….the Great Basin is a recent development in the geologic story of the West…. [Eocene] Nevada was a lot higher than it is today…. Elevate Nevada into a rugged plateau more than two miles high, much like the Altiplano of the central Andes today, and you have an image of the Nevadaplano — a highland region that dominated Nevada before it collapsed like a punctured soufflé to make the Great Basin…. Visualize snowfields between the rugged peaks. Meltwaters seep across the landscape…. The Sierra Nevada today lies about where the western flank of the Nevadaplano once sloped toward the Pacific Ocean. In effect, the Sierra is what remains of the Nevadaplano’s western edge. The rest of the Nevadaplano was destroyed by the stretching and collapse of the crust that made the Great Basin.
–Keith Heyer Meldahl, Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains
It may be lower, more broken and dryer these days, but during chilly winter twilight, the ghosts of the Nevadaplano still seem to haunt the empty volcanic expanses, high sage hills, and distant snow-dusted peaks.