Nevada – Hello America’s Loneliest Highway & Great Basin National Park (01/14/15-01/16/15)

Driving long distances is not my forte. My solution is finding interesting en route detours, most often involving hiking. With Moab as the final destination on the first leg of this trip, I found Highway 50 (America’s Loneliest Highway) a good alternative for crossing Nevada and Utah.

Diversion 1 – look I found the PCT trail crossing

Diversion 2 – lunch with a friend in Sparks, NV to discuss her gear choices in preparation for her 2015 PCT thru-hike attempt.

Diversion 3 – visual stimulation is my eye candy!

Diversion 4 – a night in the desert near Austin, NV.

Happiness is cozy car camping in the back of my SUV

Colorful sunrises always make me happy!

Diversion 5Great Basin National Park (did you hear about the 132 year-old Winchester Rifle recently discovered in the park?)

Snowshoeing the Lehman Creek Trail seemed like a great idea

First time snowshoeing or hiking in a skirt and tights. I made this skirt from a pair of ill-fitting hiking pants. It was an A+ experience!

I had the trail to myself, except for the buck who made a leaping appearance. There were also lots of animal prints along the trail.

This sun dog or halo kept me seeking better views. I really wanted to capture the full ring.

You can barely see the left side of the halo.

I’d promised myself a 3:15pm turnaround, given my late 1pm start. But alas, the views of the mountain and the halo, had me reassessing my plans. A quick look at the map had me believing I could hike through the Wheeler Peak Campground and return via the road, saving time and worry should dusk greet me before I reached my car.

By 3:45 I was still climbing up to the campground, and still being teased by the ridge.

I finally reached the road at 4:30, after working my way through about 3′ of powder in the campground, only to find more deep powder on the road.

Using my tracker to direct me through the campground and to the road provided quite a wake-up call as to the length of this road, which I’d ignorantly assumed would be a short-cut. Instead it ended up being a “scenic” road, winding it’s way many miles beyond the Lehman Creek Trail. As I slogged through a variety of snow conditions including deep powder, heavy wet snow and ice crusted surfaces, I realized the seriously dangerous situation I had placed myself in. I took time to evaluate the contents of my pack. I was somewhat prepared with an emergency blanket, hand warmers, rain pants, extra socks, hats and gloves, and headlamp. I had plenty of snacks, but insufficient water, although I had my water filter but no way to melt snow. I also had my Delorme Inreach SE device, should I find myself in a true emergency.

The road trek was exhausting. I pushed myself both physically and emotionally beyond levels I’d only experienced a couple time previous. I drew strength and reassurance from those incidents. I’d learned how to dig deep, to just keep at it, one step at a time. I rested often, much more frequently than I wanted, but it didn’t seem I had a choice. It was frustrating and I berated myself constantly for such an amateur move. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t looked at the map and had put myself at risk, and worried that with my car at the trailhead the rangers might send out Search and Rescue.

I finally arrived back to my vehicle about 10pm, 10 hours after I’d begun, trekking nearly 14 miles. So many lessons learned. Forever appreciative for my physical and mental conditioning, and for filling my pack with emergency preparedness supplies. Slept like a hibernating bear that night. Happy to report I felt great the following day and was able to continue onward to Moab, UT.

The bottom section (from the green mark left to the jog) is the trail, the upper loop is the road.





7 thoughts on “Nevada – Hello America’s Loneliest Highway & Great Basin National Park (01/14/15-01/16/15)

  1. EEEK! So glad you had that headlamp, the conditioning and the experience to get yourself out of that! I can hear the mental dialogue right now… “why did I do that? I know better… I can’t believe I did that!” A similar experience had me berating myself for months afterwards BUT what I learned was, everybody can make rookie mistakes. I was so blissed out and “in the moment” that I missed a critical turn. As trying as it was, this incident will serve you well for years to come! Thanks for writing about it… a good reminder to us all. The skirt looked cute, btw. 😉

    • Thanks Sky! Even though the moon was barely a sliver, with the bright white road I rarely needed my headlamp. Your thoughts on my dialogue are spot on. My prior two experiences served me well and I’m confident this too will reside in my toolbox for future reference.

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