"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Great Basin National Park - Nevada

Baker, Nevada
Border Inn Casino & RV Park

Baker, Nevada is at the Utah border and as far east on Hwy 50, America's Loneliest Road, that we we'll be on this trip.
There was no room in Great Basin National Park and it was too hot to boondock so we stayed where our friends, John & Tina suggested.  It's not a bad spot at all.  There are maybe 20 sites that sit on gravel, far enough off the highway.  There were some nice shade trees too.  Full hookups for $27.  There is a gas station, small cafe and tiny casino here.  It's only about a 15 minute drive to the park.

While Baker and the entrance of Great Basin National Park sit at about 5000 feet of elevation, the summit is over 10,000 feet and much, much cooler.  We walked through the Visitor Center first to get a hiking map.  Great Basin National Park is the only National Park wholly in Nevada.

The park is fairly small with a few campgrounds and one road to the caves and another that goes to the summit. There are a few trails along the way and the more popular ones at the top.  As you climb you get great views of the valley below.
Layers of color from the green, to previous fire burned areas and the light colors of the valley.
There are areas of meadows surrounded with Aspen.

The peak to the right is Wheeler Peak, over 13,000 ft.  We were not accustomed to those heights, so we chose 2 of the more popular hikes around 11,000 ft.

We first hiked to the Bristlecone Grove.  It starts out at 9800' and tops out just under 11,000.  Boy could we feel the elevation gain.  The weather was perfect and it felt good to be hiking in the higher elevations.

Steve hiking through a scree field.

I don't know if that pinnacle near Wheeler Peak has a name, but it is very impressive.
The snow field in the above, lower right, is the only glacier left in Nevada and one of the most southern in the US.  They say it won't last long.

We make it to the short loop of the Bristlecones.
I like the info plaques that are placed near some of the trees.

It's amazing that these trees are already 3000 years old.  Even after they die, they can remain for another 2000 years before they decay.

On the way back down we spot something above.  Looks like a bear?  A frog?
The kids hiking near us decided a frog.

Toward the bottom of our hike we took an offshoot hike to Teresa Lake. 

Tomorrow we'll come back and hike the Alpine Lakes Trail.

Upon leaving the park, we spotted something out of our view that needed a better look.  I hiked up the small hill and found some mannequin legs wearing boots buried in the soil with a plaque that read "Too Tall Tony".  Pretty funny.  As we continued to drive we spotted some more "art" along the way.

Just outside the park sits this old train car all re-done looking like a perfect Air B-n-B for sale.
 I called out of curiosity and the train car is from 1909.  It is plumbed for water and sewer and has electric.  They are asking $599K. 

The next day we drove back up and hiked the Alpine Lake Loop Trail.

This trail has more trees and we were hiking mostly in shade.

Lake Stella where we had lunch.
It took us back to Teresa Lake at the other end where the creek feeds into it.  Very beautiful.

We enjoyed our hikes.  Our final day would be to tour the Lehman Caves in the park.

We were lucky to find a cancellation which allowed us to take the longer cave tour.  It was a great deal at $10.  We were surprised to find so much packed into a smaller cave.  We have been to many of them in several different states and really enjoyed this one.  They are still learning how to improve safety of the caves.  We were surprised to see that the paths took you right next to some of the features.  You also had to duck in several spots and squeeze through others.

Plenty of water still flowing in July.

Back when Mr. Lehman took tours through, he actually encouraged others to "write" with the wax candles that he handed out, onto the ceiling.  They have certainly come along way with cave protection since then.

Cave Bacon.  

The shed of a Cave Scorpion.
And back up the tunnel to the exit.  We highly encourage a visit to this little National Park!

On our way back to Placerville, we had a few more stops.  First up was back to Ward Mountain where we were just before Great Basin.  Just an overnighter.  We chose a more shaded spot in the smaller loop this time.

Who would've thought we could find some fun things to see and do in the deserts of Nevada in July?!
Next up we'll be doing some fishing back in California with one of our sons. 
Back to the cooler mountains.