Mount Charleston

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My daughter and I, have spent every weekend for the past year hiking, either in Lassen Volcanic National Park, or around Mt. Shasta, in northern California. We moved to Las Vegas in August, and we are searching for new favorite places. This past weekend we started to explore Mount Charleston. Mount Charleston is part of the Spring Mountain Range, and Toiyabe National Forest. Charleston Peak, at 11,916 feet (3,632 m), is the highest mountain in the Spring Mountains. Mount Charleston is located about 35 miles NW of Las Vegas. It’s a refreshing, green, alpine heaven. Last weekend when the temperatures peaked at 109 in Las Vegas, it was 30 degrees cooler there! Only an hour away. One hour, and several thousand feet of elevation that is. 

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The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. The winding roads that takes you there, climbs steadily up, up, up. It was fairly easy to drive all the way to the campgrounds without a 4×4. My daughter had begged me for an adventure, so tent camping it was. She LOVES that. She loves setting up the tent, and create a cool spot for the night. She likes decorating the outside with natural material that she finds, pine cones, rocks etc. My hope was to get us a campsite at Fletcher View Campground, based on reviews at trip advisor, and trails I found at AllTrails app. When we got there all the sites were full. You can’t make reservations in advance from July through September, due to monsoon season. It’s first come first serve only. The gentleman who served as a camp host, approach the car as I drove in to Fletcher View, and asked how he could assist us. I said that we were looking for a tent campsite. He informed us that all of the sites on the whole  mountain (several campgrounds) were taken. (In my head I started to think of a plan B, since we were already packed and VERY ready for an adventure.) He offered us a map, and pointed out a couple places for dispersed camping. Areas where we could camp by ourselves, without an organized campground. He gave us a map, and as I looked at it, I thought that if I had driven my old truck, it would of been a no-brainer, but risking to go on those roads with my Impala..no. 

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I decided to drive by the other campsites, one by one, just in case. My second choice of campground, after Fletcher view, was Hilltop, so I started our search by driving up there. I was not alone. There was a long line of vehicles doing the same thing as I did. All sites were booked. As I drive around Hilltop for the second time, I notice that one of the double sites only have single occupancy. I see a young couple on the right side, but no-one on the left side of this double site. I take a chance and pull over on the side of the narrow road. I approach them and ask if they are expecting company, explaining that all sites are booked. This was on the very top of the hill, at perhaps the best spot of them all. We were so lucky! They were not expecting company, they just got the only site they were able to get, and sold me the other site. I was thrilled, and my daughter very happy. I was almost prepared to drive down the mountain and do something completely different. (Like going to Sedona, or Grand Canyon.) It was great to be able to unload all our things, and put up the tent. 

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My highlight of the whole trip was that my daughter needed to go places to take pictures. Both with the camera that I got her for her birthday, and with mine. She begged me to hike up on different hills, and climb down in narrow canyons. It was a blast! She on the other hand said, that her best thing was toasting marshmallows by the campfire at night. 

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It was chilly in the evening, and it felt great to put on a jacket, and long pants (compared to shorts and t-shirt, the usual summer outfit in our area.)

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The whole trip was a big adventure, and I am so happy that we did it. I would consider myself an experienced camper, and I feel that my skills are solid. Still it feels extremely good when everything just works out. Not a big thing, but in a way a big thing. I want my daughter to see, and experience, that there is not a limit to what’s possible. She wants an adventure? Well, she has to make it happen, and put in the work along with the fun. Which she happily did. I feel that there’s no limit to learning opportunities when you bring a child out in nature; handling a knife, gaining knowledge about poisonous plants and animals, learning about local flora and fauna, safety, wilderness survival skills, where to find water, planning ahead, leave no trace in nature, sharing with others, being respectful etc. etc.  

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My daughter took this picture of me and Gretchen, while playing around with my camera. I haven’t seen the ones she took with her own camera yet.

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Tent camping at Mount Charleston (NV,) was a 5-star experience in my book. Nature does something to my soul, and I know my daughter feels the same way. I feel so blessed that we share this.

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I hope you enjoyed the photos, and maybe feel inspired to visit yourself? If camping is your thing, do you have a favorite camping spot? That you find yourself returning to time after time again? 

Love,

Ms Zen

 

Weekend Coffee Share -Valley of Fire State Park

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Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)! Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about? All are welcome!

