Archive for January, 2020

Toward Frary Peak on Antelope Island – Part Middle

We pick-up this post where we ended the last one, nearly the same spot, slightly different perspective, and a few/many feet further up the trail.

The hiking figure below me on the trail is continuing on her trek upwards, as well, drawing nearer, becoming more defined, and still providing an excellent gauge for perspective.  She is near the center of the below image….

Looking back over these photographs, I am still held by the colors and the expanse of vision, even with the slight haze in the distance.  It seems to add to the almost ethereal state of the place in my memory, these several months since the hike.

The images of the broader landscape do not show much color in the grasses that cover the island, but taking a closer look, we can see that there is quite a bit of green remaining in the middle of August.

The hiker has now passed me in her trek up toward the peak.  She told me that she didn’t live too far away and that she hiked the trail several times a month.  How wonderful for her, and for the island as well, to have such a dedicated and frequent visitor.

A sun drenched trail on a summer morning….

The below photo shows Stansbury Island (peninsula?) to the west.  When the lake’s water level is as low as it has been in recent years, one can literally walk to the island on the exposed lake-bed.  I went exploring there several years ago and did not find it as compelling as my trips to Antelope Island.  There have been more mining and other commercial endeavors on Stansbury and only the far west side accommodates public visitation.

Looking north and east in the below photo, we can see the lighter gray of the lake-bed between the darker earth and the evident blue of the water…

….and south and east in the below image, down toward Salt Lake City with the Wasatch Mountains in the distance…and the layered and fractured rock in the foreground.

I had seen photos of the lone tree when I searched the internet for other images from the island.  The ones from winter-time with the stark white of the snow-covered ground were most compelling.

One last segment to follow….


White Tank Mountains – State Trust Land

In April of the past year I went trespassing onto State Trust land that lies north and west of the White Tank Mountains.

White Tank Mountains, northwest side

I have now obtained my permit and can hike, shoot guns, park my truck, camp, get drunk and disorderly, or just otherwise mind my own business out there in the fenced desert of western Maricopa County.

White Tank Mountains closer to destination

On that first foray, I noticed the barely visible zigzag road on the side of the distant mountainside and purposed to get there someday, sometime, some other not-scorching Arizona morning.  Those are clumps of mistletoe hanging/subsisting in the palo verde tree in the below photograph…and creosote/greasewood in the foreground.

White Tank Mountain creosote, palo verde, and saguaro

So that’s where I went with purpose yesterday morning, back to that formerly trespassed land.  My plans for the day had been canceled and I jumped at the opportunity to get out there, to get out into the out-of-doors that lies just northwest of the town where I reside…to get into the literal desert just out there and beyond.

White Tank Mountain wild grasses

I’ve mentioned in the past how I find much of the desert so unappealing, especially when viewed from a distance, when all one sees is the rolling or flat or hilly or mountainy landscape or terrain or whatever you might call it…those locations where it just looks like dirt with green fur on it, if there’s even any fur to be seen.

White Tank Mountain panorama

And I’ve said, too, that I have intentionally gone out into the same desert looking for what my inner eye/heart might consider to be beautiful, compelling, possessing of that “something” that would make my mountain/forest loving soul, say, “Yes…it is beautiful out here.”

White Tank Mountain cholla skeleton

I have also shared that in order to find those things, I have had to look closer, to find those smaller things that give me pause, that insist upon being captured in images for me to reflect upon later, for me to enjoy.

White Tank Mountain ocotillo blossom

And so I endeavored….

White Tank Mountain assorted fauna

…to bring back images that were not too bleached-out by the late morning and early afternoon sun…

White Tank Mountain desert hillside

…to capture what might be a compelling representation of the essence of the lives that inhabit such a landscape…

White Tank Mountains wild grasses

…photographs that demonstrate what the desert is inside of that bleakness…the rolling fuzzy dirt of our West….

White Tank Mountain cholla

…the persistence of living…

White Tank Mountains decaying cholla

…the evidence of death and decay…

White Tank Mountains grass and cactus

…and the beautiful juxtaposition of harsh and delicate…

White Tank Mountain cactus in grass

…sharp and soft…

White Tank Mountains cholla and creosote

…loud and mute…

White Tank Mountains cholla in grass

…and may they be treasured…all.

White Tank Mountains grassy hillside

Thank you….

ADDENDUM: here is a nice link from AZBackcountryExplorers.com that provides helpful information about using State Trust Land.


Toward Frary Peak on Antelope Island – Part First

My very first trip to Antelope Island State Park was in February of 2012.  If you’re curious, you can click on this link to be taken back to the post I published after that visit.  And now my very most recent trip, partially documented in the following images, is from seven and one half years later, August of 2019.

Looking northeast-ish….

As I noted in the earlier posts about the sunrise on Antelope Island, it was my intention to get to the trailhead of the path that leads to Frary Peak at sunrise…but I was somehow delayed by the splendor of said sunrise reflecting off of the lake, etc., and didn’t get there until about an hour and a half later.

Turning your head a bit to the right from the above image…with the Wasatch Mountains in the background….

The images that follow are a chronological accounting of my hike up to the higher reaches on the island, close to 6,600 feet in elevation.  The trail is 3.5 miles in length and has an elevation gain of about 2,050 feet…which places the trailhead at right around 4,550 feet above sea level.

And now looking further southeast…back down toward Salt Lake City….

And I guess we could say we’re looking pretty much due south now in the below photo.

I’m drawn to the earth colors, the undulating hills, minor canyons or drainages, the small and larger crags, and the space that is open, yet bordered by the near water and the far mountains…I find it all compelling in a visceral sort of way.

All of this curved area in the below photo is referred to as “White Rock Bay,” which you can see here in an image from February 2014, with a much different perspective, as viewed from the north.

If I’m not mistaken, that’s Fremont Island off to the north…just left of center in the below photo…across the water.

Blue-green-gray sage in the foreground has an alluring scent, kind of resinous…and strong enough to linger on my fingertips for hours after rubbing/crushing the leaves between them…a small take-home treasure.

I didn’t see any antelope, but there were multiple strings of American Bison slowly trailing down the far/western side of the island.

A person approaches, below….

More to follow….