Monday, September 2, 2019

A September update

Greetings, it's been a minute! 

August and all of its busyness is gone while the fresh month of September has now arrived. Anywho, there's an adventure on the horizon soon! Crunch time begins in less than a week I'll be hopping off the plane with three of my best friends in Salt Lake City to begin a three-day backpacking trip through Nevada's desolate Great Basin National Park. I've always strived to explore this under-the-radar, quiet national park (the only one in Nevada), and bask in its rugged wilderness.

This Thursday, three of us will be scooped up from the airport by another friend and we'll spend the night at a hotel in Provo, Utah because well... that free continental breakfast before our drive west to Nevada. When we arrive at the 77,100-acre national park located in the deserts of Baker, NV, we'll join a cave tour before strapping on our packs and heading out into the backcountry for three days.

Our plan is to loosely follow the Pyramid Loop, a 13-mile trek that passes through thick subalpine forests, groves of aspen, crosses creeks, includes a craggy exposed ascent above treeline, and stops at two serene glacial lakes. It all sounds like heaven to me. The folks at Backpacker Magazine have put together a solid overview of our rough route. Camp one will be on the shores of Baker Lake in the shadowy amphitheater below 12,298-ft Baker Peak. Saturday morning we'll begin our push up the steep, rocky alpine saddle atop Nevada's Snake Ridge that divides Baker Lake and Johnson Lake on the other side, no doubt the most difficult and risky part of the trip. If we're clear of storms and conditions allow, we'll attempt to scramble up to the west ridge of 11,926-ft Pyramid Peak. Bagging that peak, next we'll carefully descend down the saddle towards smaller Johnson Lake at the bottom, where we'll likely set up camp two for our second night. A nearby grove of aspen may be our best bet to pitch tents and cook dinner on Saturday night. Sunday morning, we'll wake up early and press forward on the Snake-Baker Pass through more clumps of aspen and flowery meadows, cross Baker Creek a few times and return to the trailhead Sunday evening. On our way back through the deserts of Nevada to Utah, we'll make a pit stop at a restaurant called Kerouac's (how perfect is that, right?) for celebratory beers and pizza. It'll be an adventure for the books, that's for sure, and I can't wait to blog about it on here.

But, there's a lengthy list to get done in the coming days before we get to Great Basin. A massive box from Mountain House arrived the other day with dozens of dehydrated meal packs that need to be sorted, last-minute studying of the map and plugging in various backcountry coordinates into my handheld GPS unit, verifying our Spot Satellite GPS beacon works to track our progress and if we run into an emergency, laying out all of my gear on my apartment's dark hardwood floor and determining what to stuff inside my 65L Gregory Baltoro pack, monitoring the weather, and of course training. Since our expedition on the park's Pyramid Peak Loop will command nearly 4,000 feet of elevation gain, much of it in altitudes past 10,000ft, I've been training as much as I can by hiking for miles with a weight vest on.

Oh, and I need to flood my iPod with transient, powerful songs like this. My inner soul and spirit have long been calling to return west.