Hiking to the Glacier in Great Basin NP

bristleconeI touched a living thing that has been growing in the same spot for over 3,500 years.  The tree was 1,200 years old when Christ was being brought to safety in Egypt.  The tree is alive and I was allowed to touch it.  The tree was on that hillside for all of recorded European history.  It’s a plain tree, gnarled and weathered, with beautiful wood and soft, green closely packed  needles.  It’s appearance is essentially unchanged since before both my grandfathers were born. It’s appearance should essentially be the same when and if my great grandchildren choose to visit the tree.  Our time here is measured in years, a brief flash in history.  The tree I touched has been here for millennia.  It takes thought, time and effort to understand the concept of something being in a place and in addition living for that length of time, and I’m still trying to get my mind wrapped around the concept. It might take a while.

I was really tired yesterday, and we went to bed early.  We’re on the border of Pacific and Mountain time zones.  If you go down the hill into Baker, we’re in Pacific Time Zone.  If we drive a couple of more miles to the gas station and border, we’re in the Mountain  time zone.  We have stayed on Mountain time zone during our stay at the Great Basin National Park, since when we leave here we’re going to Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, all on Mountain Time Zone. The result is, I’m not sure what time were going to bed, what time it is and if we’re allowed to run the generator, or what time activities are.  They call what we’re doing vacation, so we’re not concerned about what time it is, we show up early, and we don’t run the generator.  It’s all good.

We slept late depending upon your time zone, and had a great NJ Breakfast, Taylor ham egg and cheese on a ‘hard roll’ with coffee and OJ.  I had always assumed that the quintessential element of a THEC sandwich was the Taylor Ham.  I assumed that the roll, in NJ a Kaiser roll from a GOOD bakery, was the vehicle for the sandwich and not an integral contributor to the overall lusciousness.  I was wrong.  The rolls we bought in Provo were very good rolls, but it was like bringing your harpsichord to a good jazz quartet.

We cleaned up quickly after breakfast, left the leveling blocks and anti sway stuff behind and took off for the trailhead for Mount Wheeler and environs.  It was a beautiful morning, cool, sunny and with a cool breeze.  The trail was level, and initially not covered with too many rocks.  I maintain that the force of gravity is equal to the square of your age.  Initially we felt all the force.  There was a gradual transition to high alpine conditions, and the area around the bristlecones was beautiful, rigged and in spots snow covered.

By chance, we met a couple from the cave tour the afternoon before.  Kenny his wife were from Florida and exploring during their quiet time.  Kenny is an explorer to the core, and an adventurer.  We had a great time talking with them on the trail and wound up walking to the glacier, something we had not planned on, but we were both glad we did.  Kenny and his wife have a blueberry farm in Florida and are doing well and having a good time  traveling during the off season.  The scenery, the clear air, the snow and the company of nice people made the afternoon a very memorable occurrence.

We parted company since the explorer wanted to see the glacier first hand, and we were done enough to call it a day.  Unfortunately we made it off the trail and left before they came back down.  It would have been nice to have a drink and sit around and talk.

National Parks seem to collect the best and nicest people.  We met an 80 year old man near the end of the glacier trail who tries to get to the park and take pictures of the same bristlecone pine tree year after year. A man is made of iron, both physically and of spirit.  We met some college co-eds taking a summer course from heaven.  They were from Wisconsin University, and I can’t remember the campus, but they yelled back they were the ‘Pointers’.  The world is in good hands with young women like that steering the ship.

We drove back to the campsite slowly.  The best combination seems to be in second gear, with occasional breaking to keep from over-revving, but you decend slowly.  We traveled about 27 MPH, but since there was no one behind us, it was only our time.  We relaxed for a while after reaching camp, and then, then made dinner.  An unexpected visitor to our home for the night was a yellow warbler.  The bird resembles a canary and was busy eating bugs off the wild rose bush next to the RV.  We looked the bird up in the bird book and were pleased to find that the sweet song we have been serenaded by since we were here, was from the warbler.

Dinner was the last of the rib eye steaks, mashed potatoes, sautéed onions, and my version of green beans. No room for any of the deserts that we’ve been carrying around.  All in all, an excellent day, filled with great adventure, beautiful awe inspiring scenery, extremely nice people and great weather.  We hope for many more days like this in the future.

The RV is very comfortable and had an excellent sound system,  The last time I was involved in a great adventure traversing the west, not on any schedule, looking into interesting places, and places that sparked my curiosity, I was with my college roommate, Eric Horn.  Our method of travel was a converted 1969 Dodge panel van with bunk beds, a cooler, a stove, a cupboard and a place under my bunk for Eric and my stuff.  We had a pair of speakers, that for the time sounded excellent, but the rest of the audio system was happenstance at best. We traveled for three months from New York to the Oregon coast, then down to Los Angeles and then home to the New York area.  It was done for under $2,500 for everything, food, attractions, gasoline, vehicle repairs and lodging.  My friend Eric has passed, and I miss him all the time, especially when I’m exploring out west. I wonder what he would think of the circumstances in which Louise and I travel.  I think that somehow he’s with us in spirit.

Tomorrow we’re off, even though the campsite is paid for, to Bryce Canyon.  The plan is to leave early, find a place to make breakfast when we’re hungry and able to run the generator without disturbing anyone and then get a site at Bryce, see the sights and enjoy.

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