Our first day on the road was spent driving 410 miles to Ely, Nevada. Ely is on US Highway 50 nicknamed "The Loneliest Road." It does indeed feel like the loneliest road, and the scenery is a mostly unremarkable desert landscape of sage and sand. Driving into Ely just before sunset we were rewarded with a beautiful light show to the east. At the end of a side road we found a spot from which we could photograph the reflected sunset and the rain that wasn't touching the ground.
As the sun set in the west, the clouds to the east reflected its changing colors.
It was a magnificent ending to an otherwise uneventful day of driving.
The next day leaving Ely and Highway 50 behind, we drove to the Great Basin National Park which is the least visited National Park in the United States. The sign at Sacramento Pass caught my eye. The elevation is my birthday and I was born in Sacramento--nice coincidence.
The aspens of Great Basin National Park were in full fall color when we arrived this morning. When the sun hit their leaves each aspen looked like it was a lit candle among the dark patchwork of conifers.
After signing up for the afternoon cave tour, we took the Wheeler Peak scenic drive toward to Bristlecone Trailhead. Some Bristlecone trees are nearly 5,000 years old. They live so long because they are able to adapt to their environment often living in isolation where other trees can't survive. They are extremely slow growing. The sign on the tree below states:
A core was removed from this tree at a point four feet above the ground. the innermost growth ring has been dated at 1126 BC, therefore the tree was about four feet tall in that year. It may have taken as long as 200 years to reach that height; therefore, the tree is between 3100 and 3300 years old.This tree was born in 1150 BCE:
The Bristlecone trailhead begins at 9,800 ft (2,990m) and rises 600 ft (180m) along a 1.4 mile (2.3k) trail to where the Bristlecones begin.
Once we finished the cave tour, we hurried back up the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive to take photographs of the aspens in better light. The color was glorious.
Then it was back on the road to drive to Beaver, Utah, for the night. It was a long, dark drive along another lonely road with no services for 75 miles from the Nevada border. I worried the whole distance about running out of gas or my car quitting where there was no cell phone coverage. Dan slept.