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.
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.
It sprinkled later that day. The next day was dry, but very hot.
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.”
When we started our descent we saw a black tailed mule deer on the path ahead. We stood quietly and watched the deer eat.
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.