About Me

An avid traveler I have had the good fortune to have spent my career in the travel and vacation industry. From Bali to Copenhagen and all points between is where I have been or intend to go. This blog however is specific to the Western half of the United States as I explore this part of the world.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hikes around Mt. Charleston and the all important Apres-hike!

Me on top of Cathedral Rock

It is interesting that when arriving in a new area I have always been driven to explore.  Then there is the settled in period where my drive to explore the area immediately around me fades and I begin to look outward for new adventures in neighboring states and countries to fulfill my need for new experiences and knowledge.  This month I have arrived at the end stages of living in my current town of Las Vegas where, as the realization that I will be moving far away hits, my urge to get in everything I can before leaving kicks in.  A travelers version of a "bucket list" as it were.  Restaurants I haven't tried or been back to in some time, a photographic exploration of the good, bad and ugly of Las Vegas, hiking the several peaks accessible to the public and the many other things that cross my mind.  At the forefront if they are important and attainable, back into the aether if fleeting or unrealistic.

Hiking to a major peak in the Mt. Charleston area was one of the items on my traveler's bucket list.  I am admittedly in okay shape and continue to work on bettering myself as I come to the realization that people I know in my age group are beginning to suffer the consequences of physical neglect or abuse of their person.  I would much rather suffer the mild pain of prevention than the intense, expensive and lasting pain of consequences.  So why not go from 0 to a 9.5 mile, 3500 foot elevation hike on a nice Sunday afternoon all with the help of meetup.com and Hiking Las Vegas.

As a long time member of Meetup.com (free) I was browsing the various hiking groups for my area and landed upon Hiking Las Vegas and the 52 Peak Club.  With 1,220 members and regular outings scheduled throughout the week it looked like a competent and committed group.  On a Saturday evening I joined and grabbed the last spot on a 20 person hike to Griffith Peak at an elevation of just over 11,000 feet.  Arriving at a park and ride at 7:00am the following morning I met a congenial group of hikers that quickly organized and split up into "green" car pooling groups considerate to other hikers and the limited parking at the south loop trail head that leads to both Griffith and Charleston peaks.

We arrived at 7:40 and already the lot was nearly full.  With my Camelback on and my Merrell barefoot run trail glove shoes that weigh less than 9oz each I was off... and needless to say I was not leader of the pack.  While not attuned to this type of elevated hike, nor in excellent shape, I am also not a quitter and I was determined to reach the peak.  With this in mind I also wore my heart monitor so that I could maintain an aerobic and sometimes anaerobic heart rate without pushing into maximum or beyond which can easily be done on this hike.  Approaching maximum is not effective in increasing cardiovascular fitness and can present dangers.  So, push my pace, make it to the top and keep the engine below redline was my strategy and it paid off.

Me in the green with the Hiking Las Vegas group on the summit of Griffith Peak
It was very satisfying to reach the peak and place my note in the summit logbook with the many others.  There is something magical about being at the summit of something.  Be it standing on the roof of your house, a step ladder in your kitchen or on top of an 11,000 foot peak it lifts not only your perspective but your perception as well... even the crushingly mundane and familiar is presented in a different light and allows you to see something anew or live in the moment as your kitchen, neighborhood or city moves from everyday scenery to something that calls for your attention.

You start to notice all the interesting things that surround your everyday life while living in the moment...

... And after communing with nature, hiking till you nearly drop while getting to know your trail mates and accomplishing something together, a comfortable place to rest your backside and have a bite to eat and a drink is welcome.  Just past the trail head is the Mt. Charleston Lodge with excellent views of Kyle Canyon from both outside and inside eating areas.  After a long hike there is nothing better than a medium rare buffalo or elk burger and a cold pint served with a smile by barkeeps Dragon or Moses at the best Apres-hike on the mountain.

Moses on the left, Dragon in the right.