It’s been a great week, and I am settling in to some kind of routine with everything. I really enjoy my new nanny job, the children are wonderful, and the parents are great people that I like a lot. How was your week? How would you like your coffee today?

I realize that I have not been posting as much as I usually do on my blog. It’s definitely not because of lack of content. On the contrary. I work more hours now. Even though I feel that I’m starting to come into a new routine with most things, I have been working less on my blog. I’m going to do something about that, because it’s important to me, and I’m going to try to stick to the writing schedule I have. Do you experience that sticking to your writing schedule is more challenging when there’s lot of changes going on in your life? For me writing helps to keep me grounded, and stay in the zen. Writing, and photography goes hand in hand. When I write something on my blog, I often re-live a wonderful event. Both while sharing some of the details in writing, and posting the photos to go with the story. 

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Atlatl Rock, at Valley of Fire State Park

I spent yesterday exploring Valley of Fire State Park. It’s 42 000 acres of incredible sandstone formations. Located 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas (NV.) Basically in my (new) backyard! It was pure magic! It was close to a Grand Canyon experience, if you’ve been there, you know what that means! It was an emotional experience, to the degree of bringing me to tears at times.

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Petroglyphs at Atlatl Rock. The light conditions were very harsh. I will try to get some better photos of the petroglyphs during my next visit.

I went on several shorter (around 1 mile) hikes, to different points of interests in the park. I’ve only edited a few of the photos so far, and I’ll share the first ones with you today. I’ll post more during the coming week, as I have a chance to look at them. The light in the park, the colors, and the desert landscape was simply breath taking. It felt like something from another planet. The geology is most interesting. I saw hundreds of caves, and I’m sure there was thousands more hidden in the park. The rock formations are incredible, with the way the light plays on them, they sometimes look very harsh, and sometimes as they were soft to the touch.

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Valley of Fire derives its name from red sandstone formations, formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs, 150 million years ago. Complex uplifting and faulting of the region, followed by extensive erosion, have created the present landscape. 

– Valley of Fire State Park visitor brochure

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My dog Gretchen resting in the shade. 

Yesterday morning it was around 85 degrees when I arrived, and when I left it was 100+. There was extreme heat warning signs on some places (some of the longer hikes,) stating that hikes are not recommended at this time. I honored these signs, and only went for the shorter hikes. There will be plenty of times to go back, and explore to my hearts desire.

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On some places the sand was deep, and it was quiet exhausting to hike. Still it was definitely worth it.

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There’s natural caves everywhere.

The park has a couple campgrounds, and I am planning on trying them out. That’s the only way to experience the early morning, and late evening light, as the rest of the park is only open sunrise-sunset. Today, the day after, I still feel high on life after this incredible experience. If you get the chance, I can highly recommend a visit. If you have been there, I would love to hear about your experience 🙂

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I hope you’re having a wonderful, amazing weekend! ❤

 

Love,

Ms Zen

Amazing Nature – Desert – Joshua Trees

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Joshua Tree, outside Las Vegas (NV.)

Joshua trees are fascinating to look at, standing tall in the middle of the desert landscape. It looks like they are reaching up towards the sky. In fact they were named by mormon settlers, that crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The trees unique shape reminded them of a story in the Bible, where Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in a prayer.

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Joshua trees in a desert landscape, along State Route 160, in southern Nevada.

These hardy little trees that grows in southern Nevada, southern California, and Arizona  are actually very sensitive to our current climate changes. Scientists believe that their numbers could be reduced by 90% by the end of this century. Which would have a huge impact on the ecosystem, probably more than we can understand today.

Joshua trees aren’t actually trees, they are succulents, a type of plant that stores water. In their dry ecosystems, however, they are considered trees of the desert. They have a complex root system that consists of deep and shallow root. Their deep roots can reach a depth of 10-30 feet (!) and collect water that no other plant can use. Pretty cool, don’t you think?

Joshua trees have been used for wood, and building materials for centuries. I think just looking at them is a treat. The way they reach up towards the sky is such a positive, hope giving gesture. Like they are giving thanks. I think they are  among the most interesting, fascinating plants in the desert. What do you think? Have you ever seen a Joshua tree? How do they make you feel?

It was cloudy yesterday when I took these pictures, and the light was kind of flat. It was a lot of fun experimenting with my new camera anyways, and enjoying nature at the same time. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

 

Love,

Ms Zen