Last Day Hiking in Red Rock Canyon

We headed back to Red Rock Canyon for the final day of our trip (11/7/16). I had hiked Turtlehead Peak (6,324′) almost exactly one year before, while interviewing for residency in Las Vegas, and thought it would be a good hike for the family. Since we had the entire day (overnight flight home leaving around 10pm), we made it a combo by adding a side trip to Calico Tank Peak (4,870′).

View from the top of Calico Tank Peak

View from the top of Calico Tank Peak

A relatively short trail (1.5ish miles) took us to the Calico Tank (which didn’t currently have any water), where Allison stopped with Micah and let him play on the rocks for 20 or 30 minutes. I used the time to climb the rest of the way to the summit, a short climb of a few hundred feet, with one short class 3 chimney that required a little bit of effort.

Looking back down on Allison and Micah, from just below the summit

Looking back down on Allison and Micah, from just below the summit

Looking toward Turtlehead (top right) from the summit of Calico Tank Peak

Looking toward Turtlehead (top right) from the summit of Calico Tank Peak

Micah climbing on the rocks

Micah climbing on the rocks

We then retraced our steps to where the trail forks, and started the long uphill hike to the summit of Turtlehead. Micah was in a cheerful mood the entire day, despite the heat and the long stretches of riding in his carrier.

Looking back down toward Calico Tank and the parking area, from Turtlehead's summit

Looking back down toward Calico Tank and the parking area, from Turtlehead’s summit

Family picture

Family picture

We made it back to the car around 2pm, then drove back into Summerlin for a late lunch at a pizzeria. By the time we finished, we had time to squeeze in one more short hike (which we let Micah walk along for) in the Calico Basin area. Then it was time to return the rental car, take our shuttle to the airport, and fly back to Cincinnati.

A nice vacation; now for a month of long hours in the ICU…

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Published in: on November 27, 2016 at 2:34 pm  Comments (1)  

Valley of Fire

On day 4 of our trip, we did a few hikes in Valley of Fire National Park – about an hour’s drive northeast of Las Vegas.

The first hike was a short, ~1.4 mile out-and-back trip to see the well-known ‘Fire Wave’ rock formation.

Fire Wave

Fire Wave

View of the park

View of the park

Our longer hike took us down the White Domes loop, then connected up with the Prospect Trail. Near the White Domes, we passed through a short slot canyon, which Micah was fascinated by.

Slot canyon

Slot canyon

The Prospect Trail is a little over 5 miles one-way (10-11 miles round trip), but as we quickly learned, the trail isn’t exactly easy to follow. I’d expected it to be well-marked, so I hadn’t brought along any maps. The trail snaked through numerous canyons, forking into several unmarked trails, and I’m pretty sure we ended up losing the main trail in the process.

Climbing on some of the rock formations

Climbing on some of the rock formations

Hiking through the canyons. Do we go left or right?

Hiking through the canyons. Do we go left or right?

We hadn’t planned to hike the entire trail, though, so it didn’t really matter. We explored a few side canyons, before eventually backtracking and returning to the car.

Tight squeeze

Tight squeeze

Another network of canyons

Another network of canyons

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At one point we stopped for a break on a large, slanted slab of rock, and let Micah get out of the carrier and practice his climbing skills. He was surprisingly coordinated on the uneven surface, and did a nice job of imitating what he had seen us do – climbing uphill on all fours, then turning around and crab-walking down feet first.

Practice going up...

Practice going up…

...practice going down

…practice going down

We stopped for a late mid-afternoon lunch in Overton, NV, and I was even able to catch a few minutes of the Colts game while we ate.

Rather than returning to the hotel via the interstate, we took the scenic drive along Lake Mead, stopping along the way for another short hike, which we let Micah walk for rather than riding in the carrier.

Published in: on November 19, 2016 at 3:11 pm  Comments (3)  

Hamblin Mountain

Day 3 of our trip was Hamblin Mountain – one of the larger mountains in the Lake Mead area that’s technically part of the ancient Hamblin-Cleopatra volcano, which has since been split apart by earthquakes. Of all the hikes we had planned for the week, this is probably the one I was least excited about, but it turned out to be our favorite.

Our route

Our route

The entire hike took roughly 4.5 hours (splits above don’t account for stops). There were trails in some places, but not reliable enough to follow to the top without a map. I used a map I’d found online to get us to the summit, though we ended up finding a much faster/easier but less scenic route down. We mostly followed ridgelines on our way up, and stream beds and washes on our way down.

Heading up the first ridge

Heading up the first ridge

...getting higher...

…getting higher…

There were a few steep, rocky sections along a few of the ridges, but it’s no more than a class 2 hike. At one point a large raven followed us overhead, and I mistakenly called it a crow…so Micah spent the next 20 minutes pointing at it saying, “Cuh! cuh! cuh!”.

