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Training to Trek in the Burbs

IMG_5440Like you, I am busy. Despite every technical gadget designed to free up time, I seem to have none. Put that with my propensity to procrastinate and I ahe to figure out good ways to get my training in despite my schedule, my procrastination and the heat. So I have been using a fitbit to start challenging myself and competing one day to the next with the number of steps I take each day. So far so good. I in three days I have beat my previous day.It does stuff like count steps and measure sleep efficiency. Not sure about the accuracy there but I can say tht it seems to get the distance correctly logged. I went a total of about 4.5 miles yesterday on my actual walk. That combined with my just around town or house steps added up to over 12,000! IMG_5445 Not bad.  Really like that I can see the total as I go throughout the day on my iPhone. (Droid for you that shun the iPhone and choose and over-sized phablet instead. :)). I have a rout that is quite interesting really. It is funny how I found out it was interesting too. I just quit telling myself how boring it was to walk around the neighborhood instead of out at Red Rock or up at Charleston. Once I did that, all sorts of things came to light. Like this:

Once I escape the walls of my Sterling Ridge Sub-division, there is open road and open space.

Fort Apache Road. Suburbs on the east, Wilds on the west.

Fort Apache Road. Suburbs on the east, Wilds on the west.

That is one long stretch of road and as I walk down it I am made happy by the warm sun. I look over to the desert hills and think about the wild Indians from old western movies  and the coyotes. How the Old Spanish Trail came through through there as a trade route. I envision a train of mule driven wagons with freight loaded high like my father in law used to drive in Eastern Washington. Part way down the road as I look to my right I see that little hill I first climbed the day I got my trekking poles and Everest hiking boots in 2011.Unnamed little hill I took such pride in getting up when I first got off the couch and on my himd legs!Once you turn the corner as you skirt suburbia and hold on to what was considered good about the desert by many, you come upon a house that you really do have to be careful about. There is a hike Joe and I take to what I call BLOOD FIST CANYON because I fell and cut my hand on it.

Scary Gun Pointing House

Scary Gun Pointing House

This is one of those places built so far out in the desert that nobody would bather them. People that just wanted to be left alone so in the cheap outlying desert 20 miles out o that small desert gambling oasis of Las Vegas, they build their compound. Nobody would build out near them and they could be safe. Whether for nefarious reasons or not. I like to think they are old bandits. Maybe even some people who descended from Poncho and Lefty….or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  There is a big sign that tells you if you can read that sign, they can reach you with a bullet. And you feel a gun drawn down on you while you read it.

Interestingly, in a clas of old and new, a brand new charter school is being built…within range…of the compound!

These Kids Will Get an Education.

These Kids Will Get an Education.

Once I levae that southern most part of the walk, I am struck by the fact Las Vegas grew so big and so fast that they ran out of names for the little Home Owner Associations that make up each sub-division.




There is one last hint on my walk that this used to be quite rural. And not so long ago. My house was built in 2009. This is a master planned community called Mountain’s Edge, “The New South West!” There are no palm trees allowed here. Only native vegetation so it does not even look like most of Vegas to start with. In case you didn’t know, all those Palms take loads of water. No Bueno here in the desert. But here in the middle of teh edge of suburbia is a little horse ranch where you can take lessons!IMG_6125

You can see the encroaching housing. I am sure soon the complaints of the smell of horses and what they do will become the subject of some effort to close them down, just like the Pig Farm in the north of town. My view is coexist. They were there first. Should not have bought that house you got cheap and expected it to be worth more suddenly that you own it. But I digress.  After passing the horses and reminiscing about Ellensburg with the farm ranch smells it emits, I turn on to Riley Street.IMG_6128

This conjures a bit of sad memory. I always take a moment to think of my Cousin and her husband…Steve and Linda Riley. Their death was the most horrible family tragedy and we all bare the scars in some way or another. But as I feel that twinge of pain, I immediately see the park and imagine Linda there with her grand-kids.  The last time I saw her she was here for a visit and we had a big family breakfast at my old house. I have lost but two cousins so far and the last time I saw each of them was at that house. Great visits and great people.  They would have both loved the park and how full of life it gets after the sun goes down.IMG_6126


After weaving through the neighborhood, I dip down into the wash. We have a lot of flash floods here in Vegas. So these water diversion areas are made nice for the vast majority of time that we have no rain and can enjoy a walk. But if it rains, get out of there!

