Sunday, April 10, 2022

Hike up the Abandoned Big Pine Road

On a warm spring day, my husband, son, and I decided to go for a hike. We left the house without a firm goal in mind, and as we were driving up the Baker Creek Road in Great Basin National Park, we decided to stop at the old Big Pine Road. It starts with a small meadow and then we huffed and puffed our way up (at least I did) a steep slope through pinyon and juniper up to a ridge. We started seeing snow banks.

Desert Boy wanted to turn around, but we kept going until we could eventually see some of the big pines, aka ponderosa pines. They were down in the gully. I had a faint recollection of hiking to the spring in this area about 20 years ago. My husband remembered as a young child bouncing in the back of a pickup truck up the road (in a 4WD vehicle that didn't have low gear, so they had to go rather fast and hold on tight). He said his older brother and sister didn't enjoy moving cows up into this area (which was Forest Service at the time), because the slope was steep and it wasn't obvious to the cows that there was good grazing and water ahead, so they didn't want to go. One time he fell asleep near the spring and everyone started looking for him. When he eventually woke up, he asked what all the shouting was for. 

The views of Snake Valley are quite nice. I was particularly drawn to the Baker Creek overflow channel, just slightly to the right of center of the photo, the jagged white line. The straight line is the concrete ditch that takes 26 cfs of water down to town--otherwise it sinks into the alluvium and wouldn't get to town. On big water years, the excess goes in the overflow channel. This only happens every few years, because we just don't have much water here. 

I was enjoying getting my blood flowing, hearing stories, and also seeing spring flowers. Here are snow buttercups, one of the first flowers to emerge along the Baker Creek Road.

The Big Pine road has been abandoned for at least 25 years. Nature is slowly reclaiming it.

Here's a desert biscuitroot blooming.

I'm not sure of this yellow flower, maybe a bur buttercup.

And this is a Blue-eyed Mary, so tiny.

The abandoned road quickly got very steep.

I noticed a lot more old cable on the way down than on the way up. They used the cables to move the cut ponderosa pines.

Down at the bottom we found some of the huge logs with cables around them disguised by the rose bushes.

It was an interesting outing, and we're hoping to head back up there and go all the way to the spring.

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