Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park protects a unique ecosystem referred to as an Desert Island wherein, due to extreme elevation gain, the environment transforms from high desert all the way to sub-alpine. I had long put a visit to the park on the back burner but I am quick to admit I was wrong in doing so; the mountains there are truly an oasis and I was remiss in not going before now. I mean, a glacier in Nevada? Yeah, I shoulda visited sooner.

Our first day we hiked the Alpine Lake Loop Trail, connecting to the Bristlecone Pine and Glacier Trails. Beginning around 10,000 feet these trails were in a true alpine ecosystem unlike the more arid Cedar Mountains near the house. We began in green aspen forest before passing the gorgeous Stella and Teresa Lakes below the glaciated Wheeler Peak; in between the lakes we were treated to beautiful Englemann Spruce forest. After the lakes we turned onto the Bristlecone Trail and continued up to the harsh glacial moraine environment where little other than the tenacious bristlecone tree could take hold. Further up the trail as we gained more elevation even the bristlecone gave way and we began crossing large expanses of rock deposited by the retreating glacier. We crossed a few snowfields as we hiked further into the cirque; here surprisingly we found more life in the form of lichen and pockets of tiny alpine flowers. Though the visible snow at this point was part of the glacier it was amazing to think that the bulk of the glacier actually lay under the very rock we walked on – hence it’s classification as a rock glacier.

IMG_5661

IMG_5658

IMG_5675

IMG_5688

IMG_5683

IMG_5702

IMG_5756

64

64

2016-07-05 _HabitatBozeman_iphone 031

2016-07-05 _HabitatBozeman_iphone 033

2016-07-05 _HabitatBozeman_iphone 044

IMG_5797

IMG_5815

IMG_5810

IMG_5823

IMG_5838

IMG_5873

IMG_5886

2016-07-05 _HabitatBozeman_iphone 055

2016-07-05 _HabitatBozeman_iphone 059

2016-07-05 _HabitatBozeman_iphone 067

The following day we opted to not do another of the more popular trails at the top of the mountain and instead chose the Baker Creek Loop, a more moderate rolling trail in a different section of the park. Most of the trail was through more arid meadow but it provided a plethora of views to the creek.

IMG_5897

IMG_5902

IMG_5910

IMG_5922

2016-07-05 _HabitatBozeman_iphone 087

2016-07-05 _HabitatBozeman_iphone 091