May 12, 2008

Mt Charleston Camping and Hiking

Mt Charleston From Trait Canyon Trial Summit I learned a lot about the Mt Charleston Camping and Hiking Experience this weekend. Camping and Hiking at Mt Charleston are two very different events that you can combine in two very different ways.

This weekend was a fantastic weekend of hiking with camping for one night. The most fun I have ever had at Mt. Charleston to date was on this trip. I forgot that there was more to the mountain than the managed campgrounds and cabin rentals. Maybe I just needed to be reminded of that. The hike to the top of Trait Canyon was an amazing one and the view at the top was more than worth the pain in my feet.

So that you know what I mean by two different events, here is an example:

To hike is to walk through the woods and if you add camping then you are pitching a tent or setting up a bivvy for a few hours of rest until you head out on more of a journey, hiking the mountain or through the trails.

To camp is to drive your SUV or Car to one of the six campgrounds at Mt Charleston and set up your tent on a site, pay the $14 a night, and you have a bathroom and running water very near by at all times. Plus if you feel like taking a hike you can head out on one of the trails close by and then head back to your tent and fire pit when it starts to get to be that time.

Owls and WoodpeckersSee .. I was prepared to camp and hike this weekend when I should have been prepared to HIKE and camp. Good thing we were not in any hurry to get to the top and to get back down. By the time we made it up the short 2.5 mile hike it was perfect time to go around and check out the site and gather any ice we could for water and a few sticks for a fire to melt the ice.

For this camping adventure, Nino had all his ducks in a row except for one thing … Hiking Boots. From the start this seemed like a doomed adventure. Nino forgot his hiking boots and I was unsure of how I would hold up with my new internal frame backpack. I must admit that for our first time out together on a hike of this kind we did really well. I know I had a great time learning about the different hill tops up there and getting to go on a real hike with Nino was totally awesome. You always think that you are in pretty good shape and ready for anything until something comes along that challenges you and this hike really challenged me this time. Next time I will be better prepared and possibly I will leave some of that useless stuff behind when we are going to only stay out for one night.

When you go to Mt Charleston and want to take a short hike that could turn into a larger much more intense hike, a good place to start your adventure is on the Trait Canyon Trail. The Trait Canyon Trail in the first leg is pretty well hiked so even if you are not an expert hiker or outdoorsman you will be safe taking this as your starting point. You can access nearly all the outlying trails from this point if you check your map. There is usually water up at the top that you can refill your bottles and camelbaks with but this time there was only ice and snow for us to melt.

A great adventure awaits you in the trials of Mt Charleston. Although the campgrounds themselves are not as well kept as they should be, the trials are clean and very well kept. You can make several trips of one long trip to any peak at Mt Charleston. When you find yourself looking for a hike or a camping trip for the whole family and you are in the Las Vegas area, check out some of the hiking and camping available right up the street from the city.

I can’t wait to go hiking up there again. I heard through the grapevine that I am getting a new external frame backpack and that I am very grateful for. That would make getting out to Mt Charleston again soon a priority. Maybe the next time we go up there we will be able to take the rest of the family. I want them to see more than just pictures.

April 23, 2008

Eagle Valley Camping and Fishing

Eagle Valley Campground Fishing and Hiking WOW … Camping at Eagle Valley … what a fantastic place to go and take the whole family or just a friend for a weekend get away. Juat a few hours outside Las Vegas is Eagle Valley. About a 10 – 15 minute drive from Pioche Nevada set in the mountains is one of the nicest places we have been camping in a very long time. The fishing is not bad either. Just outside Pioche is a little getaway where you can relax, cast out your poll and have a very enjoyable weekend or even a week. I wanted to stay longer but responsibility was calling me and we had to come home. I got to test out all of the equipment that I ordered from eBay. If you have been reading then you know I have been trying to get all of my camping gear and survival gear back and in stock. New everything for me and the family.

