Monday, March 23, 2015

That Time I Tried to Summit Frenchmans Mountain

Holy Mole'! I ended up with one of the biggest adrenaline rushes of my life the other day, and it was all on a whim.  I set off on a 4 mile hike,  Two miles up, and two miles back down. It turns out I only made it about 1.3 miles up before I had to turn back around.

My apologies in advance for this being one of those rambling posts, I hope I remember all of the little details.
I will conquer you someday!!!

Before the Hike
Last week I took Friday off from work, as a personal/catch up day.  I dropped my kids off at daycare, and then I was heading over to the Pittman Wash Trail for a run.  I was talking to my run, BFF on the phone, and I told her "Debi, in a perfect world I would be headed over to Red Rock to run the loop, but I have to go home and clean the house"....

My husband and I share household chores pretty evenly. If anything he does the majority of the housework... He's amazing.  However, there are certain chores that he hates doing and that we can't do while the kids are home.  My favorite kind of chores involve ripping the closets apart to get rid of old toys and old clothes.  I can't throw away old junk without the kids wanting to save all the broken crayons and baby toys they don't play with anymore.  So about twice a year- I take a personal day to blitz the closets...

But getting back to running.... Red Rock Canyon Recreation Center gets all of the glory out here in the Las Vegas Valley-  I used to love to run the outer paved loop, and it is one hell of a workout.  But, I was really pressed for time.

I have lived in the Las Vegas Valley for over ten years, and almost four years ago I purchased a home near Sunrise/Frenchmans Mountain.  I see this mountain everyday, and it never stops being beautiful.

View from the neighborhood

View from across the street from my home on a rainy day.

I just discovered last year, that there is a hiking trail that goes all the way up to the top of Sunrise & Frenchman Mountains,  Here's a picture I borrowed from Bird & Hike to show you the two mountains.

In January the LVTC was hosting a 2 mile run up Frenchmans Mountain, but it didn't fit around my family time schedule so I didn't go to that event.  I was really intrigued because this is so close to where I live.

About two weekends ago,  my husband and I took the kids for a drive to check out Lake Mead.  There are several ways to get to Lake Mead, and we just discovered that the road behind Sunrise Mountain leads to Lake Mead, and that's where the trail head to Frenchmans Mountain begins...  During the drive  we noticed hikers along the trail.

The Hike  (Some of the pictures in this portion of the post are not my own)

After I got off the phone with my friend, I  decided to scrap doing a longish run along the Pitman Wash, and I wanted to see if I could make it up Frenchman's Mountain.  I assumed that it would be a tough hike, but I thought for sure that I would make it to the top.  Before I headed out to the trail head I stopped at a quicky mart for snacks (peanut butter pretzels & peach gummy candy) and a bottle of water.

This begining of the trail doesn't look so tough.

I parked my car at the trail head. Then I ate a handful of pretzels, stuffed some candy in my waist pack,  drank about half of my water and then I got started.  I also brought my Garmin with me for shits and giggles.  I knew this wouldn't be a fast run, but I was hoping to get an elevation profile for this event.

I made it up the first section of the trail and then I was no longer running.  I was walking up a steep section of trail, and I was barley half a mile into this hike.

I saw two women coming back down a steep rocky section of the trail.  I felt relief, to see other people climbing down,  I stopped them and asked them how far did I have to go.  They told me I had two options; the first summit, or the second one at the top.  At this time I also felt like a total n00b in my running shoes and hot pink shorts.  Hiking shoes and longer pants would have been a smart idea.

I kept on plugging along.   Did I mention that I have a fear of heights?  I don't mind being up in the air if I'm in a highrise building or with secure footing underneath me, but this was unreal!!!  I told myself that I would look at the ground when I reached the top.  I was also begining to wonder "how and the hell am I going to get down?"

I'm getting tired pretty fast.  At one point I leaned forward to rest, and I began to slide back down the trail.  I needed to keep moving forward if I was going to make it up the summit.  When I had a chance I snapped this picture.

I got to the first summit, or false summit as it's called.   I decided right then and there that I was done.  I really wanted to take a picture, but technology kept telling me to "screw off";  each time  I tried to take a picture of the false summit with my phone, my phone would freeze up and shut off on me.  Fortunately I found this really nice picture online
I borrowed this photo from 

This picture is so misleading, Keep heading forward and this trail rockets down several hundred feet before the final assent to the real summit.  I had been climbing for close to 40 minutes,  I didn't have any water with me, and my legs were done.  I decided to throw in the towel and head back to my car.
This is where the real fun began.....

I thought that I would be able to run/walk slowly down the trail- But, I was sadly mistaken, I really had to ride this puppy down slowly and carefully.  I did my best to lean backward so that all of my body weight was in my butt/backside.  I really regretted wearing my running shoes.    I was really lucky I only fell once, and it was on my butt with my hands bracing me.

It's moments like this where I truly feel alive.  It was a dangerous and scary hike,  I'm glad I didn't get hurt.

Here's the data- I'm so mad that my Garmin didn't capture the elevation profile..  I think I climbed around 1200-1500 feet.

I'm hoping to attempt this hike again at a later date.  I definitely want to go back with my husband, and a better camera to capture the views.

As always thank you for reading- If you made it this far today- :)


  1. That definitely looks exciting, and I bet you make the actual summit shortly!

  2. That looks so cool, but I'm kind of a chicken when it comes to that sort of thing so I'm not sure I'd enjoy it what with all the fear. I'm glad you shared it so I don't have to ;)