Mountains and wetlands ride - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

December 9, 2020

Mountains and wetlands ride

We’ve been to Boulder City with our bikes before - just last winter in fact,  in mid-January, just about the time the pandemic was becoming a major story in the Orient.  Less than a year ago, but it feels like a lifetime since then.  Some of you might remember our ride on the River Mountains Loop Trail.  This is a spectacular ride, and the main reason we’ve come back to Boulder City so soon.  

That, and because it’s out of locked down Southern California, which caused us to scrap our original plan - another visit to Death Valley.  We had booked a reservation for six nights at Furnace Creek, but with the sudden declaration of the stay-at-home order, it wasn’t clear whether we’d have issues with our lodging there.  And, we hardly wanted to defy the intent of the order; so we came here as the closest out-of-state base that looked attractive to us.

Today’s ride is an out and back, partly because I want to make it easy to bail out if my back is bothering me too much.  It’s still feeling stiff and a bit fragile when we cycle off from the motel, but feels steadily better as we bike.  

After about a mile of modest climbing up from town, we reach the River Mountains Trail.

Mentally I know how spectacular the landscape around here is from the memory of our first visit, but it’s still a shock coming face to face with it again.
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On the Mountains Trail. Big bike, tiny bike.
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Jen GrumbyThat is a well-planned shot!

(Or was it coincidental that Rachael happened to be riding by at just the right moment?)
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyA certain amount of thought went into it. I was lucky to get the timing right.
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2 months ago

We’re riding clockwise today, the opposite direction from what we did last time.  We’ll ride only half of the loop, and then follow the Wetlands Connector, a spur that follows the Las Vegas Wash.  when we’ve had enough fun, we’ll just backtrack.

I’m not going to say much more about the ride (or about Boulder City either, a very appealing small town), since we just described it earlier this year.  We’ll just ride, and save some pictures for the memories.  If you want a refresher, you can reread the earlier post.  Or, for a different perspective you could check out Bill Stone’s ride from earlier this year.

Video sound track: Can’t Keep It In, by Cat Stephens

Heading northwest toward Railroad Pass, we have our last look at this young cyclist for the next hour or two.
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On the Lake Rivers Loop Trail. The western half of the trail is more striking than I remember, because we’re riding in the best direction this time - north, toward the mountains.
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On the Lake Rivers Loop Trail.
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There aren’t many birds about this morning, and those I do see are elusive. I was lucky to have this mockingbird pose for me.
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Looking across Henderson to Las Vegas.
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An appropriate warning, because it’s quite a steep drop here. The downside of an out and back ride is that I can look forward to climbing back up this on the return.
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On the Lake Rivers Loop Trail.
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On the Lake Rivers Loop Trail.
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About twelve miles into the ride, we reach the turnoff to the Wetlands Connector Trail, and take it.  On the GPS route I created for today I named it the wetlands ride, which confused Rachael.  She pictured some flat, easy ride through wetlands but was silently cursing me out when she found this lumpy snake of a trail instead.  Where are the wetlands?

Not here, although it is greener as we bump our way up and down alongside Las Vegas Wash.  No real wetlands though - they’re at the end of the trail, and this is just a connector.  The wetlands, assuming there actually are any, are in Clark County Wetlands Park, just north of Henderson.

Crossing Las Vegas Wash, we transition to the Wetlands Connector Trail and follow the wash upstream.
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No wetlands along the trail, but it is a bit greener here.
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So what is this? The plant, that is - I’ve got that red critter identified already.
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Bill ShaneyfeltA species of Atriplex. The pointy leaves lead me to believe it is desert holly.

http://southwestdesertflora.com/WebsiteFolders/All_Species/Chenopodiaceae/Atriplex%20hymenelytra,%20Desertholly.html
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2 months ago
Along the Wetlands Connector Trail.
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Along the Wetlands Connector Trail. Do these loook like wetlands to you? Not to Rocky either.
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Along the Wetlands Connector Trail.
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There she is. I was starting to worry about her.
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The ride back along the Wetlands trail is fun. We have the wind with us and can momentum our way up the short, steep rollers without too much effort.
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Along the Wetlands Connector Trail.
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Crossing under the Lake Mead Parkway, we return to the River Mountains Trail and backtrack our way home.
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So here’s that steep bit I mentioned earlier - the first of a pair of roughly equivalent back to back climbs. This photo completes a nice pair with the photo I took from the top last time as Rachael powered her way up.
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It’s mostly uphill all the way back to Boulder City, but much of it is a very slight grade that doesn’t slow us down much.  We’re back by 2, and immediately head off to Boulder Dam Brewing Company for an outdoor lunch.  This is one of the only places open for lunch, and today might be the only time it’s warm enough to eat outdoors anyway.

We enjoy our lunch, and I especially enjoy the bold collection of birds hovering and hopping around opportunistically.  They put on an entertaining show.

I was happy to see that mockingbird out in the brush, but I could have just waited for the lunchtime show if I’d only known.
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A great-tailed grackle, but a singular one. He has a deformed beak, like someone took a set of pliers and bent it.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesThis is a deformity known as scissor beak often caused by a genetic problem. Your bird has a relatively mild case since it is obviously able to eat and drink still. If you want to fix it, 1. Catch the bird. 2. Wrap the bird carefully in a towel. 3. Trim the beak back with dog toenail clippers (have cornstarch available in case of bleeding) 4. Repeat as necessary until beak shape is as desired ( you will need to keep the bird caged while you gradually repeat the trimming) 5...?........ Oh hell, just leave the poor thing be. It seems to be doing fine.
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2 months ago
Jen GrumbyThere once was a scissor-beaked grackle
Who laughed from the tree at the jackal
With a mischievous eye
From a branch way up high
He let out a cacophonous cackle
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyHey, we should coauthor a little photo/poetry guide! Short write ups of bike rides around the world, with photos and limericks. I’m sure it would be a big hit.
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2 months ago
Any theories on what could cause this?
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Steve Miller/GrampiesSee comment just above.
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2 months ago
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Ride stats today: 44 miles, 2,100’; for the tour: 673 miles, 23,700’

Today's ride: 44 miles (71 km)
Total: 671 miles (1,080 km)

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Suzanne GibsonThat is some spectacular scenery! Loved the video!
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2 months ago
Bill StoneGreat stuff! I enjoyed my ride there. Definitely worth doing again, eh?

Unfortunately, as I'm sure you've heard, today was a bad day to be a bicyclist in that area. Ride safe.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/12/10/nevada-highway-bike-crash-bicyclists-killed-injured/3885268001/
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill StoneThis is so horrible. We just arrived home, and our neighbors next door opened the door and expressed relief that it wasn’t us. They had seen us bike off this morning not long before the accident and were afraid it was us.
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2 months ago
Ron SuchanekI want to do this ride.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekYup. The two of you would love this one, I’m sure. Next winter, when you’re sick of those wet days in Silverton.
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2 months ago