There is a little bump of rock that sits in the Las Vegas Valley east of the Red Rock Conservation Area and literally an arm’s length from the 215 AKA Beltway freeway. It can bee seen from all over the valley, sort of by itself. Thus the name, I would conclude. I never had a reason to want to hike around there. But a friend mine who lives on that e4nd of the valley has always wanted to do it just to ay he did.
So Saturday we set out. It was early and windless and quite a nice morning to be out. The thermometer was predicted to be in the triple digits but I was not worried. My research had told me that this was a half mile hike that would end up with a 600 foot elevation gain. I figured a short burst of work, a peek around the valley and back down.
We headed up and it was a bit steep as I thought it would be.
As often happens, at least for me, the ultimate top of a hike is not visible from the bottom of it. From this perspective I thought there would be this first stretch and another short one. Because it was 1/2 mile……right? WRONG!!!! As it turned out we had not taken the short route as described (a bit incorrectly) by the source I looked up. Instead we were on track for steep and long. About three miles.
We took a nice view of the valley northeast of the rock while we were at the saddle. From here there were additional steep sections to attack. My friend is not a real avid hiker. He was happy I gave him my trekking pole since he wore court shoes. The steepness was work going up, but coming down proved to be more work. Lots more. My quads went from hot fire burning globs to jelly like puddles that were useless for anything from being fired the entire return trip. But I get ahead of myself.
We hit the benchmark and at the top got a hazy morning view of the entire Vegas Valley. We had run into another hiker who uses this as a training hill. That seemed to be the norm there…lots of people powering up and down to get fit. We spoke with the one guy who said in the summer there are lots of gnats at the top of the hill. But it was not gnats, it was FLYING ANTS! They were everywhere and as a result the stay at the top was not really very fun.
Appears that one guy didn’t get out of there before the gnats got the best of him! You can see the hazy day over Vegas in the distance. It did clear some as time went on. But it also got hotter fast!
This little suburban hike was a great test of hiking in less than aesthetic surroundings and sticking with it in the heat, gnat attacks and even during what was a bit of heat over exposure to complete the task. I realized that two years ago my Everest experience had built my endurance mentally. This was certainly more for getting to the top than enjoying the trip. Though it was fun to make sure my boots were performing, which they did in stellar fashion! This was not near as steep as day two in Machu Picchu will be, but it was a nice test run for fitness gains. My kettle bell challenge is actually showing good fast results in the strength department, that was clear!
After we returned to the care in triple digit temps, my friend had felt a sense of accomplishment for doing what he had wanted to do for many years. But he doesn’t hike…….at least he didn’t used to!
Today was slated for a hike with my brother to Black Mountain in Henderson Nevada. It is part of the . It sits right at the edge of the surge of housing that spread like a flood of red tile roofs through the 90’s and 00’s. It is the tallest mountain on that end of town in that range.
According to Trails.com, it is a 6 hour hike and gains 2k feet in elevation over 3 miles. Joe was adamant that the information was wrong and that we should not be near that long out there so off we went.
I was excited but apprehensive as well. It is only 5 weeks until I leave to Everest and this hike was fairly representative of a day on the trek. At least as representative as you can get 13,000 feet lower than the trek will be. A typical day on the trek going up will be 3 miles and 6 hours for that small distance.
When I hike…or do anything challenging, I find myself in arguments with myself. If things are getting too hard I fight the voice in my head telling me I am not going to make it. To give up. To be happy with what I have already done. This hike was no exception. I had been hiking for some distance and drinking along the way. But suddenly I began getting cramps in my calf. I ate some Shot Bloks and went along. Once I hit the portion of the hike that really takes a steep climb, I started getting them in the other calf. I had to find some good rocks to press my foot up against to force stretching them out for about 15 minutes and then summit as fast as I could. Once on top, I drank another bottle of water and ate some more Shot Bloks for the trip down. I never had the attacks on the way down so I must have done something right.
As you walk up this trail, you see Las Vegas on your left. Though this particular day, there was a big haze over the valley, you could see the Famous Las Vegas Strip pretty easily.
Because of our late start, the sun was going down just as I was down the first and most difficult section. I pulled my head lamp out of my pack and continued along the path. I had not hiked at night with a light before. The weather was nice. Just had my Eddie Bauer Hang Fire Hoodie and a t-shirt and was very comfortable. Again the doubts about my abilities…too old, spent too many years doing nothing to truly get back to a good fitness level. But as I pushed those thoughts out, I gained a new appreciation for just being there and doing it. How there is no way I could have even 2 years ago. Moreover, that 6 years ago, I was unable to even carry my books from my car to the classroom in Law School. It isn’t over til its over and I just cannot let it be over yet.
