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Desert Companion

Zeit bites: Sense of place: Trail and tribulations

An occasional series in which writers seek meaning in specific locations around Southern Nevada.

MountainI’m traipsing up Red Rock’s Kraft Mountain. Lungs blazing. Glutes and quads throbbing. Heart threatening to bust. This snaking trail — my cohort through many trials of the spirit — seems gruff today, maybe pissed that it’s been so long? It’s my comeback hike after six months nursing a herniated disc, as it was the comeback hike after nine months with a broken foot, as it was the hill I trotted up on my 41st birthday — on that gorgeous spring day, I sang under heavy breaths to an audience of yellow wildflowers, a mad woman hopping from boulder to boulder in song, so grateful to be healthy, to be alive, to be right here.

To be sure, this desert and red-rock-stacked hill is not the Conservation Area’s longest nor toughest trail, but it is easy to access in Calico Basin, past a few old ranches and heartbreaking new homes, and it has afforded me a quick nature getaway for nearly 20 years. Today I greeted these sturdy yuccas as old friends, these rust-touched boulders as long lost family, and then the initial 600-foot rise tried to kill me. It works like that. Soon, I could think of nothing but pushing one foot in front of the other, the soles of my feet remembering the give of the gravel, my eyes scanning the trail for traction, my sciatic nerve — and every worry I’ve ever had — deferring to an otherworldly will to make it up this hill.

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And I do. People say it’s the view of the valley from here that’s breathtaking, that offers perspective and renewal. But for me, it’s the pact with the trail.

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