A rock and a white place

By some accounts, on one certain sixth day, living creatures were summoned to fill the earth. But on another sixth day, a band of ne’er-do-wells in Vegas summoned all their strength to rouse themselves from the dead (a figurative kind of dead; this is a lighthearted entry, after all) for some physical activity.

What can I say – We were an ambitious sort. It wasn’t enough that we’d barely slept all week, had danced the night away more than once, with one of those instances occurring on the eve of the new year, some (ahem, one) of us in multiple-inch heels with no spare flats to save our feet from certain doom.

Exhausted, dehydrated and drawn to anything neon so long as it promised us the chance to spin a fortuitous wheel, we looked those five days in the eye and proclaimed, “Hogwash!”

We were going hiking.


Red Rock Canyon. The name, taken literally, conjures images of a canyon of red rocks. Figuratively, it conjures images of a canyon of red rocks. So, how we ended up on a canyon of white rocks was entirely, well, my fault.

While the boys were busy studying a map of the canyon at the visitor center, I may or may not have been busy studying a live tarantula in a tank. It was just so hairy and motionless – Did you know its bite is only as poisonous as a bee sting? I sure didn’t.

“Trail 3,” our resident driver, Marco, said once we got back in the car. “Calico Tanks.”

“Trail 3, eh?” I mused, unfolding the map.

This trail starts at the Sandstone Quarry parking lot. It winds through a wash and there may be seasonal water present in a natural tank at the end.

My eyes glazed over and wandered to…

Trail 5. Keystone Thrust. This trail is accessed from the upper White Rock Spring parking lot. It takes you to the most significant geologic feature of Red Rock Canyon – the Keystone Thrust.

Perhaps the “white rock” part of the description should have been a clue, but there were thrusts! And keystones! And significant geologic features! This Keystone Thrust in particular sounded magical, as if at any moment we would stumble into swords in stones and baby Ewoks.

I had to go to there.

“Hey!” I said. “This sounds way more interesting.”

“I guess we could do that,” Marco replied.

Working through my phone’s spotty reception, I attempted to Google some images of the thrust while Marco called the others.

“Hey guys…”

My phone laboriously loaded photos.

“… we’re going to Trail 5 instead…”


“… Karen said it sounds more interesting…”

Still loading.

“… It’s just past Calico Tanks.”

As I waited for the thrust, we happened upon the glorious red rocks. Surely our parking lot couldn’t be too far off, I thought.

“Got it!” I said, triumphantly holding up my phone to reveal images of the rocks.

Really white ones.

Outside my window, the red rocks zoomed past. So did the parked cars. And so did the many people who figured out that in order to hike among the red rocks, they had to go to them.

“So uhh,” I began, “apparently the thrust is a geological anomaly!”

I gulped.

“Geologists from around the world come to study it!”

It was time to panic.

The air grew thin; I felt my throat tighten.

“You’ll be fine!” Marco said, thinking my fear of heights was getting to me. “You just have to conquer your fears.”

I imagined everyone taking pictures with the white mountain, later regaling friends with the time they, fighting exhaustion, drove a ways away from the city center to look at some pretty regular rocks. They’d think of me, and their cheeks, in a cruel reminder of what they didn’t see, would turn red.

At Trail 5, the parking lot was noticeably emptier. We tentatively set foot on the gravel lot.

Phil, ever the supportive boyfriend, quipped: “So, what did you guys do at Red Rock Canyon? Oh, we went to see the white rocks.”

“Red rocks are so mainstream.”

I plotted his demise.

What made it worse was that Marco tried to take the blame. There was only one thing to do; I would sacrifice myself to the next available wolf.

But for several minutes, there was nothing. Hikes, believe it or not, can be pretty monotonous when you’re dreading the nothingness you’re walking toward. When Marco decided to climb a nearby crest, we all followed.

Monotony over.

Normally I have an incredible fear of heights, especially in the presence of rickety ladders, rail-less roofs and laws of physics-defying elevators. But when allowed to ascend on my own terms, on my own two feet on fairly stable ground, I do just fine.

Which is why I was able to do this.

And this.
Scaling it or feigning imbalance on the edge, however, would have been an entirely different thing. Which is what some of the guys did in completely undocumented fashion, as I was curled up elsewhere in the fetal position.

In the end, no one seemed to mind that we ended up on the white part of things.

And the best part was from far away, the red rocks were still pretty spectacular.

3 responses to “A rock and a white place”

  1. The best hikes are the serendipity of the unknown paths. Fantastic post. Brought smiles to my face!

  2. […] on the mountainous hike (and other promised entries) later. In the meantime, check out our New Year’s Eve pictures, […]

  3. […] Franco. I met Franco some years ago after knowing his twin brother Marco (Phil’s best friend from college) for some time and not hearing anything about […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: