Red Rock Canyon in Nevada

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is 17 miles west of Las Vegas.

I made a PB&J sandwich for lunch from the room then packed our food for the day as I planned on spending all day at Red Rock Canyon. I picked up a soy latte from Starbucks at the hotel on my way out. I could have eaten my breakfast in the room I guess but I was too eager to start the day.

When we entered the Conservation Area, I let Xena out of the car for a quick photo. At first she was happy but that changed quickly when we heard shotguns. There must have been a shooting range very close by. Xena could not get back in the car fast enough.

Red Rock Canyon is managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of its National Landscape Conservation System and it accepts the America the Beautiful annual pass. Although all the trails were open, the ranger warned me about the soft condition of the trails due to the recent rain storm. The park had to close midday the day before due to the heavy rain and strong wind.

I planned only one day for the Red Rock so I picked a couple trails to get a taste of the park. It was overcast and the temperature was in the upper 50s. As long as the wind doesn’t pick up more, it was a great condition for hikes.

Hike #1:  Moenkopi Loop

  • Total distance:  2.1 miles
  • Elevation gain:  149 ft (starting elevation:  3,698 ft)

Park at the visitor center. This easy 2-mile round trip hike is kid-friendly, educational and a great way to see the entire park. If you like natural history and geology like me, you will enjoy this little hike. The trailhead is at the west of the visitor center at the end of the 911 Memorial.

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When the trail splits, we went straight and did the loop clockwise. But you can go to either direction since it’s a loop. There will be signs to guide you and the trail is wide open. What a view, right?

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Is it lunch time yet?

Hike #2:  White Rock

  • Total distance:  6.7 miles
  • Elevation gain:  963 ft (starting elevation:  4,529 ft)

I planned on checking out the Calico Tank Trail on our way to White Rock trail but the parking area was packed and overflowing to the Scenic Loop Drive. There is no better Jamie repellent than the crowd. 😉 So I kept on driving and reached the White Rock lower parking lot off the Scenic Drive. You know how sometimes unexpected detours happen and make the hike better than if your plan wasn’t interrupted? That didn’t happened on that day. I parked further than I needed to and missed a critical turn so we ended up walking on the Scenic Loop Drive 2nd half of the hike. I saw parked cars at the lower parking lot and assumed that the upper parking lot near the trailhead was full so I parked at the lower parking. Wrong. This parking area was for people who just wanted to stop and take photos and move on to the next viewpoint spot. It does have a great view.

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We began our hike on White Rock Mountain Rd. I planned on doing the White Rock out and back but I saw the sign for White Rock Loop 6 miles at the trailhead. Instantly, I decided to do the loop. Who doesn’t like a loop, right? I followed the sign for Keystone Thrust and White Rock Loop. If you want to do this clockwise, look for a trailhead to the west of the information board.

The trail was busy in the beginning with tourists but after we passed the split to the Keystone Thrust, we were alone and it felt remote. The trail began on an incline. There was no steep incline or decline to mention though. I loved the rugged sandstone of Red Rock Canyon.

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We would go for like 30 minutes and see no one. I don’t need to see people for hours or even days but as soon as I don’t have the cell phone reception, I feel uneasy. Yes, I am one of those people who get anxious when my cell phone battery level drops below 65%. When I started to wonder if we were still on the trail, someone would come from the other direction.

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The terrain became more rocky and there were many big cacti along the trail.

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After this hike, I had to remove 4 half inch long cactus thorns from the top of her paws with a tweezer. 🤕 First I tried it with my fingers and it kept cutting off. The tweezer pulled those stinkers out with no problem.

At the La Madre Spring trail junction, we turn left. In hindsight, I should’ve turned us around and returned to the trailhead (out and back) at this point because the best part of this hike was over for us. La Madre Spring trail had more traffic and Xena did not like the gravel road. It was hard for her to walk. I felt bad for her.

