The Stars Were Out

So this post is about a month overdue.  I always have these good intentions and then something happens, or I fall asleep. Here it is,better late than never, right?

I went camping the weekend of August 14-16.  I went alone, by myself, no one else went with me.  When I told a few people at work that I was camping alone they thought I was crazy.  Will you be alright out there? Aren’t you worried something might happen?What will you do, they asked. 

The questions are easily answered.  Yes, I was fine out there.  Nobody bothered me and people were friendly.  I’m always worried something could happen.  I just make sure I am aware of what I’m doing and what is going on around me. I’m not the only one that goes camping alone. I sat and read, relaxed, watched the clouds, ate yummy food, hiked, was at peace and enjoyed no demands. I had plenty to keep me occupied.

I went right after work and got up to Mt. Charleston around 3 o’clock.  I set up my tent  and took in the view.

 I had a few hours of daylight, so I decided to get a little hike in before I made my fire and started fixing dinner.

The first trail I came to from the campgrounds was the North Loop trail.  I gathered my water and off I went. 

 I realized when I started this trail it was far to difficult and too late for me to take on that night and decided to return tomorrow.  

I was wearing my halo while I was hiking out there and captured a great picture of it. It does not come out too often but it looked good that day. 

 I went back to my campsite, started my fire, watched the sunset, and waited for the stars.  The last two times I’ve camped the skies have been too cloudy to see stars. 

 The stars were beautiful, I only saw a couple of shooting stars, but it was so nice seeing all those stars up in the sky. My daughter thought maybe I was cursed which is why it was cloudy both times I went camping with her.  Megan, I am not cursed. 

The next day I went out to finish the hike I started but there was no place to park.  I found another trail started on it, 15 minutes later it was done, found another trail started it but there was no distinct trail.  I did that for about 30 minutes and decided to head back to the North Loop.  Parking was packed, I went back to my campsite to relax.  Around 1 pm I decided to give it another try, this time there were a few spots to park.  Woo Hoo!

On the map it shows its about 3 miles and is a strenuous hike. They weren’t kidding.  Up hill and switchbacks, lots of them. Who needs a stair master?

About half way into the hike I passed a woman on her way down and asked if I was close (not even). She smiled and said, “well you are almost to the clearing, then past that there are more switchbacks and those are harder than the ones you just did. (what? OMG, she’s kidding, right?) Once you reach the top there are great views, then you’re going to keep going (I tuned her out for a moment because inside I was crying) down a hill for a bit then you’ll see the raintree.” I thanked her for all her information and kept going.  My goal was the raintree.

She was not kidding, more switchbacks and yes, they were harder, but it was in the shade of the trees so that helped a little.  I’m so glad I was alone.  I took a lot of breaks against every other tree. It was slow going but I made it eventually.  The tree was huge, beautiful, and truly amazing.  The raintree is a 3000 year old tree and 

  thought to be the oldest tree in the Spring Mountains. By the time I got there I was exhausted and thirsty.  My picture is not the best, but I do have plans to go back. It should be great practice training for backpacking.

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Where Oh Where Are The Stars?

I love looking at stars at night.  The constellations, shooting stars, just looking up in the magical starry night is something I truly enjoy.  Last time I went camping up in the mountains, I got cloudy skies, lots of rain, no stars. 

Next camping trip, to go up to Cathedral Gorge, about 170 miles from Las Vegas and 100 miles from any city, there will be stars to be seen up there.

We (my two daughters, one of their best friends and I) got started  an hour and a half later than planned.  We got our rented car, packed it up and left.  About 90 outside of Vegas we start seeing greenery and water, and signs for camping.  You know we had to check out the campsites.  We were at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. The campsites are at the upper lake.  Down the dirt road we go looking at the no fee campsites.  

What we found was water, wildlife, and serenity.  We found the perfect camp spot right next to the water.   With a view like this we had to stay the night.

  We watched the birds and dragonflies playing, fish coming to the surface of the lake, and a family of lizards that lived in a fallen tree right behind our campsite. 
As the sun set we took in the view and breathed in the fresh air and took in our little piece of serenity.

   As the sun went down the clouds started rolling in.  We started seeing lightening and hearing thunder far off in the distance. When the sun set completely Mother Nature gave us a a stunning light show, we sat in our chairs and watched.  Lots of lightening, no stars. 
    
There was one big draw back about this beautiful place.  It was right off the highway.  We heard every car, and truck coming and going, it did not make for a restful, peaceful night.  I was up at 4:30 in the morning, everyone else was up buy 5:00.  We ate breakfast, packed the car up and headed out to our original destination, Cathedral Gorge.  

The campsites are not really private but the park is well maintained and they have flush toilets and a clean shower. The park is beautiful and not busy.  When we  got there at 8:30, we were the only ones there. We found our spot, put up our tents, had a snack and went off on a 4 mile hike.  

    
We did get side tracked and went on another trail which led us up to Miller’s Outlook. Once we got back to the trail we went on to look at the “caves”.

    
You can’t get too far into the “caves”, after being out in the heat the temperature change was welcome.

That night more clouds rolled in, we got a little sprinkle but no real rain.  Again no stars, but we did watch an amazing moonrise.   

 The trip was a lot of fun and everyone had a good time.  I’m not too sure I would got back to Cathedral Gorge, but I am glad I went at least once.

   

Fresh Air And Rain

I have been working on expanding my backpacking starter kit.  First I went to REI during their garage sale to see what bargains I could find.  

 By the time I had the chance to get in things had been pretty picked over.  I did find a smaller pack, to start out with.  It’s a little smaller than I was looking for but I can always get another.  

I also did a bit of shopping online too.  I found a tent and a sleeping bag, for both it was under 80 dollars.  These things are just getting me started on my journey to backpacking.

I finally had some time off of work and wanted to see how some of my stuff that I just bought would do.  My oldest daughter and I had two days off and decided to get away but still remain close to home. My two youngest decided they too wanted to camp.  So up to Mt. Charleston we went right after the 4th of July. We packed my car to the brim and off we went.  Mt. Charleston is a wonderful get away from the Vegas heat in the summer. Many locals go up there to beat the heat.  I didn’t realize at the time we went it was going to be raining during the two days  we were up there. There was some sunshine, but there was definitely more clouds, and rain.

   
   We didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits.  We would hunker down in our tents, wait the rain out and gather around the fire which stayed lit even through the rains.  The tent stayed dry during every downpour. My tent is the smaller orange one in the second picture. We even saw hail a couple of times as well. 

   

  It wasn’t quite what we had planned, but we had fun, laughed, played games, and worked together to keep the fire going. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.  

I forgot how much I enjoyed getting away and taking deep breaths of fresh air. I think I might go back in a couple of weeks. 

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