9/9/20, 9:30 AM
Well, last night was hell. When I lay down, my legs started cramping—I guess from the nearly 16 miles of hiking yesterday, which might have been overdoing it for the first day. I rubbed them, tried to quiet them, and drank water, but the only thing that worked was to get up and walk (requiring unzipping the bag, grabbing my parka from the sleeping bag stuff sack which I use as a pillow, finding my shoes, donning my balaclava and gloves). Walking calmed the legs. More ibuprofen and lots of water. Try again to sleep. The night was crystal-clear and the temperature hovered around 29 degrees F.
As soon as I lay down again, the same thing! Got up and walked as the waning gibbous moon was rising and washing out the stars. The road was white in the moonlight, and I cast a long black shadow. As I turned back down to the tent, my knee went crazy again. I decided maybe I should try sleeping in the van, in a seated position. That worked like a charm for my legs, but not for being able to sleep. Ugh. I keep lots of blankets in the car, and wrapped my legs well, but couldn’t get the rest of me warm enough. Back out into the cold to the tent to grab my sleeping bag and back to the van to try again. That at least kept me warm enough, but sleep evaded me.
Finally, at 3:00 AM, I decided to try lying in the tent again. This time, the legs cooperated more or less, and I slept fitfully until 7:30 AM.
My knee is pretty painful, so we drove up the road to the Wheeler Peak trailhead and Bristlecone Campground (closed for the season). B is hiking to the bristlecones and I am hanging out in the van resting my knee. Not what I had planned, but it is fine. Maybe in an hour I’ll walk around some. I’ve been up here a few times in the past to visit the bristlecones and the glacier, and I didn’t want her to miss it.
Now, at 10:30, I have combed and braided my hair (not an easy task after yesterday’s hike and the night in my balaclava cap), taken two more ibuprofen, and laid out my waffle pad in the back of the van. Too cold to nap outside—for me, anyway. Lying down for a try at another bout of sleep, beautiful sleep. Aspens surround me, their leaves talking in the breeze. We are at 10,000 feet on what was once an island in Lake Bonneville. It’s quiet, calm and warm in the van.
I slept like a rock for two hours, and woke only minutes before Barbara returned from her hike to the bristlecones and the glacier—or rather the remains of the once-mighty one. Now it’s just a dusty patch of year-round snow and ice, tucked up against the cliffside of Wheeler Peak. Did I mention that on yesterday’s epic hike, we saw nobody else all day long? We were all alone in that area of the park. Today, we are at the most popular spot, and there are lots of hikers, motorcyclists, tourists of all stripe milling about up here.
I took the ADA trail through the Engelmann spruce, limber pine, and aspen. Read all the informational displays and was thankful that my knee seemed to be doing okay on flat ground. At least there’s that (and that’s a lot!).
On the way back down to our campsite, we detoured to the Lehman Caves Visitor Center. The caves are closed this year. I had toured them decades earlier, long before they were a part of a non-existent park, when they were one of the roadside attractions along Hwy 50. I mostly remember that they had colored lights trained on various stalagmite and stalactite “features,” which bore names like “Madonna and Child,” and such. I’m sure it’s not so hokey now that it’s part of a national park! The cafe at the Visitor Center was a revelation, and I had a delicious, fresh salad and B had world-class chili.
There’s really not much more to tell about today. We went back to the coffee stand in the morning, and met two dogs who sort-of run the town of Baker. We found out about good hikes for tomorrow.
We had each bought beers at the cafe—a Great Basin Wild Horse Ale for me and an Icky IPA for Barbara (named for the Nevada state fossil, the ichthyosaurus). We sat comfortably in the van parked at our campsite and drank. Not the trip we had planned in any way, but full of incredible beauty, and clear smokeless skies. Forecast low tonight will be 32 degrees F. Warming up!
I walked 1 mile today.