This beauty of a hike is nestled within the Zion National Park, Utah, and you would need to catch the green line and get to stop #6 (Grotto) to start at the West Rim Trailhead. Another 2.5 miles from there will take you to the top aka Angel’s Landing, gaining an elevation of roughly 1450 feet. The trail isn’t long and fun past the Scout Lookout at roughly 850 feet. The remainder 600 feet is fun but yet not a scramble.
It should take roughly 60-75 mins to get all the way to the top and nearly 45-60 mins to get back to the Grotto shuttle stop. The only problem preventing you from maintaining a Zion schedule is trail traffic, and cautious hikers slowing down the line along the guard rails.
Close up of the Zion valley above.
Looking back at the exposed ridge from Scout Lookout on the way down. It looks scarier than what it actually is (fish eyes!) but a word of caution – don’t jump too much and stay safe.
Zion, I love. And I don’t say that often…
Skeleton Point Hike starts from the South Kaibab trailhead accessible along the South Rim trail. Alternately you can catch the park shuttle to the trailhead. The trail descends very quickly along a 3 mile stretch to the aforementioned point passing other markers viz Ooh-aah point (don’t think) and Cedar Ridge on the way.
The elevation loss up to Skeleton Point is around 2100 feet and although not steep, I rate it steep enough when in doubt over shoe grip on dry arid soil.
It should take a little over 60 mins to descend and may be 120 mins to gain all that elevation on your way back. Remember to carry plenty of water on the trail as there are no sources of spring water and the canyon can get very dry and hot. It is a lot hotter at Skeleton Point and apparently there is a 7-10 F temperature difference for every 1000 feet you lose in elevation.
The trail continues further from Skeleton point all the way down to the Colorado River (~4200 feet overall loss from trail head). But knock knock, remember the temperature difference and plan to carry water and electrolytes accordingly.
The view from Skeleton Point makes you realize how grand the canyon truly is. Majestic is another word that comes to mind…
A soulfully satisfying and equally rewarding hike on the island of Lombok, Indonesia turns easily into a 3 days 2 nights trek, should you opt to hike down to the crater lake and take a dip in the neighboring all natural hot springs. For simplicity, I will go straight to the details.
Day 1: Start hiking from Senaru, ~600 meters (1975 ft) all the way to the camp area at rim, 2599 meters (8527 ft) leading to an elevation gain of around 6550 ft in approximately 7.5 kms (4.6 miles) and 7 hours. The climb is paved soil for the most part and rocky for the last 1500 ft.
Day 2: Hike down from the camp site to the crater lake at 1982 meters (6500 ft) in little over an hour and hike up to Sembalun side camp site at 2615 meters (8580 ft) in 2.5 hours resulting in a cumulative elevation change of 4100 ft. The hike down is rocky and steep as you lose 2027 ft in little over 2 kms (1.2 miles). The climb up on the contrary is steady for the first 2 kms through the savanna but gains elevation quickly for the remaining 1600 ft in a very rocky kilometer or so. This patch of trail is paved with cemented steps leading all the way to the top of the rim on Sembalun side.
Day 3: Climb up from 2615 meters (8580 ft) to 3726 meters (12224 ft) in 2.5+ kms and 3.5 hours. That’s a climb of around 3645 ft through loose ash, gravel, and rocks. Once up to 2900 meters (9515 ft), you get a steady break for half a kilometer before the grade goes steep to 40 degrees on what can basically be compared to hiking on sand. Picture at least 1.5 kilometers on this unstable terrain. Heading back to the camp site may take an hour and add another 4 hours to hike down from camp site to base in Sembalun, 1150 meters (3772 ft).
In short, Total Elevation Gain to the Summit (Up, up & up) – 10195 ft (Senaru)
Total Elevation Change to the Summit (Incl Crater Lake) – 12222 ft (Senaru)
Total Elevation Drop from the Summit – 8452 ft (Sembalun)
Rewards galore when on top… first the daybreak (above), then the sunrise (below).