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We left the La Madre Spring Wilderness and got on Rocky Gap Road. Walking on the pavement and looking out for oncoming traffic isn’t hiking! Long story short, I missed a trail that we were supposed to pick up after the Willow Spring Picnic area. I looked around but didn’t see it. I should have created a route on mapmyhike.com and loaded to my phone. I thought there would be signs. So we ended up walking back to the car via roads, Rocky Gap Road then Scenic Loop Drive. At least Scenic Loop Drive is one way road and I only had to watch out for the oncoming traffic. I saw some people walking on Rocky Gap Road but no one was as lost as we were to walk on Scenic Loop Drive. LOL. Sigh..

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I was going to stay at the park until the sunset but that didn’t happen. When we got back to the car around 3:30 pm, we were cold, thirsty and tired. After sharing a coconut water and some snacks, Xena wanted to go in the car. While I was loading the car, she was already dozing off.

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I thought to plan better for the next day. I was really excited about visiting Valley of Fire State Park and didn’t want to cut that trip short.

Red Rock Canyon is beautiful! Next time, I will definitely plan a longer trip to explore the parts of the park we didn’t get to see on this trip. Already can’t wait! For videos from this day, go to our Facebook page!

Good to Know:

Never stop exploring! Xo

Product Review: ChuckIt! Canine Hardware Hydro Bowl Medium

Last fall, I wrote a review of ChuckIt! Canine Hardware Hydro Bowl for Dogs That Hike. I thought maybe some of you might want to read it.

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Xena has several ChuckIt! toys and she loves all of them.  I like them because they are durable, so I was glad when Dogs That Hike sent us ChuckIt! Canine Hardware Hydro Bowl to test.  We took the bowl on our hikes as well as to the local park we go to play fetch.  This review is based on using the bowl for a month.

Xena is a picky water drinker.  She doesn’t drink water from public water fountains unless the water is flowing.  She doesn’t drink water from bowls she doesn’t know nor from water fountains that are powered by electricity because they hum.  I thought she would make a good tester.

The Hydro Bowl can snap around a leash or a backpack.  It’s compact when folded and when it is unfolded, it holds up to 5 cups (= 1L) of water.  It’s bigger than any travel bowls I have.  It was great when Xena shared the bowl with her friends.  When I just want to give Xena a little bit of water, I just tilt the bowl for her so it was easier for her to drink out it.

After each use, I washed it with gentle dishwashing liquid.  It was easy to clean as advertised.  Although the stitching on the Hydro Bowl could be improved, it had no impact on the quality and durability of the bowl.  After a month of use, the snap button is still intact.  The Hydro Bowl is waterproof and durable as expected and I do not see any noticeable flaw with the product.

The portable Hydro Bowl is good for travelling, hiking, backpacking, camping, and any other outdoor activities.  It’s affordable, light weight and takes up almost no space.  With its 5-cup capacity, it’s great to feed water to multiple small/medium dogs at once or a large breed dog.

Only downside I see is, the snap button may be an issue if you have arthritis in your hands.

Originally posted at Dogs That Hike on 11/14/16.

San Gabriel Peak via Eaton Saddle

There are two locations where you can start this hike. One is from the trailhead near the Red Box Picnic Area (Bill Riley Trailhead) and the other is from Eaton Saddle. Well, I thought I started from the Bill Riley Trailhead.. because that’s what I planned on doing when I left the house that morning. So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself on a different location on the map when I checked the GPS in the middle of my trek. Whaaat?! Haha! In hindsight, I am glad it happened.

I raced against a group of mountain bikers at the parking lot to get ready. I guessed there were about 30 of them. I didn’t want to get stuck in the middle of the group. The hike began on Mt Lowe fire road. It was a clear sunny day so I was able to see the nearby cities (Altadena and Sierra Madre) to the south. First part of the Mt Lowe Rd is an rocky uphill. At 0.31 miles, we arrived at Mueller Tunnel.

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The rocky fire road continued at the end of the tunnel. At the 0.78 mile marker, you will come to a junction. Take the San Gabriel Peak trail is on your right next to the water tank.

