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The Second Hyndman
(and, Spring Mountains Drive and Moving on to Utah)
Sunday, September 25
The next morning we got up fairly early -- around 7am -- and made made our way to the Stagecoach Hotel and Casino, the town's small casino-resort complex. In Nevada, you can almost always be assured that a casino is open round the clock, which in turns means that you can get breakfast at any time - even early on a Sunday morning.
courtesy JInnes
Weird Eyeball Light
The breakfast at the casino's restaurant was quite decent, although the portion sizes were so huge that we couldn't finish everything (seemed a little wasteful, actually). We were then off on a bright and clear morning, heading down US95 towards Las Vegas. The unsettled weather of yesterday that had forced us to abort the University Peak climb seemed to have moved on.

Arn's brother Kyle was flying into McCarran Airport in Las Vegas at 10am. We had buffered a little extra time into our plans, and, as we approached the vicinity of Las Vegas, we were ahead of schedule. Rather than spend an un-fulfilling 45 minutes of time paying for airport parking, we decided to take a scenic detour through the Spring Mountains.
A long, gradual uphill
The Spring Mountains are a range of high terrain and peaks that sits just to the west of the metropolitan area of Las Vegas. They rise to quite high elevations, and are an oasis of trees, moisture and snow high above the surrounding Mojave Desert. The compact mountainous area is a major outdoor recreation destination for nearby outdoor-minded Las-Vegasians (or perhaps, Las-Vegans).

Off of US95 (the highway we were driving on) there is a very scenic and well-paved U-shaped highway loop that winds up into and back down out of the Spring Mountains. Perfectly positioned on our approach to Las Vegas from the northwest.
Mummy Mountain
Turning left onto highway 156, we started up a long, long, long grade out of the desert. The base of the Spring Mountains here is surrounded by a huge, gently sloping alluvial fan -- really, a huge bajada -- and the road tracked straight up it at a constant never-ending grade: 3500 feet, 4000 feet, 5000 feet, 6000 feet. Along the way, we had a spectacular view of some of the limestone summits in the range, and we had a fascinating view of the changing landscape around us; open desert with low scrub, then the occasional Joshua tree, then a whole forest of Joshua trees, then the first of the pine trees, and then a forest of pine trees.
Scenic NV 156
Finally, the flat, sloping bajada gave way to mountain valleys and ravines, and the trees of the pine forest grew tall. We had entered a completely different environment in just a few short minutes. We turned left onto highway 158 and continued to climb high into the mountains on a very scenic and twisty road.
Desert View Overlook
Underneath the impressive limestone cliffs of Mummy Mountain, we stopped at the Desert View Overlook - a great viewpoint looking north over the desert stretching away far below. This apparently was a prime viewing location for many of the early above-ground atomic bomb tests of the 50s, which many people attended (The tests themselves were done more than a 100 miles to the north, in the Nevada Test Site area near infamous 'Area 51').

There used to be an interpretive sign here describing the atomic nature of this overlook, but it was nowhere to be seen. After a bit of digging, I've learned that apparently the sign keeps getting swiped.
Desert View Overlook
Nevada 158
Nevada 158
We continued along the remainder of the scenic loop through the Spring Mountains (noting that there was a lot of folks out doing recreational-y things on this fine Sunday morning). The loop deposited us back on US95 right on the outskirts of Las Vegas, about 15 miles east of where we started.

We arrived at the airport about 30 minutes after Kyle's flight was scheduled to land, and we split up, with Arn going inside to the baggage carousel to locate Kyle, while I made a few orbits of the airport pickup loop. It wasn't long before they were back outside, and we loaded Kyle and his stuff into the vehicle and headed off. Soon, we were headed north on Interstate 15, bound for Utah. A very efficient pick-up.
Interactive trackmap, Spring Mountains Drive - click map to view
With the addition of Kyle, we were now a four-person group, and the next phase of our trip had begun. Our plan was to head north-east into Utah, set up shop in the Vermillion Cliffs region -- where Buckskin Gulch is located -- and prepare for our 3-day backpack traverse through Buckskin the following morning. And, if we had enough time beforehand, we could explore some of the scenic attractions in the area.
In-n-Out Burger
We made a short grocery stop in Mesquite, Nevada, then continued up I-15 into Utah, where we stopped for lunch at an In-n-Out burger in the town of St. George. Now, as some of may know, In-n-Out burger is a fast-food burger chain that is (as of 2011 anyway) confined to the extreme southwestern part of the US. They have a reputation for being a very high-quality example of the classic American burger joint chain. They pride themselves on having a certain level of food quality (no location is more than a day's drive from their distribution centers, all of the fries are made from potatoes that are cut fresh a few minutes before serving, etc). They are also a fan-favorite of my work colleague Chris -- one of the original tentative members of this trip, in fact -- and although he was not here to cast his vote in favor of stopping for lunch at In-n-Out, we were inspired enough to want to go on our own.

In fact, Chris seems so keen on In-n-Out that I wanted to make a short 'burger film' of our lunch at In-n-Out. In honour of the idea of him coming along on this trip.
In-n-Out Line up
Hyndmans ready to chow down
Giddy with Anticipation
The In-n-Out was busy to capacity, and I tried to be unobtrusive as I took footage of Arn and the rest arriving, ordering, and ultimately eating their tasty morsels of Americana. You can look at the finished video on this page - just click on the video itself to start playing.
Standard order
In-n-Out stuff
Behind the scenes
courtesy AHyndman
In-n-Out, vitreously
Arn: In-n-Out
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[ Return to "2011 Vacation Burnup Trip" Home page | Introduction | To the Sierra Nevada | Attempt on University Peak | Drive through Death Valley | Spring Mountains Drive | Rimrock Hoodoos | The Nautilus | Buckskin Gulch Backpack, Day 1 | Ed Maiers Secret | Buckskin Gulch Backpack, Day 2 | Buckskin Gulch Backpack, Day 3 | Peekaboo & Spooky Slots | J.E.M. Trail Mountain Biking | Angel's Landing | Virgin River Narrows | Las Vegas Loungings | Video Clip Index | GPS Data ]

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