Thursday, August 27, 2009

Great Basin NP

In the middle of the Nevada Great Basin, that is, in the middle of nowhere, lies an interesting National Park: Great Basin NP.

I had been driving all evening, night and morning and I was still more than 9 hours ago from home. Therefore, this was a necessary stop if I actually wanted to get back to LA alive! ;) After getting our of I-14 and getting in two-lane roads in the middle of nowhere, I had to drive for around 100 min in roads where you could see tens of km completely wild, uninhabited. No gas stations. Nothing. The Great Basin.

The Great Basin is the name given to the depression that goes from Sierra Nevada Mountains in California to the mountains near Salt Lake City in Utah. The park is located within it but it is quite an oddity in the area! I did not know what to expect and was really surprised to find out what the park really is!!

First of all, the most important place in Great Basin NP is Lehman Caves, one of the best caves in North America. I went for a 90 min tour there.

After visiting the caves, I continued the road into the park. It went up and up towards some mountains not too far. The view over the great basin was pretty good.

These are the mountains. The highest peak is called Wheeler Peak, rising 13063 ft. I wanted to climb it but there was a menacing thunder storm around and it was a bit too late.

I went for a nice hike instead. The one recommended to get a good understanding of the park. And it was quite surprising!! One hour before, I was down in the basin, in an unforgivably dry desert and up there, I was in alpine climate!! Not kidding!!

There were even 3 alpine lakes up there, not too far from Wheeler Peak.

And what was my surprise when I found a trailhead leading to a glacier!! In Nevada (my idea of Nevada was Las Vegas so far...)!! The trail to go there got pretty rough from the beginning, which was good! I was a bit tired of the paved trails in Yellowstone...

After a while, I got to a place with one of the highlights of the park: the Bristlecone Pine, the oldest living thing in the world! Check out the explanation.

And these are this kind of pine trees:

A bit further up, the glacier.

Not the largest glacier, but down in the basin, it is so hot! It was pretty cool (temperature) and surprising!

Finally, on my way back, great views again. Not bad.

I continued driving and got to LA at around 2am that night. The longest drive in my life. More than 5000km!! Insane. Since then, I do not want to use my car. I feel tired as soon as I get into it!! My craving for road tripping was more than satiated. I was fed up!! ;)

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