Monday, September 3, 2012

We Want the Spelunk

August 30

After the hard slog of the last four days, twenty four hours of rest were due. I accomplished my errands early in the morning, giving me an opportunity to explore Great Basin National Park.
The entire Great Basin covers most of Nevada and some of the surrounding states. The name comes from the lack of drainage in the region. There is no outlet to the sea, water from the surrounding mountains either pools into a lake or evaporates.
The park only encompasses a small portion of the entire Basin, but is nevertheless quite a large place. I had limited transportation options, so Lexington Arch, 13,000 foot Wheeler Peak, and the bristlecone pines were out of range. The pines, by the way, are the oldest organism on Earth, living for thousands of years. I was able to view a tree ring at the Visitor Center from Prometheus, a bristlecone that lived to the ripe old age of 4,900. That's a serious drain on the social security system.
Thanks to the kindness of the Silver Jack Inn's caretakers, Ed and Raveyn, I was able to see the Great Basin's main attraction. Lehman Caves is one of the most spectacular underground chambers in the United States. The magic of dripping calcite has created decorations which defy gravity and boggle the mind.
You've probably seen stalagmites and stalactites, but have you seen drapes, shields, coral, wall bacon, parachutes, or straws? These named formations and a litany of others so far undescribed jut from the walls, ceilings, and floors, an art exhibit of the underworld.
I'd wondered initially if there would be much to see in Nevada, a state most people drive through rather than to, unless Vegas bound. So far there seems to be natural wonders galore, if you are willing to scratch a little bit below the surface.

0 miles/3378 total miles

3 comments:

Bob Dukes said...

The 'Wah Wah' name comes from Wah Wah Springs, on the eastern slope of the Wah Wah Mountain range. 'Wah Wah' is reported to mean "good clear water".[2]
According to Wickipedia from Utah Place Names

rjmera said...

So jealous! I love desert landscapes and caves.

Anonymous said...

Mmm...wall bacon. If my walls were made of bacon wallpaper strips, they would be stripped bare and devoured within days. Looking forward to seeing the cave pics bro!

-Colin