Friday, October 10, 2014

Great Basin National Park, NV

(I am so far behind on these blogs due to weak internet signal - sorry!  The following is from last week.)

Great Basin National Park lies on the eastern border of Nevada barely a few miles from Utah. The "Great Basin" is really an area between northeastern California and northwestern Utah (stretching clear across northern Nevada) where the land is being stretched geologically. The Cascade Mountain range to the west is rising due to the collision with the Pacific Plate, creating this basin behind it. We camp in Snake Valley (on the Utah side), a dry desert surrounded by mountains. But first a little excursion ...
Before getting to the national park, we spend a couple of days in Utah camped along Sevier Lake, which is usually a dry, lake bed, but because of the recent rains there is lots of water. We drive the Notch Peak Scenic Loop which provides beautiful views of the valley. Notch Peak itself is over 9,700 and is one of the highest, vertical cliff walls in North America at 4,450 feet. It is billed as Utah's El Capitan (in Yosemite National Park). This is not Notch Peak itself, but is the cliff wall along the drive north of the peak.
Brad found a "new ride". I wonder how long this vehicle has been here?  It's obviously been the subject of much target practice.
The view from halfway around the scenic drive loop.  These meadows are golden with dry grasses.  Sevier Lake is in the distance, but you might not be able to see it in this small photo.
For non-paved roads, these are the best we've ever been on. In fact, Brad easily travels between 50 and 60 mph over the hard-packed gravel surface, until we come across the "Open Range Cattle" with one of the calves actually lying on the road. We scare him as we approach, and then he and his two friends watch us closely while they cross the road to their moms. Aww, aren't they cute?
Great Basin National Park is Nevada's only National Park. We hike the Bristlecone Pine trail, as well as part of the Glacier trail and the Alpine Lakes Loop trail. Parts of the Bristlecone Pine trail are covered in snow from the recent precipitation - where we had rain, they had snow at this elevation (7,000 to 13,000 feet). However, today is warm enough to hike in a t-shirt! Love that desert weather.
A bristlecone pine - its needles hug the branch like a bottle brush. These trees can live for 5,000 years - they are the oldest living thing on the planet. They can stand for another 2,000 years in this arid environment where decay happens so slowly. Their twisted limbs create a haunted appearance that makes for interesting photos.
Brad on the Glacier trail. This bowl at the top of Wheeler Peak (elev. 13,063 feet) was created by a glacier, although only a little of it is left now. Brad is standing in front of the moraine left by the receding ice, and the sun helps us capture a great pic. I did not colour in the pink on the computer - that's how the photo came out!
Marilyn relaxing at Teresa Lake during the hike. This seems to be glacial melt as the water is that beautiful aqua green/blue colour.
Grady enjoying the sand at an ATV area where we spend an overnighter between Winnemucca, Nevada and our next stop in northern California.

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