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Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.

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Offline mbender

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Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« on: October 23, 2018, 06:56:18 PM »
Introduction

The longest trip report ever! Not in terms of words, but in days.

This report began on a hot summer day in late August of 2014, and ended on a perfect spring day in April of 2018.

I've never regaled this adventure to anyone, or posted it to any site. I wrote the 2014 section soon after I returned from the 2014 trip while the adventure was still fresh in my memory. This year's trip closed it out. I was not sure where to post it, since it's not specific to Big Bend; but of all the sites that I frequent, BBChat seems to be the most familial. This is a personal tale, and would prefer only like-minded persons be a part of it.

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Offline mbender

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Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2018, 06:58:09 PM »

Vegas Part I: Muddy. Water.

"There are two easy ways to die in the desert: thirst and drowning."

Chapter 1. Drink The Water

My first ever trip to Vegas, four days to explore the only good thing about Sin City... the numerous mountains, trails, and canyons that surround the Valley in the Mojave Desert. With the attitude that 'What happens in Vegas, must return from Vegas', I researched and prioritized numerous hiking adventures. I was solo for the first four days in Vegas, after which I met up with a hiking group for three days and nights of hiking and swimming among the blue-green waterfalls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation.

Vegas_skyline by mbender, on Flickr

August 30, 2014: Muddy Peak.

Muddy Peak in the Muddy Mountains Wilderness is about 60 miles northeast of the City in the general vicinity of Valley of Fire. It is a class 3 peak accessed via a 12 mile long remote and very rugged high-clearance-required dirt road. The peak requires a 4.8 mile hike from the trailhead across Hidden Valley, up a rock strewn gully, and then a loose scamper to a half-mile long ridge the leads to base of the head. Then the fun part: A 300 feet class 3 gully to the summit.

Muddy Wild-erness by mbender, on Flickr

I was up at 4 a.m. and on the road by 5. I didn't think it would be so difficult to find breakfast in Sin City at 5 a.m. McDonald's FTW. I rented a Jeep for the week because I knew I'd be needing four wheel drive to make it to some of the trailheads.

Jeep by mbender, on Flickr

Muddy was no exception as the rocky road to the trailhead was rugged to say the least. It took about an hour on the dirt road to get to the trailhead by 7:00; geared up with 1.8 gallons of water and headed out at 8:00 a.m. over a 300 foot pass and into Hidden Valley. It's about four miles across Hidden Valley, then up a rocky gully to get to the saddle to the West of Muddy Peak.

High pt on left by mbender, on Flickr

There are numerous colorful, red-orange sandstone outcrops throughout the valley. I spent a significant amount of time exploring them...

Red rocks by mbender, on Flickr

I arrived at the saddle by about 10:30, where I left my backpack and donned a waist belt containing a camera and a single 20 oz bottle of water, then headed for the summit.

Hidden Valley by mbender, on Flickr

"Proper Planning and Preparation will eliminate most risk of a visit to the desert."

Running the ridge to the peak was a rugged, yet fun scramble. Coming over a high point on the ridge, a fantastic view of Muddy Peak.

Ridge by mbender, on Flickr

But, at this point was where disappointment set in, as I realize that I had vastly underestimated the distance and difficulty of getting to the summit from the saddle. Not even close. My bottle of water was already half empty, and I still had a ways to go. I should have turned back now, but I wanted to get to the base of the final ascent to identify the way up. Then I would know exactly where to go and what to expect for the day I would return to complete this summit.

At the base of Muddy Peak, I could see the path up...

So close... by mbender, on Flickr

I had but a few ounces of water remaining, and more than a half mile of rocky, rugged ridge to get back to the saddle and my backpack.

4 3/4 miles to go.
I headed back along the ridge.
I wasn't even halfway back to the saddle when I took the last sip of water from the bottle. I then felt muscle pain in my groin area, which has never happened before. I figured I had strained it somewhere along the ridge and tried rubbing and stretching it out, but that didn't help one bit. I realized later that these were muscle cramps due to dehydration. I limped across the remaining ridge back to my backpack at the saddle by about 2:00 pm, where I ate some food and re-hydrated.

Ridge view by mbender, on Flickr

"The desert is a harsh place any time of the year, but particularly from April through September."

In the days leading up to this trip, to forecast highs were in the low 90's. Sure that's hot, but since I'd been training in weather hotter than this I wasn't too worried about a 10 mile scramble, much of it at the cooler temperatures at high elevation. But in my stubbornness, I chose to ignore the more recent forecasts leading up to this day, which were now calling for near 100-degree temps at the lower elevations. Hidden Valley qualifies as a lower elevation, and at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, I'm in the heat of the day with an over four mile hike, back across the Valley, ending in a 300 foot climb up and over a pass to get to the Jeep.

