It’s 93 degrees F (34C) as we reach the base of Great Basin, Nevada. A chance at last for camping in blazing sunshine, no wind and no rain 🙂
We go to check in to Lower Lehman.
No problem, we’ll take Upper Lehman.
“Closed for renovations.”
OK, so what is available?
And where’s that?
The ranger took us outside and pointed up. All we could see was a mountain. I said just the same.
“Up. Up top. Wheeler Point.”
A 45 minute hairpin laden drive and a 30 degree (17C) drop in temperature. Welcome to Wheeler Point. The rattlenakes give up at about 7,000 feet, the deer at 8,000. Only the mountain lions hang out at 10,000 – and us. It is stunning – evergreen firs mixed with golden yellow aspen and a sweeping vista of the vast panorama of plains far far below us. We find a spot with the nearest semblance of a rock free level pitch – close to the toilet too – and pitch. It is sheltered and pitching is so so much easier in the dry calm than the windy wet.
We are more co-ordinated by now, Nick and I getting the tent up, rainfly on and pegs hammered, whilst Gonul organises the interior: airbeds inflated, bags arranged and so on. I get the hob hooked up to the propane gas and cooking commences. Gonul is as creative as ever, turning a variety of leftovers into a tasty nourishing meal, all rounded off with a surprise….turkish coffee. The only problem is it’s in a pressurised can and as she pulls the ring the coffee bursts forth showering everything in its path – the high altitude had affected the pressure inside the can! In the diminishing light it is very hard to see exactly where the coffee powder has chosen to lay, so we decide to wait until morning to sort that out.
Dinner over, Nick decides to take a nap whilst Gonul and I go for a wander in the woods. We meet John and Ashley who are also touring National Parks, having set off from Boston two weeks ago and aiming to end up in San Francisco – some drive! Inspired by their fire, we collect some kindling and branches and head back. It’s dark by now so we use our head torches to find our way home and Gonul sets about creating fire in the fire pit by our pitch. She remembers watching her dad lighting barbeques on the balcony and is keen to try. Successfully so, as we are soon sat in front of a roaring fire in the near pitch black, the half moon providing the only other source of light. This is apparently the darkest sky in the US as there is no light pollution at all, perfect for stargazing.
Gonul has been having some problems with her skin due to the constant changes in climate but now in the flickering fire light I noticed it had got much worse. The whole right hand side of her face was bruised and I was amazed that she hadn’t complained of pain. Greatly concerned I asked her how she was feeling. Puzzled she gingerly put her hand to her face and lightly touched it. The bruising magically moved to her finger tips. She looked at it and then lifted her fingers to her lips and laughed. A severe case of facial coffee powder had been diagnosed!