West End Wash with Joe

Joe & balancing rock
Joe & balancing rock

Friday I had the pleasure of going out on a ride with my friend Joe Herbst to the West End Wash & Gale Hills area off the North Shore Road in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. We’ve been doing these rides about once a year for, hmm, probably at least ten years, usually around Christmas time but sometimes other times of the year. Joe is a friend from my childhood in Las Vegas, we met when we were about 12 years old and started hiking together.

We rode in and out of the washes, over ridges, along routes Joe has been before. Joe spends a lot of time out here, riding at least three days a week (an advantage to being retired). I used to spend quite a bit of time off the North Shore Road, but hadn’t been in this particular area in many, many years. Joe has three animals, Sassy and Ellie the horses, and Ruby the mule, plus two dogs. I used to ride Ellie all the time, but Ellie is in semi-retirement and mostly goes along for the trip now, so I’ve been riding Ruby. Ruby is a very sure-footed mule, easy to ride and safe, except…

Dan on Ruby
Dan on Ruby

Well, I got thrown off / fell off. Ruby stepped down over a ledge and stopped. STOPPED. I did not not, and went down hard on the hard rock of the canyon bottom. A few cuts and scrapes, and a pulled muscle in my rib cage, most of which was incurred in trying to stay on the mule, but without success. Ruby’s saddle was forward, which could have been the cause of the sudden stop, or could have just resulted from me trying to hang on as I was flying. No permanent injury. It’s a good reminder that it is my responsibility to check the cinch, and lazing along old roads doesn’t mean I get to relax when the country gets rougher.

As we ride along, we tell each other stories and remembrances, some from recent times and some from long ago hiking and backpacking with Howard Booth and others. We’ve probably told most of these stories many times before, but one of the advantages to only riding together once a year is that we’ve forgotten during the year which stories, and the details of the stories, so we get to tell them again.

Almost seven years ago we spent a week day-riding in the Escalante in southern Utah, and we are starting to talk about doing it again in April. Yahoo!

Photos on Flickr, some from me and some from Joe

One thought on “West End Wash with Joe

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