Even though I am rested, refueled, and re-hydrated, I'm down to about a quart and a half of water remaining. I can see right now that making it over that final pass is gonna be a bitch.

Back at saddle by mbender, on Flickr

"In the desert, you want to ration your sweat, not your water."

4 miles to go.
Fully hydrated, I descended the saddle in the rock-filled gully to the valley floor, then plotted the most direct and efficient path to get to the other side of the valley in the hot sun. The valley floor is fairly level with small rocks and lots of grass. Easy to hike across. Off I went across the valley.

Valley floor by mbender, on Flickr

2 1/2 miles to go.
I sucked the last bit of water from my reservoir. It's hot, it's dry, it's sunny, it's getting real.

2 miles to go.
It all happened so fast. I'd trained in the heat all summer; I'd hiked in similar hot, dry conditions before; but never before had I had the moisture sucked out of my body so rapidly. Prior experience told me how much water to bring, plus a little extra for the conditions. But it's long gone now. The lips are the first thing to dry out, then the dryness progresses through the mouth, all the way back to the throat. The tongue starts to stick to the roof of the mouth; the throat gets stuck closed whenever I try to swallow. The effects of dehydration place an additional load on the body, causing the respiratory and heart rates climb and keep climbing. Then comes the muscle cramps. First the calves, then the quads, hamstrings, butt, back - every step hurts. Stopping to rest and catch my breath brought on dizziness and nausea, so I'd have to get moving again. It's a vicious cycle.

1 mile to go.
I tried desperately to suck out even the tiniest drop of water out of my empty reservoir. I continued to hike until winded, then rested until dizzy.

1/2 mile to go.
I finally made it to the start of the final push to get up and over the pass and out of the valley. At any other time, not a particularly imposing hill, but by now was the hardest climb that I had ever had to make. It's 'only' a half mile to the Jeep, but my heart was pounding, my muscles were cramped, I could not catch my breath. . . . . .

Final climb by mbender, on Flickr

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2018, 08:07:49 PM »
Beautiful report in every way. Iím on pins and needles, waiting for the rest.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2018, 10:30:53 PM »
Beautiful report in every way. Iím on pins and needles, waiting for the rest.
I sure hope he survives, otherwise we won't get any more pictures.

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Offline Homer Wilson

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2018, 10:40:23 PM »
Crap the heat and dryness near Vegas can make big bend feel mild. I bet that last half mile has to feel like the longest hike ever

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2018, 10:48:43 PM »
I just had to go into the kitchen for a glass of water...

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Online House Made of Dawn

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2018, 11:18:12 PM »
Beautiful report in every way. Iím on pins and needles, waiting for the rest.
I sure hope he survives, otherwise we won't get any more pictures.

 :icon_lol:  I'd be happy to take just ONE picture like those in my entire life.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2018, 09:31:38 AM »
We may have another trip report bordering on "that should be published" level.

I really like the quotes in red like "In the desert, you want to ration your sweat, not your water."

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Offline mbender

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2018, 06:46:03 PM »
Crap the heat and dryness near Vegas can make big bend feel mild. I bet that last half mile has to feel like the longest hike ever

Yeah I noticed that. But I never expected it, and still don't understand why it's so different.

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Offline mbender

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Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2018, 07:03:10 PM »

"The desert is a forbidding place, inhospitable to life in general and openly hostile to humans."

Up the hill.
I would hike for about 90 seconds, then stop for about 45 seconds to catch my breath. Not nearly enough time to catch my breath, but I couldn't stand still for too long because my cramped muscles would tighten, and then the nausea and dizziness would almost make me pass out. Passing out was not something that I really wanted to have happen. Hike, rest, hike, rest... I had to just keep my head down and not look up... just don't think about it and keep going... just... keep... going. Finally, I crested the hill, looked down at the Jeep and thought "Damn, it's still so far away!"

All downhill by mbender, on Flickr

1/4 mile to go.
It's all downhill from here, but going downhill with tight and cramped leg muscles was going to be very painful.

Trailhead by mbender, on Flickr

I made it back to the Jeep and the water and Gatorade within. And air conditioning. I couldn't unlock the doors fast enough. It's probably around 3:30 in the afternoon. After about an hour of drinking, resting, and stretching, I fired up the Jeep, and started to make my through the 12 miles of rough and rocky road.

Road rocks by mbender, on Flickr



Chapter 2. Dead Man's Road

12 miles to go.
I left the trailhead in the Jeep. After about three minutes, stopped the Jeep to get out and walk off the leg cramps. Oh damn that's painful. Got back in, take off, three minutes later... stop, get out, and stretch.

