Recent experiments have taken steps towards realizing the vision of extremely large wireless sensor networks, the largest of these being ExScal, in which we deployed about 1200 nodes over a 1.3 km by 300 m open area. Such experiments remain especially challenging because of: (a) prior observations of failure of sensor network protocols to scale, due to network faults and their spatial and temporal variability, (b) complexity of protocol interaction, (c) lack of sufficient data about faults and variability, even at smaller scales, and (d) current inadequacy of simulation and analytical tools to predict sensor network protocol behavior. In this paper, we present detailed data about faults, both anticipated and unanticipated, in ExScal. We also evaluate the impact of these faults on ExScal as well as the design principles that enabled it to satisfy its application requirements despite these faults. We describe the important lessons learnt from the ExScal experiment and suggest services and tools as a further aid to future large scale network deployments.