Friday, July 31, 2015

RonnieAdventure #0163 - Spring Mountain Visitor Gateway, Spring Mountains, Clark County, Nevada

The Spring Mountain Visitor Gateway outside of Las Vegas (Nevada) opened to the public at the beginning of summer this year with an open house for dignitaries, but the U.S. forest Service has never held the much anticipated open house for the general public. My curiosity finally got the best of me, so last week I decided to go inspect the new facility. 

The new facility is located on the road to Mount Charleston at the junction of Nevada State Routes 157 and 158. The site contains 128-acres of land that were purchased by the Federal Government over 10 years ago. Before the government purchased the property, the site was used for a 9-hole golf course, two miniature golf courses, and an ice-skating rink. 

The Gateway's main attraction is the new 4,500 square-foot state-of-the-art visitor center that is so sophisticated the building requires its own weather station. A computer automatically opens and closes windows to help regulate temperatures in the building. Air is circulated through approximately 10,000 linear-feet of underground coils to heat the building in the winter and cool the building durnig the summer. The upper windows of the building, at first glance, appear to contain a frosted looking landscape scene; but when viewed with polarized glasses, beautiful colored nature paintings appear. 

Located on the west side of the property is a national memorial dedicated to the Silent Heroes of the Cold War. The memorial contains a granite monument and a propeller from a military aircraft that crashed into Mount Charleston in 1955. The military plane was on a top-secret mission transporting 14 people and equipment to Area 51 in support of the U-2 Spy Plane effort.  

Located at the geographic center of the property is the Seven Stones Plaza, which recognizes the sever Paiute Indian Tribes that are collectively known as the Nuwuvi. The circular plaza contains seven metal rays that are projected outward from the circumference of the plaza and there is a stone in each ray that represents each individual tribe. The names of the tribes are displayed on the inside of the Plaza at the base of the ray.

In addition to two amphitheaters located on the property, there are decorative areas for meditation, a training center, and a number of new hiking trails. Some of the new hiking trails are paved and handicapped accessible. 

Now I will have to return when the weather is cooler and try some of the new hiking trails.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

RonnieAdventure #0162 - The Lost Coast, King Range, Humboldt County, California

The Lost Coast hike in the King Range National Conservation Area (California) is one of those hikes that is on every serious hikers bucket list, and I almost did not make it.

I woke up one morning with a slight tingling sensation in my left arm, but it went away after a hot shower, so I assumed that I had just slept on my arm in the wrong position and pinched a nerve. The next morning, I awoke with a more severe tingling in my left arm and it lasted longer into the morning. By the third morning, the tingling was so severe that I could not unscrew a jar lid with my left hand, so I decided to stop by my doctor's office on the way to work. The doctor send me to the lab for a heart scan and then I went on to work. A few hours later, the doctor's office called and told me that someone needed to drive me to the hospital immediately, where I was to be admitted. Apparently, I had over 95% blockage in my main artery and I was going to need heart bypass surgery.

I asked the doctor if he could just give me some pills and postpone the surgery because I was planning to hike The Lost Coast in four months. He politely informed me that I was not going anywhere and they were not even going to let me out of the hospital until I had bypass surgery. He said that I would just have to cancel my hiking plans. However, after I pestered the doctor enough, he finally agreed that if things went well, I might be able to make the hike.

Fortunately the bypass surgery went well and they actually got me out of bed the night after the surgery. In five days I went home and made myself walk around the neighborhood every day - each day making longer hikes. After four weeks, I managed to ride a bike for ten miles down the beach in California and after four months I packed my backpack and in October 2007 I headed for The Lost Coast in California. 

When we picked up our hiking permits at the BLM Office, we were informed that we would have to rent bear canisters for our food, since there were a lot of bears that roamed the coast looking for something to eat. We were also given a tide table because several sections of the trail are not passable at high tide and they did not want us to be stuck between the ocean and a cliff when the tide came in. 

Since we all rode together in one vehicle from Nevada to California, we left our vehicle in Shelter Cove and made arrangement for a shuttle to drive us up to the Mattole Estuary Campground where we wold start the hike. It was late in the afternoon when the shuttle dropped us at the campground, so we cooked dinner and enjoyed a sunset over the ocean.

According to our tide table, we could not start the hike too early the next morning because it was high tide, so we just took a leisurely stroll for the first few miles.

After about three miles we came to the abandoned Punta Gorda Light Station. There are some treacherous rocks along the coast in this area and there were various ship parts scattered around the beach from ships that apparently had been washed into the rocks. There were also a lot of seals, sea lions, and other wildlife in this area.

The second morning we found bear tracks all around our campsite and tracks along the beach, but we did not ever see any bears. All day as we hiked along the beach, numerous seals and sea lions kept watching us from the shallow waters or while they were sunning themselves on the rocks. That night we camped by a beautiful stream and I was able to take some some really great pictures. (At least I think they were great.)

Unfortunately, on the last day of the hike we found ourselves camped at an area that was not passable during high tide, so we decided to sleep for a few hours and then get up in the middle of the night and walk for the first few miles using our headlamps. Even then, when I went around one rocky point the tide was coming in and the water was lapping at my boots. When the sun came out, it was really foggy, so we walked the last few miles with limited visibility. Since we arrive at our vehicle before noon, we decided to drive back to Reno that same day, where we caught flights back to our homes.