Friday, May 17, 2013

Natural Entertainment in Las Vegas

Can you tell I was lost in Mirage Casino
With a BAC of .01%, a cyclist for all practical purposes is drunk.  When a cyclist is drunk, there is no amount of internal compass that will help find your way out of a casino at 2am.  Despite being 2:30am, and despite breaking the beer before booze rule, I turned to Strava.  While it didn’t help me get through the slot canyon maze of slot machines at the Mirage, it showed the direction of the strip in relation to the bathroom I was in and certainly produced the most amusing Strava map of our hiking/mountain biking trip to Las Vegas last week.  Note the knotted mess on the Strava photo at left.  If you’re looking for a similar adventure, get the drink in the tall plastic cup, go clubbing till 2-3 a.m. and enjoy your 5.5 mile Annie-eyed bedazzled hike up the strip.

Watch for Wild Burros in Red Rock Wilderness
Co-workers questioned my choice of vacation prior to my departure to Las Vegas.  I did too.  It would seem like a mountain climber setting his sights on the summit Magic Mountain.  Like you, I’m one of those weird people who like to swim in pools and see life in Death Valley.  In Vegas, I managed to put my inner Tourist-hater aside, played a Pink Diamonds slot machine, danced to Icona Pop at a club and with my white chest and biker tan arms kicked some beach ball ass at the Hardrock Hotel Rehab Pool Party. 

Lake Mead Overlook
Our plan was simple: adventure in the morning, go out at night.  That worked until Thursday, when night blended into morning and I ended up hiking The Strip.  “Why didn’t you take a cab?”  My co-workers asked.  Taxis are for wussies and besides, my rational was nothing prevents the bed spins like an hour and fifteen minute heart rate spiking walk under the buzz of neon and past Urban Campers and suspected pick pockets.

Overlook of Boogleg Canyon IMBA Trail
It wasn’t the highlight of the trip, but I did get in a decent mountain bike ride at the challenging Bootleg Canyon, in Boulder City, a half hour from The Strip near the Hoover Dam.  I rented a Specialized full-boinger 29er from All Mountain Cycles, a nice ride with Sram X-9.  It was $50 for the afternoon.  Bootleg Canyon is sort of a mix between pump track and flow.  On the east side of the trail system you’ll get an overlook of Lake Mead.  Through the canyon on the north side, squint for a view of The Strip. 

Calico Trails in Red Rock Canyon West of Vegas
Once you get the hang of the twisting quick steep ups and downs of the place, you’ll dig it.  Novice and intermediate riders should stick to the trails west of the main entrance like the IMBA trail.  Those trails throw much less curveballs, have longer sighting for obstacles and feature a more smooth flowy ride.   The Lake View and Caldera area trails had me off the bike in a few spots.  You can’t bench cut rock.  They don’t.  So you’ll periodically come around a blind corner and be greeted with a section of off camber jagged rock where the trail should be.  I was jazzed when I cleaned it.  When I bailed rather than risk losing skin, I looked around to make sure no one actually saw me on foot.

A Whole Family Watches from Above
Despite a trail review mentioning rattlesnakes, the highlight of the trip came on a spur of the moment slot canyon-esque hike out and back in White Rock Canyon in Arizona.  We hiked from the Willow Beach trailhead off the main highway a few miles from Hoover Dam.  It’s surprising how many desert places have wet sounding names.  I found the trail on the AllTrails app which can locate trails in your vicinity no matter where you are should the need to hike strike you, like at grandma's out of town funeral.  

The White Rock Canyon trail is a 7 mile round-trip out-and-back to the Colorado River.  On the way down, the walls closed close enough to run my fingers along on either side in places.  When it opened up, we were surrounded by a cathedral of 2-3000 ft. rocky peaks dotted with wild flowers, scrub bushes and the occasional family of big horned desert sheep.  They payoff was the Colorado River, deep and powerful.  We bouldered up a big rock to a fantastic view of the river’s eddys, only 4 miles downstream from the Hoover Dam.  Hike/climb downstream a few hundred meters from the beach and you can enjoy a dip in a natural hot spring.  All of this natural wonder 40 minutes away from the best artificial entertainment in the world.

1 comment:

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