Sunday, September 19, 2021

9/19 Wheeling at Sand Hollow State Park

One off-roading park that has always been high on my list is Sand Hollow State Park. I've had a few opportunities to go over the years but my schedule never allowed it until I received an invite for a day trip from the guys at Rogue Overland and thankfully, my schedule allowed it. So I packed up the truck and left Vegas at 6am to drive out.

After a short two hour drive, I met up with the group consisting of a 4Runner, 2 Xterras, another Tacoma and a Jeep Wrangler. One of the main reasons I enjoy wheeling with the Rogue Overland guys is their inclusiveness for every type of vehicle. I've been a part of groups in the past that have excluded individuals based solely on the make of their vehicle and I'm happy to say that the members of Rogue Overland welcome any and all! We grouped up and took the short drive to Sand Hollow, aired down and hit the trails.

The second we turned onto the dirt trail, we left highway and city life behind as we were greeted with beautiful desert landscape full of various colors. The trail we were planning on doing that day was called 'Fault Line' and it started strong! Almost immediately, we were all in 4Lo with lockers coming on as we started steep climbs and descents. After being on the trail for about an hour, we only traveled 300 feet. It would have been much easier to walk but that's not the point. After completing Fault Line, we merged with the West Rim Trail. Although more open than Fault Line, this was still a tough trail with many ups and downs. 

During this portion of the trail, there were not many rocks or boulders to climb over - the main obstacles were ledges. Going down a ledge is one challenge but maintaining traction to go up a big ledge is a whole different problem. I was the only member of the group without a front locker and only had a rear locker. This was pretty evident as I struggled to get my front tires to grab anything on some of these ledges. However, with good spotters, careful throttle control and maybe some burnt rubber left behind, we made our way through the West Rim Trail. 

Nearing the end of the West Rim, we entered an area called the 'Lunch Room'. This area was flat and had a decent amount of space for a large group to gather together. Although we had already stopped for lunch, it was a good spot to take a quick breather before going through our next obstacle - the Squeeze. The Squeeze was an obstacle where the trail was barely wide enough for a single vehicle to pass through. The FJ in our group had a plus 2 inch long travel kit in the front and those two inches on either side caused his vehicle to be wide enough to not make it. So, I jumped out, folded my mirrors and hoped for the best. It was a very easy obstacle but nerve-wrecking as my right mirror was pressed against a solid rock face the entire time. Thankfully, with the mirror folded in, I took no damage as I scrapped by - literally. 

After the Squeeze, we jumped on the Western Rim bypass route and circled around towards the Dunes near the end. I've never been a fan of deep sand but I still took a few minutes to drift around throwing sand every which way. For the first time in a few hours, we had a good view of the area since our vision wasn't been obstructed by rocks. I took a good look around before we continued out of the dunes back towards 'The Chute'. This obstacle was a short but very technical climb up a rock V where tire placement was paramount. The guys from Rogue as always did a great job capturing what the Chute looked like so please take a look. You can find their video here: The Chute

After the chute, we took a good look at the Sand Hollow Reservoir, aired up, and headed our separate ways for home. All in all, it was a great day trip and the only damage taken on that day was a moderate sun burn!

Sunday, September 12, 2021

9/12 Hiking at Stanley B Springs Trail in Mount Charleston

After a long and hot summer, we needed to get outside to breath the fresh air. However, since it was still quite hot down in the valley, we decided to head up to our favorite summer getaway: Mt. Charleston. We've done quite a few trails at this point so we wanted to try something new but we wanted a warm up round so something a bit shorter. We conducted some research on their website discovered the Stanley B Springs hike. I previously had not heard of this hike but quickly found a KML file on Gaia (my preferred app) and off we went! 

The trailhead isn't marked but it does start at a small dirt parking lot. It looks more like a turn off than an actual parking lot so you could miss it if you aren't paying attention. The upside is that since it isn't marked, it wasn't very crowded even for a Sunday. Once we started moving, the trail was very easy to follow as it climbed up in a dense forest. After the first half mile or so, we ascended on the side of the edge overlooking the town of Mount Charleston. We tried to get Winston to appreciate the views but he was too busy smelling all the good smells. 

As we continued back into the forest, we came upon an old tree that had fallen in our path. The tree appeared to have been there for quite some time since the route curved up and around the fallen tree. We thought this would be a good opportunity to test out all of Winston's latest off-leash training and see how he did! He passed the off leash test but unexpectedly, failed the tree crossing test. Needless to say, Winston always keeps us entertained. 

As we pushed on, we found ourselves walking into what started out as damp dirt but quickly became a small stream. This was a tell tale sign that we were approaching the spring! Since the trail was named the Stanley B Springs surely there would be a spring at the end? Maybe there would be but late Summer / early fall isn't the time of year to see it. The stream was so small in fact, we didn't think it was photo worthy. However, we did get a cool photo of what used to be the start of a mine. Over the years, we've learned that most of these hiking trails or off-roading trails have some historical significance to them; very rarely do the trails just exist for us to hike on. This one was no different. Maybe years ago, probably decades, it was used as a small mine. As the mine dried up, so did the trail. But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy it! 

After reaching the end of the hike, we took a short break and headed back down. Since going down is always so much easier, we were able to grab a quick shot of Winston smiling for the camera. What a goofball! As we finished the trail, we all had some water, a few bites of snacks and headed for home. Our total distance was 2.64 miles climbing 652 feet taking us 1 hour and 34 minutes. Not bad!