Sunday, August 24, 2014

Antelope Island, or, "No, No! Too Many Flies!"

I recently made for myself what I'm calling my "Utah Bucket List". This isn't because I'm planning on dying in Utah; on the contrary, it's a list of stuff I want to do before I kick Utah's bucket. Or something. Basically I'm not living here forever, but there's some stuff I need to do before I go.

One of those things is to go to Antelope Island State Park in the Great Salt Lake (ps why do I have to call it "great"?). So yesterday, we asked my mom to watch Ros for the day, headed up to Adrien and Eric's house in Sandy, and carpooled with them up to the island!

That morning was the tail end of an arctic thunderstorm, so it was pretty cold (even snow in the mountains) and stormy. Pretty much by the time we got there though, things had cleared up, and by lunchtime it was almost hot, so that was lucky (although Sam and I dressed in layers so we could've survived an arctic storm, I say).

Anyway, after driving in on the causeway, we went to the Visitor's Center to get oriented. We talked to a friendly volunteer who told us even the shortest hike was very steep and required "technical skill," and told us a little about the bison on the island. We then looked at some of the Fremont artifacts they'd found on the island, and talked about how bizarre they were. We had questions (archaeology for the win), but there was nobody knowledgeable to ask. Oh well!

After that, we drove out to Buffalo Point on the northwest part of the island and looked out over the shore and some scattered "bachelor" bison.

We then started our first hike, a half-mile (one way) hike up to the top of the point. This is the one the lady said was treacherous and required technical skill, but it was actually super easy if you have good shoes and know how to walk. We spent some time sitting on a boulder at the top and looking out over the lake, which was an amazing view.

After that hike, we ate our picnic lunch and talked about what we wanted to do next. We decided to drive down to the historic Fielding Garr Ranch on the southeast part of the island and check that out, plus look for the actual herd of bison, which were supposedly hanging out down there.

We got down to the ranch (no bison herd, boo) and looked around. It was a "please touch everything as much as you want" kind of place, so we tried hitting hammers on anvils, using historic drill presses, lassoing fake cows, etc. The Fielding Garr ranch house is the oldest continually-occupied Anglo-built building on its original foundation in Utah, so that was pretty neat.

The rest of the time at the ranch we spent in the spring-fed forested area with our eyes to the treetops, looking for porcupines (sadly, none to be found). We did see some muscly guys with huge telephoto lenses on their cameras, and when I asked what they were looking for, they said, "a warbler." They were pretty funny.

After the ranch, we drove back up toward the north part of the island again, and this time we ran RIGHT into the bison herd! There were hundreds of them crossing the road, and whenever it cleared and we tried to pull forward, a couple more would freak out and run across to join their fellows. It was preeetty cool.

When the bison were done crossing, we drove up to Bridger Bay and decided to walk down to the shore. It turned out to be a pretty far walk, and almost like a hike because a lot of it was trudging through sand. I think we probably walked about 1/2 or 3/4 mile down to the shore.

Walking down there was sort of a bizarre experience, or as Adrien kept saying, "It feels like we're on another planet!" It really was kind of eerie.

First of all, there was this huge brown thing we could see on the sand even from a few miles away, something we though was too big to be a bison, but it turned out to be a giant metal buoy ball thing that was probably a fourth the size it looked from far away. So I guess all that space plays with perspective.

Then, suddenly, on our walk out, we started noticing there were dead birds in the sand/shale. Like, hundreds of them. It was incredibly creepy, and we have no idea how they got there. So of course I had to take pictures.

Right before we reached the water, we noticed that the ground was rippling the closer we got to the water. Eventually, we realized the ground was covered in FLIES! Zillions of them! And they would billow and ripple away from you as you walked through. It was seriously disgusting and creepy and bizarre. Sam and Eric has a good time walking through the flies and taking videos of them rippling away.

(Blogger won't let me post a video. Dumb. Maybe I'll put it on Instagram?)

We took some pictures down at the shore, and Adrien felt the need to taste the water (yes, after all those flies and dead birds), and determined that the Great Salt Lake is, indeed, salty.

After that we hiked back to the car and drove home. It was a pretty fun day of exploration, and I definitely want to go back to do the Frary Peak hike, which takes you up the mountain to where the bighorn sheep live. Who wants to go?

Also I just really like this picture. Sam was leading me through the flies to take the above posed picture:


LP said...

Very cool. Those clouds are amazing. I'd like to go there some time.

Melissa Kunz said...

That looks really cool! Minus the birds and flies. Um, ew! We already have a bucket list of things we wish we would have done or done more while we lived in Utah. Time for another visit I say (I wish!) one of the things on our list is driving the trail from Provo Canyon to Hobble Creek canyon, have you done that? It's beautiful!