Red Rock Canyon Nevada….One of the life pleasures that I have recently experienced, is the pilgrimage to a warmer climate in mid-winter. These trips served the dual purpose of escaping the cold of Northern Canada and treating myself to much-needed exercise in the outdoors. The winter of 2020 was no different and on February 18th I left New Brunswick for Las Vegas with the intention of having a home base of Summerlin, Nevada and doing a lot of hiking in nearby Red Rock Canyon Natural Conservation Area. Little did I realize when I left that I was about to have an experience that would change how I viewed travel.
A few years ago I had visited Red Rock and the Valley of Fire parks and split my hiking time between the two parks. I wanted to return to Red Rock to do some in-dept exploration. Red Rock is a huge park characterized by many interesting hiking opportunities, towering red sandstone peaks and temperate climate in the winter. Its location close to Summerlin, makes it a natural place to visit.
It is not necessary to describe all the hikes because there is a large variety that serves the needs of the casual hiker to the experienced. In my mind, I wish I lived close by because one could spend a lifeetime of discovery. Suffice to say I tried to do two hikes a day and was never disappointed in any of the hikes that were chosen to get in the fresh air.
I have been hiking for some 45 years and at 74 years of age I try and pick my battles wisely. In the last few years mountain hike altitudes became more difficult and harder on my knees. I thus developed a love for canyons and deserts. Looking at my blogs will give the reader an overview of Nevada and Utah. Needless to say, I crave the wide open space.
Nearing the end of my hiking time I decided to take a hike to the “ IceBox Canyon”. This is a hike of some 2.2 miles that starts out with a desert walk before you enter a canyon, that becomes narrower and narrower as you proceed. The cliffs on each side are high and as the sandstone crumbles large boulders fall down the cliff sides and fill the space between the canyon walls. There is no real hiking path, rather one climbs up and down and over large boulders that are 5-20 feet high. Whatever path you select is unique to you. You make your path as you go. A lot of time is spent determining how to proceed further. The boulders test your patience and resolve. Probably frustration with the pace and uneven nature of the ground is an enemy of the hiker. It is a hike that tests the resolve of an older person. Yet, it appeals to the teen in all of us….:) This canyon is deep, much cooler and sounds carry with echoes. Trees become aids to climb up and down the paths.The canyon throws all the elements at the hiker and patience is indeed a virtue. The canyon ends as the walls close and the hiker is rewarded with a small waterfall.
I must admit I did not read the level of difficulty, only the distance and estimated time. Two hours to execute and 2.2 miles to walk. I suspect distance was “ as the crow flies” because when one goes at up and down the boulders it magnifies. And yes, the hike was rated “ strenuous”.
I was hiking with no daypack, and with a Canon camera, around my neck, that kept crying out “ Pleasee do not smash me as you slide down rocks and jump from rock to rock”. My sneakers were light and unfortunately made for running. In short, I had committed the mortal sin of hiking. I did not read, think, or execute properly.
There was a group of teenage hikers who passed me who seemed to effortlessly jump from boulder to boulder, like butterflies, while I slid down the large ones on my butt. Again, I faced the humiliation of growing older. The hike was not one of my finer examples of how to execute age. When I reflected on my performance after finishing, I remembered that one can do most anything, if one prepares properly. The greatest enemy of success is lack of being prepared.
The next morning I awoke to a swollen right foot that had to be taped to simply walk properly. However, the hike was not responsible, it was my stupidity for not reading information. In hindsight, it is a most interesting hike that requires a backpack and proper footwear. Red Rock Canyon spoke to me. It has a little bit of everything for everyone. I would like to do a retry and be properly prepared.
When I was in Toronto, leaving for Las Vegas, I lost my Nexus card , a preferred flier card. I knew that returning to New Brunswick, a long journey, was going to be airport, security madness. To my surprise, security lines in Las Vegas were almost nothing and I was through in some 15 minutes. When I arrived in Toronto on Feb 28th I saw the headlines and all the people with masks. My introduction to the Corona virus was fast and to the point.
The final leg of my air travel home was sitting beside a young woman, who smelled like a Vick’s machine, wore a mask and coughed constantly. I had visions of illness far worse than a sore foot. There was this vampire called Corona Virus and I wondered if I was infected. It was a scary ending to a beautiful trip. I got back in the neck of time. Yes, I cursed that fellow traveler shortly thereafter, as I wondered and worried.
Now it is June and still our borders are closed, even our provincial borders are closed. We have been in provincial isolation since March and the future of travel is very much up in the air.
All of a sudden the memories of Red Rock Canyon Area are ten times more powerful. I miss the pains of hiking; I miss the pushing of the body; I miss the desert and most of all, I miss the wide open spaces. So much has changed and so fast.
Travel is the life blood of my very soul It feeds me to face new challenges and gives me the reason to laugh at chronological age. The next life will be for a long time. Therefore, give me more travel in the current one.