Great Basin National Park
On our way to Reno from Utah, Eva and I decided to spend a long weekend at Great Basin National Park. The little known national park consists of a handful of mountains that jut dramatically out of the surrounding desert. It is home to Wheeler Peak, the tallest mountain in Nevada, the Lehman caves, Lexington Arch, and a few Bristlecone Pine groves.
GBNP is also home to a large number of Pinyon Pine trees, which grow pine nuts. According to park rules, visitors are allowed to collect up to twenty pounds of pine nuts per year for personal use. We didn't have the time, or the patience, to collect twenty pounds of pine nuts, but we did spend an hour or so before our cave tour collecting some nuts to send to friends and family.
The Lehman Caves are only accessible via tour, but it is well worth it. Our guide/cave enthusiast walked us back in time and told an excellent story of creation and discovery. Apparently the caves were used during prohibition to host parties. Partygoers would clamber down a tree trunk ladder with candles, stumble across the uneven ground, and squeeze between narrow passages to get to the largest room in the caves to drink the night away.
After the caves, we hit the trails. It was a particularly windy and cold weekend in the park, so we opted to not climb to the top of Wheeler Peak (60-80mph gusts at the peak + total cloud coverage). Instead, we set out on the Timber Creek trail up to Johnson Lake and back. The trail provided twelve miles of stunning views, vibrant yellow Aspens, and brisk blasts of fall air. While the lake itself was not particularly exciting, the hike was well worth the effort. If we had a little more daylight, it would have been nice to continue over the ridge line to Baker Lake and back to the trail head on the other side of Pyramid Peak. Maybe next time...
The following morning we decided to drive up to the head for the Wheeler Peak trail to make the easy hike in to one of the Bristlecone Pine groves in the park. The pines, which can grow to be more than 5,000 years old, thrive the the harsh subalpine environments found in a few locations across the western states.
We left Great Basin National Park ready to fight against climate change deniers in the remaining month of the 2016 election cycle. It was time to hit pause on the adventure and do something to protect the lands we had spent months exploring. We were off to Reno NV to work for NextGen Climate in the final hour.
*check out Eva's B&W analog photos from Great Basin & Arches in Eye Candy