Daily Gratitude

There seems to be quite a bit of turmoil the past couple of months, with the forest fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and mass shootings. And of course there is the stuff that is always going on somewhere in the world, whether it is on the news or not: corrupt governments, civil unrest, poverty, orphans, disease, and war.

I feel very sheltered and safe living in my small town surrounded by these massive mountains. I know we could have natural disasters here, too, but we aren’t right now. In these times of relative peace I need to remember to be grateful EVERYDAY to God for my normal, day- to- day life. My life definitely does not feel luxurious, but I know it is a luxury to have the free time and the physical ability to go hiking and explore the great outdoors almost every weekend. Sometimes I feel a bit silly writing about my family’s hiking trips while there are so many bigger things happening in the world. Although, I think it is not a useless task to give glory to God for the good in my life and the beauty I see in nature, and that is what I hope I am doing with my blog.

Sep. 30 Success Summit (1)

Last weekend we drove up to Success Summit to view the fall colors. Besides the trees in town, there are not any natural deciduous trees in the valley so we had to take a drive up into the mountains to get our yearly dose of fall foliage. It was a glorious autumn day, with groves of aspen ablaze in gold and amber splendor. Of course our colors can’t compete with the Midwest and East, but our colors come with a majestic mountain backdrop.

Sep. 30 Success Summit (9)

The picture below is not the best, but I thought the golden strip of trees on the mountainside really stood out against the dark green pines and brown soil, creating an interesting design.

Sep. 30 Success Summit (24)

Just taking in the gorgeous mountain and valley view, with a few trees just starting to get their yellow leaves sprinkled in.

Sep. 30 Success Summit (32)

Sep. 30 Success Summit (11)

If you see a fallen tree while walking in the woods, and you are a little boy (or a big boy), you have to take the time to walk across it.

Sep. 30 Success Summit (41)

Beautiful autumn. Thank God for days like this.

Sep. 30 Success Summit (18)

My family right now is in a pretty good place. Of course things aren’t perfect. Some days my child’s poor behavior mystifies me. And we always seem to be short on money. And our dog just recently passed away. But that’s just normal life and I am grateful for it. I have lived enough life to know this period won’t last forever. We all have our seasons of strife and suffering. Whether you are having a regular stressful day or your whole life has just been turned upside down, remember you are not alone. God will never abandon you and He will see you through.

Sep. 30 Success Summit (48)

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Serendipity

On September 21 (the last official day of summer), we received our first snowfall. Talk about skipping a season. The several inches we received in the valley derailed our plans of going into the mountains to view some fall foliage the following weekend. The forecast was rain, snow and gloom in all directions from town, except for one. So we headed two hours west on “The Loneliest Highway in America” to the Hickison Petroglyphs Recreation Area.

On our 120 mile drive, we drove through numerous valleys and mountain passes. In the valleys we had pleasant, partly cloudy skies, but as we drove over every pass, the clouds became darker and heavier and looked like it could rain or snow at any moment. In fact, on the return trip, the road was wet over one pass and the temperature was right at freezing so we were a bit concerned about ice and, just outside of town, we did drive through a bit of snow. We were cutting it a bit close, weather- wise.

Sep. 23 Hickison (7)

When we arrived in Hickison, the sun was peeking in and out of the clouds so it alternated between chilly and pleasant and our layers went on and off throughout the afternoon. We must have chosen the wrong trail because we never saw any petroglyphs, but we did see some pretty awesome scenery.

Sep. 23 Hickison (31)

The landscape we hiked through was adorned with boulders, caves, alcoves and rock cliffs. We walked through this interesting rockscape for a couple miles until the land opened up into a rolling valley. The towering, snow- capped mountains on the other side of the valley seemed to float atop the Earth with the clouds. They were breathtaking.  The place reminded us of pictures we have seen of Mongolia. All that open space, fresh air and beautiful scenery filled my mind and body with the perfect mix of peace and energy.

Sep. 23 Hickison (25)

On our hike back we lost track of the trail we had been on. As the late afternoon autumn sun hung lower in the sky, we had to backtrack to the last trail marker we had seen (and we wondered why we did not pack a flashlight). By the time we found the main trail again, we were getting tired, but enjoyed the sun’s farewell glow on the surrounding rocks.

