We Should Have Brought our Climbing Gloves and Other Surprises
Bonnie did a heck of a job organizing a GiG trip to the Las Vegas area, but she forgot to tell us to bring climbing gloves--more on this later.
Our flight into Las Vegas was uneventful; we did see a few GF folks that some of us knew and visited with them. After we landed, Bonnie was there to pick us up and take us to dinner at Brio, an Italian restaurant. We all liked our meals and then headed to Bonnie's house to get settled and discuss our first day of hiking, this one in the Valley of Fire.
Saturday dawned beautiful with blue skies and a breeze with a predicted high of 70 degrees. The next day, the winds were supposed to be 30 mph with a chance of rain and snow. This valley is very sandy, so we didn't want to get caught in a sand storm; nor did we want to get caught in a flash flood, another disaster awaiting those who dare the valley in rain with all its washes.
Here, we took a series of short hikes, the longest being two miles; however, the scenery was so different from what we are used to that we kept stopping to take look around and take pictures. The vivid yellows, tans, whites against reds and oranges popped.We saw elephant rock, arch rock, and a few others, all around a quarter-half mile each.
We hiked up the stairs at Atlatl Rock to see the petroglyphs and decided to encircle it too for even more petroglyphs (half mile). Boy were some of us sorry we didn't have high top boots as our feet sank in the sand, filling our shoes.
The Fire Wave, perhaps the most impressive, was also the longest at 1.5 mile, but we also took a side trip of a half mile down a wash as well as climbing to the top of a knob for a picture opp--waving our hands, of course, in honor of the trail name. The white and red layers looked like painted stripes, forming pattern upon pattern in this area, including a wave pattern, hence the name. Beth noticed some rock that didn't look like it fit in the area. It was a conglomerate among the sandstone, which breaks apart into gravel.
We also hiked the White Domes trail (1.25miles), and along the drive, we took in the Seven Sisters, large sandstone monoliths some 20-30 feet high.
Finally, we toured the Visitor Center to learn even more about the area and its flora and fauna, from bighorn sheep to burros to desert tortoise to road runners to snakes (rattlers, gopher snakes, sidewinders) and lizards. We hoped to see tortoise and burros, but were disappointed. However, we did see a herd of bighorn sheep.
For Sunday, our second hiking day, we were off to Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area.We took two main hikes: Calico Hills, an up and down, up and back, hike among gorgeous red rock formations and Calico Tanks, a hike that leads to natural water storage areas and a view of Las Vegas. But we were in for a surprise on the Tanks hike: Bonnie didn't tell us to bring our hiking gloves on her packing list, but that is what was needed.
The beginning of the hike was pretty tame, flat on a wide path, which led to an Agave Burn area, where Native Peoples cooked, similar to dutch oven cooking. The cracked rocks and ash, many feet deep, are still visible.
Then about one third of the hike required rock scrambling, some sections with a bit of exposure. When the cliffy areas got steep and the footholds narrow with drop offs, only three continued, due to the scare factor of getting back down. However, the views of the Vegas skyline and the unique rock features were amazing. The hike did require some nerve getting back down, which was tougher than climbing up, but we all made it without a scratch or a fall.
And did we mention the weather during the scrambling? It was very windy, gusts up to 30 mph, with some snowflakes. In fact, some views of the mountains looked hazy due to the snow squalls. We all three froze and were grateful to get back into the car, nice and warm.
So with our last hike done for the day, Bonnie drove us around the circle to see a few more sights. We did get out and hike one more half-mile section to Ash Springs on a brand new boardwalk.
On the way out, we went by the place said to most often have burros. We did't see any, but we did see hundreds of Joshua trees, a real treat. We also learned these 1,000-year-old trees aren't really trees, but rather a kind of yucca plant.
Then it was back to Bonnie's for a quick shower before eating out at a Mexican restaurant, Lindo Michoacan. Again, everyone liked her food.
The next morning, we helped Bonnie clean up a bit, stripped the beds, jumped on the air mattress and cleaned bathrooms and did some laundry before walking to breakfast at the restaurant located right in Bonnie's gated community. Then we tried to order a Lyft ride, since Katie had a 50 percent off coupon; however, no car confirmed the ride even after a half hour. So Katie cancelled and tried Uber. We got a ride right away.
We said goodbye to Bonnie who was headed to work for the afternoon. We had an interesting Filipino driver who used to be a caregiver for Roy of Sigfried and Roy of white tiger fame. He said Roy was very demanding, talking about reading all night to him in dim light and wiping his butt with three people to help.Even with an occasional $400 tip, he said it wasn't worth it for what he had to do. Interesting.
We got home with no other incidents.
Tidbits from our stay:
We told Bonnie she should earn extra money being a tour guide and call herself BJ Tours. Beth explained why she wouldn't want to be called BJ.
Maria learned about the Urban dictionary and will be looking up several items when she gets home
Susan had us walking in circles around Bonnie's house to get our steps in since we ended early due to the cold weather.
We walked around the neighborhood too to get in some steps.
We discovered that the Nelson or desert bighorn sheep are much smaller, but the females have larger and longer horns.
Some of our favorite things: fractures/fissures in the rocks, colored sandstone, conglomerate