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Monday, July 18, 2011

Days 240 - 243: Vegas Vaction / Mt. Charleston - Mary Jane Falls


Underneath Mary Jane Falls


Day 243: Friday July 15, 2011
Mary Jane Falls - Mt. Charleston, Nevada
3 miles  +1150 feet out and back
Difficulty: High elevation but totally doable for kids and dogs
 
Directions:
Just 45 minutes from Las Vegas:  Get out of the 100 degree heat for half a day.  Step away from the secondhand smoke ridden casinos!  Enter the fresh air, ahhh, so refreshing!  From the Strip in Las Vegas, take 15 North to 95 North.  About 20 minutes up 95, you will turn left on 157 (Kyle Canyon Road).  For the next 20 minutes, you will drive mostly in a straight line gradually gaining elevation from just under 3000 feet to just over 7000 feet.  If you are here in the summer, you’ll watch the temperature gauge gradually drop from over 100 degrees to the mid 70’s; very pleasant.  The drive is amazing and becomes quite scenic.  Even in late July, you will begin to notice the snow capped mountain and question yourself; is this really snow?  Yes it is!  You will then pass Deer Creek Highway (158), Fletcher Campgrounds and then the old town with library and fire station.  Less than 2 miles further will be a cut off to the right (nearly straight).  This street is called Echo Way, turn up here.  About a quarter mile further turn left on a gravel road (any vehicle can travel up this).  The parking lot is a quarter mile back:

 Looking back on Highway 157

 Heading towards Mt. Charleston

 Trailhead (Elevation 7817 feet)

Easy going so far

The trail begins as an easy, gradual uphill.  The only obstacle is the thin air up here.  If you push yourself, the elevation will limit your breath.  Take it easy, this is a nice scenic walk.  About a half mile in you will reach a fork, be sure to cut right which leads you to the switchbacks:

 Stay to the right, very easy to follow

 Looking down on the zigzag you are climbing

 Nearly to the falls, rocks have been carved into stairs

 Alyssa

The footing is not bad and although the trail is rated "Strenious", I beg to differ.  This was easy!  My kids complained but they made it with ease.  I think in the back of their minds they really wanted to get back to the Mandalay Bay Wave Pool.  About a dozen or so switchbacks later, you are there:


 Hello Mary Jane (Elevation 8890 feet)

 Mt. Charleston (Elevation 11,916 feet)

 Winter in July, Temperature upper 60's

 There are three main sources where snow melts to form waterfalls

Alyssa sticks out her hands to feel the cool mist while I take this picture
with my back against the wet rock of another waterfall, ahh refreshing...

At 9000 feet, this is the highest elevation that I have achieved since starting my 1000 Day mission.  Should I rest or Explore -- Slightly further and you will discover a cave:




 Don't ask why I look this way; I couldn't tell yeah...


***This was my first visit to the Mt. Charleston area.  To my surprise, there were not many visitors.  Las Vegas is amazing.  The strip is completely overpopulated with tourists from all over the world.  Yet, the most amazing natural habitat in the Las Vegas area is less than an hour away.  In the winter time, the Mary Jane Falls area is completely snow covered.  In July, the highest peaks are still melting, which create the fresh waterfalls.  I’ll tell you this, next time I come to Vegas, I'll be sure to hike another trail in this region.  There are dozens to choose from…


Day 240: Tuesday July 12, 2011
Camino Real - Ventura
1.5 miles  +25 feet

The eve before our trip to Las Vegas.  This segment will for always be known as Domino's Final Tour.  Don't worry, she is ok but she did scare me.  I wanted to take the dogs for a good walk and especially Sammi, allow her to run off the leash before our 5-day trip.  So, I parked on the far side of Camino Real and hiked off trail around the rim of the wooded section and the freeway.  I've been to Camino Real before but until now, I've never quite walked the way I did.

It was a slow walk to the fenced off dog park section but all three of us made it.  However, Domino is on her last legs and once we got there, she was unable to move.  Meanwhile, Sammi got in over her head with a feisty gang of pit bulls.  This dog park in the late evening has turned ghetto.  The one owner was cool but the other cronies were not a class of people, or dogs, that I like being around.

On my walk back, I hunched over and walked Domino like a wheel barrel.  We darted straight through the grassy baseball fields.  Her front legs are fine and then I remembered watching a movie with a dog supporting his back legs in a wheel chair.  Domi needs this device.  Instead, my back began to kill so I roped up her stomach and held up her back legs that way.  The most difficult part was telling Sammi to not jump all over us.

When I came home, Domi's legs were worse than ever.  That said, she eat and pooped like a champion.  I was in fear that I would return from my trip to only have 1 dog; but Domi is still doing ok.  In fact, she really doesn't complain about it.  As I write, she is outside barking it up!   



