was worth every slip, every fall, every “oh s**t” moment. I knew that I was never going to experience this kind of thrill in my life anywhere. I am so glad I booked that last-minute flight to Kauai. This was an experience I will never ever forget.  

My advice: Don’t let a little fall on your butt stop you from experiencing one of the best moments of your life.

I will leave you with a quote from my friend George: “This is probably the best worst idea we have had”.

Bonus viewpoint:

I want to thank you if you have made it this far in to the blog. Once you have made it back to your car from the Waipo’o Falls hike. Keep on driving up to the main road until it ends, you will arrive at the Pu’u O Kila Lookout point. This look out point offers breathtaking views of the Kalalau valley. This valley has been featured in many blockbuster films, one of them being Jurassic Park.

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