Friday, September 18, 2020

Wheeler Peak

These images are not in the order I'd select.  They each took more than five minutes to upload, but I am thankful! This morning my poor, old 3G iPhone managed to connect my laptop to an individual hotspot.  It is frustrating but that is life in a remote location ... Great Basin National Park in northeastern Nevada ... where for two weeks I'm honored to be the park's annual artist-in-residence!

The last time I had an Internet connection, I couldn't upload a photo of the other lake on the Alpine Lake loop trail.  Above is Lake Teresa ... not as big or as visually pretty as Lake Stella but one that shows the significant drought this area has been experiencing. 

I arrived here on Monday in the late morning.  That afternoon, I hiked the Alpine Lake Loop trail and walked .7 miles to a beautiful grove of bristlecone pine trees.  The next day, I decided to take a trail from the lower parking lot directly to the bristlecone pine trees and continue hiking up onto the rock glacier.  The path was mostly loose rocks.  The photo above shows one of the better views.  Often, it took a few moments to contemplate exactly where the path was headed!  I took a video on the path but obviously can't upload it to You Tube at this time.  Why did I take the video?  Well, the sounds of footsteps over these rocks was actually quite melodious.  It reminded me of the movie What's Up Doc? featuring Barbra Streisand, Ryan O'Neill, and Madelaine Kahn.  In that comic film, iconic 70s red plaid Samsonite suitcases get mixed up between various couples including a jewel thief and a music professor (O'Neill) on his way to present his research to an academic music consortium. His suitcase contains rocks and his theory is that the first musical instruments were rocks used by cavemen.  Of course I thought this a silly idea ... but walking over these rocks and hearing what really sounded like musical notes had me laughing the entire trip.

I couldn't take a video yesterday. Why?  Well the loose rock trail to the glacier was simple, easy, clearly marked ... a cakewalk compared to the second half of the trek up Wheeler Peak.  Starting in the trailhead parking lot at an elevation around 10,000, this trail ascends to the highest part of the National Park, the summit of Wheeler Peak at 13,063'.  I went at a snail pace and took plenty of short breaks ... but I MADE IT!  Other hikers passed me going up.  Three young girls passed me going up and then passed me while they started back down but I was still climbing up.  Later, I passed them on my slow descent.  Why?  Well, one of them slipped and hurt her ankle so badly that a search and rescue squad was called.  I passed several of the rescuers on my trip back down and saw the emergency vehicle in the parking lot when I got back to my cargo van.  So ... I was slow ... but I wasn't carried out on a stretcher!  Frankly when looking back at that peak from the parking lot, I couldn't believe I made it myself!

During the seven hours I took to hike Wheeler Peak, I saw eighteen deer!  There were at least three bucks and two fawns.  By the end of the day, my Fitbit clocked over 36,000 steps.  I'm a bit sunburned despite the fact that the temperatures were in the sixties.  (According to the gauge in my cargo van, it was fifty-six degrees in the 10,000' parking lot when I started. It was sixty-six when I ended.  It was 80 degrees back in the provided housing which is at about 7000'.)  I really didn't feel the sun burning me ... perhaps because the wind was often howling and trying to blow me over!  I'm proud that I made it!  It was amazing ... and the views were tremendous.  Little Teresa lake looked like a dot.  The sky was big and wide but already starting to become hazy as smoke from fires in Washington, Oregon, and California headed this way.  I'm glad I made the hike yesterday.  I doubt I could make it if smoke was also an issue!


Sherrie Spangler said...

Wow, 36,000 steps, and at that high elevation! I would have collapsed halfway through. I can't wait to see what you create during this residency.

Ann Scott said...

Congratulations on your trail climb and safe descent. I enjoyed the part about the rocks sound and can imagine that, you describe it so well. I'm impressed, I can't take altitude of much over 6,000 feet! Looking forward to more.

Catherine - Mixed Media Artist said...

will you use the sound of the rocks in a forthcoming art work - or more about the landscape - looking forward to seeing what you do...