There is something about hiking that has always interested me. Maybe it is the chance to get out into nature, the chance to escape the modern world for a few hours and get back to what is real and basic in life. Maybe it is the quiet and near solitude, the kind of quiet that’s not achievable in a bustling urban city. The kind of quiet that allows deep contemplative thoughts about life. Maybe it is the clear air being breathed deeply into my lungs that seems to not only cleanse the body but more importantly the soul. Maybe it is the burning muscles and exhaustion that come from a steep uphill walk and the satisfaction that comes with it, knowing that the strenuous exercise is not only healthy, but also honest and real. It is not the same artifical feeling that comes with a workout on treadmill in a gym. Maybe it is because of all of these reasons that I enjoy hiking so much.
Las Vegas is an incredible place to be for someone who loves to hike. It may not seem that way to the casual tourist who sees Las Vegas as a neon island in a vast, lifeless wasteland of desert. Instead, within an hour in every direction of the city there are year-round opportunities for hiking. The Spring Mountains with their towering peaks, high elevation and cooler days provide a contrast to the scorching summer heat in the valley below. Hikes here are a chance to stroll past ancient groves of twisted Bristlecone pine trees or down a trail that passes through thick stands of aspens with their golden leaves quivering in an autumn breeze. Hikes in Red Rock canyon can offer a walk through a dusting of snow from an overnight storm as the morning sun warms the air and melts off the short-lived white desert landscape. In the early spring, if the winter has seen even a moderate amount of rain, the blooming wildflowers on a desert hike can transform the brown earth into a pallet of varying colors. And each of the drastically different hikes can easily be done in a morning or afternoon depending on the time of the season.
On this Saturday, we had made arrangements to meet up with a local hiking group for a hike to the Arizona Hot Springs. Just a few miles past the newly opened bridge that bypasses Hoover Dam, there is a turn out to the left to the parking area for the trailhead. After everyone had arrived, we set out from the parking lot for the three mile hike down to the Colorado River. The first section of the trail is through and extremely wide and gently sloping wash. It is easy hiking over the hard packed dirt and loose gravel with only a few stubborn creosote bushes that have been strong enough to withstand the raging currents that run through there after a heavy rain.