Last weekend I decided to visit an area that I’ve never been before. I first headed out to Delta, UT, for a day of exploring Topaz Mountain, Topaz Internment Camp, and the Delta Solar Ruins. After I awoke to a beautiful sunrise in the Utah desert, I packed up my car and headed southwest to Baker, NV.
My next stop: Great Basin National Park.
One thing about me that I don’t think a lot of people realize is that I really don’t plan anything. At all. When it comes to taking a road trip, I literally just pick a spot on the map and schedule a day or two off work. When the planned day of adventure comes I pull out the GPS and head in the direction of said adventure. I used to be a super-planner and would research each destination and create a specific itinerary. I can’t even tell you how many terrible vacations I dragged my poor little family through. When my carefully planned itinerary didn’t go the way I envisioned, I would spend the rest of the trip grumpy and stressed.
So, I learned my lesson. Now I don’t plan anything, so I don’t go into an adventure with a pre-conceived idea of how things will turn out. As a result of this mindset, every adventure is a true adventure with me. I’ve gotten myself into a few sticky situations (don’t even ask me about the debacle with the tent in Kanab) but I’ve also had some really rad experiences.
I think a few of my friends probably thought I had officially lost my mind when I told them I was heading out into Nevada on my own. All I really knew about Great Basin National Park was that it had a really awesome view of the night sky and I really wanted to see it. So, after I said my goodbyes to my cousins in the west desert, I headed out on my own to Nevada.
Had I done my research, I would have known there is no fee to the park (score!), there is a glacier at the top, and bristlecone pine trees can live as long as 5,000 years.
As soon as I set up camp at the the Wheeler Peak campground, I headed out for a hike. Actually, three hikes.
Bristlecone Pine Trail
Alpine Lakes Trail
It was early enough in the day and I love hiking, so I figured a 6-7 mile hike wouldn’t be too difficult. Unfortunately (having not done my homework), I didn’t take into account that I would be hiking in higher elevation than I ever had before. The hikes were incredible but I was exhausted. The elevation started to make me sick and I ended up going to bed at 8 p.m. I completely missed the night sky. I did wake up once in the night, looked out the window at a few stars, and quickly fell right back to sleep. *Cue the sad music and tears.*
The next morning I woke up early and packed up. On my way down the mountain I stopped and hike a small portion of the Osceola Ditch Trail.
I then headed down to the Visitor Center, making it just in time to join a tour of the Lehman Caves.
Even though I didn’t get to gaze at the Milky Way, this destination was one of my best adventures. I only spent about 24 hours in the park but it was packed full of so much beauty and discovery. Great Basin National Park tends to get greatly overshadowed by the other National Parks in the vicinity, but undeservedly so. The park offers incredible views, fantastic hikes, and nowhere near the crowds. This one is going to be on our short-list of favorite destinations to explore. Next time I’ll just need to remember to drink an entire pot of coffee so I can actually stay awake and see the stars.