From Here to Great Basin
To celebrate the end of the school year I left town, which is kind of counterintuitive from the standpoint that Logan is just a lot nicer when all the students leave and things don’t feel quite as crowded. Except on Saturday when all of Franklin County, Idaho comes to town, which is just kind of sad, irritating, and road-jamming. Gott strafe Franklin County!, etc.
First off, headed to the Frisco ghost town in Utah, which is just north of Milford, Utah, which is a good reminder that there are some tiny little stuggler towns in this state. From a passing through small towns perspective, this part of the trip reminded me of the part of western Pennsylvania that’s not Pittsburgh.
The ghost town, though, was probably not worth driving out of your way for. There’s a cemetery and like three still-standing buildings, although the mining company that owns the property has put up gates and made roads impassible and the dog didn’t feel like going for a walk, so…
You can still drive up to the cemetery. Most of the interred, though, are children, which made this part of the trip, overall, both sad and boring. Although sometimes I think boring is already a subset of sad. Or at least there’s a lot of overlap.
From Frisco, it was on to Baker, Nev., home of Great Basin National Park, which facilitated my checking that park off the list.
The park has some new-style signage, which took a little time to get used to, though I eventually adjusted. I’m not sure anything can ever compare to the stained-wood signs and that peculiar national park almost-handwritten font they use, but if you’re going to replace the signs, these weren’t bad.
This post doesn’t get better from here.
The park itself features Wheeler Peak, the highest point in all of Nevada. The road that takes you to the hiking trails near the peak, though, was closed still due to snow. :(.
That’s Wheeler Peak there in the photo, taken from one of the main roads in Baker, Nev.
I stayed in a hotel in the one hotel in Baker, which has eight rooms. For some reason I liked Baker. Maybe it just gave me a lot to think about with regard to it being a tiny, rural town with a small clutch alt-hipsters who all seem to work at the one restaurant/cafe and a little-known national park and what would it actually be like to live here? That kind of thing*. It’s a town, though, where people’s dogs roam the neighborhoods at will and no one seems to mind. They’re also upset about Las Vegas stealing their water.
That’s the highway that passes through town.
The trails that are in the main part of the park aren’t dog-friendly, but that kind of didn’t matter since they were all still closed for snow anyway. I took a pass on the cave tour, since I figure it’s probably mostly just a cave tour, and it’s probably not as good as Carlsbad Caverns.
We instead went to find a hike on the east side of the park, accessed from within Utah (!), that is dog-friendly and wasn’t under snow (mostly). Lexington Arch I think? Let’s go with it. There’s a dirt road that took us off the highway toward the trailhead.
After a bit, there were a couple of stream crossings that I probably shouldn’t have taken on with the family truckster but did. Then we came to a part in the road where there a couple people in a Toyota Tacoma trying to figure out how to build a bridge out of branches to cross the next stream.
Anyway, they (their names were Ryan and Shannon for some reason) were both nurses up at the U of U medical center. Seemed nice and gave Aela and me a ride another quarter-mile up the road where it then became too washed out even for them. We then all hiked together from there.
Apparently this part of the park burned down some time ago. I probably should have spent more time in the visitor’s center. Anyway, most of the hike was through a burned-out forest.
Good conversations, burnt trees. She used to be a competitive snowboarder who toured the world, he just finished his DNP degree at the U.
After crossing a couple snowfields, we eventually got to a viewpoint for the arch. Some I didn’t take any photos of it that were better than this, but, hey, live in the moment, right?
Then we walked back to the truck, they gave me a ride the quarter-mile back to my car, then we all went and got lunch together in some other really tiny town just on the Nevada side on Highway 50. The ranch chicken bacon wrap was huge and surprisingly good. I can’t remember the name of the town** or the restaurant, but, you know, if you want you can email me and I’ll try harder to come up with it.
* I’m guessing after the second day it’d be pretty boring. Fortunately I didn’t get to that point on this trip and was therefore left wallowing in my sense of child-like wonder.
** There’s not actually a town. There’s just the restaurant (and gas station and three slot machines). Cross the border from Utah, it’ll be on your left. Chicken bacon ranch wrap. Also, try to pay with cash because their card reader has a hard time.