Be sure to read all the way to the end and click on the PBS Wild Nevada Memories link at the bottom of this blog! Here’s a little something from my perspective…
I knew this hike was going to be difficult but I didn’t realize what I had gotten myself into until it was too late!
Back before yours truly was a romance author, I worked as a Secretary in a very remote place called Great Basin National Park in rural Baker, Nevada. My then husband Rob and I were at one of the local bars one night having drinks with a PBS crew who was filming for their show Wild Nevada out of Reno.
Several drinks later, they somehow talked me into joining them for their hike along the Highland Ridge Trail, the spine of the park at around 11,000 ft! I think that first step off Mt. Washington told me I was in way over my head but by that time, it was too late. I was committed to this insane journey whether I wanted to turn back or not.
I have to admit this had to be one of the craziest (or stupidest) things I’ve ever done in my entire life. For the most part, I hung back out of the way of the camera. The hike was beautiful but grueling, sometimes over loose rocky terrain, massive rocks that could have been an ankle breaker, and uphill climbs that had our lungs burning. For someone afraid of heights and subject to altitude sickness, this wasn’t a good combination. I remember many times thinking… what the hell was I doing?
It soon became apparent that we were never going to make our original destination of Baker Lake. The sun was going down and we were still on top of the ridge. Rob finally saw how far back I was, along with Ethan (one of the crew who stayed with me). Rob left his backpack at the trailhead to Johnson Lake, lit a couple of glow sticks to mark the way, and came all the way back to take my backpack so I could move faster. As I watched him take off, I turned to Ethan and said “There go my regular glasses.” Yes… I still had on my prescription sun glasses. Attempting to go down what was more or less a small animal trail to the lake with only head & flashlights was almost as challenging as the hike along the ridge itself (Yes! That’s me up there on top of that mountain!).
As we broke camp in the morning, Rob continued to show them old log cabins and other areas of interest as we began making our way down toward the trailhead. At some point, I started walking (or maybe it was more like hobbling) ahead down the trail. I’d been on this route before so I knew where I was. Since I was moving so slowly, I knew the rest of the group would eventually catch up or pass me by. Still… the sense of relief to make it to the trailhead had me almost wishing to kiss the damn ground. I could barely walk any further and I swore even my hair hurt.
I was so excited when Dave Santina emailed me a couple months back and told me he and Chris Orr were going down memory lane and would be reliving our trip along the Highland Ridge Trail. I filled him in on how life had changed since my days in Baker. Lots of memories came flooding back as I watched the episode Thursday night. I laughed… I cried at the end… and I was grateful that they gave me a shout out of what I now do after my day job… writing! Thank you Dave & Chris! I will always be grateful to these friends who convinced me to come on their excursion to the top of the park. It was one of the most adventurous things I’ve ever done. I can now say I did it… and NEVER have to do it again.
I’m certain my pictures of our trip are buried somewhere in a box. Honestly this was way back in 2001 and feels like at least two lifetimes ago. My, how time passes by so swiftly, doesn’t it? I’ve captured these images from the show and give Wild Nevada Memories & PBS Reno full credit. I hope they don’t mind that I’ve added them to this blog post!
I ended up leaving Great Basin National Park back in 2009 and traded in a rural park for an urban one, now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. I still have my day job as an IT Specialist for the National Park Service and continue to write my historical and time travel romances on my off time.
While I was only in a few shots in this show, I was thrilled to relive memories of the good times I had with these wonderful people and Ranger Rob. Life with Robby was always an adventure! He truly was in his element during this filming and it certainly shows while he talks about the beauty this park has to offer. He loved his job as a Law Enforcement Ranger at Great Basin National Park and he is missed by his family and friends!
Wild Nevada Memories, Episode 3 aired Thursday night. You can watch the entire show here at this link: https://www.pbs.org/video/wild-nevada-memories-episode-3-tyxrew/