Day 241: Wednesday July 13, 2011
Las Vegas Strip - Treasure Island Area at Night
3.5 miles  +50 feet


The Gondola at Palazzo gondola

The Sirens of TI

To make a long story short, we were watching the USA Girls Soccer team destroy France on Wednesday morning at the airport.  We arrived two hours before departure but 15 minutes before departure, our seats were filled with standby passengers and the flight took off early.  Thus, this message is a forewarning if you dare travel Spirit Airlines.  Horrible customer service, etc, so we drove to Vegas!

We arrived later than planned, but we still had enough time to see our first show, Tournament of Kings, at The Excalibur.  This was a great venue, eating food with your hands while watching an exciting show!  The kids loved it!

Later that night, the hike began.  I figured, if I am going to march 3+ miles in 100 degree heat, it has to be considered a hike!  We drove to Treasure Island and then hiked the Venetian, Palazzo, Mirage (to see the Volcano), and so on...

Each time we go to Vegas, the kids always want to see the free pirate show.  Yes, the girls are flaunt their stuff but the adventure of the show always results in the kids imaginations.  In fact, when we finally did come home late Sunday afternoon, the first thing my kids did was jump on the trampoline and set up the plastic playground toys into a Pirate Ship.  Alyssa pretty much recited the entire show while Ayden flew through the air making strange exploding sounds...


Day 242: Thursday July 14, 2011
Red Rock & More Las Vegas
8miles  +400 feet


Directions to Red Rock:
From the 15 (Just south of Las Vegas), exit on Route 160 West - Blue Diamond Road.  Less than 10 miles up, you will turn right on Route 159 - Charleston Blvd.  Less than 30 minutes total from the Strip in Las Vegas, you will reach the main entrance to Red Rock.

!*!!@$&% I didn’t bring my camera!!!  How Stupid!!!  I packed my bag in the hotel room but left the snacks, water and camera behind!!!  I was soooo mad!!!

This place was so amazing, and hot!  I would not recommend coming here in the hot summer because there are very few places to hide from the sun.  That said, we did hike along one boardwalk and there was actually some water flowing, minimally.  Mostly, we drove around the 13 mile scenic loop and stopped often to hike some of the trailheads.  We did not conquer any of the trails entirely but with the kids, we did receive a taste of what this place was all about.  They highlight for us was rock climbing on the hot red rock.  I assisted the children up on the rock and we tested our bravery by going higher and closer to the cliff face.  The sights were spectacular.  Thank you for air-conditioning.  After each 15 minute moment of hiking outside, it was nice to drink water and cool off in our van.  In total, we probably hiked about 2.5 miles and climbed 200 feet.  Pretty simple, but hot!!

I found a few links and pictures of the area for your amusement:   


http://www.google.com/search?q=red+rock,+nevada&hl=en&sa=N&biw=1024&bih=606&gl=us&prmd=ivnsm&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ei=C5EkTuK-GMbjiAKktISaAw&ved=0CFoQsAQ

Hiking to M&M World...

Once back at the Excalibur, we changed, ate our second buffet and prepared for the hot day hike.  Weaving around the New York New York, all the way down past the new Vdara and Bellagio, we then turned back to the kids favorite, M&M World.  Be prepared, M&M's are $12.99 a pound.  Let me suggest that you bag your goodies first, watch the movie on the top floor, eat off the top, then pay for the M&M's.  Is this morally correct?  Well, neither is charging outrageous prices on this kid favorite!

After 4.5 miles of VERY HOT street hiking, we changed into our suites and finished up the late afternoon on the water slides and pool at the Excalibur.  In the early evening, we changed again, ate our third buffet of the day at the Luxor and then watched Chris Angel.  Let me tell you, his show was not very good.  At times, I covered my head as if he was an amateur performing circus stunts.  It was mostly a dull comedy show with his 2 cent assistants.

 At 100 degrees, leaving the Excalibur

 My Zebra in front of the Lion!

 Passing the New York New York

 Alyssa dissapointed that we will not reach M&M world for several hours

 Alyssa being silly in route from (Aria - Crystals - Vdara)

 Nearly 100,000 flowers in the Bellagio

 Alyssa is a star

 During the National Anthem at the Bellagio

 Filler up on all flavors of M&M's

Splashing into the pool to cool off

To be continued...

2 comments:

  1. Looks like you had fun in Las Vegas!

    I wish I had done more hiking when I lived there. I made many trips to Red Rock Canyon (definitely a fall, winter, or spring destination), but only hiked the Mt. Charleston area twice. Once was the last week I was living there--I wanted to hike to the summit of Mt. Charleston before I left--and I succeeded. :D

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  2. I wanted to hike more myself, but how selfish can I be. It's awesome that my family accepts hiking as a given while we vacation. When I was a kid, my dad took us along to a harness race track on every vacation. I guess you can say I took his compulsion but transferred it to hiking, not gambling...

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