Hiking in the Vegas area during the summer months is a tricky thing. As in, you could die doing it if you’re not careful.
I’m not a daredevil. In fact I’m pretty cautious. When I take risks, they are well calculated. I suppose that claim could be called into question when I decided to hike rim to river at the Grand Canyon at the end of May last year. For the most part though, I live my life in a way that aligns to my massive and mostly unfounded fear of dying.
Clearly, hiking at Red Rock Canyon would be a stupid, stupid thing to do in July. The altitudes are not high enough to offer relief from the heat, and there isn’t enough vegetation to provide shade along the trails. Those Joshua trees aren’t exactly throwing much shade.
Mount Charleston is the clear choice for hiking in the summer, so that is exactly where I went on Wednesday. What better way to celebrate Canada Day then by hiking a mountain in Nevada? I could think of none.
After a brief stop at the new Visitor’s Center to confirm that the trail I planned to hike was open, we were on our way to the trailhead.
Cathedral Rock trail had been on my list for 2.5 years. My one and only other summit of this mountain was November 2012, a few days before leaving for Fat Camp in Malibu. I remember it being hugely challenging (then again, I was pretty out of shape back then). I’d been wanting to hit this one again – to test how far I’ve come. Unfortunately, wildfires in 2013 shut this trail down until this past May.
A little bit about this hike:
Distance: just a measly 3 miles round trip; however…
Elevation gain: 1,200′ in 1.5 miles. Burn baby, burn!
The suggested hike time is approximately 2 hours. I’m pretty confident that the Nov 2012 hike took over three. And that was in November.
On Wednesday, I found myself attempting this hike in 114 degree Fahrenheit (45 Celsius) heat. In fairness, those where the temps down in the valley. It was probably only 95F / 35C on the trail.
Yes, I realize how stupid that statement is. Only 95F. Dry or not, hot is hot.
At the start of the trail, there was a bit of shade. This served mainly to lull me into a false sense of security that this hike on this day was, in fact, a good idea.
The hike was definitely challenging, with steep elevation gains despite the switchbacks, but it was the blistering sun that wore me down more than anything. I can count the number of shady spots on one hand. The heat plus direct sun was brutal.
And I was a cranky bitch. Yes, even with these views.
Then I came across the obnoxiously loud family. They were resting in one of the few shady spots, about 1/4 mile from summit. I knew we would have to rest there to get a brief respite from the sun, and hoped they would leave so we could have some peace. They did.
Unfortunately they turned out to not only be obnoxious and loud, but also very slow. We closed in on them quickly, despite the 5 minute lead they had on us.
I looked at Mr. Enthusiasm and declared that I could not take that maddening cacaphony for the rest of the hike. I knew if I didn’t pass them I ran the risk of assassinating one or all of them. This after admitting at the rest break that I had to slow down before I suffered a heart attack because I was fully spent.
I considered my options, then turned to Mr. Enthusiasm. “I am deeply motivated to pass these idiots. Are you with me?”
And with that I found an energy born of sheer hate for douchebaggery, and passed them, maintaining an accelerated pace until there was sufficient distance between them and me.
In fact, we made it to summit with sufficient lead time that we were able to “enjoy” our picnic of granola, fruit and water in peace before they even made it to the top. Official time to summit: one hour fourteen minutes (01:14).
And a lovely view.