Outdoors in the desert rain

We did not expect rain on our 4-day camping trip in a desert national park.  The rain began our first night as we washed up after dinner.

The forecast for the next day called for rain later in the afternoon.  So, in the morning, we headed out for a hike to see wildflowers in a distant meadow in Great Basin National Park.  We cautiously stuffed our rain jackets into Joe’s pack in case we were gone too long.

The rain surprised us with an early appearance – not long after we had started down the trail.  It began with just a few drops, a pause, then a few more.  The rhythm picked up very slowly.  Finally, we had no choice.  We pulled the rain jackets out of the pack.

Joe tried to be positive.  He noted that photos of leaves and flowers usually look better after a rain.

We walked through tall, wet grasses.  Every bit of moisture seemed to be wicked up by our pants as we walked through.

By the time that rain ended, we were wet but hardly noticed as we became happily engrossed with so many things to see. We’d arrived at a meadow with wildflowers and six green-tailed towhees on the path ahead.

No, these were not giant ants but very small flowers.

With the rain gone, butterflies and moths appeared.  Anyone know the name of this one?

It sprinkled later that day.  The next day was dry, but very hot.

We arose at daybreak to hike on a trail from 9,400’ to 10,000’ (3,048 m) to see the bristlecone pine forest.

What are bristlecone pines?  They are the oldest living individuals on the planet. The oldest known bristlecone pines are about 5,000 years old and found in the White Mountains of California.

Bristlecone pines grow very slowly, just under tree line, and in soil almost nothing else will grow in.  The wood is fine grained and resistant to decay. The interpretive sign read “instead of rotting, these trees are eroded and polished by the elements. After death, they may remain standing for thousands of years.”

This living tree was born in 1230 BCE, making it 3,248 years old.

A core taken of this tree indicates it was 4’ (1.2 m) tall in the year 1126 BCE and it may have taken up to 200 years to grow that tall.   The tree is between 3,160 and 3,300 years old.

When we started our descent we saw a black tailed mule deer on the path ahead. We stood quietly and watched the deer eat.

When we finally started to move slowly forward, the deer bounded off, and we took our photo.

We expect to remember our hikes in Great Basin National Park for the wonderful scenery, wildflowers, butterflies, bristlecone pines – and the unexpected rain in the desert.


July 2018

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in US - Utah and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Outdoors in the desert rain

  1. I truly enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. icelandpenny says:

    Wonderful in many ways, from how exactly you capture the hiker’s moment of capitulation to the rain, to that first wonderful image of rain drops on a plant, to the reality and the parable-power of the bristlecone pine… Thank you.

  3. I didn’t know about the bristlecone pines – amazing to think they are so old.

  4. leggypeggy says:

    Gorgeous pics and, yes, raindrops do make leaves more interesting.

  5. Everything looks and smells so good after a rain.

  6. After experiencing several years of drought in south Texas, I have a huge appreciation for rain and its restorative properties. Your photo of the plants with raindrops on it is perfect! Thanks for the intro and information about the bristlecone pine trees. How amazing to think about their age.

    • Yes, they are amazing. For us, it’s interesting that these twisted, misshapen trees would be ignored if we didn’t know their amazing story. The message for us is to look deeper after our first impression.

  7. plaidcamper says:

    Remarkable trees in a wonderful environment!

Tell us what you think, please.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.