Sep. 23 Hickison (36)

Sep. 23 Hickison (39)

The most notable part of the day was our wildlife sightings. Even with four hours spent in the car, I”d say we were pretty lucky with what we saw. On the drive out, we spotted a coyote scurrying near the roadside and also a couple of pronghorn farther afield. As we were driving back home through a vast valley in the evening, we spotted a mountain lion. Matt slammed on the brakes and pulled off to the side of the road. I hopped out of the car to get a better look and to try to take a picture. The mountain lion and I stared at each other for a second before she turned around and bolted, showing off her long, muscular body as she leaped through the sagebrush. It was an unusual sight to see her in a wide, open valley, but she was very near a herd of wild horses so I think the thought of having a foal for dinner is what lured her out of the mountains. This was my very first mountain lion sighting (even with all the years we lived in Idaho, I never saw one and Matt only saw one once). The experience was very exciting, but entirely too brief.

This was not the day I had planned, but I am so happy that the weather directed our route to Hickison. If the weather conditions had been different, I would have missed my first mountain lion sighting and all the beauty of this area. God’s serendipity planned a better day for us than I ever could have.

 

Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

From Mundane to Extraordinary

I have lived in seven different states scattered across this country, including all four corners and the middle. The first full year I live in a place is always the most intriguing. I love experiencing a new place as it transitions through the seasons: discovering what flowers bloom in the springtime, watching the water levels of rivers and lakes rise and drop, finding the best patches of fall foliage, and witnessing the first snow flakes fall from the sky.

I have lived in Nevada for 6 months and this is my first autumn in a Southwestern state. I know the area does not support many deciduous trees so I had low expectations for fall color. However, the sagebrush caught me by surprise. These usually mundane green- gray plants that cover our valleys and hillsides are now exploding with brilliant yellow blossoms.

Sep. 19 (5)

Sep. 19 (8)

Sagebrush is prevalent throughout Nevada and it is, not surprisingly, the state’s flower. Driving hours through monotonous sagebrush valleys can make the plant seem ordinary and boring, but they are actually pretty fascinating. Sagebrush contains certain compounds that deter consumption from animals. Pronghorn are the only large herbivore that can tolerate substantial amounts of it. What is really interesting is the plants’ ability to communicate with each other. If one sagebrush plant is getting eaten, it will release chemicals to warn other nearby plants. Those plants will then increase their quantities of the repellent compounds.

Sagebrush isn’t good to eat (they are toxic to the liver and digestive system in humans), but the Native Americans still found them to be quite useful. It was used externally for many purposes, including preventing infections and relieving head aches and other body aches. There are not many resources available while living off the land in the desert, so if one plant surrounds you for hundreds of miles in every direction, I guess you are bound to find a use for it.

Sep. 17 Charcoal Ovens (2)

I have driven through areas with sagebrush before moving here, but it must never have been during the early autumn. I am just loving these cheerful, abundant yellow flowers, glowing brightly in the sunshine against the big blue sky. They are the perfect welcoming committee for autumn and I am eager to experience all the nuances of this season in my new home.

Sep. 19 (10)

Maybe there is something to be learned from the lowly sagebrush. Something so common and so drab can, for a short time, become something beautiful. God created everything for a purpose, especially his children. We may feel depleted from the daily grind, feeling that we have nothing extraordinary to offer. Our spirits may feel akin to the sagebrush- a tumultuous mix of toxic and medicinal. However, never doubt that God has a plan for you. Even the sagebrush can provide soothing relief and a bit of cheer in a harsh world. We will all have our day in the sun, an opportunity to blossom and live out the purpose that God has called us for.

 

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

 

 

Kalamazoo

A series of unfortunate events has kept me away from my blog, but I am finally back from my unintentional hiatus. About a month ago I sprained my ankle pretty bad (not by doing anything fun, either- just carrying in the groceries). A week or so later our computer unexpectedly died on us. The following week we went on a quick weekend trip to Utah and I lost my camera. The three things I need for my blog (healthy legs, a computer, and a camera) all disappeared in a matter of weeks. My ankle is finally almost back to normal and we replaced the equipment so now I can get back to sharing about our little explorations.

Last weekend it was forecasted to be near 90 degrees in town so we decided to escape the heat in the mountains. We headed out to Kalamazoo Summit, which is in the same vicinity as Success Summit in the Humboldt- Toiyabe National Forest. After the pavement ended we continued on the pretty steep gravel road up to the summit, at an elevation of 8,950 feet. The sky was partly cloudy, there was a light breeze and the temperature was perfect for taking a hike.