It's gonna be a long trek outa here... drove for three minutes, stop and painfully stretch for two minutes. Rinse and repeat. It was getting better though, I managed to increase the drive time to five, then ten minutes, then I reached a split in the road.

9 miles to go.
I remembered this fork in the road from the drive in. Driving in, I took the rough side of the split; but this time I took the smooth side because it had a nice gravel bed. Then I discovered why I took the rough split initially - as the trail merged, it went up over a big rock and up an incline. I drove up the incline, the tires spun, dug in, and high-centered the Jeep on the big rock. Stuck. No winch. No one else around for miles. No cell phone signal.

I dug out the gravel behind the tires and put rocks under the tires to get traction. I got the jack out to raise the Jeep so that I could put more rocks under the tires, but I couldn't get the Jeep high enough to get the skid plate off of that damn rock. Finally, I jacked the Jeep up just as high as I could get it, and simply drove it off of the jack. Repeated that four more times and was finally set free! It took almost two hours to get unstuck. I then backed back out down the gravel path and took the rough split of the road around. I was on the move again!

7 miles to go.
Whumpa whumpa clatter clatter clatter whump whumpa! The right front tire clipped a rock and blew out the sidewall. Well, the jack is already unpacked, so I get the spare tire... a donut! Seriously! Why does a Jeep come with a donut spare? They don't make em like they used to.

By now I was getting used to rolling around in the dirt. I pulled off the cheap, junk factory tire and put on the cheaper, junkier donut spare. I was now running on 3 1/2 tires but still had about eight more miles of rocky road to go. Very Slowly. I couldn't afford to lose another tire because I was not sure that I had enough water and energy to hike out of there. Whenever I came upon an obstacle in the trail, I would stop, get out, and scout out a path forward. Any tire-shredding obstacles were removed; I would pick a safe line through; then nervously drove through the scouted area. Over and over again.

Bitter Springs road by mbender, on Flickr

Painstakingly, I navigated my way out of the wilderness. Whew! Back to civilization! I drove into a truck stop that was just off the interstate. I stopped and got out of the Jeep... WTF is that hissing sound? My left front tire was now leaking.

I believe I ran over something pulling into the truck stop. I now had a donut spare on the right front tire, and had a hole in the left front tire. I bought some fix-a-flat from the truck stop and drove around the parking lot to try and seal the leak. Won't seal, hole too big. So I filled it up with air and headed on down highway I-15 to get back to the hotel in Vegas.

50 miles to go.
I drove for about 15 miles until I came upon a gas station. I stopped and aired up the tire.

35 miles to go.
I drove for about 20 miles until I came upon the next gas station. I stopped and aired up the tire, then drove on into Vegas.

1/4 mile to go.
I got caught in a sobriety checkpoint not a block from the hotel. I was somewhat concerned about getting through this, because by now I'm sure I looked pretty jacked up.

Back at the hotel at 10pm. 17 psi to spare (the tire pressure monitoring system was awesome). I ordered pizza, to be delivered. By midnight, I was finally able to pee, a full 14 hours after the last time I was able to perform such a feat.

To be continued. . . .

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2018, 09:59:42 PM »

"The desert is a forbidding place, inhospitable to life in general and openly hostile to humans."


No kidding!  This report certainly proves the point.  This is one of the best reports ever, or worst, depending upon how you look at it.  At each juncture, I keep thinking it can't go any more wrong, and then........


1/4 mile to go.
I got caught in a sobriety checkpoint not a block from the hotel. I was somewhat concerned about getting through this, because by now I'm sure I looked pretty jacked up.


I laughed at this one for a solid minute.  Is it wrong to laugh so hard at another man's misery?


"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2018, 10:07:59 PM »
Crap the heat and dryness near Vegas can make big bend feel mild. I bet that last half mile has to feel like the longest hike ever

Yeah I noticed that. But I never expected it, and still don't understand why it's so different.

I experienced that kind of conditions one summer when I was working in the SE Arizona canyons right along the Mexican border. Nothing nearly so painful or dangerous as what happened to you, but I can see how it could happen. Never encountered such intense dryness elsewhere.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline mbender

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Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2018, 01:21:41 PM »

Chapter 3. That Which Does Not Kill You...

Following the somewhat stressful and moderately eventful day yesterday at Muddy, I had four days to regain my health before the long hike to Havasupai, which didn't feel nearly long enough...

August 31, 2014: The Historic Railroad Trail

I slept in.