Along the summit ridge, we finally caught sight of Lake Mead to the south. The views were outstanding. It was also around this time that I nearly stepped on a small snake. Micah correctly identified it as a “Sneh”.

View of the Hamblin-Cleopatra Volcano

View of the Hamblin-Cleopatra Volcano

And what sound does a snake make, Micah?

“Sssssssssss”.

Micah and I taking in the view

Micah and I taking in the view

Allison (center) & Lake Mead (top right)

Allison (center) & Lake Mead (top right)

We stopped for a snack at the summit, and gave Micah a chance to get out of his carrier and run around (watching closely to make sure he didn’t run off the side of the mountain). He seemed to enjoy that a lot.

Micah at the summit

Micah at the summit

He want to go "that way".

He wanted to go “that way”.

You can see from the elevation profile above that our return trip had a lot fewer ups and downs, as we basically just followed the path of least resistance down various stream beds. This would be the way to go if you’re in a hurry to make it to the top, but we thought the ridges were more enjoyable (even though they required more effort).

When we finished the hike, we decided to drive further south the visit the Hoover Dam, since none of us had ever seen it before. I don’t think Allison liked it when I taught Micah how to say “dam,” but he picked it right up.

"Dam dam dam"

“Dam dam dam”

Published in: on November 17, 2016 at 1:44 pm  Comments (2)  

Climbing Manly Beacon

For the second day of our trip, Allison, Micah and I got up early(ish) to drive over to Death Valley National Park. You might remember a post from a few months back, when I climbed Telescope Peak in Death Valley. At the time, I noticed the impressive landscape around Manly Beacon, and added it to my bucket list.

Manly Beacon, from Zabriskie Point

Manly Beacon, from Zabriskie Point

The “summit” itself comes in at a paltry 750′ elevation…definitely not a mountain, per se…but an interesting feature nonetheless. The round-trip distance was only 3-4 miles, about half on-trail and half 0ff-trail. Not much difficulty from a navigation standpoint, so long as you hike up the correct wash and aim for the ridge between Manly Beacon & Red Cathedral.

Manly Beacon (far right)

Manly Beacon (far right)

Getting closer...

Getting closer…

Hiking up the ridge

Hiking up the ridge

The climb wasn’t terribly challenging, no more than class 2+, but there was a fair amount of exposure along a “catwalk” section near the summit.

Crossing the catwalk with Micah

Crossing the catwalk with Micah

Summit photo

Summit photo

Heading back down

Heading back down

A few sections were slippery with loose sand and rock, so we had to crab walk down – which Micah again thought was hilarious.

Micah riding on my back, laughing in my ear

Micah riding on my back, laughing in my ear

The hike back to the car was uneventful, but very hot. We found a diner within the park, grabbed some hamburgers, then stopped by Badwater Basin (lowest point in the Western Hemisphere) before heading back to Las Vegas.

Tired 18-month-old

Tired 18-month-old

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Micah at Badwater

Running around the salt flats

Running around the salt flats

Also, I’m going to go ahead and claim a “Youngest Ever to Stand on the Summit” record for Micah on Manly Beacon (1 year, 6 months, 25 days). Post a comment below if anyone out there breaks his record!

Published in: on November 12, 2016 at 9:27 am  Comments (3)  

Mountain Springs & Windy Peaks

Our family just got back from a 5-day hiking trip to Nevada and California, so I’ll be posting several more times in the coming days.

The trip got off to a slow start, as our flight out of Cincinnati was delayed a couple hours. We arrived at our hotel (the Aliante) after midnight, so decided to sleep in and choose a hiking destination relatively close to Las Vegas for day 1.

We settled on Mountain Springs Peak and Windy Peak – a couple of class 2 summits on the edge of Red Rock Canyon.

Climbing toward Mountain Springs Peak

Climbing toward Mountain Springs Peak

The route was a mix of 4WD road, hiking trails, game trails, and off-trail hiking.

View from Mountain Springs Peak

View from Mountain Springs Peak

Mountain Springs is a higher, broader mountain with a well-established trail to the summit. Windy Peak, on the other hand, offered some fun rock scrambling over its final few hundred feet. Micah spent most of the hike riding in the baby carrier. Over the course of the week, we noticed that he always spends the first 30-40 minutes silently watching the scenery…then he starts singing songs and babbling…then he starts asking to get down and walk (and/or have a snack).

Micah, just below the summit of Windy Peak

Micah, just below the summit of Windy Peak

View from the top of Windy Peak

View from the top of Windy Peak

Micah enjoyed the scramble sections tremendously. He thought the entire situation was hilarious. Whenever I had to use my hands to steady myself, he broke out into a belly laugh.

Descending Windy Peak

Descending Windy Peak

We finished the hike in a little under 4 hours, then drove into the city for a delicious Mexican lunch. Total distance was 8.7 miles, with a total elevation gain of 1,940′.

windy

Published in: on November 9, 2016 at 2:38 am  Comments (3)