Wednesday, October 28, 2020

11/28 Hiking at Keystone Thrust in Red Rock Canyon

We celebrated Thanksgiving this year by hosting Nina's mom Luisa at our home in Las Vegas! Of course, Winston was excited to have her especially since she brought treats for him to enjoy. Grandparents are the best! 

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner full of ham, chicken, and Nina made cranberry sauce to go on top. It was all very good! However, we all felt a little guilty and a bit heavier the next morning so we decided to get some fresh air and head out into the mountains for a scenic afternoon. We picked Red Rock since it was close to the house and it is always an enjoyable Park. Lately, Red Rock has changed their policy requiring a prior arranged reservation for park access. We, as locals, were well aware of the change but noticed many families getting turned away at the gate. It was pleasant to have fewer guests in the park and hopefully will lead to long-term recovery of the park. 

Nina and I have hiked many of the trails at Red Rock so we picked one we haven't done yet. We agreed on a trail called Keystone Thrust. It is marked as a intermediate trail with scenic views. As we parked the car to set off on our afternoon stroll, we quickly got into our vibe. Winston naturally led the way only making a few wrong turns here and there. It's tough when your eyes are only a foot and a half off the ground. 

This trail was an out and back meaning there would be a definite end where you had to turn around to come back the way you entered. When we reached the turn around point, we stopped to take in the views while enjoying the beautiful views. I packed apples and oranges for our lunch. Winston ate more of my apple than I did but he was happy. We took one last look around and headed back to the car. The total distance was 2.38 miles with a duration of 1:44. After our hike, we drove the rest of the scenic drive trail while Winston settled down for a nap. We were a bit hungry so stopped by Lazy Dogs, our fav, for some takeout. All in all, a great day! 


Friday, October 23, 2020

10/23 Hiking at Willow Springs in Red Rock Canyon

Summer has finally come to an end and the weather is perfect outside. Just in time for my parents to come into town to visit and of course meet Winston. We decided to get some fresh air and head to Red Rock Canyon on a Friday since it wouldn't be very crowded. There are so many trails there which we haven't done yet but want to. On this adventure, we picked the Petroglyph Wall trail (0.2 miles total, very short) and the Willow Spring Loop. 

We started off with a nice drive on the scenic loop drive trail which is part of Red Rock. We stopped at the very popular Red Rock Scenic Overlook. This is one of the highest points of the road offering a great view of the park and surrounding areas. We all took in the view, waved hi to the passing scooter club and pressed on towards Willow Spring Loop.

The parking area for Willow Spring was very well labeled both on the map and in person ensuring that it would be easy to find. As we pulled off, some of our group members went immediately to the wrong side of the road struggling to the find the rather large sign pointing towards the Petroglyph Wall Trail. Luckily, Scott was on top of his A-game and quickly located the trailhead. This trail was very short leading straight to the canyon wall. The Petroglyphs are supposedly at least 800 years old. We are unsure of their origin but popular beliefs are either for astronomical events, labeling trails for mitigation purposes or for certain ceremonies. I personally thought someone had drawn a ship on the canyon wall but I'm not sure what the other drawings were supposed to be.

After checking out the local art, we went back to the parking lot to find the trailhead for Willow Spring Loop across the street. This one was also well labeled as we embarked on our next trail. Willow Spring was easy to follow and relatively flat. It loops back around to the first parking lot crossing over to the other side of the road before continuing. Unfortunately, we came across a world famous Sharp-Shinned Hawk and of course, couldn't move, breath or even think until the Parents located it. It wasn't life-changing. After our rather boring hawk sighting we proceeded on what we thought was the trail but found ourselves on the Lost Creek Discovery Children's trail instead. This trail wandered around for a bit but ended up putting us back at the first parking lot. From there, we walked the short jaunt back on the road to the car.

After our long trek, we were all a little hungry especially Winston. We decided to go across the highway to our favorite dog friendly restaurant Lazy Dog. We all ordered some refreshing drinks, the cheese curds for an app (absolute requirement) and Winston munched down some Chicken and rice - his fav. It was apparently his lucky day because he got a doggy box since we are members of the Pepper Club. In his doggy box, Winston received some fancy treats and a squeaky Coyote toy. After lunch, we all got back in the car, dirty and smelly, ready to go home before we all took a nap. Winston of course only napped for a short duration before he was back at it with the chomps! He always does enjoy a good hike but he enjoys a good nap more. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

10/17 Off-Roading on Cottonwood Pass in Goodsprings, NV

Our friend Alex reached out to us to invite us to do a little hiking, some lunch and then some off-roading on the way back. In my opinion, Alex didn't want to get lost and needed someone with good navigation skills to guide him home but that's not relevant. Anyways, Eric and I met up with Alex, Erin and Koa at 8:30am Saturday morning in Goodsprings, Nevada just southwest of Las Vegas. The plan was to do a short hike, then stop at Pioneer Saloon for lunch (a place that had been on my bucket list for awhile) and then drive through desert north until the trail met up with Blue Diamond. 

Alex, of course, rolled up a few minutes late and Koa was excited to see me as always! After we said our hellos, we headed up the trail. The hiking trail ended up being a short trail that went up and down a few times. It was a good warm up to get our appetites going before we drove a few blocks over to the Pioneer Saloon. I wanted to get the drone out and practice with it a little bit so I took a few videos and flew over our group for a different perspective. 

