In last week’s travel post, I mentioned that while in Vegas, I went hiking in the desert. And how could I not?
Even from my hotel room, the hard rock of the mountain range, and the vast spread of the Mojave desert, were sirens in the daytime. So I answered the call Wednesday morning, bright and early.
As many of you know – especially those of you who have worked with me – I’m a night owl. I never make it to sleep before 05:00 AM; and on Monday mornings, I stay up as late as 11:00 AM before crawling into bed.
So imagine being asked to get up at 07:00 in the morning!
Rise & Shine!
I think we actually ended up leaving around 07:30 AM, and then made so many stops along the way that we didn’t actually get to the trail until around 09:00 AM.
One of the first stops was in an area of town that reminds me of Little 5 Points in Atlanta. Basically, it’s the artsy part of town – complete with small bars and graffiti murals on the walls. I love good graffiti art and Tristan was nice enough to pull over and let me have my fill.
Driving into the Canyon
After another three or so stops, we finally started the actual journey to hike Red Rock Canyon via First Creek Trail.
Back in 2015, long before setting foot in Vegas, I had written a travel guide for a private jet company, and the First Creek Trail was one of the recommendations I made.
Now that I had the chance to test Vegas for myself, I wanted to see this trail in person.
Little did I know how much of a headache it would be to find. In all honesty though, had I known what I was in for, I would have gone hunting for that same trail in Red Rock Canyon, anyway.
The further we drove into the desert, the more excited I became. I’m a Caribbean girl from an island whose very name means “land of wood and water”.
And as a Georgia resident, there is no shortage of woodlands and streams when I go hiking there, either.
So the mere concept of a desert is completely alien to me. Seeing it in the “flesh” was a one-of-a-kind experience.
It was also an experience I wasn’t 100 percent prepared for.
On the Trail
Thankfully, the great thing about hiking with Vegas residents is that they inevitably have better sense than I do.
It was Tristan who warned me to bring extra water, and boy was I grateful. I was careful to ration the water as we hiked, which was good, since we got lost for a wonderful two hours.
You see those red lines halfway up the mountain? We climbed all the way up to the one on the left. That mystical stream we were looking for was actually on the flat… but I’ll explain that soon enough.
Let’s start off with where we went wrong.
Needle in a Haystack
Our first mistake was not better mapping out where First Creek Trail might be in the Canyon. The sign out front said it was First Creek, and there was a marked path at the beginning, so how hard could it be? Just follow the path, right?
We missed our turn off the main path about half a mile in. The path was long, the climb was hard, and the rocks were treacherous, but we kept going.
It wasn’t until we were standing on the red rocks (with a 50+ foot fall off the ledge, by the way!) that we started to question why we had not yet found this elusive stream.
So far, all we had found was murky water – and that looked nothing like the pictures we saw online.
Our SmartPhones Saved Us
Well… hiking is supposed to be a great time to disconnect, but at this point, we really needed phone signal.
We hadn’t lost sight of the road, but we still had no idea where this First Creek Trail was. And the climb down promised to be twice as hard as the climb up. We had a few skids and falls, but thankfully nothing too serious.
Finally, the the Google Gods smiled down upon us, and sent descriptions of the trail. What we read had us laughing so hard, we might have tumbled down the mountain.
According to the directions from Red Rock Canyon’s official website:
Distance 3 miles; Average time: 2hrs; Difficulty: EASY-MODERATE
This is a pleasant 3-mile walk across a desert valley to a little waterfall with cottonwood trees, willows, and other shade trees. Except for the last few feet, the hike follows a well-maintained trail. At the falls, the route follows a use-trail down the side of the wash to the falls. As with other falls in the area, these often are dry.
Aside from the first mile of our hike, there was nothing easy, pleasant, or well-maintained about the trail we had just hiked. Armed with that information, we were now sure we were on the wrong path, but were headed in the right direction.
We hiked all the way back down and then finally ran into locals who knew the trails better than we did. We were lucky enough to find one who was also seeking this elusive river.
While we followed her, Ericson saw a rattlesnake slither off to our left. How fortunate for us that we should then need to turn in that direction to find the river. But even more fortunate for us, was the fact that we didn’t run into the snake a second time.
We didn’t get any pictures, but here’s a video of a rattlesnake that made the news in Vegas this year.
Water in the Desert
After a lot more trial and error, we finally found First Creek. There wasn’t as much water as the pictures had shown, but the local explained that after spring, the water started to dry up.
While it wasn’t enough for literal swimming, it was a cool respite from the desert heat. In fact, the water was pretty darn cold.
Once we had tired of the creek, we thanked our Guide and her dog, Stewart, and made our way back to the car. We didn’t bring towels, so Tristan and I air-dried for half the way back.
Needless to say we were all starving by the time we left the trails. And Ericson almost got himself killed a kazillion times trying to eat his sunflower seeds, while we hiked in peril.
So we were really glad to chow down on some delicious Japanese food at Sushi Kaya. It isn’t an actual buffet restaurant, but they allow you to pay a buffet price, and then you can order anything you want off the menu, as long as you eat it.
If you ever make it to Vegas, and you love Japanese food, this is not a restaurant you want to miss. I paid $23.76 to stuff my face ’til kingdom come. I had that seafood noodles dish pictured up top, more rounds of sushi than I could count, and ginger salad.
I order ginger salad every time I eat out at a Japanese restaurant, but I really didn’t like theirs. Thankfully, Tristan helped me finish it.
We ate so much you could have rolled us out the door. Then we all went home and rested up for Round 2 of Desert Hiking: Lone Mountain.
That desert hike will be my final post from my trip to Vegas. I hope you guys enjoyed reliving the journey with me so far.
Stay tuned for the final post next Monday!