Monday, July 21, 2014

A Change in Elevation...

In my ongoing quest to visit all of the National Parks and to escape the heat that has hit Salt Lake, I recently took off to Great Basin National Park in Nevada.

First, a little information about the park, it was made into a National Park in 1986.  It is one of the younger ones, and it distresses me a bit to know that I am older than a National Park.  The kicker, there are younger ones........

Lehman Cave, a major feature of the park, has been a National Monument since the 1930's and got the upgrade into the National Park category.  The park is one of the least visited of the park system and it is understandable due to its location.  To access the park, you drive at least part of the Loneliest Road in America, the section of Highway 50 from Ely, Nevada and Delta, Utah.  The closest town to the park is Baker, Nevada and it is a blink and you'll miss it kind of town...

Now, onto the fun stuff, this was a camping trip!  Vault toilets, no sinks, tent camping and bliss.....
We stayed at the Upper Lehman Campground, campsite #10, and my only beef with it was the fact they do not accept reservations, so it is first come, first serve.  Arrive early and get your campsite first, because every night, the campground filled up.  Exploring the park, I found a campground, that if you don't mind be at 9800 ft elevation, would be stunning--Wheeler Campground.  Just an idea....
Upper Lehman Campground is at 7500 ft and the difference in elevation made a difference to some.


A visitor to our campsite.
We had marmots, chipmunks, squirrels, and 2 mule deer in our site.  The rodent contingent was brazen and is now armed due to a theft from our supplies.....they stole a KNIFE!!!  A knife!  I was flabbergasted!

it should also include a theft warning.....
There are a lot of hikes to do in the park, and we chose the Alpine Lakes Loop Trail and ended up hooking up with the Bristlecone Grove Trail for a 6 mile or so adventure for our main hiking adventure.  Just a note about the hikes, most trailheads are near 9800 ft. elevation, so take that into your planning, as the elevation can cause some trouble.  Our hike ended up at almost 11000 ft, with the last .7 mile a doozy on loose rocks.  Take breaks and go slow and you'll make it.

The Pinnacle of our hike, an ancient Bristlecone Pine in the grove

A wildflower near Lake Teresa
High Turkeys....I've never seen them at 10000 ft.

Wheeler Peak, the 2nd highest peak in Nevada
Another point of interest in Great Basin National Park is Lehman Cave.  As I stated above, it was a National Monument before being included in the Park.  There are tours, either 60 or 90 minutes, that sell out, especially during the summer months, so make a reservation at least a couple of days in advance.  I made Friday reservations on Wednesday and got the tour I wanted, the 90 minute Grand Palace tour.  The Rangers are well informed and very entertaining, but also allow you time just to explore in silence.
as you enter...
You do not have to take an elevator down into the cave, just a tunnel, that makes the cave very accessible.  There is a concrete walkway thru out the cave that was made by hauling the supplies in by 5 gallon buckets (can you imagine????).  They have lights on timers so it is illuminated, but not so bright that you lose the adventure of being in the cave.
see that light in the distance?  it's the original entrance
Back in the day, before the trails and the tunnel, you would have to drop 30 vertical feet to access the cave.  It was found by Absalom Lehman in approximately 1886, and if you were brave enough, for a dollar (quite expensive back in the day), you were given a candle and permission to access the cave.  If you were not back out in 24 hours, he would come and search for you.  During our tour, they turned off the lights and lit the candle in the replica of the candle holder....it gave off a pretty good light, but it was very focused.  Then they blew out the candle and we were left in total darkness--I actually hit my nose with my hand while trying to see it.  Can you imagine, you are in a cave with no trails exploring with only a candle and you trip over something your candle did not illuminate and your candle now falls and goes out.  You are not going to find that candle....  Now you wait, 24 HOURS, for help in a darkness that you can not see your hand 2 inches in front of your eyes.  I don't mind being in a cave with lighting and the exploration already done, but that would FREAK ME OUT!!
Before regulations, a movie was actually filmed at the point of the cave

Another amazing formation in the cave

The drive from Salt Lake was not too long and including part of the Loneliest Road in America.
a stretch of Highway 50
 It was a Great adventure in Great Basin National Park!!!

My list of parks now visited is growing, and I have loved all of them, and if it was not for the fact that my list remains incomplete, I would go back to each and every one of them.......

No longer smelling of Campfire Smoke after a Long Shower,
Melissa

1 comment:

  1. The Forest Service should hire you as an ambassador! Beautiful.

    ReplyDelete