Full Moon Hike sounds fun, fun, fun 'til the going gets tough

Know how something sounds like fun, but then it doesn't? But you've already committed?

Wednesday night was like that.

Some time ago, I decided to check out the moon walk. Not Michael Jackson's moon walk, but the Full Moon Hike at Sandstone Canyon in Spring Mountain State Park.

It sounded like so much fun when I put it on my calendar and invited Sherpa Boy to accompany me, since he likes to hike (and could be counted on to carry a knapsack with the vital necessities like water and peanuts). This was going to be fun, fun, fun and ought to make a readable column and inspire others to stumble in my footsteps, right?

The instructions were specific. Meet at the park gate at 6:45 p.m., pay the $5 per car entry fee, and the hike would be from 7 to 9 p.m. However, and this is the part that worried Sherpa Boy, it was a moderate to strenuous hike with some bouldering in the wash. Sherpa Boy had no faith in my bouldering abilities.

Recall that Wednesday was the day of high wind and dust advisories. Sherpa Boy kept saying it might be better at the park 15 miles out of town. Not wanting to be a quitter, I met up with him, and we drove to the park. The fact his Prius was rocking from the wind should have been a clue, but we forged on. The dust devils in the distance looked like a contact lens wearer's tool of torture. But we forged on.

We arrived just a few minutes late -- after all, we are Las Vegans -- and the gate to the park was closed. Another would-be moon hiker drove up. We conferred and decided the hike must have been canceled.

So we did what we wanted to do all along. We went for soup and salad at Olive Garden. Sherpa Boy, working on his second breadstick, agreed that everything had worked out for the best. After dinner, we saw the full moon hovering over the city lights.

When I called Ranger Scott Egy the next day, he said the hike had gone on as planned with the 10 hearty souls who had been on time. Egy made it sound wonderful, describing the fat golden moon reflected in the 3-acre reservoir at the park, the three or four bats they saw, something that might have been a hawk, or a really big bat. He said he doesn't see snakes on these walks, which is good news for the faint of heart, but on the March walk he spied a kit fox.

The night hikes are his favorite, Egy said, because it's prettier and there's no one in the park except the hikers. It's about 20 degrees cooler than it is in town, and he leaves the lights on at the ranch so that upon return the hikers see the beauty and isolation of the cattle ranch. Imagine Vera Krupp living out there with her diamonds. Remember when it was, briefly, a chinchilla ranch?

I was feeling bad about all I had missed, until he mentioned the gusts of dust and admitted that with my contacts, it would have been miserable for me. Even Egy wasn't too wild about the dirt and dust in his eyes.

But a hike when the wind isn't hitting 40 miles an hour is in my future. Egy suggested that a leisurely picnic before the hike would fix the problem of Las Vegas lollygaggers who are perpetually late.

The hiking schedule is available at http://parks.nv.gov/smr.htm. You can call the park at 875-4141, but the line is almost always busy. New moon hikes are set for May 16, June 15, July 14, Aug. 12 and Sept. 11. Full moon hikes are on June 1, June 30, July 30, Aug. 28 and Sept. 26.

No reservations are necessary. Just show up. On time.

Meanwhile, today is Spring Fest at the park, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the entry fee is waived. Aimed at kids of all ages, the festivities include potato sack races, horseshoe games, tug of war, Frisbee competitions and square dancing. Old time fiddlers will be playing, and there will be Civil War re-enactors and mountain men.

And it's not expected to be too windy.

Jane Ann Morrison's column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call 383-0275.


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