Another late start after another terrible night’s sleep. Felt like I was up all night tossing and turning. After a quick breakfast I headed down to Baker to get some groceries for the two nights I planned on spending in Great Basin National Park. The thirteen miles of downhill were a good way to start the day. After a quick stop at the Great Basin NP visitor center to get some park info, I headed into Baker.
Baker is a three shop town or maybe a few more but only about three interested me — grocery store and cafes. Unfortunately one of the cafes was closed until next week and the other did not open until lunch time. So I went to the grocery store and felt like I was clearing them out. I bought the last chicken flavored ramen, pretzels, Doritos, cheesy rice & broccoli boil dinners, and single serve shredded wheat and raisin bran.
The road into Great Basin NP is all uphill and with the bright, noontime sun and no wind it got hot. Sweating bullets and inching my way up the constant grade, I realized I might just have enough time to make the 13:00 tour of Lehman Caves — the longer 90 minute Grand Tour. I pushed my pace for the last five miles and 1500 vertical feet- up to a blazing 5.8 mph from 5.2 mph – ignoring sweat, tears, and pain to make it in to the visitor center with a whole five minutes to spare. Luckily there was one empty slot just for me. I threw on the arms and legs plus my rain gear and ventured into the cave.
Besides the damp chill of my sopping wet shirt, the tour was good. Lehman was a rancher who found the cave, and then started charging admission. Back in the 1890′s it cost $1 to get in. That one dollar got you: a candle and the assurance if you didn’t come out within 24 hours they’d send a search party.
Being a limestone cave there are amazing stalagmites and tites as thin and thick columns and wavy curtains of rock. Lehman also had a policy that you could take out what you could break out so there was lots that was damaged. But what remains is pretty spectacular and at $10 probably a much better bargain than $1 was back in 1890.
After the tour I inched my way up to Lower Lehman Campground. Only three miles but took forever. [If you don't believe me, watch the video. I must stop every 100 yards.] It is an 8% grade all the way up the scenic drive.
I am currently watching Neanderthal TV. What’s on? Fire. It is a good episode filled with mystery (will it stay lit???), unpredictable action, and warmth. Soon this gripping episode will be over and time for bed.
Start: Sacramento Pass Recreation Area
End: Lower Lehman Creek Campground, Great Basin NP
Today’s mileage: 22.6 miles
Total miles so far: 744 miles
Average speed: 9.4 mph
Max speed: 35.5 mph
Travel time: (09:10 to 12:55) 3.75 hours
Total travel time: 103.0 hours
Weather: sunny, clear, 65-80 F
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