After doing the 5k Snake Valley Slither on summer solstice and then hiking up to the bristlecones that afternoon, my visiting family wanted a shorter hike, so I suggested one of my favorites, the South Fork Baker-Baker Creek loop. It's about 3 miles long, although with roughly 800 feet elevation gain (that's a guess). But by the time we got to the trailhead, the kids were complaining, and we weren't sure we wanted to listen them for two-three hours.
The crying seemed contagious.
But we gathered up our strength and set off, and before long were seeing neat things, like this woodpecker, a yellow-bellied sapsucker.
This swallowtail was visiting the columbine as we walked under the aspens.
Desert Girl was a little tired, but we bribed her and cajoled her, and she kept going.
And finally we made it to the big meadow and found a spot to take a big snack break. Even better, it had water nearby.
We started seeing lots more smiles.
While the family hung out, I went off in search of good photo opportunities.
This meadow is amazing, I always feel like I'm in Yellowstone and a bear might step out of the trees. But we don't have bears in Great Basin National Park, so that makes hiking and camping a lot less stressful.
I was just blown away by all the bistort.
This painted lady was busy pollinating some flowers.
Nearby was another butterfly--a skipper?
Besides the bistort, there were also fields of shooting stars.
The colors were amazing.
I had fun looking at this bee and seeing all the little hairs on it.
Eventually I wandered back and this is what I found:
We continued on to make the loop.
The trail crew was making the trail a little wider and very smooth.
It made for easy walking.
We crested the ridge, passed some ponderosa pines, and came down on the north, shady side of the ridge. We found these orchids, spotted coral root (Corallorhiza maculata).
When I saw the lack of green, I guessed they were parasitic, and found I was right. They parasitize fungi, which depend on the roots of other plants. The flowers are gorgeous.
When we got down to Baker Creek, it was time to play in the water again. The kids even tried swimming, but the very cold water deterred them.
On the way back we saw big mushrooms,
this beautiful flower, death camus (Zigadenus species),
and had a grand old time. It was a really enjoyable hike, and I highly recommend it!