February 01, 2012

Photo Essay: Bootleg Canyon Zipline

After my ziplining experience in Catalina last spring, I was kind of dying to go again. 

Since I hadn't made it to Wrightwood in the Angeles National Forest yet (on my list for this spring), and I was looking for more non-Vegasy things to do while I was in Vegas for the Nevada Test Site tour, I jumped at the chance to test out the zipline in Boulder City, a half hour outside of Vegas.

Bootleg Canyon is home to some of the most epic mountain bike trails (some of an extreme downhill nature) in the country and in the world, as well as to some grisly lore dating back to the bootlegging days of Prohibition and a historic Railroad Pass.

It was raining when we departed the foothills of Boulder City to climb the narrow single-track road up Bootleg Canyon in a van. It was actually sunny when I'd arrived in Boulder City at noon for lunch, but the weather quickly worsened and I worried about getting rained out.

"Is it safe? In the rain?" I asked one of our guides.

"Oh we'll go out there and check the lines once we get up there to make sure everything's ok..." he said.

"Actually I don't even really care," I admitted. "I just felt obligated to ask."

As our van ascended, we could see some bright spots of Boulder City, the Hoover Dam, and Lake Mead revealing themselves in the distance...

When our van stopped - not quite at the top - we had to hike the rest of the way...

Leading us past a rainbow...

...and up towards blue skies... our departure point for the first of four runs that would take us back down the canyon.

As the sun streamed through the clouds...

...the wind whipped around us...

...making the descent a bit more daunting than usual.

We kept warm by hiking back up a bit to the second departure platform...

...But at some point, my little thin hoodie, running pants and hiking shoes were no match for the bitter cold, and after initially refusing it, I had to borrow one of our guide's puffy vests.

It was calm, peaceful and quiet when no one was zipping, only the sound of the wind, muffled by the hood hugging my ears.

But when someone was zipping, their trolley whirring down the metal lines, at the endpoint platform you could hear them before you could see them. And as they braked with their red straps and lifted their legs up, the crashing against the stop blocks and the rebound from the springs was practically deafening (as were my own squeals as each zip met its own demise when it came to a crashing stop).

For a first-hand view of the zipline excursion (with some of my unintentional commentary), watch the video below:

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