Day 9 - Tuesday - part 2
Ever since I've been going to Vegas, the mountains have fascinated me. And doing the loop around Red Rock, I'd seen these cool looking canyons going back into the ancient rock. I'd always felt this pull to go back into some of these canyons for some reason. Probably because I'd never been able to be there.
What could be more back to basics than exploring more of the surrounding geography? Las Vegas was but an embryo compared to the mother Earth that surrounds her.
My destination this day was Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, located west of Las Vegas, nestled at the base of the Spring Mountains.
Again with the springs! You'd think water was important in the Mojave desert. And yes, there were and are springs in the mountains, and this water supply supported the local Paiute population. Later, in the early 1800s, the spot became a stop on an alternate route of the Spanish Trail. A ranch was established in 1876.
There are various historical buildings and such to gawk at for all of 3.92 seconds before snapping a picture and walking away, and, of more interest to me, hiking trails.
Now, this time, I would be really roughing it. At times, I might be as much as 100 to 150 meters away from civilization, so I made sure to be well hydrated before I left
See all that water available for mountain canyon explorers like me? Yup, in this case, my provisions consisted of a 1.5 liter bottle, and one of those half-size casino bottles of water. I was set!
|How green was my Valet? Not very green.|
I parked and for starters, headed up the to ranch buildings. After being a working ranch, the property enjoyed a series of celebrity owners such as Howard Hughes and actress Vera Krupp.
A friendly volunteer named Don took me through the secret back rooms that Vera had had built, the better to entertain with. A bedroom features a 180 degree wrap-around closet enclave, but one of the closet doors leads to a hidden passage, behind which is the 'real' bedroom and luxurious (for the time) bathroom. This is where the real partying happened, baby!
The ranch and its surroundings are incredible. To actually live here would have been actually, well, awesome.
I'd looked up some hiking trail information before I went and picked up a little paper map to guide me. Unfortunately, the map was short on detail and somewhat confusing. I kind of figured that they would have a giveaway map and that it would be thorough. Silly me.
First things first, the lookout loop. A trail marker pointed me in the right direction - north - and off I went.
And man, it was spectacular. A pretty easy climb, I was all alone on the trail, and I felt all the stress of life being stripped away by the desert breezes and blown to infinity. My eyes took on that deep mountain stare as I looked around, and I felt the ancient instincts coming alive again. Instincts like not falling off a cliff or turning an ankle and landing on a poisonous snake.
I took a break at the lookout and did a Facetime call back to the Quad Queen. Unbelievably, it worked, somewhat. I was a little disappointed. Needless to say, I took lots of pictures, and a spinerama video of what things look like from the lookout point. Sitting down, I nibbled a snack of nuts that I'd brought and downed my casino water.
How I wished I could live in someplace like this... but then it wouldn't seem anything but normal - would it?
Looping back around to the east, and then doubling back alongside the driveway, I soon found myself back at the trail head. Some signs pointed the way to Harriet Lake. I knew I wanted to take a trail back into the canyon, but where was it? I decided to check out the lake anyway, and if I had to, I'd ask when I went back to the car for my huge 1.5 liter water supply.
Lake Harriet (home of the endangered Pahrum Pocket Poolfish) is named after Gertrude The Gun Auchincloss, who was known for her campfire pancakes, which she'd make on the outside of an empty gunpowder can which had been heated in the fire.
Don't believe everything Flushie tells you - I made that bullshit up. Good God, surely the lake is named after Harriet?!!! Harriet 'Mooch' Lubinsky, who moved from ranch to ranch, eating but contributing nothing. Probably.
The lake is fed by the old spring, and makes for quite a nice little wetlands ecosystem, complete with ducks. (Don't worry about the ducks getting too hot in the Nevada sun, these are 'stunt' ducks.)
I walked around 2/3 of the lake, it was peaceful and beautiful. And then, I came across the trail leading into the canyon.
So there I was, once again, practically stranded in the Mojave Desert, in outlaw country, on foot, no Winchester, and worst of all... no fucking water.
Now, I could be all safe and shit and hike back to the car and get the water and 'be prepared' and all that - or I could man up and meet the challenge.
I started walking.
The grade was not too steep, but relentless, and very wearing. You didn't realize you were going up, or by how much, except when all of a sudden you were sucking wind like a Fremont street hooker.
I rested a mo' when needed and kept moving. It was wonderful. I'd finally made it. The distant peaks became sides of the canyon. And before too terribly long, I'd made it as far as it was possible to go.
|Secret Bad-ass Cave Hiding Place in the Canyon!|
But this was going to be good. The trail back down would be mostly downhill, and I'd get to the car, sore, exhausted, hot, thirsty, but thrilled, and the water would taste like mead.
Whereas in Las Vegas, the water just tastes like Lake Mead.
Check out the full pictorial of my visit to Spring Valley Ranch. It has loads and loads of pictures. Because pictorial.