2nd Day at Great Basin NP

Trip Start May 26, 2009
Trip End Jun 02, 2009

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End of the Trail...er

Flag of United States  , Nevada
Sunday, May 31, 2009

  Awake early - around 5:30 but not up til around 6:00. Man does it get light early here. We are right on the Eastern edge of the Pacific time zone and sunrise this AM must have been around 5:15 - bright. Didn't leave the Trail...er until aroung 8:30 though and then went to the Visitor's Center for Breakfast and then on up the white knuckle (for Anne) scenic drive to the Wheeler Peak trail head. We knew we would not be able to go all the way to the top of Wheeler Peak because of snow but thought we could make it to a small lake, Stella Lake, at least, and then see just how far we could get on the WP trail. Got to the lake then on up the WP trail for about another mile, through some nice aspen and pine forests interspersed with treeless clearings which became more frequent the higher we got. We made it a little over a mile up the trail where we hit deep snow and had to turn back. Good timing because it started snowing on us right about then. Had heard some thunder and lightning in the distance but not very close. We went about 100 yards and then, with it snowing pretty hard, had a lightning strike very close to us. When you see the lightning flash and hear the thunder at almost the same time and smell the ozone, you know it was close. We made it down in record time I think. When we arrived back at the car it had a layer of snow/sleet covering it. Temp when we started the hike was around 55 degrees. On the way down I checked the temp and it was about 40. At the car it was 39 on the car thermometer. Cold. Took a long time to warm my hands back up. Had foolishly left gloves in my luggage. Not again.

A little bit of info now about The Great Basin itself. It really is not one big basin - rather it is a series of some ninety basins and 160 mountain ranges stretching from the Wasatch Mts. in Western Utah to the Sierra Nevada in Eastern California and includes almost all of Nevada and portions of Utah, California, and Oregon. These basins all have no outlet to the sea thus any water that falls stays there or sinks into underground aquifers. Great Basin NP contains most of the Snake Mountain Range and Baker, the little town we are staying in, is in the Snake Valley or Basin. Baker is around 5,600 feet above sea level and Wheeler Peak, the tallest point in the park, is at 13,063 feet. Our hike this morning started at around 10,000 feet and we got to around 11,500 before turning around. All in all, a very interesting morning.

Tomorrow we will drive to the Pioche, NV, area and probably hike in the Cathedral Gorge state park near there. We will be staying at the Overland Hotel & Saloon in Pioche. Web site and one review say it is haunted. We'll let you know.
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