The One Where I Go See a Waterfall

Who has two thumbs and loves these jags?  This guy!

Who has two thumbs and loves these jags? This guy!

Mary Jane Falls.  Is it named after an unfortunate hiker that met her end in a terrible fall from the cliff above, or in an unrelated and just as unfortunate circumstance did a vagabond hiker drop his dimebag?  Who will ever know, the mystery will continually remain for generations as to how this hike got its name, but there is a waterfall at the end, so that makes it worthwhile.

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The trail up and back as shown on Alltrails, available on Google Play and Apple Store

The hike is about twenty and one-half miles up Mt. Charleston’s main road, Kyle Canyon Road, in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I call this the Other Vegas as there is way more to do here than gamble, drink and puke.  The route is advertised as a 2.4 out and back trail – for the life of me, I have always thought that meant round-trip, but I have discovered this is not true, that at least in this case, is a one way mileage.  There is also an 2000 foot +/- elevation gain set over the course of several switchbacks and ‘stairs’.  it is mostly unexposed, but the higher you get, the more exposure there is – along the way there are several places to stop and take a sit or take a breather for those of us still working to be the macht wanderer.

This is a family friendly trail, however, my youngest was DONE by the time we were within a quarter-mile of returning to the trail head.  Finally this trail is also pet friendly, but please pick up the dog shit!  There were several turd piles petrifying in the sun, with swarms of nasty ass flies, so please, pack it out.

The gang of evil family I suspect of trying to kill me.

The gang of evil family I suspect of trying to kill me.

I was a bit unprepared for this trail based on the description I had read, and feedback I received an hour before I began this hike.  I forgot to mention, this was a Father’s Day hike which made it all the more special and my kids did a great job.  I, admittedly, threw a little tantrum about two-thirds up and was going to head back – but after a few moments of introspection, tears and a small heart attack, I sucked it up and said damn the heart attack that was looming and pressed on.  It was worth it, very much worth it.

It was a joy to get to the falls and spend a pleasant twenty to thirty minutes being misted by the falls (this time of year it is a bit of a trickle, but it is still there).

A view of the trail.  Or, the Bataan Death March, not sure yet.

A view of the trail. Or, the Bataan Death March, not sure yet.

I was also enjoying the  people watching as this is a very, very popular trail and I saw all sorts of people on this trail from families in over their head, to people I would never have suspected as hikers in my life.  My two favorite groups were the two classy ladies all inked up (I like ink) with the tank top, “Bitches, Blunts and Bath Salts”, oh yes, a few of their favorite things.  The other group was the family on their way up we met while descending who asked, “Did you all make it all the way”?, which we replied, proudly, “YES!”.  The main murder suspect My Wife overheard them murmur, “If those people can do it, so can we”.  What the hell was that supposed to mean?  I had my REI trail pack, my bandana, my flannel shirt and goatee.  I was in my element. These people had no idea!

Yes, I fell prey to the obligatory foot shot so popular on Instagram.

Yes, I fell prey to the obligatory foot shot so popular on Instagram.

Another group i should mention were the two mid-life ladies descending toward us who mentioned at the eight-tenth mile marker that we were “Almost There” (A lie that all descending parties shared with us, probably with a chuckle.  How evil are these people?  Must be from Alabama).  Then as they left a switch-back, performed 20 body weight fully packed squats.  Crossfit Hiking?  Hooollly shit.  I mean, isn’t it enough to hike up and down a hill without performing ADDITIONAL exercised?  I watched them as we rounded the ten-thousandth switch back and they did this every. damn. time.  Wow, I was inspired and kind of revolted at the same time.

The kids playing in the falls

The kids playing in the falls

At the top, we got to spend some time as a family enjoying the sun, the mist, the view and squirrels who apparently think Cliff Bars are a delicacy.  I apologized to my family for the tantrum, they were all kind and forgave me.  It was pretty amazing, the journey, not just the hike that day but the entire journey this family has taken.  This twenty-minute reprieve was deserved and earned by this family.  We literally have been trough the ringer mentally, physically and emotionally and if my wife and kids were not as strong as they are, I may have given up entirely by now and be quite dead.  i love them for the gifts they give me every day.  my wife and I are falling deeply in love all over again, and that is an

These two jags getting along for the first time in months.  Emo and the ManBun

These two jags getting along for the first time in months. Emo and the Man Bun

amazing feeling.  Last year at this time, i would not have even dared make the drive up there, let alone hike this son of a bitch.  I am grateful that i was able to share this quiet moment in reflection with my new squirrel friends.  I forgave my family instantly for trying to kill me this day.  They have suffered a buffoon for a few years and they know I am back on my game so this hike was good on many levels.  Oh yes, i forgot the mention the blatant racism that runs rampant at the terminus of the hike.  A white couple was trying to take a picture of the falls while an African-American man  (on his first hike?), was filling his water bottle and was in their photo, Mr. White turned to Mrs. White and said, “Just tell everyone you ran into Snoop Dog”.  Wow, really?  How bad id it that this is so offensive?  Its Snoop Lion good sir, Snoop Lion.