A while back I went on a hike to Turtle Head. I went most the way but really just did not like that hike and the slough under my feet made me believe I was risking injury to claim the top. I had gotten a good workout, so turned back. Ever since that hike, Turtle Head mocks me. It looks at me from every corner of the valley. While up at Black Mountain, It mocked me from across the valley. So I asked a friend of mine what I could do to enhance a picture of it that was obscured by the haze and he gave me this back……stunning. It mocks me and after I get back from Everest, I will go back and put it to rest!
I enjoy challenges. I often wonder if the challenge is what I enjoy over the activity. Especially when the activity becomes difficult. But in the end, I realize one is part of the other. I love the activity because it gets difficult and because I can have a sense of accomplishment at the end.
Here are some more sights of the day!
I finally got back to take on Turtlehead in Red Rock Canyon. I had gone last spring and simply pooped out before even getting close to the saddle. I was heavier and less fit at the time. So today it was going to be fun to get to the top. Joe picked me up and I was loaded with water, camera, extra cloths in case of cooler weather and my boots were laced up tight. I also decided to give the Glacier Goggles another run to see how they did.
We pulled into the trail-head and Joe immediately left. He was going for time again and that was great. I was going for progress. The beginning of the hike is shared with the start of the Calico Tanks trail and with some climbing walls I have been to so it is familiar and sort of old hat. But I immediately recognized that the effort was much different than it had been. Now was far better. Pretty soon I was at the point we took our first rest the last time I went. But I blew passed thinking there was no need to rest here. I felt like I had just warmed up and did not need to lose my momentum. It is at this point where the steepness begins so I had to drop down a gear and dig in. It was a fun bunch of work. I chugged along and finally was at the point where you are basically scrambling around on goat trails. But I kept getting other hikers telling me I was better off on this other path…so I would go there and then get the same thing from some others. they were being helpful, but the truth is, I should have just picked a trail and stuck with it.
I generally like scrambling. It is the part of climbing wall approaches that makes me work. But when all the hand holds are rough, loose shale, well….not so much fun. I was doing well and working my way up. It was not difficult….it just SUCKED. I looked up to see how much more of this I had to endure and thought, why am I shredding my hands again? I am not going to be doing anything like this in Nepal and this simply is NOT fun. So, just below the saddle I turned back and worked my way down again. It was a good hike for what it showed me. It showed me that fun hikes are doable and I can turn back on ones that simply are not fun. It showed me my increase in fitness and that if I keep plugging along, things will be great in Nepal.
After I got home I did suffer two days of thrashed knees. Note to self: Wear knee support on steep hikes. Period.
I was looking forward to today’s hike all week. This being the first week of the 2 month drive to Dad’s 80’th, I was stoked. I had loaded my pack the night before and got my duds ready and hit the hay to get rested up for what would be a nice Trail Canyon hike to the Rain Tree. I would be trying out my new camera halter too since the last long hike took its toll on my neck carrying a camera on a traditional strap. It was also to be the first real hike on the new boots. We got to the trail head and Joe said he was off so that he could get his time and would meet me at the log. I was good with that. I am a slow hiker and he needs to enjoy the hike for his purposes as well.
It was such a nice day. The sun was hot but the breeze was cool. The trail was steep but steady. My pack held lots of water, trail food, emergency/first aid kit, trekking poles, rain coat, multi-tool and sundry other small items. I had laced the new boots up well and taken precautions about blisters. So off I went. I had joked with Joe because he told me all week this was an easy hike, but the board at the trail head listed it as STRENUOUS. I delighted in calling him out for lying again. But now he was gone and I was huffing, puffing and photo-ing my way up the trail.
Then it happened. Straight outta the blue. No warning. I was dizzy and nauseated. I kept going a few more steps feeling fine….except for that. I stopped and hydrated. Still no change. Ate a cliff bar. Still no change. I rested a while longer and set out again. After all, I could have bad days on the trek and will have to push through then too. Soon, however, I had to stop again. This time I found a great place in the shade and settled in to wait it out. But the problem was no longer dizzy it was intestinal. I made an effort to go further but in a little less than two miles up the trail, I had to go down and find an appropriate rest room. I was SOOO disappointed. AND I could not let Joe know because we had no way to communicate. Almost like we had been thrown back into the 70′! Luckily, a group of guys came up the trail and I was able to ask them to let Joe know I was descending the trail and for him to continue.
I got down and took care of things and then sat on a rock and just enjoyed being outside while I waited for Joe to return. There were great sounds all around. I had been hearing the voices of rock climbers on a climbing wall as I descended and it was calming. The birds were out, the wind in the trees made a sound like water. It was great.
After my disappointment I reassessed the day.
- I had no blisters and loved the way my feet were feeling the whole time.
- I had not felt unable to hike, just had some “bug”
- Still got in over three miles and was gaining altitude all along the way up.
Perhaps the big change in diet contributed to what happened today. I do not know. But all of these hikes are to serve a purpose and this one served many.