The Call Of The Slots.

No.  Not slot machines.  I’m not in Vegas this trip.  Read on…

Many years ago I somehow got involved in caving.  I’m not sure how it started but it was a very exciting time.  My friends and my older brother got involved as well.  We became members of the local caving club (often called a Grotto).  I explored many caves and even re-discovered a cave that had been lost for 40 years.  That cave had virgin passage (never seen nor touched by humans).  Exploring those passages are as close as I will get to having a “first man on the moon” feeling.  It was dark, dirty, and dangerous fun.  Many fond memories were had exploring these dark places.  After caving we discovered slot canyoneering.  It’s similar to caving except with open sky above you (most of the time).   We were all living in UT at the time and UT is a mecca for slot canyons.  They are deep, foreboding, and dangerous as hell if you don’t know what you’re doing.  We’ve seen some amazing places that canyons hide and made memories that can only be described as priceless.  The places are not easy to get to.  If it was easy, then everyone would be doing it.

It’s been many years since I’ve done any canyoneering.  Most of the time you find me on a bike.  I live in Arizona now and it’s an amazing place.  It’s a shame to not take advantage of the variety and beauty that abounds here.  In fact, Arizona has one of the granddaddy of all slot canyons in the known world.  I’m not referring to the Grand Canyon either.  It is however northeast of there.  Well, the call of the slots sounded again.  It beaconed me and I did answer.  There is a slot near the Phoenix metro that in some books is unnamed.  Rather, the author makes up a name, but on maps there is no name listed.  It is near Tortilla Flats.  It looked interesting enough.  So a buddy and I put on our explorin’ hats and set out one Saturday to do just that.  Needless to say, I was impressed.  It was even cave like in some spots.  Browse through the gallery and take a look.  Enjoy.

The High Rollin “River Mountains Loop Trail” Near Las Vegas

I’ve ridden this trail before.  However, I’ve only just ridden a portion of the loop.  This is a shared use trail.  The last time I rode it was around Presidents day 2013 and I discovered it purely by accident.  Back in Feb I made up my own route around the city of Henderson, NV and ended up on a portion of it.  I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered it wound its way around (all the way around) the River Mountains.  At that time I picked it up on the Southeast corner of Henderson, followed it to Lake Mead Pkwy (almost to the Three Kids Mine) then returned to my point of origin along Lake Mead Pkwy. I have a fond memory here of stopping on the trail to take a picture and being yelled at to GET OFF THE TRAIL TO TAKE YOUR DAMN PICTURE!  “Damn” added for dramatic effect.  The other cyclists sort of snuck up on me.  I thought I was the only one out there.   Since that time, the trail has been on my list to return to and complete.  Even the portion that I did ride was super fun and I couldn’t wait to get back to it.

I was on a return trip to AZ for the weekend by way of Las Vegas and so I opted to make it a point to stop and ride the entire loop.  I arrived at noon and parked near the trail at Railroad Pass Casino.

Trailhead mile 0 at the Railroad Pass Casino

Trailhead mile 0 at the Railroad Pass Casino

This is a good place to start because mile marker zero begins here.  The trail markers count up milage in a clockwise direction.  You have the option of going either direction and is paved the entire route of 35 miles.

At the casino trailhead.  Mile marker zero.

At the casino trailhead. Mile marker zero.

Like I said, this is designated a shared trail so you will likely encounter walkers, runners, inline skaters, boarders, and even a horse or two (designated horse portion on the Northeasterly side).  You will most certainly encounter horse excrement on the portion that horses are allowed but this can be easily avoided if you keep your eye out for it.  Starting where I did at the casino, the trail follows a decent of rolling hills and a few short, sharp 15 degree climbs.  Mostly though, the trail descends gradually all the way to Lake Mead Marina.

Perhaps the most isolated portion, this drops into Lake Mead recreation area.

Perhaps the most isolated portion, this drops into Lake Mead recreation area.

Vista of Lake Mead

Vista of Lake Mead

Don’t expect to coast all the way down.  There are climbs.  Be prepared to have the legs for it!  The real climb begins after Lake Mead Marina.  A gradual 7 mile climb paralleling the road to the marina then following the old railroad grade from the Alan Bible visitor center until you meet up again with State route 93.  Here you bike up a drainage that doubles as the trail.

When riding parallel to route 93 you ride in this storm water drainage canal.

When riding parallel to route 93 you ride in this storm water drainage canal.

One of the many tunnels you ride through on the Boulder city side

One of the many tunnels you ride through on the Boulder city side

Shared use again, with storm water!  I’m sure steps would be taken to close this portion should such a storm threaten its use.  Once you get well into Boulder City the trail levels out (PRAISE JESUS!) and makes the final push back to the casino.  Here the trail also passes at the base of Bootleg Canyon Park.  There are many MTB trails here as well as those for hiking and even zip lines (if you want to use these you’ll need to contact the local outfitter for a guide).  I still think it’s strange to find zip lines where there are no trees.  Anyhow, I see that I’ll have to return again to bike the trails in Bootleg.  Looks like mighty fun to be had.

