In a move that can only be described as being highly uncharacteristic, last week Kelly and I made a snap decision to leave the soothing vast emptiness of Death Valley National Park and visit its evil twin – Las Vegas – for a few days.
We made the decision knowing that during the stay I would have a chance to meet-up with former colleagues attending a conference while also making time to visit family. Coupled with a few other to-do’s while in the area, these “up-sides” became justifications Kel and I anchored to as we ventured into the city known for showcasing much of the urban trappings we otherwise loath.
And yes … we did spend an evening on the strip dining and walking – not gambling – through casinos.
Valley of Fire State Park is located about an hour from the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas strip, but scenically the park may as well sit atop another planet. This being our second visit to VOF we knew what to expect. The park is not particiually large and ambitious hikers can easily traverse most of the trails in two or three days.
As an escape from the Vegas circus this place is just about perfect … even more so if you camp in the (cheaper) non-hook-up sites.
Despite the government partial shutdown closing many areas of Death Valley National Park, Kelly and I did manage to find a few places that remain open and accessible for hiking.
The Mesquite Sand Dunes and Mosaic Canyon we’re easily accessed from our campground and brought us two contrasting experiences.
Usually when out hiking, Kelly and I simply eat bars, gels, and sometimes fruit or trail mix.
However, in a change of routine, today I decided to pack a backcountry stove and #mountainhouse meal. Not sure why, but for some reason I thought a hot lunch might be a welcome treat – which it was.
A few hours into the hike, we enjoyed a warm lunch and hot tea in the shadow of a backcountry church (denominationn unknown).
Here in western North Carolina fall colors are in full swing, daytime temperatures are lovely, and the hiking has been wonderful during our first visit to Smokey Mountain National Park.