Great Basin National Park, hugely underrated. I'd been before and it was automatically placed in my top 3 favorite parks but I got to spend a lot more quality time here in the last few months. Central and Northern Nevada in general don't get enough credit. But that's okay with me - stay away I say! The less people the better! I hiked up Wheeler Peak (13,065 feet) one of the times I was there. It's the second highest peak in the state and it's pretty gnarly. Or at least it was the day I went up there. Granted, at 13,000+ feet, it's never going to be calm and still, but holy wind, guys! It was up to 60-70 mph wind gusts and temperatures dropped to the low 30's once you got higher up. (Below: Wheeler Peak is the flat looking one on the right. Beast of a hike!)
As you should know by now, I'm no fan of cold weather, but despite basically freezing to death for the duration of the hike (see me smile at the top, yah?), it was pretty excellent and it was only the two of us at the peak (benefits of being procrastinators and getting a late start...) which was pretty great. And another reason GBNP rocks it: take that Yosemite and Yellowstone tourist hoards! We passed maybe 7-8 people who were on their way down the mountain. Only a couple of them had made it all the way to the peak, and all but two only had terribly negative things to say. Example: "There is no joy in this. There is NO JOY in this hike." MAHH! Gotta love a good old curmudgeon! This will remain one of my favorite quotes for years to come.
Anyway, let's revisit those 70mph winds. I was legitimately knocked over at least 12 times (I stopped counting after that) and the gusts more or less ripped my eyeballs out of their socket and tore holes in my attire. All worth it though. Oh yeah, saw a couple black rosy finches- they only live in higher elevations, so I don't see them too often. The wind was really messing with their flying attempts and I may or may not have screamed when I saw them get blown away off the mountain. It's fine, they know what they're doing, but I was terrified for them. More on Great Basin in posts to come! (side note: blogger is being a butthead and won't let me center the photos....or I forgot how to blog properly) Our World