Aug. 26 Kalamazoo Summit (1)

I know I say this about almost everywhere I go in Nevada, but the views were just amazing. At various points in the hike we had to stop and admire this granite monolith at different angles and as the sunshine reflected off of the different ridges.

Aug. 26 Kalamazoo Summit (28)

Aug. 26 Kalamazoo Summit (35)

My favorite thing about the Kalamazoo Summit area (besides the fun- sounding name) was the abundance of red rocks scattered across the landscape. Much of the afternoon was overcast, but when the sun peaked out from behind the clouds, the crimson hue of the rocks brilliantly sprung to life.

Aug. 26 Kalamazoo Summit (45)

The hike became a bit rugged and I was taking my time to prevent re-injuring my ankle so we got a nice long look at this interesting hillside. (My eyes were fixed on the trail as we walked to make sure I wouldn’t trip on anything. Every few steps I glanced up and I saw the exact same view. That’s how slow I was going.) Along the slope of the mountain you can see strips of soil that are reddish and light green and we wondered what caused the different colorations. That is just one example of what makes this state so exciting. There is very little that is monotonous here- every mountain, rock, and even bit of soil has its own character to it.

Aug. 26 Kalamazoo Summit (48)

As we drove back down the mountain in the late afternoon we were lucky enough to spot some wildlife. We saw numerous mule deer throughout the day, but watching this pretty doe and her fawns quietly grazing was a special experience.

Aug. 26 Kalamazoo Summit (72)

We also enjoyed seeing this jackrabbit. The ears and hind legs on this animal are incredible. When he was moving and his legs were outstretched, he looked taller than I thought any rabbit could look. And those ears, just- wow!

Aug. 26 Kalamazoo Summit (76)

We thoroughly enjoyed our day out as a family, taking in all the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. I know you can find beauty anywhere, but there is something special about Nevada. The sparse, rugged landscape truly showcases God’s majesty and creativity. I feel fortunate to be able to call this little forgotten corner of the country my home.

Aug. 26 Kalamazoo Summit (67)

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:19

Abandoned Dreams in the Sagebrush

On our latest outing we visited our first ghost town in Nevada. From Ely we traveled roughly 30 miles west on US 50, known as the “loneliest road in America”. We then left the pavement behind and traveled the rest of the way on dirt forest roads. Less than two miles from the highway we made our first stop and had a warm, but pleasant picnic at the picturesque Illipah Reservoir. We were surprised to not have the place to ourselves;  there was a fair amount of campers and fishermen also enjoying this small desert lake.

July 22 Hamilton (1)

After our picnic we continued on the dirt road another 10 miles as it wound its way up and around the mountainside until we reached the ghost town of Hamilton, sitting at an elevation of 8,000 feet. Along the way we passed many patches of these pretty white flowers, which, based on my best identification efforts, are desert poppies.

July 22 Hamilton (5)

There is not much left of Hamilton. It first became a town in 1868 when silver was found in the area. It was originally called Cave City because of the numerous natural caves in the area, some of which were used as shelters by early settlers.

July 22 Hamilton (19)

By 1869, the population swelled to 12,000 people. In it’s heyday, Hamilton boasted 200 different mining companies, 60 general stores, and almost 100 saloons. This remote town in the mountains was even the first county seat of White Pine County.

July 22 Hamilton (25)

Just one year later, it was discovered that the silver ore deposits were shallow. People abandoned their ambitions and fled their newly- created town. The population quickly dropped to less than 4,000. In 1873, a large fire swept through Hamilton and most of the businesses chose not to rebuild as the town was already dying.

Looking at the place now, it is hard to imagine that thousands of people once lived here. It was not an especially smooth drive getting to the town site today. I wonder what the access road was like in the 1800’s. Now all that is left to see are the crumbling remains of a very short- lived boom town nestled in the timeless sand and sagebrush.

July 22 Hamilton (67)

After driving by some of the ruins, we parked the car and set out for a little hike. The first several minutes were spent unintentionally chasing a sage grouse family down the trail. The mom and her babies didn’t like to fly and lacked the good sense to just move off the trail. I felt bad about wasting their energy, but we kept walking forward. They were moving pretty slow so we quickly gained on them and at the last moment they finally did some sort of awkward run/ fly combination and scattered into the sagebrush. Their moving abilities weren’t that impressive, so it is a good thing that their camouflage was spot on; you could hardly tell them apart from the sandy dirt.

