Monday, January 06, 2020

September 2019 - Great Basin National Park

Off on a birthday adventure! We left on a Saturday morning to drive to the middle of nowhere to explore Great Basin National Park for a few days. Great Basin is one of the least visited National Parks, and it's got some of the darkest skies in the USA. We just missed the annual astronomy festival.

The park is just outside Baker, NV, population 68.

The campgrounds at the lower levels were full when we arrived, so we drove to the top of Wheeler Peak to find a spot for the night. Then we were off to explore.

This place is famous for the bristlecone pines, some of the oldest trees anywhere.

There are big elevation changes in the park, from roughly 5000 feet up to 13000 at Wheeler Peak, so there are lots of micro-climates and a variety of flora and fauna. I'm up in the green trees and look out to see barren flat desert with red dirt below (the basin, ha!).

Then there was a glacier! Did you know there is a glacier in Nevada? I had no idea. This place is full of surprises.

Home for the night.

The moon was pretty great. And that's a pretty not great photo.

The next morning we drove down the mountain and checked out the Osceloa Ditch. It was meant to carry lots of water to support gold mining, but it didn't really work out very well. You can see remains of it along the trail.

Then we attempted the Baker Lake trail, planning to spend most of the day here.

Parts of it were quite steep. There's another way we could have gone that wasn't so steep, but we didn't know.

We hoped to get to Johnson Lake, but we were not quite halfway and it was really windy. We cut the loop right there to head back down.

Saw a flock of wild turkeys.

We left the park and tried to go to the actual old abandoned town of Osceola.

We didn't have clear directions, barely any cell service, and it was all backroads and twists and turns, without a 4x4 vehicle, so we turned around.

Decided to stop in Baker for maybe a cold drink at the gas station. But this was the gas station.

Instead we found Kerouac's! A little oasis in the middle of nowhere. And how awesome it is. The owners have an interesting story of how they ended up here.

We were pretty gross since we were camping/hiking all day, which I expected of most of the clientele. However, many folks were quite dressed up - they're regulars from the big town a few miles over, and they come every week for the great food.

New sleeping spot down at Baker Creek.

Birthday morning breakfast.

Monday morning we had reservations for the Lehman Caves, another big draw of the park. The caves are full of bats, so we had to decontaminate ourselves before going in, in order to prevent diseases like white nose syndrome from getting to them. Anthony especially, since he is often in caves.

It's a pretty cool tour. Definitely recommend doing it, and you will need reservations in advance! And there you have it, my birthday trip.

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