We woke up to snow falling, icy streets and hungry tummies. Goal today: 90-minute tour of Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park which was about an hour and 15 minutes from our motel, and see Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park.
After a very quick breakfast, we stopped back at the motel for a forgotten item, then braved the packed snow and ice road over a 7,722' pass outside of Ely. Once we cleared the pass, the rest of the trip to Great Basin was a breeze at 65-70 mph.
On the way into the Lehman Caves Visitor Center parking lot, there was a small herd of deer in the orchard. Our tour started at 9 a.m. We arrived at 8:35 a.m. so we had time to watch the introductory slide show and video.
When the tour started, we were the only two on the tour! Peter, our ranger guide, had recently transferred from Pearl Harbor on Oahu so we had a common bond.
Lehman Caves impressed us from the beginning. The cave is not one of the larger caves, but the formations are packed into the space. The common formations we saw are: stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, cave popcorn, cave bacon, draperies, flowstone, columns and helictites. Rare formations we saw included shields, anthracite crystals and bulbous stalactites.
|Bob and Ranger Peter: Demonstration of an early cave lantern. Light source: a candle|
|Stalagmites, columns, parachute shield with stalactites|
|Bulbous stalactites--rare (look like Christmas ornaments), soda straws|
|The Pearly Gates|
|Susan and Bob in Lehman Caves|
When we exited the cave, it was colder outside than when we had gone in AND it was snowing. Very beautiful. It was 10:30 a.m.
|Snow on the grasses.|
I got my National Parks book stamped and we were on our way.
We made one quick stop so I could get a photo of the large stag in the orchard.
Bob and I discussed the sanity of driving 317 miles (5 hours, 15 min.) each way to see Lehman Caves. Our discussion focused on this being exactly what we want to do...when we visit an area we want to explore because who knows when we will be back. The cave was worth the visit as were the other stops along the way. Very interesting and educational. Stunning and awesome were our words of the day,
Before we went back through Ely (where we had started the day), we wanted to see Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park. Great choice of destination. This place is interesting.
The Ovens were operational from 1876-1879 during the silver boom years. See photos for more info.
A lot of driving had to be done today to get back to Fallon. Mountains, valleys, mountains, valleys, mountains, valleys...you get the picture. Who knew there were so many mountain ranges in eastern Nevada? Stunning scenery along the way. I referred to my Nevada map and discovered we crossed eleven mountain summits on the road which ranged from about 4,400' to 7,722'. All the snow had melted from the highway so no problems with icy or snowy conditions coming home.
Our next brief stop was the "castle" in Austin, NV I mentioned in yesterday's blog. The castle wasn't as impressive up close as it had been from a distance, but the view of the surrounding valley and mountains was impressive.
As we drove toward "home," there was one more stop we wanted to make at a Sand Dune Recreation Area. We got there just after the sun went behind the mountains and there was a little light left in the day. The pics of the dunes look grey because of the light. When we saw them in the sun yesterday, they were a golden color...much prettier.
Approaching Fallon, as dusk turned to dark, we saw a critter sitting on the highway's right-hand white stripe. What we discovered as we got closer was a huge jackrabbit. He was staring me down like a challenge. That bugger was tall as rabbit's go. There was a highway reflector next to him which is about 2-1/2' tall. That rabbit -- from tail to the tips of his huge ears -- was just about 2-1/2' tall! Amazing!
Well, I didn't mean to stay up this late. Putting pictures in my blog took way longer than usual.
Tomorrow (Tuesday), we're off to Sacramento, CA.