July 22 Hamilton (35)

We followed the path for a while and then headed off- trail up to a rocky ridge. The view on the other side was, of course, more mountains.

July 22 Hamilton (45)

July 22 Hamilton (55)

Did you know that Nevada is home to the largest number of wild horses in the country? We were fortunate enough to spot a herd of them grazing on the side of this mountain. The scene was perfection- the wild horses truly highlighting the wild beauty of the area.

July 22 Hamilton (66)

I just can’t get enough of the Nevada landscape. Over every mountain is another mountain or valley that is different from the last. There may be a cave or rock formation or interesting plant to discover. Then add in a bit of history and wildlife to the mix. This land is so rich and varied, there is no limit of what there is to explore.

July 22 Hamilton (74)

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.
~John Muir

Family Traditions

We have been blessed to have family visiting with us over the past week. Matt and I love living in the West, but unfortunately ALL of our family live on the East coast so we don’t get to see them very often. When family does visit, we try to make the most of it and cram as much fun as possible into a week. This was the first time we had company since we moved, so it was extra fun showing off our little corner of Nevada.

We started off the week with a hike at Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park. Our walk started off pretty slow as the intense sun baked our skin, but our steps definitely became swifter when the clouds rolled in and the sky began rumbling with thunder. Even though we sort of rushed through the hike, we still ended up walking back in the rain. Although, I think we all agreed the cool rain was more pleasant than the oppressive heat.

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Charcoal Ovens

On another hot afternoon we drove out to Garnet Hill. It is an area not far from town that is open to the public for garnet collecting. We had fun searching through the rocks looking for the shiny, dark red stones. We did find some, but most were little more than specks inside of larger rocks. We weren’t quite serious enough to bring a hammer and chisel with us so we left most of our findings on the hill for the next person.

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Of course we had to pay a visit to Great Basin National Park. We first took a tour of Lehman Cave. We admired the amazing formations and enjoyed the cool, dark air. Then we headed back out into the sunshine and drove up the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. Gaining over 3,000 feet of elevation greatly cooled the temperature, making pleasant conditions for walking the forested nature path at the end of the road.

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On my birthday we took a ride on the Nevada Northern Railway. We rode out on a steam engine through Robinson Canyon up toward the copper mine. Matt and I braved the sun and sat in the open- air car, but we found out that the coal flakes showering our skin were even more uncomfortable than the heat. We stuck it out and we can now claim we had the full steam engine experience.

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This train has been in operation for over a hundred years. As we rolled through the desert, it was interesting to think of what life must have been like in the early 1900s in rural Nevada. People think Ely is remote now. Imagine living out here without amazon.com, major road systems, or reliable communication.

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Before the train headed back to the depot, it took us by the ghost town of Keystone Gulch. It was not a real town, but created by volunteers for the entertainment of the train passengers. It was a fun surprise and was a cute addition to the train experience. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but the jail was located adjacent to the saloon, keeping things nice and convenient for the sheriff.

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We all had a great time together and Roland got to experience two new firsts: the first time in a cave and the first time on a train. When our week together came to a close, I began to ponder  the importance of family and the traditions and values that are passed on from one generation to the next. The two most important gifts my family gave to me as a child were encouraging my faith in God and my love of nature. Those gifts are precious to me and I try to instill the same values to my son. We had a special week of three generations of my family enjoying ourselves in the great outdoors while giving glory to God for all he has done. It brought back all the happy memories of my childhood and it makes my heart glad that my son is being exposed to the same positive experiences I had. Of all the traditions some families may have, I think my family has some pretty good ones.

 

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

 

Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth. 

~Walt Whitman

Unexpected Mountaintop Experience

We don’t always have a precise plan for our outings. Sometimes I just look at a map and pick out a forest service road we haven’t been down yet and we head out and see what there is to see. Usually we drive down the road until it gets too rough or we find a place we want to get out and start hiking.

On this outing we decided to start hiking down the road when it got too rutted and rocky to comfortably continue by car. When we set out we did not know we would eventually end up standing on top of the mountain seen in the picture below. It started out as an easy uphill walk and when we reached a fork in the road we thought we chose the path that would lead us through a meadow. We were wrong- 1.5 miles and 900 feet of elevation gain later we were standing on top of a mountain.

