July 7- A quick blog before bed. . . We got to Great Basin after a long and spectacular but desolate drive across Utah yesterday (note to Utah planners: it would be better to mention that there are no services for next 100 miles *before* the exit for last of said services. Just sayin'.) The red rocks and the uplift monoclines are amazing to behold, but in general, Utah is a little too wide open for me. (Side note: I find it an interesting irony that the state is hotbed of both geology/paleontology, and strident religiosity. Not quite sure how that squares.)
We got to Great Basin just in time to check out the visitors' center and score the last campsite in the Park (otherwise, it would have been a dusty site in the thriving metropolis of Baker, Nevada.) As it was, we had no hookups, but an absolutely gorgeous spot along a stream that probably comes off of Nevada's only glacier. As a bonus, the place was hopping with birds: mountain chickadee, "Audubon's" warbler, hummingbirds and more.
It may seem a little odd that we ditched Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, et al., to hit this relatively obscure park in a little traveled corner of Nevada. But we had our reasons: 1) it was right on the way, straight line towards Tahoe and Yosemite; 2) Rob really wanted to hit a desert sky island, and this fit the bill perfectly; 3) it has a cave, 'nuff said; and 4) it came highly recommended by my coworker Chris, the best birder I've ever met (sorry, Rob, but it's true). And it was amazing to reach a spot with mountains (13,000 feet), forests, icy streams, and a glacier—in Nevada. So it was worth it for that alone. Unfortunately, our camper exceeded the maximum length for going up most of the park road, so we had to content ourselves with hiking up the creek trail from the doorstep of our campsite. Still a gorgeous world of pinyon pines, wildflowers and birds.
We also got to do the one-hour tour of Lehman Cave before we left the Park. Lehman is full of draperies, soda straws, and unique circular decorations called "shields," which are of uncertain origin but probably resulted from flows of water pressurized by small fractures.
After Great Basin, more driving. We are settled in, in Carson City, Nevada, ready to jump off to Tahoe tomorrow.