Guest Author - Gregory A. Kompes
Each week I take a day hike, usually alone. I recently went on a day hike to the Bowl of Fire in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in the Las Vegas valley. Iíd been planning this trip to the Bowl of Fire for some time.
The Bowl of Fire is a large area of exposed red rock formations in the middle of the Muddy Mountains. Iíd seen pictures and knew I wanted to experience it for myself. I set out early in the morning with a pack filled with the essentials: lots of water, high energy snacks, fresh fruit, first aid kit, flash light, and directions.
It was a beautiful spring day with lots of sunshine and a slight breeze. I easily found the Bowl of Fire after about two hours of hiking. The outcroppings of red rock were amazing and, as is so often the case in the desert, the photos Iíd seen didnít really do the place justice.
I stopped to sit on some rocks, enjoy the scenery, and have a snack. The sun was starting to set and thatís when I realized that I didnít actually know where I was. Now, I had an idea of where I was on a map. I knew which way was north. But, I didnít know how to get out. Iíd lost the trail and path while wondering around the rocks.
First up, I checked my cell phone, no signal. Thatís not surprising, but occasionally, on some of what feel like the most remote hikes in the Las Vegas area, Iíll have cell service. My compass did work and I checked my direction, just to be sure I had my bearings.
Itís strange to be lost and yet know exactly where you are. I was pleased that Iíd told someone exactly where Iíd be hiking that day. Thatís something I always do. So, I knew if I were in real trouble and my friend didnít hear from me by night fall that there would be rangers looking for me.
I got as high up as I safely could and took in my surroundings. Twice I thought Iíd found the canyon out, only to be thwarted by a steep pour over. I knew I had to travel east and thatís what got me into trouble. While I did have to go east, what I really needed to do was go west because thatís where the canyon I was looking for existed. Instead, I kept east, followed a ridge, and then found another canyon that I was able to safely navigate.
By the time I found the wash, the sun was nearly down. I checked my phone again and I had service. I called my friend and let them know what had happened. The phone then went dead. At least I know knew where I was and so did someone else. It was pitch black by the time I made it back to my car and I was thankful that I had a flashlight in my pack.
Once out of the park, I called my friend again. Heíd already looked up the rangerís numbers and had decided if I didnít call again within an hour of our arranged time that heíd call for help. The point of the story: Always let someone know where youíll be hiking and what your expected time of return will be. Then, be sure to check in with them as soon as you can after your hike.