There is another volcanic crater, although lakeless (not in picture) on the side opposite to the crater lake. Reminds of Gunung Agung.
Kalsudevi aka Kalsubai hike, is an engaging hike packed with a lot of fun, especially if hiking during the Arabian monsoons. The hike starts at the foothills near the village of Bari, Maharashtra at an altitude of 818 meters and climbs to 1646 meters (total elevation gain of around 2700 ft) in 2.8 miles. It will take a regular hiker not more than 180 mins to climb and around half to descend.
The temple of Kalsudevi atop the mountain. The site gets windy around dusk, goes crazy around midnight until the weather settles into a gentle breeze once the sun shines at full throttle.
Through a vendor hut on the summit. You can also see the Bhandardara reservoir in the above picture. When you hike in India, you will be amused how locals create opportunities for business through the trail length. You find huts, stalls of vendors selling food, snacks, beverages and even dinner over weekends. Although I cooked my own, its more fun. Another uniquity is the presence of a light bulb on the summit, although you see signs of electrical piping all along the trail.
The temple silhouette at dusk.
Tent camping around 100 feet below the temple after winds forced me out.
Mt Agung on the island of Bali in Indonesia is one challenging hike with an unrelenting grade at around 35 degrees. The hike starts from the Pan Ubang temple which is part of the wider Besakih compound. Note that the actual Besakih temple is another 100-200 ft below the trail head. There are varying accounts of the elevation gain, but the Pan Ubang base was measured at an altitude of 1142 meters while the summit is popularly measured at 3142 meters, resulting in a total elevation gain of around 6600 ft. The total trail length to the crater can be estimated at around 5 miles. Average time to hike up is around 360-420 mins while average time to hike down is around 240 mins. It took me around 6.5 hrs to climb and around 3.5 to run down the mountain.
The Agung crater is another 0.3 mile from the first summit at a cumulative elevation change (loss/gain) of around 50-60 ft. Don’t make the mistake of turning back after the first summit ascent.
Cloudfall into the crater as can be seen above.
Cloudcap at the crater rim and Mt Rinjani visible at a distance.
Mt Agung from the Pan Ubang compound.
The hike stays my most treacherous hike to date, more so due to the combination of humidity at the base of the mountain (first 120 mins through the humidity of a tropical rainforest are excruciatingly painful), the loose pumice that covers some stretch (possibly fourth) of the trail, no sources of fresh water all along the way, and a steady relentless grade; than the terrain itself. Prepare with enough water, coffee (if hiking through the night) and some salt or electrolytes. After sweating bullets through the first couple of hrs, I was day dreaming fresh fruits with sprinkled salt. Some panos below.
One of the more popular hikes in the United States needs no introduction. The Yosemite valley as seen above and below. Upper Yosemite falls above.
Upper Yosemite Falls up close.
The Yosemite Half dome can be accessed from the Mist Trail, around 9 miles one way to the base of the dome at an elevation gain of around 4400 ft. Add another 380 ft in gain to the summit of the half dome, to end up with a total elevation gain of around 4800 ft. You pass through Vernal falls (pic above) at around 1000 ft on the Mist trail and through Nevada falls (pic below) at around 2000 odd ft. The portion up to this point is a tad steep. But beyond this point is a flat section through the meadows, that serves a good breather.
Nevada falls at the distance (above) and from the Panorama trail lookout (below).
Half dome with sub dome above.
Half dome climbers.
Average time to scale up stays around 240-300 mins while coming down can be a lot less.
I only tried to hike to the second recess in the dome (en route in the pic above) on gloves alone without any protective gear. DO NOT ATTEMPT. Although I carried a harness, sling, carabiners and parachords, after spending 15 mins observing the climbers on the dome, I figured most of the time was spent in releasing and re configuring the Prusik knot at crosslinks through the cables. I decided to call it a hike given it was already 4pm and a group of hikers on the cables were struggling at tying the knot there by potentially slowing down the rest who follow. Overall a fun hike especially through prettier portions by Vernal and Nevada falls, and the later stretch through sub dome and the half dome. Stay safe! Always!