January 2021 the Hubby and I went on a long weekend trip to Las Vegas. While there, we took a day to hike and be outdoors, a requirement for every trip.
On this particular outing, we had a grand plan of visiting the Arizona Hot Springs, soaking in the hot waters together on our anniversary trip. I was ready! I had my comfortable capris leggings on, comfortable shoes, and my hiking bag packed specifically for this trip. Included in this pack was;
- Water- a must for hiking in the desert or anywhere for that matter.
- Knife- always.
- Solar charger for my phone
- Swimwear for soaking in the hot springs
- Microfiber towel- lightweight, small when folded, dries fast
- First aid kit
- Snakebite kit
- Cell phone
- Snacks- granola bars, beef jerky, etc..
There were several mistakes made on this outing. I’ll start with that.
After a hearty breakfast in Vegas and making our way to the car rental we hit the road following the GPS on my phone. Oh Google Maps, how I misuse you constantly (side note; my husband calls google maps Janice). Taking in the sites was really neat as I had not been to this part of Nevada before. Scott had been there previously for a couple of Marine Corps trainings. He was like my own personal tour guide as we passed Hoover Damn. Overall, not a bad drive out. And it felt a bit nostalgic, thinking of our time we lived in the Californian desert.
We enter Arizona and are driving for quite some time, Janice hasn’t said anything in a long while. I check it out and we haven’t come up on it yet. Then….. we pass it. Duh. How did we miss it?! Well, I tell you what, it’s not obvious. There is not a big sign or arrows, so keep your eyes peeled for a little parking lot on the north side of the road. I consult Janice to see how we missed it, thinking that I had the incorrect information plugged in, she is advising us to turn around WAY up the road as there isn’t much in the way of turn around points. Nope. We turn around at the earliest semi-convenience with few cars around.
Back on track… hopefully. Quite a ways before we get there, Janice says, “You have arrived.” We are really watching this time around and we do see a little turn off point that would have been difficult to view driving east. Woohoo!
READ THE SIGN.
This is important. Read the sign clearly, take in the scene going on around you. Maybe those people returning from or just entering a certain trail are here for the main attraction. We missed all of that. Should have asked them.
We get up the map on this large board and debate which is the trail head for the Arizona Hot Springs. There is mention on the map of a historic bridge. I will tell you this now, that is NOT the trailhead. Do NOT go this way. The actual trail head is the trail that goes under the overpass and has a very clear marker. We thought it was weird that the trail would go under an overpass, that’s why we took the trail going over the historic bridge. Be sure you are taking the right path.
So we are off on the wrong trail and are unaware of it. The views on this trail are kind of bland to start, so have the great idea to go off trail and climb up this hillside and get a better look. Nope. Don’t do that.
Yes, the view was better. But I know better than to go off trail in an unfamiliar environment. Did it anyway. After wandering the ridgeline a ways, it’s time to make our way back down the slope to the trail. Scott takes a steeper, quicker path and I choose a more gradual slope. I am watching my direction more than my footing, also a mistake. When you hike in the desert, watch where your feet go.
My head snapped down and I jumped off of one foot because my other was about to come right down on a small canyon rattlesnake. I jumped so high and let out a very embarrassing squeal! As I landed my ankle hit a rock. The pain from the ankle of course brought the thought of snake bite. Did this snake bite me that fast that I didn’t see it? The site is inspected for puncture marks, none are found. Just a small bruise from the rock. Pfew! That is why you carry a snakebite kit, might seem silly, but I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
This one is all on Scott. Being far more careful about where I am putting my feet, we hike on. Scott is keeping a sharp eye as well, his eyes are better than mine and I feel better with him looking out too.
Suddenly, Scott shouts, “There’s a snake!…… somewhere out there.” Gesturing to all of the desert around us.
Argh! If you are wondering, yes, I did hit him. I was so mad! It’s funny now, but at the time I was not having it.
So my pace slowed drastically now that I was on the lookout for snakes. I will say, I was not afraid of snakes before this trip. I still like the snakes in Minnesota, we mostly have nonvenomous snakes with the exception of one species in southern Minnesota. But I will be quite wary of them in future snake-infested adventures.
Though Mistake #4 was just some jackassery from my husband, we’ll move onto mistake #5. This one also involves leaving the trail.
I cannot stress this enough. Do Not Do this!
After hiking for a couple of hours, we finally realize that we are not on the Arizona Hot Springs Trail. This is nothing like the pictures I’ve seen on Pinterest. Okay. Decision time. Do we turn back or cut across to save time?
Following my snake encounter, you’d think that I would have that answered already, right? Wrong. We decide to go off trail again. I am going at turtle pace watching for snakes. And Scott so graciously reminded me about scorpions as well. Lovely. I somehow still trust him to be my eyes and to get us out of this mess. He used his land navigation skills from the Marine Corps to set a course to get us back to the rental vehicle. All we have to do is climb down and out of a gorge with all kinds of nooks and crannies.
If this type of thing happens to you, turn back and stay on the trail. Follow it out or call for assistance.
That being said. This turned out to be the coolest part of our hike. Scott found a relatively simple area to descend into the gorge. He was still my eyes and was very patient with me going at my ‘don’t want to step on a snake’ pace. Once in the gorge we found lizard and rabbit tracks and rabbit poop. That was really neat, I am always on the lookout for animal sign when in the woods. It was a treat to find it in a place I wasn’t looking for it. And it’s not scaring me out of my mind. Bunnies are cute and non-life threatening.
Time to ascend the other side of the gorge. It was not as hard as I was anticipating. Scott found an area with very little spaces for critters to hide in for my climb up. I was very appreciative of this. After we cleared another hill, we could see the parking lot. But we had to climb down along an oddly placed fence to get there.
Back at the parking lot, we could very clearly see the marked trail. Duh. We felt so silly. But we still had an adventure together. I can say that I didn’t die of fright or venom from a rattlesnake, and made it back in one piece.
If you are planning on doing the Arizona Hot Springs, please choose the correct trail and stay on said trail! Always pack a snakebite kit, you never know when you might need it.