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Tom and I had plans to do a few 14ers in Colorado and had convened a little early to do some peaks in Nevada along the way. Originally I had planned for us to do Troy and Timber, but based on the previous day's warm outing to Duckwater/Currant, I suggested we do something easier in Great Basin National Park on the eastern edge of the state. This turned out to be a fine choice, our elevation never getting below 10,000ft for the entire 11mi outing. I chose Lincoln and Granite Peaks, two LVMC summits in the south end of the park. We had spent the night camped at 6,600ft on the west side of the park, driving together in Tom's Jeep into the park the next morning. There is a steep, somewhat rough dirt/gravel road that goes up Pole Canyon to the Mt. Wheeler Mine, then higher into the Lincoln Canyon drainage on the south side of Mt. Washington. Tom managed to drive his Jeep all the way to Mt. Washington's 11,658-foot summit, possibly the highest drive-up in the state. Starting at first light, we spent more than an hour on the drive, arriving at the summit at 6:45a. The air was crisp, cool and mostly clear, our route to the other two peaks laid out before us to the southeast. To the north rose the higher summits of the park, including the 13,063-foot summit of Wheeler Peak. To the west we spotted a few bighorn sheep off in the distance, eyeing us warily until deciding it was too crowded and leaving for lonelier pastures. We had some trouble finding our way to the start of our hike on the main crest north of Lincoln Peak. We drove down to the St. Lawrence Mine and investigated spur roads there before discovering the access road was back up towards Washington's summit. We eventually found the spot that matched the start of a GPX track we had downloaded earlier. A Forest Service party was camped at the informal TH, doing work with rare plants that inhabit this high desert island.
Starting off shortly after 7:30a, we followed a sparse use trail along the ridge towards Lincoln Peak. The trail didn't last long, but other than some forest downfall, the cross-country travel wasn't much harder than following a trail. I followed an old road around the east side of Pt. 11,226ft before realizing it wasn't the use trail I was hoping it to be. Tom had gone more directly over the point and it took me a bit of cross-country scrambing back up towards the ridge to catch up with him. The forest gives way to more open views as one climbs higher onto Highland Ridge. Lincoln Peak anchors the north end of this ridge and it took us less than an hour to reach its 11,500-foot summit. The ridge is barren here and open to views in all directions. There was a 1946 USGS benchmark at the top, but no register found in the modest summit cairn.
There are several ridges emanating from Lincoln towards the south. The western branch leads to the Highland Ridge Wilderness HP, about 1.5mi to the southwest. Tom seemed more interested in that objective, but I had us targeting Granite Peak (an LVMC summit) about twice that distance to the southeast - we could come back for the Wilderness HP on a subsequent visit. The hike to Granite Peak is a pleasant one, though there is a drop of more than 1,000ft between the two. Much of it follows open ridgeline with easy walking and cool temperatures, even as the desert valleys below heated to 100F. I noted another 11,000-foot summit to the east of our ridge, thinking we might be able to tag it as a bonus on our way back (we didn't). We would spend two hours hiking between the two summits, finally arriving atop Granite at 10:40a. A register was let by Guy Dahms in 2015 with seven pages of entries since then. The funny part about the summit was that there was no granite to be found anywhere, despite the name - the rock is all limestone which I suppose can look like granite from a distance. We snacked and sat about the summit for about 20min before rousing ourselves to start back.
It would take another two hours to make our way back to Lincoln and another hour to reach the TH, following pretty much the same route. We watched thunderclouds developing around the area, but none seemed to threaten us overhead, and we would stay dry throughout our hike. We were back to the Jeep by 2p, but still had much driving to get us back down to Spring Valley and the pavement. We drove around to the east side of the park and had dinner in Baker, NV before driving into the park from that side to spend the night. We found a dirt road on the eastern edge of the park near the Grey Cliffs CG that made for a quiet spot unpatrolled by the park rangers. Late afternoon showers made for cooler temps than they would otherwise have been at 7,000ft, and we were able to sleep comfortably in our vehicles.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Granite Peak
This page last updated: Thu Aug 19 13:57:39 2021
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