After breakfast, I called a mobile tire repair guy to get the Jeep back on the road. He pronounced one tire DOA, but was able to resuscitate the leaker. Then I took the Jeep to the tire shop to get the ruined tire replaced, then to the car wash to get the Jeep cleaned up. Now to start my recovery.

I had a few hours remaining in the day to do something - not much, though, because just about every muscle in my body was at level 10 in terms of soreness. But I've always believed in exercise rather than rest as a process to return my body back to health, so I decided to do an easy hike on the Historic Railroad Trail...

Glory Hole by mbender, on Flickr

The Historic Railroad Trail is a trail that travels through five large tunnels that were a part of the railroad route that ran from Boulder City to the Hoover Dam...

Subway by mbender, on Flickr

They were used to transport large equipment during the construction of the dam...

Tubin by mbender, on Flickr

The trail is only about a mile long, but provides nice views of Lake Mead...

Bathtub by mbender, on Flickr

The group of mountains on the other side of the lake in the center of the photo above are the Muddy Wilderness, with Muddy Peak being the high-point.

I believe I did more stretching than hiking. It was a beautiful day, so I stayed by the lake until the sun went down...

Streaker by mbender, on Flickr



September 1, 2014: Valley of Fire

I had researched and created a large list of adventures around the Vegas area, from hard climbs to easy scenic hikes. This day I upped the activity just a bit with an easy, scenic hike in the Valley of Fire state park.

The Valley of Fire is a state park located 50 miles northeast of Vegas. The route to get to VoF takes you right by the turn-off to the Muddy Wilderness. VoF is a large park filled with red rock formations made from Aztec sandstone that look like they are on fire, giving the park its name.

Fire Road by mbender, on Flickr

Fire Rock by mbender, on Flickr

I pulled into the first place that looked interesting, found Arch Rock...

Fire Arch by mbender, on Flickr

Did a bit of easy climbing...

Fire Valley by mbender, on Flickr

Drove up to the north end of the park to the colorful Fire Wave trail...

Rainbow of Fire by mbender, on Flickr

Fire Stripes by mbender, on Flickr

The Fire Wave Trail is an easy but beautiful 1 1/4 mile hike through sandstone of all colors...

Fire Streaks by mbender, on Flickr

Cool Fire by mbender, on Flickr

At the very end of the road, the White Domes Trail...

Sandy Passage by mbender, on Flickr

Another short 1+ mile trail through a variety of terrain, including the remains of an old movie set...

The White Dome? by mbender, on Flickr

The trail is well cairned, so you can't get lost...

Shootin Ducks by mbender, on Flickr



September 2, 2014: Anniversary Narrows

Continuing to up the activity level, I headed out to explore the Anniversary Narrows. Anniversary Narrows is a narrow slot canyon on BLM land between the Lake Mead NRA and the Muddy Wilderness. The Narrows are about 500 feet long and a hundred or so feet deep. Some places are no more than five feet wide. Lovell Wash cuts through the Narrows, a wash that originates beneath Muddy Peak in the Muddy Mountains to the north. Perhaps some of my dignity that I left on the Muddy ridge three days prior has trickled down the Wash to these Narrows for me to gather up. It is named for the Anniversary Mine, from which Borax was extracted in the 1920's. Various mining ruins are scattered about the area...

Tunnel In by mbender, on Flickr

Tunnel Out by mbender, on Flickr

Past the ruins, the Narrows...

Narrow Walls by mbender, on Flickr

Narrow Ceiling by mbender, on Flickr

Narrow Narrow by mbender, on Flickr

Dry and Narrow by mbender, on Flickr

Empty and Narrow by mbender, on Flickr

Fortunately, I was able to hike the Narrows before access to them closed off in 2015. Some dipshits don't seem to understand that driving down an old mining road in your low-rider can cause damage to you car. Said dipshit city-boys filed insurance claims against the landowner for damage to their POS's. The insurance company then wouldn't renew the landowner's insurance policy until access to the road was closed. Some people need to stay in the city and venture out only to Starbuck's.

Makes You Stronger. . . .

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2018, 02:18:02 PM »
1. Your pictures are slaying me. But please keep up the torture.
2. Your picture captions are still the best ever. Every one a chuckle.
3. Shame about the Narrows closing. You know, I've been a dipshit all my life, full of stupid mistakes, but I've never sued anybody because of it. I just figure what doesn't kill me.......
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Online House Made of Dawn

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Re: Vegas 2014-18: Muddy. Water.
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2018, 02:19:53 PM »
One question about the Historic Railroad Trail (another great site you've clued me into that I would otherwise never have known about)....are those tunnels possibly cutting through a series of radiating volcanic dikes?
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

 


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