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Begins: May 9, 2022
Date: Mon, Jul 11th, 2022
Start: 11 Saddle on Wheeler
End: Spring Valley
Daily Distance: 18
Trip Distance: 1,004.5
Entry Visits: 63
Journal Visits: 7,849
Guestbook Views: 484
Guestbook Entrys: 8
Wheeler Peak Descent
Wow, what a day. Let's see it started just like beginning of the GBT
started, with 4 am explosive diarrhea! And then again at 5am! It was
probably a bit of nerves with the descent from Wheeler I had coming up as
well as having 2 Jimmy Joy shakes yesterday, I hadn't had them in a while
as my last 2 towns I resupplied in town. I still have no idea why these
shakes are not working for me, I drank a lot of them on the Hot Springs
Trail in 2017 and was fine.
Anyway, I was walking by 5:45 am, early day, lots of ground to cover. First
up I had 2k to climb in less than 2 miles to the top of Wheeler Peak. Steep
but surprisingly had good trail all the way to the top. Rocky trail, but
still a decent path to follow. It took some time but I knocked it out
pretty good. On an early Monday morning I was the only person on top of the
mountain. Excellent views and strangely a bit cloudy, some dark. I checked
the forecast and now there was a small chance of tstorms later. I had many
miles to go in the alpine but it was so early it seemed unlikely that I
would have a problem.
Next up was what I was a bit scared of. A long knifes edge rocky traverse.
Like 3 miles. Dirt's blog has a fairly dire warning about this, but I had
done some googling and was pretty confident it was within my skill set. It
was epic. So cool. And slow. Literally a pretty narrow ridge the entire way
with incredible views all over the place. Baker mountain was ahead and it's
headwall was giant and the little lake down in the basin was sparkling. The
ridge was also literally 100% giant and medium talus. Talus is a fancy word
for loose rocks. Brutal. The giant talus was actually a bit stressful,
there were a lot of large boulders that I stepped on that moved. It's hard
to jump off a large moving boulder. They always settled back but it's a bit
disconcerting. I tried to go as slow and careful as possible as to not
break a leg on my next to last day. The medium sizes talus was fine, just
tedious. When it moves it's pretty easy to shift ahead to the next rock.
But that large stuff was sketchy. The ridge itself wasn't an issue, there
was no real exposure. Like there was no way I was going to fall off and
die. There were a few traverses below the ridgeline on talus that moved
pretty good but that's normal. I've never actually triggered a real rock
slide. You kinda just move with the rocks and keep pushing forward.
The last mile after I rounded Baker peak was the coolest. I looked ahead at
a narrow knifes edge ridgeline and was like, I'm gonna walk that? But the
reality when at the ridgeline always is easier. It was totally fine. I
finally popped out to around Pyramid pass pretty exhausted just 5 miles in.
Water and food were going to be huge issues. I carried 3 liters which I
knew wouldn't be enough till the end of the day, but I didn't want to carry
a ton up Wheeler and then also be less stable on the sketchy traverse
after. And then I'm kinda low on food and half my calories are meal shakes
which require water which I couldn't spare.
I continued on assuming the final 3 miles of the ridgewalk which looked
more chill on the map would in fact be more chill. It was not. Well, it was
more chill but not chill enough. It was still very rocky with some climbing
and descending. The final climb up Mt. Washington was a super steep 400',
it just about made me throw up! Mostly due to the lack of food really.
Washington was amazing though, the geology had completely changed into some
sort of grey rock and just contrasted with the surroundings of more red
Finally at the top I could say no more uphill! But I still had a mile of XC
through a sparse burned forest as I descended steeply to a jeep road.
Fucking jeep road, yeah!!! 8 miles in 6.5 hours with a really strong
effort. That is wild. If I tired any harder I would have passed out. I had
been lucky that it had been pretty cloudy all day probably helping me with
my water issue. This route over Wheeler was really amazing, totally worth
it but totally exhausting. My thighs and knees were killing me and I swear
I couldn't have gone uphill another foot.
Now I had 9 miles of downhill jeep track to get to water. The sun came out
as I steeply descended and got hot. Supposed to be 100 again down in the
valley. But after about half the miles thick clouds came over and I could
see small patches of rain in the valley surprisingly. I was pretty thirsty
and really hungry, a bit woozie and wobbly. Good thing I wasn't on a knifes
edge ridge now. I just pushed on, no stops till water! I made it around
4:30. Giant cottonwoods and a really strong and cold small creek. And no
cows. Excellent place to end the day. I camped in a disconnected patch of
cottonwoods to slightly get away from the water and god knows how many
animals will come and visit tonight. I collapsed in my tent and drank
slowly as to not get sick but had about a gallon before bed without peeing!
The Great Basin Trail is an ~1,100 mile loop route solely contained within the state of Nevada and the geographic feature of the Great Basin. The route was created as an epic thru-hiking adventure by Ryan "Dirtmonger" Sylva. For more information: http://www.freedirtmonger.com/p/great-basin-trail.html