Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Peaks and Old Pines

Note: My apologies for the relative dryness of this post – I have been occupied with reading the “Da Vinci Code” obsessively – Mom, Dad, and John each read it with equally reclusive behavior, and I was the next in line. Enjoy the photos! --DR

We spent three days in Great Basin National Park challenging our uphill muscles. We started with an overnight backpack trip to Baker Lake (top photo). We reached the lake by noon, and after a quick lunch we climbed cross-country to Baker Peak. From this peak we could look across a very large cirque to Wheeler Peak. With binoculars we could see other hikers at the summit, and even make out that one of them wore a red parka. The air was clear, and we could make out the snow-covered peaks of the Wasatch Mountains outside of Salt Lake City.

This was a loop trip – one of our unwritten rules is never to retrace your route if possible. We continued the next morning by Johnson Lake, where the remnants of a tungsten mining operation (circa 1913), including aerial cables and miners cabins (second photo) occupied the lake basin.

Day 3 was a hike to the top of Wheeler Peak, the second-highest peak in Nevada at 13,063’ (third photo). We started early, and despite the howling wind on the ridge approaching the peak, we reached the summit in good time. We watched with binoculars as two other couples meandered across the same ridge, only to turn back. We had the summit to ourselves. We had an unobscured view in all directions, allowing us to see the faint outline of the Ruby Mountains to the north (our next destination).

The Park also has three groves of Bristlecone Pines, some of the oldest living organisms on earth. We took the side trip on our descent to one of these groves, feeling insignificantly young next to some of these trees (fourth photo) that are almost 5,000 years old.
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