Here are two photos from my family’s campout this week at Mt. Charleston’s Hilltop campground.
Looking southeast from Mt. Charleston's Hilltop campground, into the Las Vegas valley.
Las Vegas sits at around 2000 feet above sea level; this campground, 8400 feet. To help visualize the distances here, see that little white line sticking up from the valley on the right? That’s the Stratosphere Tower. It’s 1149 feet tall.
I tried to get a shot of this view at night, with a mostly full moon hanging over the city lights, but my camera isn’t strong enough.
Looking northeast from Hilltop campground across the Nevada interior
I went up to Lee Canyon, near Mt. Charleston, last week to do some bike riding. I didn’t go far, so I didn’t take many pictures, but here are a couple of views.
First, two shots near the end of the road, by the ski resort; the sun had just risen over another peak, and was shining between a couple of huge pines.
Also, on the way down the mountain, I saw a couple of burros on the side of the road. It’s hard to tell here, but the one on the right is far larger–a parent. It’s possible that one or the other was on its way to deliver mail to Boys’ Life magazine. The big plants in the middle ground are yucca plants,which are everywhere in this part of the country. Joshua trees are a kind of yucca.
A couple of big falcons flew around my area, but they were far too fast for me to get a picture, and I couldn’t identify the exact species. I also say a cute little kit fox, but he ran off before I could get a picture, even though I pulled over and tried to find him. A pretty good day for spotting desert wildlife.
Last Saturday, to beat the heat here in the depths of the Las Vegas Valley, the Hustons retreated to the bucolic splendors of the nearby Mount Charleston area. I looked for a trail to hike that wouldn’t be too long or too short, or too easy or too hard for our children (and whose porridge would be neither too hot nor too cold…oh wait, that’s something else). Also, parking and access to the trail had to be free.
We settled on the Fletcher Canyon Trail, which is just under four miles round trip, and which has a gentle but noticeable slope. I also liked that trail because it offered so much shade, going well into the forested area, as well as a stream and sheer cliff faces overhead at the end, boxing you in with 200 foot walls on either side.
The hike offered plenty for us all to gape at: a few deer on the drive up, a huge spider’s nest in a tree hanging over the trail, large trees fallen over a dry part of the stream bed (suitable for daredevil stunts), a lizard in the bushes, bats that thought nothing of flitting around us and then landing still on the closest tree (ready for close inspection by curious youngsters), and the stream itself, which was crystal clear and ice cold, and which was apparently good for dunking our heads in, and for pouring on each other. After cooling off in that water, a couple of us bottled some to take home, boil, and enjoy.
Incidentally, there was a picture on the front page of the Nevada section of the Review-Journal yesterday that showed exactly the same thing–two kids on the Fletcher Canyon Trail playing in the stream. Weird.
A great few hours all around. One of our more successful hikes, and one of the most scenic since the Great Snowy Valentine’s Day of 2009.