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Extreme Hiking, Featuring 115 Degrees

Just like in February, I had to drive to Las Vegas for a work event, and just like in February, I was determined to see some cool things along the way. But unlike in February, the country was in the grasp of a tremendous heat wave. Still, I don't like wasting opportunity, so I stuck with my plans on my way out of town.

Saint Thomas Ghost Town

This ghost town is part of the vast Lake Mead Recreation Area, but it's impossible to imagine any water flowing through this arid wasteland. The National Park Service site says it was once prime farming land, at the confluence of the Virgin and Muddy Rivers, but on the 112 degree day that I was there, the only water to be found was in my bottle. I brought a liter of water for the 2.25 mile round trip, but in that extreme heat, that was barely enough. I was faint and wobbly by the time I got back to my car. I even brought my Garmin InReach on this simple and short walking trail just in case, because it was clear that I would be the only fool out there for a long, long time and I knew the extreme heat was risky. In fact, two women died hiking just a few miles away because of the extreme heat. So, while this ghost town was really cool to see, especially because of all the great signage comparing what it looked like when inhabited, maybe come during the fall.

Seven Keyholes Canyon (Gold Butte National Monument)

As the crow flies, this hike was only 10 miles away from the ghost town. As the car drives, it was a 2.5 hour drive back up to I-15 and back down a different road 35 miles, the first 20 on a paved by pretty rough road and the last 15 off-roading. Perhaps I should have saved this for a time of year when I could stay a few nights and backcountry camp because there were so many amazing-looking hikes. But I had never even heard of Gold Butte National Monument and I didn't know what I was getting into. 

Even if I hadn't needed to work the next day and could have camped, it was also 115 degrees, so I wasn't about to be doing any intense hikes. But I wanted to see this cool canyon. After the ghost town experience, I decided it would be wise to hike with my umbrella for some shade from the sun, but I really didn't need it. The hike into the canyon wasn't even a half mile.  

If you make the trek out here, follow the directions here. Do not follow what Google maps tells you. I don't think I would have found this if I hadn't screenshotted the directions from Atlas Obscura, even with Google maps downloaded (there's no service). Better yet, bring a paper map of the whole monument area and then go spinning around and have a blast!