Some kind of lean too or teepee built at the eight tenth mile marker

Some kind of lean too or teepee built at the eight tenth mile marker

With the breaks and the wee one, this hike was a good hour and forty-five minutes up, as the pace was set by my little girl, who by the way is a monster hiker and connoisseur of poop piles and every damn rock on the trail, and a little over an hour and fifteen minutes back down.  All in all, i loved this hike even though it nearly killed me and even today I am wearing Camden Gear compression sleeves; but it was the first hike of the season for me, and the first hike in three years, so what was I going to expect?  i am doing this hike next week with some old friends from my previous lame life, and I am excited to share one of their favorite trails and share love and fellowship of nature with them,

The one major problem with this hike, and a lot of them in Las Vegas is that they are all hikes on rocks, as if hiking a dried up creek bed,  I was in good, solid boots and it started to suck so my poor family in their tennis shoes were definitely feeling it, but we carried on.  i certainly recommend this hike, just be prepared for some heat, soe steep switch-backs, dog poop and please do not force march your three-year old like i did, I feel kind of shitty about that, but at the end of the day, she did hug me, tell me she had so much fun and that I was her best friend.  Then we all promptly fell asleep.  I love my life.

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Salt Lake City, UT

What does it mean to be homesick? Really? If home is where you lay your head or home is where the heart is at, theoretically anywhere I may roam, is home, right?

So what is it about a place that makes us long for it more than normal? Is it a moment that we shared there? Is it the people whose faces once were so clear in our mind, but are starting to fade as memories?

Even then, was it always good times? That seems improbable, so there has to have been bad times too, but they seem to have already faded in the memory that has become jaded and clouded from the day to day.

What does it mean to be homesick? If I live in one place, is that not my home? Do I get sick for my front door when I leave for work? Do I pine for my bathroom? No, I don’t think that I do.

How did I become homesick? I mean, I moved away, so I had to be ready for a change. Why now? Why does my mortal mind recoil at the thought of spending eternity where I am at right now? Physically, not the people, let’s be clear on that immediately.

How can I be homesick for a place I was not even born? If I leave here, in five years will I be homesick for here?

What does it mean to be homesick? I think it is our mind laughing at old jokes, visiting the highlight reel of the place we called home for some time. Breathing in the cotton candy essence of the day to day, and ignoring the tar sticky bad things.

Its remembering that you saw an autographed receipt at the old laundry Stonewash, signed by Stephen Jenkins of 3Eb, and how cool you thought that was that a rockstar you just discovered had his underwear cleaned at the same place you did. It is forgetting that the Spaghetti Factory on Fifty-Fourth and Redwood Road was where you had your heart truly broken for the fist time. Or is that part of it?

What does it mean to be homesick? It’s knowing that there are no balls on the Indian at the state capital. It’s knowing that gravity hill use to be pretty fucking awesome and Memory Grove use to be a skanky dark little drug den. Not unlike Pioneer park (now an artisan community), Liberty Park (urban outdoor mecca) and Fairmont Park (actually, this one hasn’t changed).

What does it mean to be homesick? It means really thinking of the worst of the place you live. It means remembering that graduations happen in casinos. It means that movies happen in casinos. It means thinking that the grass is greener a little to the north. Is it really?

What does it mean to be homesick? It means dilutedly thinking that Kearns is a way better place to raise your family than Henderson. It means thinking that you could probably make Ten Thousand less a year there and still survive, It means thinking all of your problems will disappear as soon as you close the door on the Uhaul.

What does it mean to be homesick? It means not knowing. It means a leap of faith; it means taking advantage of Credit One and get my fucking degree while I can and let them pay for it and go along and say yes sir, and shave and wear slacks and not give a damn that we don’t have money to visit the place that has made me so homesick.

What does it mean to be homesick? It means thinking hot dogs grilled over a fire in Big Cottonwood Canyon taste better than those grilled at Mt. Charleston (they don’t). It means hiking in the Wasatch is so much more beautiful than the Red Rock area (its not). It means thinking that the snow at Alta is so much more powder and slick than Mt. Charleston (OK, got me there again Utah).

What does it mean to be homesick? It means thinking this time, when you go home, it will be different. You will do everything as a family, it will all be Summer Sun Shiny all day. That it will be Leatherby’s and Lagoon every weekend instead of Mr. D’s and Wet n’ Wild (still not sold on that). It is knowing that SL Bee’s baseball is better than Las Vegas 51’s (wait, don’t the Cubs come play a preseason weekend here?).

What does it mean to you, to be homesick?

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