Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lake Mead

Our route from Zion took us into the Las Vegas area (from heaven to hell?). This city wasn't on my hit list, but it was the right number of hours from Zion, and nearby Boulder City attracted my interest being on the shores of Lake Mead and having a well-reviewed mountain bike trail system.

We camped at the full-hookup RV park within the Lake Mead National Recreational Area. Every day we were there it got up to 95 degrees, so even though there is a beautiful no-hookups campground with big, private sites and gorgeous flowering shrubs 100 yards away, we weren't going to go without electricity to run our air conditioner. Plus, we just left Zion with no hookups, and it's a chore to keep batteries charged even in moderate temperatures. ANYWAY...it was hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. Too hot to be outside mid-day. It was "hotter than a Times Square Rolex"..."Hotter than two rats f-ing in a wool sock" What?!? Damn, that's hot weather...

Nice view from camp:

So, in order to be able to ride when it was cool I had to get up at dawn. Well, shortly after dawn. By 6:00AM the sun is already clear of the mountains on the far shore of the lake. I made it up to the Bootleg Canyon trailhead by 7:00 and found it comfortable enough. I headed for the summit, excited to ride down some of the downhill trails I'd read about. Up top I paused to admire the zip line setup that originates there - looks like an amazing ride in-and-of-itself. I found the downhill trail, strapped on my elbow, knee and shin guards, lowered my seat, and took the plunge...

Now, this isn't my first time riding downhill trails, and I've seen what I consider to be knarly hard core single track, stuff I won't ride, but this...this was freakin' ridiculous. Sure, it was OK for just long enough that I didn't want to hike back up, so I kept going down, thinking, hoping that it would get better. Nope...1st it got worse. Mostly I descended on foot, and that was super scarey and challenging while carrying my bike. This trail was totally gonzo, just plain stoopid. I can't imagine that it is rideable at all. Look...I'm not kidding...this is the trail!:

Well, when I made it down to the foothills it mellowed out and got actually pretty good. I looked back up at the insanity I'd just hiked down, then hopped back on the bike to try to salvage the ride. So, zipping around up and down the undulating foothill terrain, I'd occasionally catch a little air over a sharp transition. It's something I like to do - adds a little excitement when the going gets smooth. I come flying over one such berm, both wheels enjoying a zero gravity moment, and I see, directly in my landing zone...a snake. Well, seeing as how steering and brakes don't do much good when you're not technically in contact with the earth's surface, I did the only thing I could do...I landed on the snake. To be more specific, the rattlesnake...

I heard it rattle in surprise and anger as I rolled/skidded to a stop. I grabbed the camera and hurried back as it slithered for cover, forked tongue flicking in and out, tail buzzing its warning. I got snapped a few shots before it found its hidey hole and coiled up inside to sulk. I've been wanting to see one of these ever since we've travelled in desert regions, and it was really cool to finally see one up close. Sucks that I had to add my tire marks to it's diamond back, though. Hope it's not injured.

In the afternoons we sought relief from the heat, taking the dogs down to a boat ramp where they could swim and we could dip our feet in the cool lake water. Kinsey likes wading in the water and then rubbing in the sand, but Toby really had a ball:

Late afternoon sun and clouds highlight some of the islands in Lake Mead:

Had to take a ride into Las Vegas one evening, to see what that all looks like. Here's a shot of the Fountains of Bellagio dancing to music, while Bally's and the Eiffel Tower glow on The Strip in the background:

I'd tell you all about our night on the town, but you know the rule..."What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." OK, prison library's closing now. Gotta go!


  1. Your stories are hilarious. Keep up the fun way of writing. I saw a rattle snake at Oliver Lee Memorial state Park. Vincent

  2. Holy crap that rattler looks pissed!! I love that picture of Toby running, looks like he's having a blast.

    - Tommy