Then, we went to Pioneer Saloon and walked in the wrong entrance which earned us a lot of weird looks from the local folk. It was pretty unique since anyone could purchase their own whiskey/bourbon barrel, name it and put it on their shelf. They had over 100 barrels that are individually named and owned. The bar became famous in the 40's when a famous actress crashed into a mountain and her husband waited at this bar for days while rescuers searched for her body. Unfortunately, the aircraft was destroyed and there were no survivors. Rumor has it there is a hiking trail to view the wreckage, maybe one day I'll find myself up there to check it out! 

After lunch, we packed up, aired down and headed up Cottonwood pass towards Blue Diamond. It was a pretty slow and bumpy dirt road but we came across a creepy A-pillar cabin. Unfortunately, we did not know the backstory of the cabin and definitely felt that going inside said cabin would have been a bad idea so we admired from the outside! 

After the creepy cabin, we continued traveling towards Blue Diamond. The road was very scenic as we drove closer and closer towards Red Rock. We even came across a small hill that provided us with a very nice overlook. I of course had to grab a quick photo! After the overlook, it was just a short drive back to the highway. We aired up, said our goodbyes after a pleasant day and headed for home anticipating the next adventure wherever that might be! 


Friday, October 16, 2020

10/16 Hiking on Bristlecone Trail at Mount Charleston

Our good friend Eric visited us and we wanted to show him what else Las Vegas had to offer so off to Mount Charleston we go! This time we decided to try some trails in Lee Canyon instead of Kyle Canyon. We decided that Upper Bristlecone Trail would be a good choice. The reviews showed a decent climb with plenty of views at a high elevation! So we headed out and drove on up. 

The trailhead was very easy to find and we quickly parked the car, packed up and embarked on our journey. The trailhead was right next to the ski resort so we gave that a good gander on the first few steps. Winston was of course very excited and led our group of 4 right up the trail! 

The first two miles of the Upper were quite a bit uphill but very manageable as we walked through trees and forests. During our climb, Winston found a nice home to take a little nap in. He didn't seem to mind all the dirt and leaves! Of course we couldn't stay so we pushed on. As we continued through the forest, the trail eventually started opening up and exposing us to more and more sun. This was quite nice as the temperatures at such a high elevation were very comfortable. 

The trail was very well marked and rather easy to follow. The forest continued to thin as we found ourselves on top of  ridge after ridge. The path leveled out and we were no longer needing to climb and just continued on flat ground. As we wrapped up the two miles of the upper trail, we came across the fork with the lower portion of the trail and had to decide if we wanted to turn back or continue onto the longer lower fork. Since we thought the lower fork could only descend, we turned right and proceeded on course! 

As it turns out, the lower fork was well groomed and a consistent descend. As a result, we made much better time on the way down. 

The total distance was 6.26 miles and took 3 hours and 5 minutes with a total elevation change of 887 feet. Overall, it was a great trail and everyone had a wonderful time! 

Friday, October 2, 2020

10/2-10/4 Camping and Off-Roading in Flagstaff

Our family took advantage of an open weekend and snuck out to Flagstaff to meet up with Lou in his Jeep for a few nights. We left later than planned on Friday causing us to roll into camp just outside the Lava Tubes around 8pm that night. To our unpleasant surprise, we found it to be a chilly night for early October. Combined with a campfire ban left our group a bit nippy! But nonetheless, a great night was had and we got up early to start our next day. 

Saturday morning sunshine quickly warmed us as we headed out to Cinder Hills Off road park. The plan was to do the 13 mile loop around the park but our day took an unexpected turn. As we were having lunch in the middle of a field, we witnessed an ATV hit an unforeseen ditch, flipping it and causing one of the passengers to take a serious head wound and another to break their collarbone. Brother Lou quickly jumped into action and escorted the father and mother of the group back to their vehicle truck as I packed up the kids and a few belongings. Once they were all back inside their vehicle, they proceeded to the hospital and we later received word that everyone was on the mend. After that, we finished our lunch and decided to depart for our next stop! 

For camp Saturday night, we read some great reviews online about an overlook called “The Edge of the World” and decided we had to check it out. The road although unmarked was quite easy to follow and Navigator Nina lead us down the path without delay. The road was smooth. It had some washboard sections and even caused Winston to fall out of his chair. He wasn’t pleased. As we neared the end of the 26 mile journey, I grew increasingly frustrated as there was no overlook in sight. The trail was very scenic as it curved through forests but as Bilbo said, I wanted to see mountains! As we reached the end, I was not disappointed. 

We approached the ledge quickly yet carefully and witnessed a breath taking landscape of Sedona from the North. We immediately snapped some photos and I launched the drone for an aerial shot. Winston could not care less and promptly got back to his favorite camping activities: eating sticks and digging holes. We set up camp and had some chicken sausage tacos and veggies for dinner. No one went to bed hungry. There was a fire ban in effect there as well so Saturday was another dark yet slightly warmer night. Despite good conversation and sharing of memories, we turned in early for the 2nd night. 

As Nina and I woke Sunday morning, poor baby Winnie had developed a bit of an eye infection from all the dirt and we decided to pack up early and head back home to take him to a vet. We went back the way we came in, aired up and said our goodbyes as we turned west for home. Winston received the care he needed at the expense of some of his eyelashes but he too is on the mend. Everyone made it home safe and will be ready for another trip soon!