Fall in Great Basin Park is marked by the yellows and some oranges of aspen foliage.
The park is full of surprises; aspen, for one. Not what you’d expect to see after crossing mile after mile of sagebrush. This area gets only ten inches of rain, annually.
Wheeler Peak was too hazy to photograph well, but right next to the viewpoint for it was this beauty.
Nor did we expect to find ourselves among peaks that soared over 13,000 feet!
Josh Sehnert’s painting cut through the haze.
While haze prevented me from capturing great photos of Mt. Wheeler’s stunning peaks, Josh Sehnfert’s mind’s eye, and talent paints and pastels cut through the haze. You can see more of Josh’s work on Instagram at @FarkeyScapes_ABG500.
Josh talks about his art and his travels from one of Great Basin Park’s lookouts, where he set up his Plein air “studio.”
Great Basin Park’s most popular attraction, Lehman Caves, was closed because of COVID.
Dead or alive, bristlecone pines are stunning in their tortured growth.
COVID or not, the bristlecone pines are in it for the long haul; they live for thousands of years.
The Bristle Cone Pine trail offers terrific views of closer-in peaks.
We took a much-need break and planned an afternoon start, my Prius climbing 5,000 feet from Baker to the road’s 10,000+ foot summit.
Another view of the amazing rock formations from the Bristlecone Pine Trail.
The park rangers recommended the Bristlecone Pine Trail. We took their advice.
This rock spire looks fragile, but it too we expect to outlast us.
The trail construction appeared to consist primarily of found materials.
These Bristlecone pines looked to me like they were conversing with each other. Maybe they are.
Other than the 10,000-foot-plus elevation for a couple who normally dwells at sea level, the hike was pretty easy, only a 600 foot gain in elevation. The trees grow slowly, their environment nature’s form of bonsai.
Mother nature is the greatest sculptor, in my opinion.
We heard from other hikers that the lake trail was less spectacular, as they said the two lakes on it were dried up. Other hikers quipped, the lakes were “a reduced version” while other hikers described them as “mud puddles.”
Eight species of conifers grow in Great Basin Park’s harsh environment. These are not from the park’s famed Bristlecone pines.
We completed the three-mile walk in a little over two hours, including gawking at the sights, reading the placards, and taking these photos for you to enjoy.
Back at 5,000 feet outside Baker, the treeline disappears.
Much as I love high elevation views and hikes, I’m glad Wayne drove; driving curvaceous roads with 5,000 dropoffs stresses me out. The road reminded me of the area where Wayne grew up, the hills of Santa Barbara, California. The dropoffs reminded me of Glacier Park’s Highway to the Sun.
View East of Border Inn RV park, the distant hillsides catching the last rays of the sun.
We made it down the serpentine road well before dark.
One side of the park is on the Nevada border.
We spotted the RV park where we stayed from the rise at the ranching roadside display just outside Baker. It looks like not much of anything, surrounded by even less of anything—a few bumps on a flat, empty plain.
The other side of Border Inn is on the Utah border. Hence the name. Note the “no services for 83 miles” sign. We will travel through that today.
Hence the name. Border Inn must be enough on the Nevada sign to host its casino; a sure sign of where the line is drawn, just like Jackpot, Nevada where we entered the state the day before.
Despite the mountain haze. the skies cleared of smoke.
High elevation skies always feel bigger to me. Maybe those few extra thousand feet up make me feel closer to them. We forgot to take full advantage of the dark skies, too lazy to leave the too-well-lit RV park for our eyes to adjust.
The only blossoms we saw in Nevada, besides the sagebrush. The aspen made up for it.
Shortly after this post, we’re headed to Capitol Reef Park, another dark skies area. This time we plan to go off-grid and park on BLM land. Then taking in the full wonder of the night sky is simply a step outside. A good warmup for our longer-term plans, seeing the Milky Way from the clarity of the ocean from our sailboat cockpit. That’s one of the things I miss most from our sailing days. Even on the hook, off Sauvie Island, Portland Oregon area’s light pollution obliterated all but the brightest of stars and planets.
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