Friday, December 13, 2019

Las Vegas Adventure - Day 5

[Composed 11/29/2019]

When we planned to visit the Las Vegas area, I was most excited to hit the nearby trails. Yesterday's failed hiking attempt definitely had me spooked. Would the conditions be too dreadful to get any hiking in this trip? And more importantly, would the trails fail to live up to my perhaps unreasonable expectations?

All of these concerns fell away when we pulled into the visitor parking area at Red Rock Canyon. The sun was shining, the wind that was so problematic the day before was absent and the scenery around us was nothing short of spectacular. We were surrounded by a ring of picturesque mountains and I couldn't wait to explore it all!

We opted to do the Grand Circle Loop, which takes you on an 11+ mile hike throughout the park. It's sort of the hiking equivalent to the loop road you drive to get an overview of the park. As with any hike, there are tradeoffs to be made. The Grand Circle Loop is a survey course in Red Rock Canyon; you don't spend too much time in any one area. But what it lacked in depth it made up for in breadth.

The geologic formations were outstanding, the trail well marked and for maximal effect we even encountered a bit of snow on the trail. We did a bit of off trail exploring in a few areas, which racked the total mileage up to 12.5 miles. After days of hanging out indoors, getting in a longer hike was just perfect.

When researching the Grand Circle Loop we came across some debate as to the best direction to tackle the hike. We opted to do the trail in the counterclockwise direction, encountering the somewhat more technical part at the beginning, and walking back on the more mundane trail at the end. This was ideal given that our hike ended as it was getting dark and the temps were dropping. In the summer, if you started the loop in the dark in the morning, it might very well make sense to do it reversed.

After finishing the hike, and nearly being out of daylight, Shira humored me with a trip to Petroglyph Wall, a short side trail in the park that takes you to a wall of 800 year old rock art. Shira wasn't impressed, but I stood reverently in front of the primitive markings. What were they trying to say? I tried to imagine what message I'd want to leave to an individual in the year 2,820. How could I even manage to pull off such a feat? Some crafty soul from the year 1,220 managed to do just this. I was impressed.

We finished up our long day of hiking with a delicious Mexican meal and the promise that we'd have more hiking the next day. Would it match the beauty of today? I wasn't sure about that, but for now I was just thankful to have spent the day in such amazing surroundings, doing something I love with someone I love.

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