My mileage on the trail came to about 35 miles.  The information around the trail tries to convince you it’s 31 (However, when that trail info was posted it was perhaps that milage.  It’s finished know and is clearly longer).  Climbing totaled around 2500 feet. This trail is SUPER fun and well worth the ride but the climb out of Lake Mead seems to last forever.  Be sure you have the legs and lungs for it and LOTS of water.  It’s dry here.  IT’S A DESERT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!  Overall, I’d have to say this is one of my favorite loops.  Stunning desert scenery, stark isolation, well planned trails and best of all SUPER FUN.

Here are some additional shots from the ride (Click on picture to open in new tab and enlarge in all it’s glory):

Now on the north side of Lake Mead Pkwy you head up and over towards the Las Vegas wash

Now on the north side of Lake Mead Pkwy you head up and over towards the Las Vegas wash

This is on the North side around the Three Kids Mine.

This is on the North side around the Three Kids Mine.

You guessed it. Lake Mead

You guessed it. Lake Mead

This is on the east side and the sun was in the western hemisphere.  This gave the mountains a very black foreboding look.

This is on the east side and the sun was in the western hemisphere. This gave the mountains a very black foreboding look.

Looking at Lake Mead.  Marina is just to the right.

Looking at Lake Mead. Marina is just to the right.

Wirepass.  Electric supply running from Hoover dam.  This portion is the climb out on the old railroad grade.

Wirepass. Electric supply running from Hoover dam. This portion is the climb out on the old railroad grade.

Riding parallel to Lake Mead Pkwy.  Pointing to the east.

Riding parallel to Lake Mead Pkwy. Pointing to the east.

Heading south now before Lake Mead marina

Heading south now before Lake Mead marina

One of the steepest hills on the trail.  So steep, you can't even see it.

One of the steepest hills on the trail. So steep, you can’t even see it.

Trail info board.  There are more like this but often with  more interesting information like the landscape, history, old cultures that lived there and animal life.

Trail info board. There are more like this but often with more interesting information like the landscape, history, old cultures that lived there and animal life.

Coastal energy currents.

As I write this post a dust storm is moving into the neighborhood.  I imagine there is enormous energy contained in this phenomena.  About two years ago, around this time, one of those storms reared it’s head and moved through PHX.  I do not say reared it’s “ugly” head because the footage of it was amazing.  It was beautiful.  I was not here at the time.  Perhaps I might think otherwise if I was in PHX. Some statistics would suggest it was ugly.  Over a 4 year period storms like this caused 15 deaths and 614 accidents in AZ (the same article I got that from suggested 2,323 accidents in NM.  Strange considering the population density in AZ is higher…I think.) That storm was called a 100 year storm.  Some called it a curse from God (from comments in some articles).  I do not claim to know God’s will but calling it a curse from God is just ridiculous and demonstrates a lack of critical thinking.  Alas, that’s another post for another time.

Just as there is energy in a dust storm (or any storm. Imagine being able to harness that amount. WOW!) there is energy in places.  There are many of these places.  This energy is hard, if not impossible to measure.  The energy I refer to is the restorative energy one might receive from being in a favorite place.  For me one of those places is the coast.  I’ve spent time on both east and west coasts and while I love both my favorite is the Pacific side.  I am a bit biased through.  I grew up in the West and spent many family vacations in Southern California.  I currently live in a desert and the call of the ocean was strong recently so I made a trip out there to scratch that itch.  I can’t quite explain it but the ocean has a very regenerative energy and incites much needed inspiration.  The gallery included in this post contain photos from that trip.  I’ve been experimenting with filters (some are filtered out the wazoo).  Enjoy.

Bouncin’ and rollin’ round the Arizona High-Country

It’s been a while since I posted as I have been doing just as the title of this post describes.  Out of band as they say in tech circles…and perhaps other circles for all I know.  When one is “out of band” or “off the grid” and travelling as I have been, it provides much time to think and ponder. (My brother is a truck driver.  He knows too well what this is like).  I have reflected on much the past two weeks and I have much work ahead to get to where I want to be.  I will admit that I am guilty sometimes of thinking about the past.  It’s sometimes hard to let it go.  It’s getting easier as time progresses but that’s true of many things.  Time heals most if not all things.

So, we move forward.  It’s what we must do.  What I must do.  I’ve reflected on the choices I’ve made and I am reminded of a wise rule: “Fret not where the world will take you.  Instead concentrate on the first step.  That’s the hardest part and that’s what you are responsible for.  Once you take that step let everything do what it naturally does and the rest will follow.  Do not go with the flow.  Be the flow.” – one of the rules (If you know where this is from you win a prize!).

The flow of my travels have taken me to a few new places and I was able to capture some of that here.  Many of these pictures were captured in the high country above Show Low, AZ.  After that trip, AZ is becoming one of my favorite places to ride.

Enjoy.