There is no cell phone reception so if you are looking for a place to get away from everyone and everything that bugs you every day this is a great place to hide away. There are several towns dotting the road on the way up there so you will have plenty of chances to stop and get those last minute things that you may have forgot.

Alamo also has one of the better Hot Springs where it is safe for everyone in the family. There is also the Caliente Hot Springs Motel and Spa that is very nice and just outside of Eagle Valley. Caliente is actually the second to last real town you will see before you see the lake. Then when you hit Pioche you are almost there. You don’t actually go through Pioche per say but you can still see it there in the distance. We made a pit stop there to check out the new pools that have been constructed and to see how warm the water was at this time of year. A nice temperature of about 87ยบ and clean water that you can see through in every spot of the pools. There are several different areas of the springs so if one gets crowded you can hop over to any other part of the water and relax or make them move … lol!

There is also a look out on the way up there where you can see the entire valley that is surrounded with water beaten mountains. Not to mention Pioche which we didn’t get to stop in or go through since we waited until we were leaving before we decided that we should have stopped there.

The lake at Eagle Valley is full of fish so you are about 99.99% sure to catch a fish. Between the three of us we caught a total of 5 fish. Two of them went back in the water … one by accident. The lake in Eagle Valley is stocked with trout of almost every kind and they are very easy to catch if you know where on the lake to fish and you use the right bait. I won’t give away the secret bait that we were using but I will say this .. if your bait is spinning and shinning you are likely to catch something in almost any spot you pick.

The lake also offers access to boating for smaller boats. If you have a 3 – 4 man craft like an open bow or an aluminum boat with a small motor you can launch right at the entrance to the campground area. Eagle Valley is also very RV friendly. There are no hookups for water or electricity that I could find but there is a water and sewer drop of area where you can fill your tanks with potable water and drop off your sewage.

You may notice, depending on what time of year you go up there, that there are several spots before the Eagle Valley Resort where you can pull off the road and set up your tent or RV for free and stay a few nights next to the river and outside the resort area. The campground is $14 a night and that is for everyone. Unlike some of the campgrounds up at Mt. Charleston, you can have two or even three cars or ten tents on your campsite and there is still only a $14 a night charge. Now that is not saying that you can fit that many people in the sites but you can try if you like. I suggest that if you are traveling in several cars that you park by the lake after you find your site and drop off your gear.

Do you like to hike and camp out in the wilderness? Would you like to get away from everyone and get out into nature where you will see some very interesting and breathtaking views? Then take your backpack and head out on the trails of Eagle Valley. You can find your way through the West end of the campsite or head over to the East end of the lake and find trails that will keep you hiking for hours and even days. Up and down the mountains from peak to peak AND take your cell phone up there with you because at the top of most of the trails you can get some reception.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the area is kept. There is no trash anywhere and the whole area is just completely enjoyable. I think that if it had not been for the high winds that weekend and the expreme low temperatures I would have taken that hike and over night stay into the wilderness. I stayed in the campground though when I wasn’t fishing and only took a short hike to one of the peaks and to the huge hand carved cave where the lake drains into the river.

MSR Stove Ultra Portable Super Light Camping StoveBut I did get to test out my stove a couple times that I got the last minute before we left home. I’m happy to report that it worked fabulously even with the high winds. Just as I hoped it would. I found this stove on eBay along with a few others that are MSR Stoves and a lot cheaper in price than actually going to the retail stores or even ordering off of their site. I got this stove for $23.95, and that included shipping, from one of the stores on eBay. I was surprised that they sold them so much cheaper than in the REI store that has them for $39.95 and it is the exact same stove. We have an REI very close to us and I love to shop there but paying that much for the stove didn’t seem right to me when I could get such a great deal on it and I only had to wait a week to get it in the mail at my house. Very Nice!

Head Lamp Camping 1 watt I also got to try out this One Watt Headlamp that was pretty nice although the strap was a little small for my giant head. I got it to work well so I’m glad I made that purchase. It’s small and very light so carrying four of them with me in the pack is not as bad as you would think. I always like to take a few more of the things that I think I will lose or break.