This was a spur of the moment adventure. The boyfriend had the Easter weekend off and we were both, yet again, bored inside of the apartment looking for something to do. While I’m sure that my boyfriend’s version of “doing something” most likely meant busting out the barbecue grill at the local park, I, on the other hand, was looking to get into something more. I wanted to go on an adventure. A bike packing adventure! And so after a little convincing, that’s exactly what we did! And guess what? It turns out that we were both kinda in way over our heads…
Where: Lake Mead, Nevada
When: March 31st – April 1st, 2018
With whom: My boyfriend and I
Accommodations: Las Vegas Bay campground
Distance: 42 miles round trip
We headed out towards our first trail head way later than we expected. The plan was to leave around 10 in the morning, but by the time we had left the apartment it was already 1 in the afternoon. The first hour of our journey was uneventful until we got to the wetlands connector trail.
And then…uphills! Major uphills! They were so steep that we had to get off of our bikes and walk them up. We were not pleased. It was hot (nearly 90 degrees) and it was at that point that we had started to wonder if we had made a grave mistake by choosing to tackle this trail.
But, it was only just the beginning and we hadn’t even come face to face with the real monster. Our next trail-head! The river mountains loop trail!
I had read a lot of online reviews about this trail, and although almost everyone agreed that it was beautiful and scenic, they also agreed that it was a moderate to strenuous trail not for the feint at heart. The whole trail was said to have mostly uphill grades with some rather steep hills spread all throughout. But me being the stubborn adventurous person that I am, I felt like me and my bf were up for the task even though we pretty much had no training with uphill riding whatsoever. Go figure!.. Once we nearly made it to the river mountains loop trail, our lack of training began to show. We began to slow down significantly! After many alternating periods of riding our bikes, walking our bikes uphill, and stopping for a lot of much needed breaks, we finally found some respite from the heat ( good thing we packed enough water!) under a shaded pedestrian tunnel. We took the time to eat our lunch of homemade trail mix and rice cakes smeared with loads of almond butter and honey. After cooling off and stuffing our faces, about 30 minutes later we were back on the trail. At this point, we had been on the trail for hours and we began to realize that it was getting late. Mind you, this whole journey to Lake Mead was suppose to be under 2 and a half hours. We left at 1pm and by 6pm we were still on the trail and not at Lake Mead! Once again we were making poor timing and I had wondered if we would still be on the trail after dark. A scary thought indeed seeing as much of the trail stretches through wide open desert. Finally at almost seven at night we reached our destination. Lake Mead! A whole 6 hours later! Once inside of the park we almost got lost, but luckily, with the help of a nice park ranger, we finally made it to our campground at Lake Mead. By the time we got there it was dark and I was praying to god the campground wasn’t full. Fortunately it wasn’t! Whew! That would’ve made our trip 10x harder if it was. We unpacked, set up our gear, and then I cooked up what turned out to be an improvised but completely delicious dinner. It’ll probably become a camping dinner staple! There was wine to be had too which was much needed after such a long day. We were both exhausted after the days journey so we got into our tent and quickly went to bed. Good night!
Wow. I guess some people don’t understand the meaning of “quiet hours”. Our camping neighbor’s were up all night drinking and chatting among themselves very loudly. It was almost as if they thought that no one else was in the campground besides them. And this is why I dislike camping in most campgrounds… The original plan was to actually try dispersed camping and find our own spot nestled somewhere up along the lake shore. But since we arrived at Lake Mead after dark, that plan quickly went out of the window. Oh well! We’ll have to leave much earlier next time! We ate our breakfast, explored the immediate area a little bit, took some pictures, and then we proceeded to pack up our gear. Although I wanted to do a lot more exploring around the park, we would have to get an early start back home because my boyfriend had to go to work the following day. And by an early start I mean we left at 12 noon because we never leave on time…lol.
We had hoped that the ride back home would be easier. It turns out that it was! There were a lot more downhills (extremely fun and kind of scary at times lol) but there were still a few strenuous uphill climbs that required us to get off and walk our bikes. By the time we got back to the wetlands trail, the bf was spent and we had to take several breaks. I’m so proud of him though because this proved to be a very tough trail for us both and although he was irritated at times (as was I ) with the seemingly never ending uphill riding, he never EVER gave up! We never gave up! In fact, I think we did pretty damn amazing considering neither of us are fit or athletic and we were both hauling well over 35lbs of gear of piece. Up until 3 months ago, we hadn’t ridden bikes at all since were children!
We made it back home close to 6pm, and that was mainly because we stopped for an hour, sat, and chilled once we got to the wetlands. I also took that time to put in a grocery delivery because I wanted delicious food to be ready and waiting for us as soon as we got home. We were both tired, starving, and ready to just relax and eat. We needed something fast but still reasonably healthy so a pre cooked roasted chicken from sprouts sounded great. Mmm… roasted chicken sandwiches with kettle brand sea salt potato chips + an ice cold lime flavored sparkling water. The thought alone made me push those last few miles even harder. lol. As soon as were were pulling up to our apartment building, our sprouts food delivery order was pulling in. Just in time! Time to eat real food, rest, and reflect on the seemingly never ending journey through the desert that we had just defeated. Wow. That was one heck of a first bike-packing trip!
Lessons: 1. Leave on time. We could’ve made our trip significantly more pleasant by just leaving early in the morning and avoiding some of the sweltering afternoon heat. 2. Freeze our water before leaving because warm water taste disgusting and unsatisfying. 3. If you’re not dispersed camping, have a back up plan for a second accommodation, because if the campgrounds are full there’s nothing worse than trying to set up camp in the dark in the middle of the back-country. Especially the desert! Eek! A lot of the creatures are nocturnal (including snakes) because its so damn hot out during the day. Think about that. Or maybe I should have…lol 4. Wear sunscreen! So, I have this thing about sunscreen. It makes your face look pasty white and like you have stuff caked on it. Because you do. But, its needed! We both went without and the next day our faces were dry and peeling in the areas that we had clearly been sunburned. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve learned our lesson for next time.
Would we do it again?: Hell yea! I would. Although the journey wasn’t easy or even expected at some points, I had massive amounts of fun and I actually surprised myself by what I could do. Who knew that I had so much strength and stamina! I’m already planning my next bike-packing trip. I’m hooked! The boyfriend, on the other hand, not so much. He says that he could do this once a month but not as much as I’d like to do it. He says that it was fun but exhausting. Same here! But it will just take a bit longer for him to recuperate. All in all, it was a great challenging trip. Ir was a true test of both our physical and mental strength. I cant wait to get back on my bike and do it all again!