Author Archive

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….


forest dreams in black and white

sometimes my daydreams are really thoughts about the things of which i would be dreaming, the words that describe what i would see or have seen, words i would use to tell you of the things i remember or wish to see again, so it might be appropriate to share those things in the black and white of words on paper, things which might be able to be described on the whole or in their collected parts, yet they are things which are beyond mere words when contemplated in the mixture of their richest essence, or in my experience, here

Dog Lake surround in B&W


Wasatch Mountain Wildflowers

Images of this nature used to be the normal fare for my spring and summer weekend hiking when I lived in Salt Lake City a few years ago…they were common enough punctuation marks in the trip narratives…highlights of color in the mountain landscapes…

…and now they are very occasional and intentional shared treasures of uncommon forays back into that used-to-be.

I don’t know the names of all of them, but when I do, I will share them, as I will here, above, with Queen Anne’s Lace, or Cow Parsnip…

…and the predominant flowers in the above image being Horsemint…a name shared with me by a fellow hiker after a chance encounter and then a follow-on comment on a post in those years ago.

Western Coneflowers above, something that I have also seen in the higher desert meadows of the Coconino National Forest just south of Flagstaff, Arizona.

The above resembles a type of gentian I have seen before, but I’m not sure how it is properly named.

A perfect Monday morning horizon above….

A trial for the newer camera…not entirely crispy, but still very clearly capturing dew drops on petals and leaves.

A richness of color for the eyes and morning crispness for the skin…and the mountain aroma of wet grasses and fragrant flowers….

I’m not sure about these, but there were tons of them on a western-facing slope as the sun was just over the mountains on the eastern side of the meadow….

Closer above and below….

And this one might be my favorite of the entire day…dew drops on Bluebells and leaves…I can still feel being there, making this particular photo, with anticipation and hope at what I would see on the computer when I brought the image home.

Life is full in that mountain environment, a feast for the senses at every turn.

And as I’ve shared previously, the Colorado Columbine, below, is my favorite flower, ever.

These were a first for me, the little purple Dr. Seuss flowers below….

And a fitting end for the post, I believe: a carpet of wildflowers with a Wasatch Mountain backdrop….

All images were made on 8-12-2019 during my very first hike from Brighton up to and from Lake Catherine.


Io at a glance….

I received the below image in a text message from my bride at the end of April of this year.  She later explained that the property manager at her workplace found this this little guy and his two brothers up on the roof of one of the buildings at their office complex.

My youngest son named the kitty, “Io,” a Greek goddess whose name was later attached to one of Jupiter’s moons…which happens to be the most geologically active object in our solar system with over 400 active volanoes.

The above photo was made this past weekend during one of Io’s quieter moments…he’s seven months old now and thinks he’s part tiger….


Bridgework….

I visited an old friend when I was in Salt Lake City a couple of months ago…

You might remember it from the first posting here

…another visit as shared here…or another one here….

There is something particularly alluring about the bridge and its location…something that makes me want to return again and again….


Indian Mesa from afar

I was hoping for a second visit to the mesa when I launched out on the venture in May of this year, but there was absolutely no way I was going to make it from this approach.  My first visit was in November of 2014 and you can see the images by clicking here.  The locations presented in images 4-8 of that earlier post are all under water in this photograph.

We had an unusual amount of rain through the past Winter and Spring, which allowed Lake Pleasant to become fuller than it normally has been…or maybe it could have been as full in the past, but the water management people allowed more of it to flow past the dam…or there’s some better explanation of which I’m not aware.

At any rate, I didn’t make it to the mesa, but I did spend a nice hour or so out in the desert wilderness watching egrets, herons, cormorants, Canada geese, and other water fowl, hunting, fishing, and sailing about in the water on an overcast Arizona morning.


Antelope Island at Sunrise – Part Second

…continued.

There was simply too much to see, too many sights that demanded attention, contemplation, worship…and photographs.

My kids who still live in Salt Lake City had told me about the record snowfall for the past winter and spring; I had also read about it on one of the social media sites from the area that I follow.

I guess I expected that some of the earlier season’s snowmelt would have made it to The Great Salt Lake and would have raised the water level a bit…would have raised it “any” amount, actually.

Western Spotted Orb Weaver spider on Antelope Island

There was water, of course, mostly north of the causeway from my vantage point, enough to provide those morning reflections that are inspiring in and of themselves…

…and enough, too, to afford the many waterfowl a place to forage, play, rest, and provide still other morning reflections that cause occasional human observers to stop along their various ways to attend, contemplate, worship…and photograph.

Also striking were the morning’s colors…the peachy orangish pink of the waking sky, shining of themselves above, and in the myriad reflections below…

…the black, dark purple, blue and gray of the lake’s living water…

…and the sage, green, rust, and straw colors of the waterside vegetation.

Cast all of those, too, among the brightening gold and greens of the covered hillsides and coves…

…the yellow faces and bonnets of the solitary individuals and masses of sunflowers…

…and finally the rich blacks and browns of the wandering bison.

It was a feast for my desert dwelling eyes.


a tease of teasels

I first saw them on a friend’s blog post, or maybe even their avatar, and thought they were fascinating…

…and then I happened to see them along the road when traveling north from my then home in Salt Lake City…

…and as seems to be a habit (?) of mine, I drove past them numerous times without ever stopping to make images of them mine for further consideration, etc.,…

…but I did finally stop on my most recent trip back south from Idaho, traveling through Davis County on the east side of the Great Salt Lake…

…and found them where they have been described to be…“along roadways and waterways, and in meadows, grasslands, forest openings, and disturbed sites.” 

I happen to think they are fascinating in structure and appearance, although I have never seen them in full bloom, so I am likely missing a further treasure.

The above link is for an exotic species website, and this link is for an invasive plant site.

And if that’s not enough, here’s one from Wikipedia…not exactly a scholarly source, but a fair-enough place for a first glance at things.

That’s all I’ve got with this one…found along the I-15 highway in northern Utah…a tease of teasels….