Sunday, July 10, 2016

Trail Runs in Great Basin National Park

 I usually run about three times a week, about two to three miles each time. I was feeling in a bit of a rut, so on Fourth of July, I decided to go for a longer trail run. The route I wanted to take was the Timber-South Fork Baker loop in Great Basin National Park, where we had taken a family backpacking trip last year. It's about 5.5 miles with an 1,800 foot elevation change. I figured it would be challenging, but I could get it done in about two hours. I packed a small pack and headed off.

I walked a lot, more than one-third of it, and I paused at the upper meadow to take a few photos, but I happily finished it in less than two hours! It felt so great to be in the outdoors, exploring. I didn't see a single other person on the trail the whole time, and the temperatures were great. I saw deer, beautiful flowers, and a variety of birds.

When I plotted the run in Google Earth, I found there's a cool feature that gives you an elevational profile. The Timber Creek side is a little steeper than the South Fork Baker side. (I drew the route in by hand, so it skips some of the switchbacks and trail meanderings.)

Today I was ready for another trail run. I wasn't feeling quite as energetic, so I thought I would try an easier loop, the Timber Creek-Pole Canyon loop. I parked near Grey Cliffs and started up through the campground. When I got to the boardwalk, I pulled out my phone. I could tell I might be taking more photos on this run!

The orchids were blooming. What? Orchids in the desert? Yep, they're small, but they do live here.

A couple swallowtail butterflies were happily pollinating them.

I continued up through the Baker Creek Campground and on the connector trail to the Timber/South Fork Baker Trailhead. Not far from there I paused to enjoy this monkshood flower.

I slogged my way up the trail, and found that the route over to Pole Canyon had changed, now going through the forest. The view from the meadow at the top was gorgeous, with Jeff Davis Peak in the background.

Looking towards Pole Canyon, paintbrush lit up the scene.

These cool, gnarled trees framed the trail.

Where the connector trail meets the Pole Canyon trail, someone had added info to the sign, writing that the Baker Creek trailhead was 1.5 miles away. The trail that goes to Upper Pole Canyon past the sign has virtually disappeared.

Much of the Pole Canyon trail was really overgrown. Not too many people hike here--but I did find one other hiker!

It took me two hours even to do the run/walk (I walked nearly half of it). I thought this was supposed to be easier! When I plotted it in Google Earth, I found it was at least 6.5 miles long (again, I'm sure I missed some switchbacks and trail meanders) and with an 1,800 foot elevation change! The average slope was easier, 10% versus 16%. But now I feel better about my time knowing that I went farther. The trail is a little lower elevation, so there's more oxygen, but it's also warmer. 
I'm really liking these weekly trail runs, I'm hoping I can do more throughout the summer!


BnT ranch said...

I do love that place, the photos make me ache to be there....sigh
Terry & Bess

Amanda B said...

A beautiful way to get exercise! We will have to plot some of our hikes on Google Earth. Didn't think of that before.

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