This morning we are packing up and leaving our spectacular waterfront spot beside Lake Mead. It’s been an amazing eight nights full of good times and awesome company. We even set a new record for our longest stay in one spot.
It’s felt great to slow things down after the last month of fairly rapid travel. The excitement of new places and new experiences has been replaced by relaxation and a ‘whatever the day brings’ kind of attitude. When we’re constantly on the move route planning and campground finding is a daily activity- one that we have been glad to take a break from. It turns out that Lake Mead is the perfect place to put down roots for a bit because you’ll never run out of fun things to do around here. Number one for us has been hiking. The area is full of canyons, washes, springs, mountains, and tons of other awesome terrain for exploring.
In addition to our hike with Kris and Cassie through the narrows, we’ve also hiked down a canyon and up a mountain (well…almost). The canyon hike was over near Boulder City and to get there we had to drive to the edge of town, down a long dirt road, past the gun range and far out into the desert. We’re constantly amazed how quickly you can get from civilization to the middle of nowhere around here.
The Boyscout Canyon hike starts out fairly mundane with a two mile walk down a winding dirt road. We could have driven the truck down the road and parked near the gate closer to the canyon, but that’s just not our style. The canyon itself was pretty stunning with towering red cliffs all around that made us feel small and insignificant.
The trail ends abruptly with a 30′ drop down a cliff where someone thoughtfully secured a rope with knots. Tim was all for going down it, but I spoiled the fun by refusing to let him go anywhere near that rope. Way out there all alone with no cell service doesn’t seem like a good time to be scaling cliffs with ropes. Besides, at the bottom of the cliff was another 200′ drop that no rope would help him go down or up, so it seemed better to just end the hike there.
As we walked back up through the canyon and looked closer at the rocks we spotted tons of barrel shaped cactus clinging to the cliffs. We both have a fascination with cactus, so naturally when we found one growing at a low spot Tim had to climb up for a closer look. I later learned that this one is called a Pineapple Cactus, named I would imagine for its pineapple-like shape.
While the hike itself was good, we made a slight error in judgement by setting out a bit too late in the day. We got to the trail-head around 1:30 and probably lingered in the canyon a little longer than we should have. As a result we ended up walking the last two miles in the dark…oops. Luckily we had a big bright moon to light the way. I think we’ve been feeling kind of disoriented by the weather out here. Usually by this time of year when the sun sets earlier and earlier everyday it’s cold and wintery outside. Here it’s warm and we’re out hiking in shorts and t-shirts. This confusion in the order of our world sometimes makes us forgetful about the fact that it’s December!
Our next hike was up Hamblin Mtn, or rather it was supposed to be up Hamblin Mtn. In reality we never even got close to the mountain we set out to climb…but we had a nice hike anyway. The problem arose from a lack of trail markers combined with the abundance of similar landmarks in this desert environment- or maybe we just can’t follow directions. Whatever the reason, we got way off course and ended up wandering around looking for this mountain that we had set out to climb. See that big peak behind me in the picture below? That’s not the mountain. For awhile we thought it might be, but as we got closer it became more and more apparent that this mountain was far too steep and rocky to be summited.
In the end it didn’t matter because we had amazing views all around for the entire hike.
We ended up hiking halfway up what we are now calling “Wrong Mtn.” before stopping to eat lunch and enjoy the view.
When we got back to the airstream and compared the GPS points found on Birdand hike.com with our route that I recorded on Map My Fitness, it became apparent that we had gotten off track waaaay back near the beginning of the hike. Turns out we were supposed to go much farther south to another ridge beyond where Wrong Mtn. lay. Oh well, in the end it was an adventure and we saw some awesome scenery.
In between hiking in the dark and almost getting lost in the desert we’ve been having a blast hanging with our neighbors, Kris and Cassie. Kris has convinced Tim to swim with him in the lake twice. The first time they swam over to a large rock to jump off a few times. I was too busy chatting with Cassie and didn’t quite catch a jump in action, but here they are on the rock. Look how blue the water is.
Phineas tried to convince Juniper to swim, but in the end she only got her toes wet. Other than that the interaction between the two dogs has mostly been to ignore each other.
One windy day they wandering over with a kite. I was sure I would crash it and break it, but Tim tried his hand at flying.
We’ve also had some great night time gatherings. There’s been a few evenings of happy hour get togethers where we sit around and chat about life and all things travel related. One night they even invited us over for outside movie night. We set up our chairs around the outside of their camper where they have a TV outlet and watched a movie under the stars. Kris kept us warm with a fire he started using the traditional bow and drill method (you have to check out the post he wrote about the process- pretty impressive stuff) and we even had popcorn for munching. For our final get together we invited them over to the airstream last night for a potluck dinner. The wind had been howling all day so the four of us squeezed inside around our tiny table and had a cozy meal.
We’ve had an incredible week at the lake and we’re sad to be leaving our new friends behind. Especially since we’re not sure when we will see them again. Life on the road can be lonely at times and it’s been great to spend time with two people who share not only the same lifestyle, but many of the same values and dreams. Our travel plans may not converge again for quite some time, but I’m consoled by the certainty that someday, somewhere, we will meet again.