I had most of the day off on Sunday, and I
was itching to get out of the city. The
heat and the traffic were getting on me. I
called Banu and said, "Where can I find
some trees without driving clear to Cedar
City?" She recommended Mt. Charleston,
which is about a 45-minute drive from where
After turning left off highway 95 and
heading up highway 157, elevation started
going up dramatically. Signs along the way
let you know just how thin the air is
getting. The trailhead I chose (Cathedral
Rock) started above 7000 feet. Perfect.
Temperature went from 95 in the valley to
73 when I got up to the trailhead. Felt
I hike wearing these.
They're a little odd, and I found them when
I wanted to get some moccasins for hiking.
These were the closest I could find to what
I was looking for. Here's a picture:
I love how they feel, and my body has
adapted well to essentially going barefoot.
I normally really enjoy these for hiking,
but the trail at Cathedral Rock had long
stretches of hard-packed gravel that was
slightly larger than golf balls, and sharp.
I avoided these stretches completely on the
way up by taking some hidden back-way game
trails, and the shoes were great. I came
down the main trail, however, and my feet
were definitely sore on the way down. I
think there's a reason why white people
didn't find gravel trails everywhere when
they showed up in North America: gravel is
hard on the feet when you aren't wearing
mattresses strapped to your feet. On
natural trails, I zip along with the
fastest hikers, but on gravel, I was forced
to pick my steps carefully and I moved as
quickly as I could to end the pain. The
good news is that as soon as I found a spot
to get off the gravel trail and back to
pristine forest floor, the pain quickly
subsided and I was back to my quick stride.
Overall impressions of Mt. Charleston: a
lot of people were up there because it was
a Sunday afternoon. Harleys could be heard
frequently in large thunderous packs that
climbed around the windy mountain roads.
Everyone I met on the trail was very
polite, but if you're looking for solitary
forest time, you'll have to venture far
from the trail.
I found two springs in my explorations and
drank heartily from them both. I am
grateful for the media scare campaign
regarding mountain spring water and giardia
because it means I don't have to share one
of nature's most enjoyable gifts with a
bunch of yahoos from the city. As I was
dipping my hands in the water for a drink,
some guy asked me, "Is the water safe to
drink?" I said, "Not if you're from the
city. It will make you very sick. You
should stick to bottled water." He bought
it hook, line and sinker. I felt no ill
effects and appreciated the refreshment of
natural mountain spring water that can only
be fully appreciated after an hour and a
half of hard hiking in warm weather in full
I will head back to Mr. Charleston again
soon, but next time I'll try to find a more
remote area to explore.