Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Great Basin National Park, Nevada - Hiking

I woke up on Saturday morning with no official plan for the Labor Day holiday weekend.  After a quick chat with Roger, we decided to go camping somewhere to enjoy the beautiful late summer weather.  I emptied my refrigerator of any possible camping food and packed my gear in record time.  By late morning, we were headed out of Salt Lake with a destination of Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada.  It had been a few years since my last visit to the park, and it seemed like an excellent choice for some relaxing camping and hiking.

Great Basin National Park

We realized that arriving in any developed recreation area on Labor Day weekend would pose a problem for finding camping, but Great Basin tends to be a quiet national park.  The secret is out, though, and we arrived to find all of the main campgrounds full.  Our backup plan was to try the primitive camping sites available along Strawberry Creek, and much to my surprise, several spots were still available.  The dirt road was well maintained and the sites were perfect, offering much more space and privacy than many of the campsites within the main part of the park.  The main disadvantage to camping in Strawberry Creek was being far from the visitor center and main attractions of the park.  Roger and I had both hiked to Wheeler Peak and the Bristlecone Pines on previous trips, so we were happy to have a great camping spot to relax and enjoy a less visited spot in Great Basin.

Camping at Strawberry Creek

Roger setting up his hammock

Flowering rubber rabbitbrush

Walking along Strawberry Creek

Rose hips along Strawberry Creek

Snake Creek Canyon road opened for Labor Day weekend after being closed for several months for improvements.  Since Roger and I had never been to that area of the park, we decided to spend Sunday hiking to Johnson Lake from the trailhead at the end of the road.  The hike offered great views of Snake Creek Canyon as it passed through aspen groves and towering pine trees on the way to the alpine lake.  Nearing the end of the trail, we passed the historic Johnson Lake mill and several well-preserved cabins that were built between 1912 and 1935 to mine Tungsten.  We ended our hike at Johnson Lake where we enjoyed spectacular views and solitude.

Hiking to Johnson Lake

Snake Creek Canyon

Johnson Lake Mill

Johnson Lake cabin

Johnson Lake

Feeling chilly at Johnson Lake

Johnson Lake

Keeping with the theme of a low key trip, we decided to relax a bit at camp before heading home to Salt Lake on Monday afternoon.  I finally got a chance to use my hammock thanks to the beautiful trees surrounding Strawberry Creek.  It was a great way to spend the unofficial end of summer.

Hammock time