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Great Basin National Park, Baker NV

Here we are in Great Basin National Park and we have no idea what we are doing here. The sun is rising over my left shoulder (I’m sitting on the bed) as I write, illuminating the edge of a far-off mountain range like the great nuclear blast that it is. Emma and Eleanor are still sleeping. Just fifty feet from the bedroom window, Lehman Creek rushes noisily down the rocky slope on its way down from the small glacier above us on Wheeler Peak, 13,000 feet in altitude.

We are sitting in a lonely campground at 7,000 feet, in a lonely off-season (and little-known) National Park, off “America’s Loneliest Highway.” If you subscribe to Airstream Life you may recall the article by Bert Gildart, which appeared in our Fall 2004 issue. State Highway 50 across Nevada is our route for the next two days, through the most desolate and unpopular portions of the state – a place where signs saying “No Services Next 100 Miles” are a common sight.

We came to Great Basin in a dark moonless night. The tiny sliver of moon had set during our mad dash across the Utah salt flats last night, leaving us with only stars and the rare oncoming headlights. Imagine 80 miles with hardly a bend, no houses, no farms, no powerlines or cattle, or anything except the occasional dirt turnout, some scrub brush and off in the great distance a ridgeline that never seems to get closer. That was our evening. So watching the moon set was high entertainment during the drive. (At least we didn’t have to play “I Spy” for the two-millionth time.)

Arriving was a similar non-event. The park was dark, even though we had crossed into Pacific Time and locally it was only 6:30 pm. No ranger station, water turned off at all the campgrounds, visitor center dark, few signs (replaced with an ironic “signs down for maintenance” sign). We bumbled our way to Lower Lehman Creek campground and paid our $6 registration fee to the self-service kiosk, and picked the first site that seemed level. There’s no one else here.

Great Basin is notable for two things: Wheeler Peak, which we can climb, but probably won’t; and Lehman Cave. We may take the cave tour this morning before heading out. Not a long visit, but really Great Basin is only a stopover for us this time. Unfortunately we need to get to Nevada City by Sunday night, so I can catch up on some work projects.


My laptop battery died just then … so I took a walk outside to see the area. Surprise! Three tent campers are here with us, hardy souls indeed to have braved the clear night chill at 7,000 feet in November. Turning around, I was surprised to see a large male mule deer with a tremendous rack standing in my path. He gave me a look, and bounded off into the woods. They are not as tame as in Cherry Creek, I see. We’re not in suburbia anymore.

Great Basin NP.jpg

The surroundings are so different from where we woke up yesterday. Here, it looks more like New England. The mountains are covered in evergreens and, at the peak, snow. The air smells fragrant (odd for this time of year), and birds are chirping. A naked stand of white birch is across the cold creek. Quite a change from the red desert of Arches.

I plugged in the Honda generator and waited for 7 a.m. (generator hours) to fire it up and finish this blog entry. Eleanor and Emma are awake now, and Emma is being a slug in her bed, asking for someone to get with her and snuggle. As tempting as that is, we’re up now and I’m going to fire up some hot oatmeal and get ready to take the cave tour at 9 a.m. We’ll post this from the road later.


Next time snuggle with Emma. You never get those snuggle times back after they grow up!!!

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