Looking west to the peaks of Great Basin National Park as part of the Snake Range from a road side stop along US 50--"The loneliest highway in America."
Last weekend I went on a road trip west into the Great Basin. My primary destination was Great Basin National Park with the plan to camp and hike.
I had just taught about the Great Basin in my world geography class so perhaps that is what inspired my destination choice. None of the rivers in the Great Basin flow to an ocean. They all peter out and disappear in basins or flow into lakes like the Great Salt Lake. The region is also referred to as the Basin and Range region because its landscape is dominated by parallel north-south flowing mountain ranges with dry, sage brush covered basins/valleys in between. To drive the loneliest highway is to drive up and over ranges and through basins over and over again.
Wheeler Peak on the right and Doso Doyabi (Shoshone for White Mountain) on the left. Up until January of this year Doso Doyabi was know as Jeff Davis Peak. The Nevada State Board of Geographic Names voted to change the name because of its association with the Confederacy and slavery. Learn more here: https://www.rgj.com/story/life/outdoors/2019/01/07/shoshone-phrase-could-replace-confederate-jeff-davis-name-nevada-peak/2487379002/
I found a camping spot in Wheeler Peak campground, ate some lunch and then headed out to hike up to the Bristlecone Pine Grove and then up to Rock Glacier. It was a beautiful, sunny, brisk afternoon.
I was intrigued by the resilient bristlecones that over the centuries and millennia have survived, sometimes with just one strip of living bark bringing nourishment to one living branch.
Took a detour to see Teresa Lake. By now my hiking headache was making me nauseous. I took a second extra stretch Excedrin and headed back to camp.
It was now 6:00 and cold winds were coming in. I had planned for the cold and had a freeze worthy sleeping bag and a good supply of fire wood in the back of my car, but the thought of sleeping at 10,000 feet in the freezing cold to then get up early (to avoid winds that rise later in the day) to climb Wheeler Peak not knowing if I was up to a second high altitude hike with a significant gain in elevation just did not seem fun. So I opted for a plan B that had been formulating in my mind on the last segment of the hike. Drive to Ely while drinking a Dr. Pepper (it helped), get some dinner (Subway veggie delight), get a hotel (a new Holiday Inn Express) and then figure out what to do on Sunday and that is what I did.
By Sunday morning I had a plan. Drive back to Springville along the Pony Express route
from Schell Creek Station to Lookout Pass Station. I downloaded these two maps on my phone mainly to augment my US road atlas and my Utah road atlas (very helpful).
Climbing the Schell Creek Range. The buildings of the large ranch (left center) are where the Schell Creek Pony Express station was located.
No sign on the road of when I crossed into Utah.
Ibapah Utah. Once an important stop for stage coaches, the pony express and the Lincoln Highway but long since by-passed by I-80 and earlier highways running through Wendover to the north.
The climb up to Dugway Pass.
Mt. Timpanogos in the distance. From Lookout Pass the Pony Express Route heads northeastward around the northern end of Utah Lake. I have driven that part of the route before so I opted for the faster route home (it was almost dinner time) via Vernon (its paved roads had more pot holes than the whole dirt road route), Eureka and Santaguin. A delightful days drive.