Monday, June 25: SLC to Great Basin
A whole lot of nothing
Today our real adventure started. We went to a really nifty supermarket. It was multi-storied, with the second story overlooking the first, and having a cafe, post office, and other stuff. Unfortunately, they didn’t have butane.
We then tried a Walmart and Target, but the former was sold out, and the latter didn’t carry it. So we left without butane, but by this time it was after 11am. We couldn’t find Great Basin on the GPS, but Amy found a nearby town, Ely, so we aimed for there. Unfortunately Ely was on the wrong side of the park, and about an hour away, so we ended up going the long way around.
We crossed the salt flats which looked really daunting. When we hit Nevada, we stopped for lunch at a Subway, then we headed south. At Ely we gassed up, then we continued back east(!) to get to Great Basin.
Driving this stretch took us to the closest thing to nothing that I ever hope to visit. We arrived at Ely with 60 miles left in the tank. Back East that would be a lot, but out here, that was about as close to empty as I would want to get.
As a result, we didn’t get in until just about when things closed at the park. Then we drove to the town of Baker, which looked like the downtown had about a dozen buildings if that many. It did, however have two restaurants. We had dinner at one, then drove to upper Lehman campground, where we got the second to last available campsite. It wasn’t the best, but it was better than nothing.
The entire day had been very windy, and it was quite gusty at the campground. Setting up the tent was fun. We didn’t put up the fly, so that most of the tent was just netting.
I had thought that Great Basin National Park was a park containing a basin. In reality, the Great Basin is most of Nevada and half of Utah. It is basically the area that drains into nowhere, e.g. the Great Salt lake. The park is really a nifty mountain out near the edge of the basin. It would in a sense be more aptly named the Wheeler Mountain National Park.
We drove to the top of the mountain, stopping at a few places along the way. When we got to the top, we came back down (about 3000 feet each way) and caught the end of the campfire program.
I generally like such things, but the guy that night was killing me. He almost ended any number of times, but then he got going again. He just would not stop talking! Eventually one family got up and left, and then two others. Then it only took another five minutes for him to peter out (as most people were standing up and suggesting that they were ready to bolt).
We got our sleeping bags etc. out, hit the bathrooms, and hit the sack.
I could not fall sleep to save myself. I just could not get comfortable. The slight slope we were on did not help much. I dozed at one point, but when I “woke up”, I found that my arm had no blood flow in it.
Amy and Mike were in their fleece bags, but I had a light (40-degree) down bag. It started it out completely unzipped. I tossed and turned, and tried not to slide down to the bottom of the tent. Meanwhile the wind kept gusting through the tent.
I was having a miserable time and expected the night to be very long. As the night progressed, the temperature dropped, and I gradually zipped up the bag more and more. As some point, I did fall asleep, although I dreamed about high winds.
By early morning, I was getting a bit cool in the bag, as I was not wearing anything warm inside the bag. So I dragged my down jacket into my bag and I was fine.
Amy thought that the stars through the roof of the tent were wonderful, but of course I couldn’t see them without my glasses.
About 4am or so, Amy got up to look at the pre-sunrise sky glow. I decided to skip it and continue sleeping. My bladder was quite full, but I didn’t want to leave my sleeping bag.