So far this spring we have taken a depressingly low number of family hikes. Matt and Roland don’t share any of the same days off anymore and we had a lot of lousy weather in March. During Roland’s spring break from school we weren’t able to get away for a trip, but we did go for one day hike and, thankfully, it turned out to be a pretty great one.
We drove two hours south to Echo Canyon State Park (near Cathedral Gorge) and hiked the Ash Canyon trail. It was a beautiful sunny spring day in the upper 50s- a perfect day for a hike. The trail was less than three miles round- trip, but it sure felt longer. The trail started with a somewhat steep ascent away from Echo Reservoir up to the rim of Ash Canyon. As we headed up the dusty switchbacks, we looked back and had nice views of the lake, valley, and surrounding mountains.
Throughout the hike we of course saw several jackrabbits (Nevada is filthy with jackrabbits), but more interestingly, we also saw three different types of lizards. I have never seen any lizards up around where we live in Ely so these were fun to see.
After we hiked up to the rim, we started our descent down into the canyon. Ash Canyon is narrow, with many interesting nooks and crannies in the rocks. In many places the route was less of a trail and more of a rock scramble. The pictures may not depict that because in those areas I was too busy just trying to make my way through. Our five- year- old son, Roland, thought it was the coolest place ever. He would have ran the whole way if I let him. He’s already leaving his poor mom in the dust. At this rate, he’ll be summiting Everest at 12.
After we shimmied and scrambled our way through the narrow canyon, we finally reached the great open expanse on the other side. It was a fun challenge, but my legs were happy for a more straight- forward trail. As we worked our way downhill, we oohed and aahed over all the cool rock formations. I think I started to annoy my family because, now that the hike was a bit easier, my hands were freed up to take pictures every few steps.
We meandered our way down through the intriguing rocky landscape and we eventually reached the pretty little creek that we followed back to Echo Reservoir. We relaxed for a little bit by the lake, but it was getting late so we needed to start heading back to town.
The animals were definitely out and about during our evening two- hour drive back home. We saw several herds of pronghorn and we even whizzed by an animal that we are pretty sure was a badger (the first one we have ever seen in the wild- too bad we were going 70 mph).
And….we finally saw our elk! We supposedly live near the largest elk herd in the state, but after a year of living here without ever spotting one, we were beginning to think that elk in Nevada was a myth. When we drove out to the park we passed them, but we couldn’t decide if they were cows or horses. On the drive home we pulled over, and sure enough- they were elk! They were pretty far out in the distance, but still exciting to see.
With the tricky, but fun trail, impressive rocky scenery and numerous wildlife sightings, we had a great first family hike of the Spring. With all of our conflicting schedules, we needed the time together and I definitely needed the time in nature. There was surely no shortage of things to praise God for on this day.
“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”