The desert wins. Almost.

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I have a philosophy about living in Las Vegas in the summer. It’s that you can’t let the heat decide your day. If you let the temperature determine what you do, you’ll stay huddled next to the air conditioner all summer. And your electric bill will be astronomical.

Unfortunately, sometimes I take that mantra a bit too far. I’ll decide to bike to the park at noon or go for run after 6 a.m. Biking when it’s 105 degrees isn’t much fun. Neither is running when it’s 92.

But in the last few weeks the temperature has dropped to reasonable highs in the low 90s. Compared to the searing of mid-July, it’s felt downright pleasant. So, you’ll understand how I could load Samba into the car for a midday desert hike inside the Red Rock Conservation Area to First Creek a few weeks ago. There was a light breeze, a few clouds and a (very) gentle trail that crossed some open desert before descending into a canyon to end at a (very) little pond filled with equally small fish. We even ran into a wild burro that posed for our cameras and engaged Samba in a good staring contest before turning just a bit menacing.

Burro on dog staring contest. (Spoiler alert: the burro wins.)

Burro on dog staring contest. (Spoiler alert: the burro wins.)

Still, when it comes to large, black dogs, low-90s temperatures in direct sun are like sitting in a tanning bed stuck on high inside a sauna. Samba took to digging up cold dirt under every other desert bush, hunkering down, tongue lolling, as she tried to escape the heat. I thought about turning back, but by now we were closer to the water at the end of the hike than the car with its shade and air conditioning. Apologizing to the dog, we pushed forward.

Samba, intrepid explorer.

Samba, intrepid explorer.

Samba made it, of course. She charged for the pond-puddle, ran in as far as she could without swimming, lapped up as much water as she needed and then proceeded to bounce around, splashing the small children who were taking a break with their parents. By the time we headed for home, Samba was soaked through and happy. She ran most of the way back to the car, and I’m pretty sure by the time she passed out on the floor back home, she’d forgiven us.

Still, some days, the desert wins. Some days, we’d be better off hunkering next to the AC. Or at least doing our hikes on Mount Charleston.

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