In my last blog entry, my son and I were touring Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park. But that was in the morning.
So in the afternoon we went out hiking.
This is a very pretty area with lots of pine trees.
In fact, it even has a grove of bristlecone pines.
These trees are thousands of years old.
Of course I had to give one of the trees the old four-point connectivity grasp.
The trail we took led us to the glacier in the shadow of Wheeler Peak.
Here’s the map of the area.
We were camped at the Wheeler Peak campground. As you can see, a bunch of trails around Wheeler Peak leave from there. South of the campground you can see the bristlecone pine grove we were at.
Continuing along we headed to the Rock Glacier.
Here’s my son at one of the “overlook” locations along the trail. That circular area in the background is the rock glacier.
And here I am on the rock glacier itself.
And how about a close-up of that?
That snow field was pockmarked by a bunch of little holes. As we looked into them, they all had a small rock inside.
I’m not sure how the rocks got there, but they did explain the pockmarks. The rocks absorbed the sun better than the snow, so they were slightly warmer and then slightly melted the snow around them.
There was a nice little sign at the rock glacier.
Since our campground was at around 9,900 feet, you can see that getting to the rock glacier was a fairly easy 900 foot climb. Well, it was fairly easy if your lungs are used to breathing at around 10,000 feet. But by this time, we’d been out west and at higher elevations for a couple of weeks. I found I didn’t have any problems.
I should also mention that the snow field I am standing on really isn’t the “rock glacier”. A rock glacier is actually a glacier overlain by a bunch of rocks/talus. So the footprint of the glacier is much bigger than is obvious.
All that rock around me has glacier underneath it.
From that point we turned around and headed back. Here’s a panoramic (stitched) shot looking back out the bowl.
[Click for the larger, good version.]
Did I mention the talus?
This is what the trail looked like.
I have to admit that my soles were still rather footsore, so I spent time putting on and taking off my moccasins. (You might recall that I switched to moccasins because my sandals had rubbed raw a few spots on my feet.)
So, here I am on the trail.
One nice thing about the moccasins is that they were at least flexible, while providing just a bit more cushioning. These are my moccasins from which I’ve removed the inner liner, so there is nothing but leather. That allowed my foot muscles to continue to get at least some sort of workout.
Actually, much of the talus wasn’t too bad even for bare feet. It was only when I hit stretches of trail where it was small and chippy that I had problems.
After the hike (about 5 miles round trip), my son and I decided we’d try to eat out in the town of Baker, Nevada. This is a small town below Great Basin National Park and is way down there at an elevation of 5,300 feet.
This place barely exists. It has a gas station . . . well, kind of. It has a gas pump. No building, just a gas pump that takes credit cards. The total population of the place is around 70 people. I’d call it a one-horse town, except I’m not sure there’s even a horse there.
Anyways, we went into a grocery store attached to a restaurant. And I was immediately told I had to have shoes on, and the reason was a familiar one: the health code. I pulled out my Nevada letter. The girl behind the counter thought it was cool, but felt she needed to talk to the owner. And the owner went ballistic; she was bristlier than the pines.
She claimed it really was a health code; she claimed that the health inspector would shut her down; she claimed he had specifically told her that. My guess is that somebody there was lying. She was about as rude as people get. (By the way, afterwards I checked. Nevada is like most states: there is a statewide food safety code, and each county has its own health department that enforces it. So it was not as if the county had some separate and different health code that prohibited bare feet in establishments.)
We’d already picked out our grocery items, so I left and my son (who had on his Vibrams) stayed and paid for the items. Yes, we maybe should have just left them on the counter. But in some ways I felt sorry for the owner. She was working very hard (cooking for the restaurant side of the place). She looked tired. Baker is clearly a hard place to make a living. So I just let it go.
However, we did not stay to eat at the restaurant. We headed back up (4,500 feet) to our campground and just cooked something.
It was interesting, though, that the health code myth is so strong and so ingrained that even somebody barely making a living is willing to throw out good money to enforce a non-existent rule.