Friday, June 30, 2006

Desert runs (part 2.5)

NOTE: This is the description of the second run I did in (around) Las Vegas. I am giving this a separate post because the pictures take up quite a bit of real estate. This run was done on the second day after the Red Rocks run.

Lake Meade

Being essentially a man-made lake createed by the Hoover Dam, the climate of the areas surrounding the lake are unlike almost any you will find around such a large body of water. Usually Lake Meade conjurs up images of boating, fishing and sunbathing, but the desert that surrounds it is much more fascinating in my mind. It is actually an area that includes three different desert ecosystems so there is a great variety of climate to be explored. For my run, I chose an area known as the Bowl of Fire. The area contains some amazing red sandstone walls that rival anything found in Red Rocks Canyon.
However, in order to get to the "bowl" (really a narrow canyon) you must first travel along a some very barren landscape. Travelling along what is essentially a sand road for four-wheel-drive vehicles I think the only signs of life I saw were desert brush and an occasional dragonfly.

Except for those few bushes lining the road, there was a definite sense of "running on mars". Being in a climate not fit for life. It goes along this way for a few miles sort of slogging through loose sand until the red rocks of the canyon come into view.

Then, eventually the road ends at some rocks setup to stop vehicles from going on further. It is here that the interesting bits begin. For the most part the canyon is not too narrow and there is enough variety of terrain that you can avoid the "sand treadmill" down the center. There are a few more varieties of plantlife and the rock formations along the canyon walls keep things much more interesting.

Well, the run part ends at a sort of rock wall that you have to scramble up. It feels like the end and I almost turned back here after taking a self-portrait. But its an easy scramble and worth a look on the other side, I thought.

Once on top of the rocks, the view back is awesome...

...but, the view forward is even more interesting.

This is where the canyon narrows to near slot proportions. The rock textures also become much more varied and interesting pock-marked with a million holes. It is not really running terrain and I think it was better to just explore slowly anyway. There were so many interesting things to see and explore in that canyon that I would have stayed all afternoon had I made it the plan. You can view my full slideshow here. But the sun was heating up and my supplies were limited so back to the car it was. One last parting memory shows the amazing contrast of the area called the Bowl of Fire.

The run was close to 10 miles in total and is totally exposed throughout. On the way back I really began to feel the heat. While I had plenty of hydration, I realized that it wasn't much help in the desert when it heats up as drinking hot gatoraide just doesn't cut it. Much like the Grand Canyon, I can imagine someone getting stuck in this hot arid climate but still in view of the life giving water. I hope to return and enjoy more of what this (and other) deserts have to offer.

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