We left Joshua Tree on Thursday (4/13) and re-traced our path back to Red Rocks. A group of Alastair’s climbing friends had come to town for a weekend of climbing and it was definitely worth the few extra hours of driving to meet up with them. Once we got back in town, our first destination was the BLM campground where we had stayed before. We kept our fingers crossed, once again, for an available site. We liked our previous site in the more remote section of the campground so we headed straight for it and, lucky us, it was open! It was the only unoccupied site in the small loop, and I’m assuming most (if not all) sites in the main area were full since that section of the campground seems to fill up first.
After claiming our campsite we drove to the nearby Las Vegas Veterans Memorial Leisure Center and bought week-long passes (I can only assume this is a hot spot for everyone that comes to Vegas). With our passes we could use their showers and any other facilities including the gym rooms and fitness classes for an entire week for a mere $6! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take any of the fitness classes I had my eye on due to scheduling issues, but having access to the showers was amazing.
We both showered off several days’ worth of hiking and camping, then treated the Nanavan to a drive down the Vegas strip. I’d never been in Las Vegas before and was interested in seeing what all the fuss was about. Alastair drove while I hung out the window attempting to take pictures while on the move. The strip was definitely crowded and busy, but was less in-your-face at street-level than I was expecting. There’s enough going on that the Nanavan didn’t draw any special attention, but I can’t say that would have been the case if we were still driving around with Michael Jackson.
After the strip, we met up with Alastair’s friends to socialize at the condo they were renting before heading out to dinner. Plans were made for Alastair and the others to climb a multi-pitch route the next day. This was perfectly fine by me since I would get a break from belaying and would get some solo time exploring the trails of Red Rocks. Plus, Alastair would get to do more interesting climbing and be able to do so with experienced climbers (instead of with his wife who has yet to make it up a route).
Friday (4/14) came with an early start for Alastair, while I had a leisurely morning at camp before hitting the trails. I decided to hike up to La Madre Spring which was quite anti-climactic as there was barely any water running. There were also no wildlife encounters like the Visitor’s Center trail description flyer made me believe I would experience. The wildest thing I saw all day was a semi-dried up but still furry severed deer leg (like the entire thing, hip to hoof) beside the trail; not exactly the encounter I had in mind.
On my way back down from the spring I connected to another trail which was more interesting and provided a good panoramic view of Red Rocks at its high point. My favorite part of the trail was a section with incredibly red dirt on the path, lined on either side with green trees which were small compared to trees back home but felt quite lush for the desert. It was a beautifully stark contrast between the red ground and the surrounding greenery; another example of the surprising beauty of the desert.
Alastair and his friends had a long day of climbing so he took the next day off and went hiking with me instead. We hiked up to North Peak, one of the highest points of the park that’s still easily accessible by trail. The direct sun and lack of shade slowed me down by the end of our ascent but the view at the top made for a great rest break. We had seen very few people throughout the morning and had the summit all to ourselves. It was the first time while in Red Rocks that I was able to look down at the valleys I had previously hiked through. In the distance we could even see Las Vegas which had previously been blocked by hillsides.
The next day (4/16) Alastair was back at it with his climbing friends, although it was a much shorter day on the rocks. I wandered around the trails near the Visitor’s Center in the morning and by early afternoon was reunited with the group at their condo. With plenty of hours remaining in the day, we figured we should go do something fun. So what do you do in a city with just about any form of entertainment at your fingertips? You go bowling!
I’m far from a pro bowler (I get excited if I break 100) but I’ve never played a game I didn’t enjoy. Of the five of us that bowled, I managed to come in third which is quite a victory in my book. As much as I enjoyed my time hiking in Red Rocks, bowling was a great change of pace and I really enjoyed getting to spend more time actively participating with the group, most of whom I hadn’t met prior to this trip.
I think our second pass through Red Rocks was better than the first. Not only did I get to enjoy a couple days of solo hiking and see the area from a great vantage point (that being the summit of North Peak), but Alastair was able to complete some multi-pitch routes and traverse more adventurous terrain with his climbing friends. Plus, even though Alastair and I are still getting along perfectly fine, it was still nice to have friends in town for a change in conversation and scenery.