July 1 NF 440 (66)

As I said before, the first part of the hike was pretty easy, but the second leg of the hike up the mountain became quite strenuous. The picture below doesn’t really show it, but the path became very steep. It was so steep that it was hard to even balance myself while standing still. My feet and calves became fatigued from the sharp incline and the loose gravel made my steps unsteady, but the summit was in our sights, urging us upward.

July 1 NF 440 (18)

We had our sights set on a rocky outcrop that we thought was the top, but when we reached it we realized the mountain kept on going. By this time we were so close so we continued to trudge on, one slow, steep, rocky step at a time. When we finally reached the summit, we were rewarded with a fantastic view of Steptoe Valley and the surrounding mountains.

The reddish area in the middle and the adjacent pond are part of the Robinson Mine. It is a major open- pit copper mine that employs many people in the town that we live.

July 1 NF 440 (26)

On the right side of the picture below you can just barely make out the town of Ely. From this vantage point, it really looked like such an isolated little community, surrounded by endless miles of rugged mountains and desert. It is accurate that our town is remote- our nearest real city is a 4 hour drive away.

July 1 NF 440 (42)

July 1 NF 440 (47)

After we soaked in the views and had a snack, we started the slow descent. Going down was even harder than going up because the steep grade of the trail and the loose gravel made it hard to keep traction underfoot.

July 1 NF 440 (50)

Taking our time going down the mountain gave us an opportunity to savor the views.

July 1 NF 440 (52)

After some time we made it down the steep, open and grassy mountainside and continued on the more leisurely walk through the juniper and pinyon pines.

July 1 NF 440 (8)

In one section of the trail there were clusters of these pretty purple flowers that attracted swarms of butterflies.

July 1 NF 440 (10)

As we headed back to our car we chatted about how we had no plans of hiking up a mountain that day, but we ended up on the top of one that offered us some amazing scenery. Sometimes it is fun to just head out without much of a plan and see where the road takes you.

July 1 NF 440 (4)

“All journeys have a secret in which the traveler is unaware.”

~Martin Buber

My Hometown National Park

I have lived in various towns in seven different states, but I have not lived within two hours of a national park since my childhood in Miami, FL (Everglades NP). National parks have always been travel destinations for us while state parks and national forests sufficed for day trips throughout the year. We enjoy those areas (especially because they are usually less crowded), but there is always something special about visiting a national park.

The entrance to Great Basin National Park is only a little over an hour from our house and we have been eagerly waiting to visit it since we first moved to Nevada in March. However, the mountains here received a healthy snowfall last winter and Great Basin NP does not plow the park road so we had to delay our first visit until mid- June (and it turned out even that was a bit too early).

June 17 Great Basin (6)

The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is only 12 miles long, but it swiftly rises over 3,000 feet in elevation. We crossed numerous ecological zones as we wound our way up the mountain. By the end of the road we had reached an ecosystem similar to that found in northern Canada, even though we had only driven a few miles. At each turn in the road, our view of Mt. Wheeler (the second highest mountain in Nevada) became more grand and impressive.

June 17 Great Basin (9)

The road ended at an elevation of 10, 000 feet and that is where we began our hike to see the bristlecone pines. The trail started off relatively easy in a pretty pine forest with only a patch of snow here and there. However, as we continued to hike uphill, the snow patches on the trail became larger and harder to navigate. In some places we only had a sliver of rocky trail to walk on between the snowy areas and other places there was no option but to walk over the slippery, melting snow.

We felt that we had the trail to ourselves at the beginning, but the groups of hikers seemed to bottleneck near the top as the hiking conditions grew trickier and everybody was going at different paces. We definitely enjoyed hiking in the cooler weather up on the mountain, but the price we had to pay for it was navigating a snow- covered trail.

June 17 Great Basin (24)

June 17 Great Basin (22)

After hiking 1.5 miles and gaining 600 feet in elevation we reached the bristlecone pine grove.  These twisted, gnarly- looking trees can live for thousands of years in severely harsh conditions. Interestingly enough, the harsher the conditions, the longer they can live. These trees are one of the few living things that truly thrive on adversity.

June 17 Great Basin (35)

June 17 Great Basin (38)

After spending some time admiring those ancient and resilient trees, we headed back down the trail. The hike took a little longer than we had expected and it was approaching evening by this time, but the amazing views of the Snake Range and Valley kept us from rushing back to our car.

June 17 Great Basin (57)

June 17 Great Basin (62)

We enjoyed our first experience in Great Basin and look forward to becoming frequent visitors, although next year we will probably wait until July before attempting to walk amongst the bristlecones.

