Sunday, November 22, 2009

It took my breath away.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. LaMadre Range. Mohave Desert. Western edge of the Las Vegas Valley. 30 miles from home. When I left I went to REI and bought some proper hiking boots. I will be back to this place.

Driving in along the 13-mile scenic loop, you come to this incredible vista quickly after leaving the visitor center. And it just kept getting better. The red rock, creamy sandstone, calico hills, and an absolutely perfect weather day for hiking.
Since I was only armed with my Blackberry, I couldn't take that many pictures. Here's a brief picture-story of my trip through the RRCNA today. My mission was to check out the easy hikes to see if we can take Fiona there this winter. So I skipped the crowded overlooks and pullouts and landed at Lost Creek Children's Discovery Trail. Just a few minutes in and I was looking straight up this rock face.

On the way there is a spring creek....actual running water in the desert. There is a snail restoration project going on. So tucked into this short hike is a whole habitat in and of itself - the only home on the planet for this tiny little snail!

The end of the trail is a dry (right now) waterfall. The rounded and smooth rocks tower over you. There was a climber above me - see him on the left edge of the rock?
I hiked back out to the trail head, turned left, and explored the Discovery Trail for kids. It ended up being a spur of the first trail I took, so I met up with some familiar faces and paws. But this part of the trail has more of a human element to it. I was walking right through the middle of a native American seasonal camp. I can't wait until Fiona is old enough to appreciate what that means.

On my way out I had to take a picture of this rock. Lime green lichen. In the middle of a desert. Now....I have a love affair with rocks. I'm not sure exactly when it started but I have distinct memories of being stunned by rock formations as a kid, a teenager, and time and again as an adult. I've been to some pretty amazing places in my life, when it comes to rocks. And since my geography field course in college I've been drawn to this part of the country. There's an energy here that makes me, well, giddy. It starts with the rocks. Then it's amplified by the magnitude of force and time it takes to move and shape these rocks. Not to mention the life that happens on them, around them, in spite of them....oh, I do like it out here.
And for my parting shot, I present you a cactus. "Touch me and I will hurt you" it whispered.


A-Mo said...

Yep, that is the southwest I fell in love with during my field course my Senior year. Can't wait to join you.

MOMjNana said...

Can't wait to visit. Surely Ant Judy can do the kid's path. Lovely photos and even better writing. You take after your Mother. From me that is a great compliment.
Love, Ant Judy

Stephanie said...

Ahhh...the beautiful! I am so excited about all of the new adventures you will all have in such a beautiful land Although, I miss knowing that you are here!

Lil Red said...

Just passing through and stopped to have a look at your photos...they're beautiful! I love the closeup of the cactus! I've never seen such a thing.


so nice blog

Jack said...

I just stumbled upon your blog --I lived in Las Vegas in the late 70's and early 80's. Before Red Rock was officially a park, my friends and I would arrive early in the morning and scramble the first rocks to be on top when the sun rose for spectacular views of the canyon. I suggest you continue to explore the canyons, especially Oak Creek, as I recall, --to the right fork, the stream bed comes and goes, the higher you get you may have to swim a few pools to get around and climb to the next level until you are deep within a smooth swept chamber --cool in the summer time with only a ribbon of sky overhead --a deathtrap if any rain should fall on the plateau, but soooo amazing --like a cathedral in the rock.

I always enjoyed the Arizona side Hoover Dam spillway exhaust --the gaping hole that you know drops 600 feet. Pretty slick.

Jack Anglin