It may surprise those of you who think of Las Vegas as a mere mecca for gambling and neon lights brightening up the night sky of the desert that less than an hour’s drive away there are mountains and snow. This is an area known as Mt. Charleston – and while it doesn’t get the amount of snow that Stowe, Vt. or Vail, Co. receive – still when you’re in a desert you take what you can get.
A few Sundays ago I got a call from Barry, the three goldens’ companion person who asked if Gracie and I would like to take a ride up to Mt. Charleston as he noticed that there was still some snow on the mountains. I gladly agreed and the six of us took off in his SUV.
Mt. Charleston is only about a forty-five minute drive from my house as Gracie and I live on the northwest side of town and the four dogs quickly settled in for the ride. If Mt. Charleston were a disco or nightclub it would not be permitted to exist – as there is only one way in and one way out. Even though it is at an elevation of nearly 12,000 feet and usually ten to fifteen degrees cooler than here in the valley it still gets extremely dry during the summer. As a result, the Mt. Charleston Fire Department is a vital and integral part of the community.
We made the turn into Mt. Charleston and started toward the summit. When we got to the Lee Canyon turnoff Barry turned as he knew an “unofficial” trail that was generally not over-populated with hikers. We pulled into this unmarked trail and let the dogs romp.
To the three goldens who lived most of their lives in Montana the several inches of snow that were still on the ground probably did not seem overly impressive. But to Gracie – who had only seen a light dusting on our front lawn a few times – the look on her face suggested that she thought she was in canine Heaven. She began making doggie snow angels and then started exploring the woods. I was a little surprised that she was so adventurous. In fact, she led her three companions in forays taking them higher up the side of the mountain. But they all responded well to voice commands and did not go too far from us.
After walking for around forty-five minutes we decided to return to the car and began our descent. As we neared the vehicle Gracie began to explore a small ravine to the left side of the car. I went over to make sure that she didn’t go too far down which was when I saw it.
Whether this was left by one person or a group, lying on the ground in this virtually pristine area of forest was an empty Gatorade container, an empty two liter bottle of soda and, most significantly, a one half full plastic container of charcoal lighter starter fluid. We picked up this refuse and took it home, safely disposed of the contents of the lighter fluid and recycled all three pieces.
It makes me wonder … what were those people thinking?