Friday, October 7, 2016

Great Basin National Park, Nevada - 2016

As the window for the annual fall trip with Ben approached we sadly watched the forecast for Wyoming's Wind River Range deteriorate, and instead elected to begin by going back to Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada. In October 2015 we'd been stormed off of the Highland Ridge Traverse on the summit of Mt. Washington.

Waking up last Saturday morning in Baker, NV Ben checked the weather as we packed up and noticed that Sunday had a wind advisory for 50+ mph gusts (in town, which meant probably worse at elevation), prompting a discussion about finishing all the high-elevation portions of our loop on Saturday. Instead of repeating the southern half of the park that we'd done in 2015, we decided to complete the northern section of Highland Ridge starting just north of Mt. Washington and ending over Wheeler Peak (the true high point of Nevada!).

The density of diverse, interesting things to experience in GBNP is truly special and there still are a few things I would like to go back for...

Day 1 map; day 2 just closed the loop
Starting from the Pole Canyon TH, ~6900'
Upper Pole Canyon
Pole Canyon aspens
Pole Canyon aspens
Timber Creek pass
Snake Creek basin (Shoshone trailhead at left)
Looking at the southern half of GBNP we covered in 2015; from Snake Divide 
And this is why they are called Bristlecone Pines
Bristlecone Pine stump
Stump detail
Bristlecone Pine
Ben coming through the lower part of the grove on Snake Divide
On Snake Divide around 10,800'
Dead vs. alive

The largest (circumference-wise) Bristlecone we saw on Snake Divide
Upper grove around 11,100'
One of the most famous/photographed trees on Snake Divide
This log could have been living for thousands of years and then been laying here becoming more and more weathered for thousands more years
Reaching the end of the grove as Snake Divide meets Highland Ridge, just north of Mt. Washington
Looking back on the upper part of the Snake Divide grove
Ben on Highland Ridge, just north of Johnson Peak, looking toward Baker Peak and Wheeler Peak
Me looking at Baker Peak West (rust-colored at left) Wheeler Peak at center and Jeff Davis back right; Ben's photo
Johnson Lake and Pyramid Peak, from Highland Ridge
Ben on upper Baker Peak West
Ben looking at our ascent route up the south ridge of Wheeler Peak
Looking west while ascending the south ridge of Wheeler
Around 12,800' on Wheeler's south ridge, with the rest of the Highland Ridge Traverse behind Ben
On the final slope to the summit of Wheeler Peak, right at sunset
Wheeler Peak Summit, 13,065'
Closing the loop the next morning, hiking down the Lehman Creek trail



  1. Nice! Did you camp after day 1 at the Wheeler Peak campground?
    Although I haven't done such a long traverse as you did there, on my second time up Wheeler I dodged a Great Basin lightning storm. Exciting stuff!

    1. Yup, exactly! We got in around 8:30pm, I think. Like Rainier, Wheeler seems to be a great weather magnet.

  2. Sweet trip. Would love to visit those bristlecone groves in person. So much history.