Our plans to play in the Buckskin Mountains on the southern Utah/northern Arizona border fizzled when, just a few days prior to departure, its 10-day weather forecast read like a broken record: rain-rain-rain-rain-rain.
Plan B was Las Vegas and I was not very excited about it.
Red Rocks Canyon, a very well-known climbing mecca, lies just west of Vegas. It’s lovely but it is also overrun with every flavor of recreator. Look just out your window and slow down! We are approaching a huddle of spandex-clad road bikers: draped over their carbon fiber steeds and riding two abreast, they whiz along the scenic loop road handing out looks of condescension. Don’t you feel like a lazy slob, touring Red Rocks in your car rather than under your own power? If not, then that steely-eyed squint the dude in the pink singlet just threw you should bring you down a notch.
And then there’s the speed tourists. Gravel crunches under the slow-moving tires as they creep in to the Scenic Overlook parking lot; the passenger-side window lowers, a cell phone is held up and out, recording a few images of “the scenic overlook”, and they are off to stalk the next pull-out, collect the next cool image, all from the ease and comfort of their cars.
Worst, because we have to spend most of our time around them, are the annoying climbers at the crag. To our right, hogging several of the kid-friendly climbs, are the “spring break moms” with their kids: sporting shiny new gear, chatting up their hired guide, and coaxing their children to “climb wherever they feel joy” (barf). To the left we have the college girl from Berkley with her french accent on over-drive. Belaying, she croons “Allez, allez!” in a breathy, come-hither tone to the man climbing above her. Ew.
Yes, I’m embellishing a bit for the sake of this post. It’s just being around so many people puts me in that kind of a mood. To be fair, we did meet a lovely climbing family from Denver and we enjoyed several days of sunny and warm climbing at Red Rocks.
Sharing a climbing crag with so many others is not something we are used to as we typically seek out solitude and wilderness. Red Rocks had neither, but what it did have was dirt: dirt, sunny days, and warmth – three things we’ve been missing a lot of lately. So we, like seemingly everyone else in the United States, descended upon Las Vegas for Spring Break.
On day two or thereabouts, we moved camp and thought we had absolutely scored with the new spot: scenic, trails out the door, and quiet – no one else around! Well, we found out that evening just WHY no one else was around. Apparently BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land in Nevada is “different” than BLM land in Wyoming, Colorado, and just about everywhere else I’ve been. As the BLM ranger standing outside our camper door in the dark with his blue police lights flashing (unnecessarily, I might add) explained to us, as we held our steaming bowls of ramen noodles, “This BLM land is “special” BLM. That means you can’t camp here.” He graciously let us stay that night since we were already set up for the evening. The next morning we headed back to our Lovell Canyon Road location.