Walkway through the wash

Walkway through the wash

After that I am about home with may about 3.4 of a mile to go after I pop out of the wash. There is so much to see in your neighborhood and a lot of history to think about.  The best part is on the entire walk I can look over to Red Rock and see the place that is my favorite in all of Nevada. IMG_6132



Hill Training for Machu Picchu

I have been devising a fitness routine to get ready this 8 months coming up to the Machu Picchu trip. Because I cannot always make the time to go out to the bigger area of mountains near Las Vegas, I go to a park just three miles down the road in my neighborhood. It has a little “mountain” in it and there are trails all over. The nice thing is a little section that is steep that goes from, a shelter to the top. Not long, but the key is that is is relatively steep. I scheduled my Friday Mornings to go there and to do the steep section ten times.As time goes on I will add my weight vest and I will increase the weight IN the vest.

Exploration Park Peak

Exploration Park Peak

This Friday Maggie, who is going to Machu Picchu with me, and I set out to do our first 10 lap assault of the hill. I stopped and ate a big hardy omelet first and met up with her at the park. We headed out and told ourselves that we were going to embrace the toughness when things seemed hard. I noticed that there were lots of people out on the hill. With all the circuitous trails on and around the thing, it looked like a little ant nest. One person was wearing a bright orange shirt so she was easy to spot. First on the north side, then down below, then coming over the top as I ascended past her. About my fourth time up, she stopped me as asked if I had done the mountain before. I told her not as a training exercise. She said “Become friends with this mountain. I did and I lost 120 pounds and have kept it off for five years!” and off she went.

Later, we crossed paths again and she stopped and asked how many times I was going up and I told her 10. We chatted and she has MS…”the good kind” she said with a chuckle. She is being the best she can to suffer the least she can and now does 7 miles a day.

Dawn does 7 miles a day!

Dawn does 7 miles a day!

So off I went, inspired by her and what she has done. We parted with the knowledge that we would see each other again. Every Friday.

There were others too. They would see me and encourage me the way many did on the trail to Everest. We finally hit our 10th lap. It was great! Not the two laps I had scheduled before Maggie said she wanted to join me. So now, instead of adding a lap a week and getting to the ten lap goal in 9 more weeks…I am there now.

Planning Helps!

Planning Helps!

After we finished, we jumped into our cars and headed to TruFusion for a 70 minute TruFire yoga session!

Rained Out

Yesterday I was excited to be headed back to Mount Charleston for some hiking and to see the rain tree. Joe had the day off and was going to pick me up. I had not got in a hike since the South Loop Blister Fest. As I sat reading Dead Lucky, by Lincoln Hall, the phone rang and it was Joe on the other end.

“Looks like thunder and lightning storms today,” he said.

I acknowledged that it was pouring at my house as we spoke. I looked at the hour by hour forecast and we were sunk. We wrapped up our conversation agreeing to meet for coffee later. In the mean time, I laced up my boots, put on my rain jacket and headed to Exploration Park. It is part of the master planned community in which I live. At the entrance there is a little hill called Exploration Peak. Boy scouts have marked out trails up and around it. From the top there is a nice view and signs that show you what you are looking at.

The park below was full of people despite the rain. There is a little water fountain area that is designed for kids to run and play in and the rain didn’t stop the kids from playing in it. Of course, while the rain came down the temperature was still about 84f.

 So, up I went. It isn’t difficult or long. But it is steep and steep is good for preparing for the trek.  A young man was running up the trail to the top…repeatedly. I was simply trying out the new boots and getting a little stretch of the legs.

I had the arm vents of my rain coat open because of the humidity building inside. It was peaceful hearing the drops of rain tap out a rhythm on my hood. My boots were like wearing slippers and my fear of blisters retreated from its heightened state from the last hike. I was happy to again be wearing my Keen Oregon PCT’s.

As I sat atop the little hill, I looked off into the distance toward the strip. The clouds hung low and I felt like I could easily be back in Seattle during a summer rain. The Stratosphere closely resembles the Space Needle from a distance. It felt nice. While I would rather have been on a complete hike, there was fulfilment even in this small stroll up Exploration Peak.

 I did join Joe later for coffee. We sat on the patio at Starbucks on Horizon Ridge in Henderson and looked out across the Las Vegas Valley toward Mount Charleston. Not only was it engulfed in clouds, a large, thicker bank hung low on the mountain. Part of me wanted to be there. Even in the pour down rain. But, as my friend Rosie says…I WILL LIVE TO HIKE ANOTHER DAY!

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