San Gabriel Peak trail is exposed all the way to the peak but early in the morning, some parts were shaded. A little bit of scrambling is required at certain sections and some parts of the trail were very narrow but it’s doable. Just watch your step.

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When we got close to the top, the north-facing side of the trail was icy.

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The short hill from the bottom of the peak to the top (maybe 0.1 mile) was covered with thick ice. Many people were turning around when we got there. It was too slippery to climb at that point without spikes. I brought mine with me just in case but never tried them. Woohoo! I get to put my microspikes to the test. They better work! I put them on over my boots with a bit of effort (at least I knew they wouldn’t come off while walking) but overall it was quick and easy. I took my first step on the ice, the same spot I slid earlier without the spikes. OMG. I instantly fell in love with my spikes! Haha! I quickly learned to dig in to the ice when I walk so the spikes can have a better grip of the surface. Going up to the peak was piece of cake after that. Since most people turned around at the bottom of the peak, we found the summit empty which I enjoyed very much.

To return to the trailhead, go back the way you came up.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  12.4.16
  • Distance (RT):  3.5 miles, out and back
  • Elevation gain:  1,209 ft
  • Difficulty rating:  Moderate-Challenging
  • San Gabriel Peak elevation:  6,161 ft
  • Trailhead:  34.239379, -118.093359
  • Adventure Pass required for parking
  • Toilet available at Red Box Picnic Area

 

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Happy Hiking!

Whatever Wednesday: Dog-tired

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Hiking and playing in the snow is a lot fun but it sure is tiring 💤 Some parts of the trail were hidden under the snow so we had to scramble to find the trail again. I think scrambling in the deep snow tired her out the most. She bounced right back though after the power nap!

I am looking for waterproof booties for Xena. Any recommendations?

XoXo~

New Favorite! Mt Islip

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Xena was a grump that morning. She is not a morning dog so when I rush to get ready super early in the morning when it’s still dark outside, she is usually grumpy. Don’t talk to me until 8 am or give me coffee. That grumpy face dissipated though when we arrived at the Islip Saddle parking lot little after 7 am. Then she was super happy when my sister arrived.

The Mt Islip trailhead is across from the parking lot on the south side of the Hwy 2.

The hike started on Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) on an uphill and it continued on for a while. The trail was mostly shaded as it faced north. It quickly revealed the stunning views of surrounding San Gabriel Mountains.  When you reach this sign, you’ve hiked a mile and gained 569 feet. Stay on PCT and go toward Little Jimmy Trail Camp from this junction.

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Next mile was easier with only 236 feet elevation gain. At the 2.1 mile marker, you will reach the Little Jimmy Campground on your right. I goofed and kept going until we reached a fork. We turned around and came back to the campground to find the trail to the summit.

Take the trail that goes through the campground. Soon, there will be a small wooden sign for Islip Peak. The peak is 1.2 miles from the sign.

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Up to this point, the trail was moderately shaded. However, once we left the campground and continued our ascent, it was mostly exposed. The sun didn’t bother us much though since it was middle of November and the beauty of Mt Islip was just about to reveal itself to us. Turn after turn, I was wowed. Then, this view! This hike became my new favorite instantly! I could sit there all day…really.

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A stunning view was waiting for us at every turn.

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When you come to this old stone cabin which used to be a fire lookout at some point, you made it to the peak. It’s literally just around the corner.

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After I set up a place for lunch break,

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On bag duty

we signed our names (including Xena’s) in the log.

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We had the summit to ourselves for about 30 minutes which was a real treat. At one point, I caught Xena taking a summit snooze.

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Enjoy the unparalleled 360 degree view from the summit. We were there early enough to find some shade but if you go in the middle of a day, there will be no shade so be prepared. After the break, go back down the way you came up.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  11.13.16
  • Distance:  7.5 miles RT, out and back
  • Elevation gain:  1,561 ft
  • Mt Islip summit:  8,250 ft
  • Trailhead:  34.356975, -117.850516
  • Difficulty rating:  Moderate 
  • National Forest Adventure Pass required for parking
  • Restroom available at the parking lot

 

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Happy Hiking!