on August 24, 2006
At Capitol Reef, our oldest daughter was completely captivated by petroglyphs. As she looked for books about her new-found interest at Cedar Breaks, the friendly bookstore volunteer offered a suggestion: "Stop at Mouse’s Tank at Valley of Fire," she told us. "They’re all over the rocks on both sides of the trail." My Vegas friend confirmed it, describing the site as a rock-face sketchbook with all sorts of different ideas explored, practiced, and developed.With that dual recommendation, we added Valley of Fire to our itinerary. A few dozen cars were there when we arrived, all baking in the Nevada sun. We lathered up with sunscreen, grabbed multiple water bottles, and hit the trail.In the end, the heat proved too much for us to reach the Tank itself, a natural collecting basin in the rock where water can reliably be found despite the dry, hot surroundings. It’s hard to tell what’s fact and what’s just a good story, but ‘Mouse’ was allegedly a renegade Paiute who hid out in this area at the turn of the last century, sustained by the water he found here. Those folks who’d made it to the Tank and were headed back looked more than a little worn out, despite the trailhead declaration that it was only a half-mile round trip. Luckily for us, our destination was all along the route, and not at trail’s end.We were thoroughly heated when we returned to our car. It was a little melancholy climbing back in—we were leaving the southwest we came to see (and trading it for Vegas) as we drove through the remaining red rock and left Valley of Fire. As we desperately waited for the A/C to kick in, we headed for I-15, Vegas, showers, and the trip home.Directions:From NV 169—the park's main road—turn north 3 miles west of the Visitor Center, then right, after another 1.5 miles.
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