August 23, 2014 – to Reno

There is a fierce storm overnight and our off-roading trip today is cancelled. We head out across the barren Utah landscape with the road stretching in front of us.

UT-21 stretches out before us
UT-21 stretches out before us

Our original idea for today is to go to Great Basin National Park via some dirt roads, spend some time at the park and then head to Ely and spend the night. As we enter Nevada and see the Pacific Time Zone sign we realize that we didn’t factor in the gain of an hour today. Maybe we won’t have enough to do to fill the time until check-in at Ely.
Welcome to Nevada! Please use the sign for target practice.
Welcome to Nevada! Please use the sign for target practice.

We get to Great Basin National Park before 10 AM and look inside the Visitor Center. Things to do here are a cave tour that you need a reservation for, a two mile hike to an arch, and the scenic road up towards Wheeler Peak. We watch a film about the Park and decide that maybe we could do the drive and then perhaps take a walk on the Bristlecone Pine Trail.
This National Park is quite out of the way.
This National Park is quite out of the way.

Wheeler Peak is over 13,000 feet in elevation with the top being above the tree line.
Wheeler Peak is over 13,000 feet in elevation with the top being above the tree line.

We take the scenic ride and stop at the overlooks. At one overlook there is a plaque honoring Stephen T. Mather, first Director of the National Park Service. John’s high school is named after him. Their team is the Rangers. Of course, we have to have our pictures taken with the plaque.
John and the plaque
John and the plaque

A fellow traveler offered to take our picture
A fellow traveler offered to take our picture

Up and up we go. We pass elevation signs. The hike at the end of the trail is seeming less likely.
We are living the high life now!
We are living the high life now!

The huge peak is looming larger and larger in front of us.
Wheeler Peak
Wheeler Peak

We get to the end of the road which is over 10,000 feet. Leaving the car the wind is blowing and the temperatures are in the high 40’s. We are dressed for 60 degree weather. We walk over to the description of the various trails. I really would like to see the Bristlecone Pines but the nearest one is a mile and a half away. I am not sure that I can hike mostly uphill for three miles in thin air and cold weather. We retreat to the car and drive back down the road.

Now it’s shortly before 11 AM. We are in Ely by noon. What to do? We cancel our reservations and decide to spend the night in Reno. We head off down the loneliest road in America. We reach Reno around 6 PM and finish our trip home the next day.

Highway 50 in Nevada
Highway 50 in Nevada

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