It is only fitting that the first stop on our tour was a park that neither of us had been to before. And boy, we had been missing out. Great Basin is a hidden gem. We left Utah thinking that we would head to “hot nevada”. We were wrong. It was so cold the whole time! Not only was it cold, but it actually snowed during most of our visit. Another downside to the snow and cloud cover, we weren’t able to see the beautiful stars! We had heard that “half the park is after dark”! I guess we may still have to come back to see the Great Basin night sky – and that doesn’t make me upset at all. I would love to come back.
Despite the snow, we were still able to hike around and see all the park had to offer. We loved spending time in the aspens as we hiked along the Timber Creek trail.
We got back to the RV and needed some warm food.
The next morning we made it for the 9 am tour of the Lehman Caves. It was amazing. The tour guide was wonderful (he was an Idaho native). It is so interesting to learn about the history of such amazing places.
Everywhere you turned there were intricate formations coming down from the wall, and growing up from the floor.
An interesting part of the tour for both myself and for Madison, was when we learned of the caves “recent past”. Lehman, the first man to explore the caves, would give tours. He created a policy of “if you can break it, you can take it”. According to him, if you could break a stalactite, you could take it home with you. So, all through out the cave there are pieces missing. It was easy to be really annoyed and appalled at this policy. But then, it was pointed out by the tour guide that we were standing on a concrete path that was added. He also pointed out that for us to be able to get into the cave, hundreds, if not thousands, of stalactites were broken to clear a path. The questions was brought up – “how is that okay to break the features for the path, but it isn’t okay to take one home with you just because?”
Some people were saying that neither action was “okay”. That no matter what, we were destroying the cave and that it was bad. Of course there were others saying that, if it is for the sake of education, it should be allowed. Madison and I discussed this multiple times throughout the rest of the day – even after we left the caves. We came to the conclusion that it is a really fine line that we, as responsible stewards of the earth, have to walk. We need to protect these fragile ecosystems, while simultaneously providing access and ways to learn about them.
In the 1920’s and 30’s, people would use their candles to leave their mark. There is one room in the cave called “The Inscription Room” where names and dates of people are everywhere. I had a hard time deciding whether or not I thought this was acceptable. Part of me really liked the history, and the fact that these people left their mark for future generations to see. But then the other part was really upset. Couldn’t they just have had a geo cache log or something they could write their names on? I am just grateful that it was in the one room and not all around the cave.
People say that this formation resembles a drapery, or a curtain. But I think that it looks like bacon. #realbaconrocks
After the cave we got some information on where we could climb in the park. There are a few locations with established routes. We drove to where we could start the hike for “The Diamond”. There were a few easy – moderate climbs. We brought the kitty and he just hung out as we climbed around.
That night, we were trying to look for a place that we could use their internet. If you have never been there, Baker, NV is REALLY small. We were using the Lectrolux Cafe’s wifi after we shared a yummy home-made peanut butter, chocolate bar. And then, mid email, this happened:
SO, we played a few rounds of T-Rex cactus jump and then headed back to the RV to sleep. (Did you guys know you can play fun dinosaur games when the internet is out?? Yeah, neither did Madison – MIND BLOWN)
All in all, Great Basin was a perfect start for our trip. I thought it was very representative of such a major part of our nation’s geologic history. The basin and range extension has created beautiful landforms that harbor wonderful ecosystems. I will forever see Nevada differently; it is truly great.