Great Basin National Park

In one loooooong haul,I drove from Tahoe to Great Basin, all the way across northern Nevada. I was looking forward to setting up camp, cooking some dinner, drinking a beer and readying a book. Little did I know that all 5 campgrounds were full. The Great Basin Astronomy Festival was in full effect. Awesome for the park, frustrating for me. I ended up spending the weekend at Cave Lake State Park, which was a great little place (who doesn’t love flush toilets and hot water?)

I moved camp into Great Basin the following Monday; Lucked into a secluded site in Wheeler Campground pushed up against a clearing occupied by a gang of turkeys and with a stream running through it. I set up (tent up and beers chilling in the stream) just before the rain came in. Wheeler is at 10,000 feet

The next day, with great clouds zooming around the sky, I walked into the Bristlecone Pine grove. This is what I had come for: the oldest living organisms on earth. I stood next to a tree that was born in 1230 bc and was still living. The tree is THIRTY TWO THOUSAND years old. You know what I did when I stood next to this tree. I cried. Sniffles and all.

Born in 1230 bc....and still living.
Born in 1230 bc….and still living.

The way the Bristlecones twisted, contorted, stretched – my eyes were pinned to them. A combination of the fine grain and composition of the resin make it so the trees do not rot, they erode. Even the needles of the trees can live 20 to 40 years. What?!?

Two Bristlecones
Two Bristlecones

Fall was moving quickly into the Great Basin. Aspens were starting the turn and hillsides were beginning to show gold. It was definitely on the chilly side. Wheeler campground is also at 10,000 feet elevation. I’m sure that helped bring the chill and the weather.

Stay gold, Great Basin
Stay gold, Great Basin
Cones gathered in a hollowed out tree along the Bristlecone Pine Trail
Cones gathered in a hollowed out tree along the Bristlecone Pine Trail

Just like all the other places I’ve been, I did not get to see enough of the Great Basin. Until next time, GB.

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