Have you ever felt like you just needed to get away from people for a little while? I’m all for being social but at the end of the day, I need a little time for myself. If I neglect that need for calm and space, I start to get really frustrated with everything and everyone.
Cue solo adventure.
I didn’t even plan to go to Valley of Fire. I planned for a trip to Ringbolt Hotsprings in Arizona. I flew into Las Vegas at 10pm, got a rental car, and headed to the trailhead. I set off with a pack of all my things at about 12:15am through a canyon that led me to the Colorado River and I finally pitched me tent around 2:30am. Searching around the river banks for a good spot to camp in the middle of the night, I kept looking up in awe and thinking how amazing my wake up would be…
At 9am, I woke to the sound of speakers blaring upstream (the worst, I know…). I didn’t even know there were campers near me when I first went to sleep, but it turned out to be a rather large group outing that kayaked down the river to camp near the hotsprings. I packed up, had a bit of breakfast, and set off the the hotspring. After a bit of bouldering, I finally descended into a narrow canyon where I found a small trickle of water running through the gravel. Following it up, I eventually came to a large rusty ladder and ascended to the springs. I had a good book and was ready to enjoy a nice dip and peaceful moment to myself.
But alas, there they were. People. People everywhere. I figured if I waited long enough I might get lucky to have a few minutes to myself. After almost 2 hours, I gave up hope as pack of boyscouts jumped in. I got out, dried off, changed back into my gear, and hoisted my pack. I hiked out in a grumpy mood but appreciated the lack of people on the long trip back to my car.
After a bit of driving, a view of the Hoover Dam, and a lot more driving, I came upon Valley of Fire State Park. The sun had almost finished setting as I drove up and I couldn’t get a campsite at the last minute. I snapped a few photographs around the entrance and then drove around the park for a bit, admiring the small glimpses I could make out as the sun continued to drop.
I left the park and camped out on a large rock face in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. There was a lot of wind so I had a tough time pitching my tent and I didn’t sleep very well. But that next morning, I got it – my peace and quiet. The wind subsided to a gentle breeze and there were unseen birds singing softly nearby. All I needed was on this clumsy little rock in the middle of nowhere.
After a solid 20 minutes of admiration and meditation, I set off for Valley of Fire State Park again. Surprisingly, I got there before anyone else and I felt like I had the whole park to myself! I didn’t see anyone else – although I did meet a few Bighorn sheep. As I hiked, deep inside the canyons with red sands below my feet to soften every step, the silence was deafening and my heart pounded with joy in the solace of the golden walls.