February 13 – Traveling into the Great Basin
Today’s journey took us from Lakeview, Oregon to Carlin, Nevada, an area that is part of the Great American Basin. I thought about the people who went before us, some on horseback and others in wagons over the centuries.
It is a rugged landscape but easy to travel by truck. On a horse or with all your worldly possession in a wagon train the trip was long and often deadly.
Lakes and rivers are few in the higher desert. They were life-giving to the tribes of 12,000 years ago, a place where the squash crops could be planted and herds could be hunted.
Centuries later the land was more barren and rugged. Those seeking the California and Alaska gold rushes back in the 1800’s faced great hardships as they crossed this land with limited water sources.
Some stopped along the way, maybe seeing the land in spring when the grasses were green and the promise of farming seemed possible. Here and there as we drove we saw the remain of their lost dreams.
Some deserted buildings are from the last 50 years. I saw this one and wondered if it was a “back to the lander” escaping the big city only to find the winters were cold and the summers burning hot.
Other buildings left forlorn in the sun have become places for doodles and signatures of passing tourists.
Distance was changed out here. What seemed close could take an hour to reach.[/caption] I can see why people come here though. I feel alive here in a way that is muffled in the city. Here the wind can be heard from miles away as it rushes through the mountain passes into the valley floor. A cloud formation that seems minutes can take 40 minutes to reach in this endless sky vista.
It is a land of ranges and basins, some covered in snow and others covered with miles of sage brush. The high desert basins are often at 5000 feet and the ranges at 12,000 so at this time of year it is chilly and invigorating.
The elevations rapidly change here so sand and snow can be seen in one view. Hiking here means layering up for you can go from 70 degrees to 20 degrees in a short time.
As we passed the cliffs and valleys of this ancient land, I remembered the stories my son Ryan and my first husband Bruce told me about rock formations. I see the world differently because of them.
I look at distant mountains and at the closer and more worn cliffs and think about what occurred to create these variations. Thank you Ryan and Bruce!
There were few roads out here and many are dirt paths. I smiled at this sign that seemed to say the road was really a large crossroad in the desert. It was a path of sorts!
It has been a day of unexpected sights around the bends and over the hills.
It has also been a day when I have said more than once to my husband Ray how much I love him. It is a gift to share this time with him, this landscape, this adventure.
We are making memories.
TO BE CONTINUED – tomorrow the loneliest road in America