Best hike ever! (Well, in Nevada., anyway...) The Valley of Fire, which is approximately 30 miles north of Las Vegas (off of I 15), is a great drive-through national park with amazing red rock formations and panoramic western-desert-style vistas. The oldest and largest national park in Nevada, Valley of Fire is a well manicured and maintained tourist destination; all along the scenic route you find picnic areas, restrooms, and photo stops -- marked clearly for those who just aren't sure where on earth in all this vastness they should stop for a photo.
Unfortunately, though, there are only a couple marked hiking trails in the park, but one of them is a doozy! A kid rock-climbing wonderland and super cool historic site, full of petroglyphs, Mouse's Tank Trail is named for a nineteenth century bad guy nicknamed "Mouse" who eluded capture by hiding in this maze of rock canyons. The "tank" part of the moniker refers to the water "catch" areas within the rocks that allowed Mouse to survive indefinitely while hiding. Lots of fun to imagine him hiding within the caves and tunnels, with lawmen hot on his tail -- but never finding him. You can see how Mouse got his nickname!
|L-R: William, Gabe (top), Anna (bottom), Cathy, Theresa|
A fun and unusual feature of this hike was the discovery that the sand on the trail, the accumulation of hundreds (thousands?) of years of wind abrasion off of the surrounding sandstone rock walls, is amazingly fine and smooth. Softer even than Huntington Beach sand -- and that is soft, indeed! Dan and the kids all took off their shoes for this hike. (I kept my sneaks on, though, because my hands were too full of camera to carry my shoes...) The cool early April temperatures allowed for barefoot rock climbing, as well, though we were thinking that, once the real heat kicks in you'd have to be careful where you stepped out here in the hot desert!
Here are a few shots from the day:
|We translated this petroglyph thus: Don't underestimate how important it is to aim carefully before jumping off cliff to catch deer with pointy antlers.|
Oh, by the way! Did you notice we had an extra child added to the normal, workaday four at home? We had Theresa home for a cameo appearance last weekend, as a good friend (Carl B., for those who know him) was passing through Vegas on the way to Cali. He dropped Theresa home with us on Friday and got to have her until he came back through Sunday morning. We get her back today, though, for Easter break, and will have her home until Easter Thursday! Woohoo!
|We can't be sure, but we think this petroglyph has something to do with aliens hovering over a lolipop tree, watching a deer playing soccer under high voltage lines.|
|And this one has got to be saying: Iguana squashed on highway, everybody run away!|
|This one says: For heaven's sake, children, get down off those rocks before you break your necks!|
|This one looks like: Get your little self to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days...|
|Myself and my only admirer (deluded fellow).|