 

“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.”

~Willa Cather

Success Summit

Just east of the town of Ely lies the Schell Creek Range, which is mostly encompassed by the Humboldt- Toiyabe National Forest. We spent an afternoon driving Success Loop, a dirt road that winds its way up through the mountains until reaching Success Summit and then descends into Duck Creek Valley on the other side. This road provided easy access to amazing mountain views, as well as much- appreciated cooler weather.

On the way up toward the summit, we passed large fields of bright yellow flowers, which really brightened the otherwise dark green and gray landscape.

June 6 Success Loop (4)

After leaving the valley, we gained elevation quickly through several sharp switchbacks up the mountain until we finally arrived at Success Summit (elevation 9,000 feet). The gorgeous views urged us to park the car and get out and explore. There was a network of dirt ATV trails covering the summit area that were perfect for meandering on foot.

June 6 Success Loop (22)

June 6 Success Loop (25)

June 6 Success Loop (13)

My pictures really don’t do the area justice. The rugged mountains in the distance surrounding the more rounded and green mountains near Success Summit created a stunning landscape. It was not possible to look upon this special place and not have my thoughts directed toward the One who created it. Not only did God give us the breath of life, but he also created such a beautiful world for us to live in.

June 6 Success Loop (31)

Psalm 8: 3- 9

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

 

June 6 Success Loop (7)

Our drive home was a little more eventful than we would have liked. As we descended the mountain we drove through a pretty aspen forest before entering back into the sagebrush desert. We had seen no other people the entire afternoon until out of nowhere a car recklessly zoomed by us. The car was going too fast and lost control on the gravel road. It got fairly close to whacking into our own car before sliding off the road into the sagebrush (and almost flipping over in the process).  The car was stuck and pretty banged up, but thankfully nobody got hurt. There was no cell service so we drove until we came across a forest ranger who used his radio to call for help.

This was a good reminder that caution and common sense are essential while recreating outdoors. The fun ends pretty quickly when you are stranded or injured. Let’s all try to be safe out there this summer, if not for your own sake, then for the sake of the other people out there with you.

Bristlecone Wilderness

On Memorial Day we set out to explore a bit of the Bristlecone Wilderness. These 14, 000 acres of designated wilderness are a part of the Egan Range, just north of Ely. Since it is a wilderness area, there are no roads entering it.

May 29 Bristlecone Wilderness (14)

We drove as far as we felt comfortable on a dirt road that leads to the wilderness area boundary. It was not long before the “road” began to deteriorate and became more narrow and rocky. We parked the car, grabbed our backpack, slathered ourselves in sunscreen and headed out on foot. We started out in a sagebrush valley and hiked steadily uphill toward the base of the mountains.

May 29 Bristlecone Wilderness (19)

May 29 Bristlecone Wilderness (32)

As we quickly gained elevation, the pine trees grew taller. We were eager for the shade, but the higher elevation was also home to unwelcomed residents- mosquitoes. This was our first encounter with mosquitoes in Nevada so we didn’t pack any bug spray. The uphill hike became pretty uncomfortable since the mosquitoes wouldn’t let us stand still long enough to catch our breath. We kept moving until we finally reached the sign marking the border of the Bristlecone Wilderness. By that time we were getting pretty close to the mountains and we would have liked to go farther, but we were already covered in itchy bites so we retreated (and the persistent mosquitoes followed us all the way down until we were out in the open sagebrush again).

May 29 Bristlecone Wilderness (28)

On the drive home through Steptoe Valley we enjoyed lovely views of both the Egan and Duck Creek Mountain Ranges. The snow is gone from all but the highest peaks now, but I believe these mountains will continue to amaze me in any season.

May 29 Bristlecone Wilderness (36)

We also came across another pronghorn herd. They are so fun to watch. Even though they are herd animals, you can tell each one has it’s own personality. When we stopped to watch, one pronghorn immediately started running away. Then he realized his herd wasn’t following him so he turned around and dashed right back to join them. All the while the others just kept a steady, watchful eye on us.

May 29 Bristlecone Wilderness (3)

It may sound trite, but I want to finish by saying I feel immensely grateful to live in a country where we have the freedom, security and luxury to spend an afternoon out exploring the countryside. We were able to freely roam our great land without threat of persecution or attack. I am thankful to everyone who has served and scarified for our nation to ensure our opportunity for “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.

May 29 Bristlecone Wilderness (34)

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt