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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



Lone Mountain

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.

Lone Mountain

Lone Mountain

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.

First Leg

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!

View west

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!

5k San Francisco Style

Night before teh 5k....chillaxen on the street!

I recently attended a conference with the Nevada Justice Association in San Francisco.  One of the events you could choose to participate in was a 5k.  I signed up and one of my big motivators was was that any 5k in San Francisco would have to have some big dang hills. That would be a good progress test for me leading up to the Everest Base Camp Trek in March. The race was pretty informal and we got a turn by turn hand out to keep us on the trail. So off everyone went….except me. I was apparently the only walker. But that was ok. It was a good morning and the fog was with us making it a very different 5k than I usually do.

I felt good and quickly set up my GPS to track the route. I always like to do that. As I was moving along from Union Square to the Embarcadero, I enjoyed the sights

Artwork on the Mission

and sounds of a city waking up.  Traffic was light and there was no wind. So I snapped some pics as I went along and really was enjoying the air, moving quickly, feeling strong.  So, there couldn’t be a better day. Soon I was up on the water in front of the Ferry building and looking out into the fog that socked in the Bay Bridge. On up the road I trudged, iPod accompanying each of my steps. I knew that a turn was coming up so I was paying attention to the street signs. I didn’t want to be late for breakfast, after all. But after passing the cable car turn around on Powell, I thought for sure that something had gone awry. Rather than

Powell Street Cable Car Turn Around

cut up from there, though, I just kept on my path.  I began thinking about the fact that I had not yet had a single hill and was disappointed. That disappointment would not endure, however. A quick look at the GPS revealed that I, indeed, had gone astray and now I needed to map a rout back. Time was a wasting and not only was breakfast in peril, but being to the seminar on time was also iffy.  By now I was on Bay Street, having turned left off the Embarcadero. My destination was not really that far. But to get there would take a trip up Hyde. To the top of Lombard Street. That is the squiggly be-flowered street so steep and famous on the post cards. That was wha an only be described as a “butt buster”. And the real weird thing about it is that I LOVED the challenge and the push. UP, UP, UP. STEEP, STEEP, STEEP! I went on past Lombard and was at the top of Nob Hill at the “Mark”. I remembered having sung there while attending Simpson College back in the

Legendary Mark Hopkins on Nob Hiil, San Francisco

early 80’s. Itwas a warm feeling of deja vu…..until I saw that what goes up, must come down and now I had to go down the steepness of one of San Francisco’s most famous of its seven hills. No knee braces and time was a ticking!  I took another look at the GPS and flew down that hill into the fog below, arriving back at the Marriott, Union Square with 10 minutes to spare. I grabbed an orange juice and headed to my room to clean up and rush back down for the Nevada Supreme Court Justice’s panel. In the end, my deviation from the route aded 1.4 miles on to the 5k, logging in 4.6 instead of 3.2 miles. It also gave me the hill I so wanted to have in this 5k. An added bonus was that the knees withstood it with little residual pain, and even that dissipated pretty quickly.

Lookin a little puffy! Must be all the moisture re-hydrating my pores!

Epic Adventure Officially Begins!

Using Trekking Poles

Image via Wikipedia

I put on the pack. Laced up the boots, grabbed the poles and went. I suspected that my old, broken down body would resist the majority of the walk even across the flat. I suspected I would go a bit up the base and then turn back, making sure to be conservative and not push it. But I just kept going. All the way to the top. It felt good to breath and to puff a bit on the steepest point. I saw lizards and hawks and even a helicopter coming through the back gorge. As I looked down at the Vegas Valley and saw my car way off in the distance I was proud of not quitting under the guise of being careful. Then it was time to go down. the trekking poles are a great help to bad knees. I worked my way down and looked back over my shoulder to see the first SUMMIT in my quest to get to base camp. I tried to find the name of my little mountain and just seem not to be able to. If any of you know, please tell me. I know some of you hike far more than me and may have the name of this one. There are no trails on this rock!


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