Thursday, February 9, 2023

Government Wash - Boat to Nowhere

Hiked Sunday, January 29.

Having seen this boat numerous times in articles detailing the "drought" in the West and the falling water level at Lake Mead, I decided I would go and have a look at it, myself.

All I knew was the refernece to "Government Wash." And, on numerous drives through Lake Mead National Recreation Area, I had seen a sign for Government Wash. Never drove down that road until this weekend.

Wasn't even sure if it was paved. But it turns out it is. In fact, this must have been a major watercraft launch point in the past, because there's a massive concrete boat ramp leading down to where the lake used to be. MASSIVE! Wide as a freeway!

Except, today, it's about a 1 1/4 mile walk down the wash to reach the waterline.

Erosion into the former lakebed by runoff has eroded parts down at least eight feet in the past 10-20 years that the bed has been exposed.

The main wash led to a flatter area, within sight of water. Grass had grown in, covering the clay and silt near the water. The lake bottom, meanwhile, had dried into small "cells," so you had to be careful when walking that you didn't fall.

From near the water, I could see a boat, laying flat, far to my left. Meanwhile, far to my right, was the upright boat made famous by its dramatic vertical pose.

I first went to the famous boat, walking through weeds. I flushed a fair amount of waterfowl as I made my way towards that boat (last shot in this post).

Walked along the exposed shoreline, took many shots of the boat, then returned to the less-famous boat on the left, then walked further south, atop the various high points between me and the main body of Lake Mead. Turns out Government Wash is connected to the rest of the lake by only a narrow strip of water.

My Alltrails recording amused me, as it showed me walking all over upon the blue waters of Lake Mead, like I was a boat.

Something around five miles, total. Just going to the boat and back would have been less than three miles. If you drove off the pavement and could find your way, you can drive to a high point overlooking the boat. Even a low-clearance, two-wheel drive vehicle could probably get pretty close. But since I'm hiking as much for the journey as the destination, I was fine with my route.

Lots of campers and RVs out this way, by the way. This area is a designated for free "dry," dispersed camping. It's not protected, however, so no shade, and the wind can be fierce.