American Bison in Context
August 14, 2019 was the 33rd Wednesday of the year….the 54th day of Summer…and the 226th day of the year. It was also Pakistan Independence Day…and World Lizard Day…six police officers were shot in Philadelphia on this day…and the Arizona Diamondbacks lost to the Colorado Rockies by the score of 6-7.
I was up from the desert to visit my Utah kids and to hike on Antelope Island…and to see a summer sunrise from a favored place.
It may seem odd to find American Bison on a large island out in The Great Salt Lake in northern Utah…but they’re there anyway and they create something of an allure to visitors from both home and abroad.
Wikipedia provides that there are between 550 and 700 individual bison on the island during any given year…and that, because of the lack of natural, non-human predators, the herd can increase by about 25% per year.
I saw 5-6 different groupings of the bison during my hours on the island that day…including this medium-sized collection and another one that I will share in a later post.
Toward Frary Peak on Antelope Island – Part Last
It’s been about six months since I posted the previous installment, so it’s probably been long enough now that the images won’t be overwhelmingly familiar…and so that our experience in viewing them won’t be with an almost blindness to the manifest beauty that’s out there because our palate had become over-saturated with it.
It’s approaching a year since I was out there walking the trails that you can see in the above and subsequent two photos…almost a year since I felt that Utah summer sun on my shoulders and face as I turned so many times to look around me, since I shielded my eyes so I could view the distant spread of gray earth to the shimmering water…
…and beyond to the islands and mountains that formed the various views of the horizon.
Yes, almost a year since I viewed them with my literal eyes, but it’s not been so long since I had images of those islands, mountains, and horizons reflecting in my mind’s eye…or looking up at me from the computer where they remain in this present form.
I can recall the stretch in my calves as I climbed up the trail to this point and how my heart beat in the moments when my legs rested so I could catch my wind…how I stared at the hillsides and took-in the skeletal remains of the trees that had succumbed to old fires, and how I watched strings of bison plod from the north to the south side of the island in their ant-like following of their leaders…or obeyed the urge to go and be with their intimates when they saw them walking away….
I recall those things now looking at these images…looking northeast in the above photo…
…and southeast in these, above and below.
Wasatch Mountains trailing north in the below photo…
…and Fremont Island off to the northwest in the below….
I’ve run out of words and superlatives…
…and you already know what’s in my heart for this place…
…so I’ll just thank you for joining me here again…and hope you’ve enjoyed the visit.
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….
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.
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….
Antelope Island at Sunrise – Part Second
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.
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.
Antelope Island at Sunrise – Part First
It has been a favorite pastime of mine for the past nine or so years to hike and to explore the mountains and canyons or desert plains and hills in my surround…
…or in the case of the last five years, in addition to the deserts, etc., the forests, mountains, and mesas that are within a few hours’ drive of where I live.
When I have had good or better fortune, I have been able to go back to those preferred mountains and islands of my not so distant past…
…those beloved places up north, and hike and explore and simply exist again in the environment or locale that remains in my core as “home.”
At some point in the early part of those few years that I lived up north, it became preferable to start the specific adventure, to be at the designated trailhead, before sunrise.
There were fewer cars in the parking lots, fewer pairs of boots on the trails heading into the mountains…
…and a greater chance of capturing the essence of an undisturbed morning’s peace when starting at such an hour.
In application to my southern journeys, it became prudent to start this early, so as to avoid the greater heat of the day by completing the trek and returning to my truck before noon.
That said, I had determined to arrive at the trailhead to Frary Peak on Antelope Island before the sun rose and started warming the northern Utah August day.
Well…I made it to the Antelope Island State Park entrance before sunrise…
…but was then waylaid by the views north and south and east and west while driving on the causeway to the island, so I didn’t make it to the trailhead until nearly an hour after sunrise.
Toward Lady Finger Point
One might suggest that we “stole away,” my son and I, when his wife (whom I refer to as my daughter, as she is so precious), took their girls to a Halloween party in the neighborhood. We went on another excursion to a favored place of ours, Antelope Island State Park, just north and west of Salt Lake City, in the southeast portion of The Great Salt Lake. On our four trips out to the island, we have seen some familiar sights, but like on each of the other ventures, we managed to see parts of it that were new to us, as well. On this occasion, we headed-out to Lady Finger Point…and then beyond, to Egg Island, a portion of our day’s wanderings that I will cover in another post.
Maybe I should have used the above image in my recent post, Antelope Island Reflectioning, but it was rather removed from that locale, so it seems to fit better with this one.
With the wide-open spaces and the distant horizon, it’s difficult to ascertain distance and size…
…so it was rather fortuitous when a couple of fellow-wanderers happened into my gaze, in the above photo, when we were checking-out the area from the elevated trail.
This last photo shows the bit of revealed lake bottom that leads out to Egg Island…that perch of elevated ground immediately in front of us out there. I was struck by the lines of residue that the receding water left behind over the past months (?)…captivating and leading our line of sight to the west and beyond to what was formerly unknown to us, except in name only…Egg Island.
If you’re interested in viewing other posts from our wanderings on Antelope Island, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the titled link under the Categories widget.
Antelope Island reflectioning….
That might not really be a word, “reflectioning,” but I’m not too concerned about what it really might or might not be. It struck me as appropriate when I was viewing the photos I made from my fourth and most recent trip out to Antelope Island State Park, Utah. Maybe it can become a word if enough people begin and continue to use it…so go ahead and try it out, if you’d like…use it in a few sentences…try to fit it in somehow on your Christmas cards this year…it’s not trademarked or anything….
Anyway…my Utah son and I made another trek to the island this past October and I brought home these photos. If you can recall any of my other trips out there (you can find them by searching in the archives [below] of February and September of 2012, and again in February of 2014), you might notice how much lower the water level is this time.
This Wikipedia article on the Great Salt Lake addresses the fluctuating lake levels, record lows and highs…as well as many other interesting things lake-related.
There wasn’t much of a breeze, no gusting winds, and no scalding sunshine (it was sunny, but nice), so while the inversion/smog layer was out there in the distance polluting the sky, it made for nice layering effects for the captured images.
I would have preferred the above photo to include the top of the island in the reflection, but that was not to be had, thanks to the water level. Hmm…having just typed that, I might have been able to get it in the image if I had stood on top of my son’s car as it was parked on the causeway behind us…. I don’t think he would have appreciated that, though, as he just picked it up from the dealership that week.
This person was of a similar mind, being out there with a camera (phone?) and taking advantage of the simple marvels offered by a little trip to the island on a Saturday afternoon. All of those black specks in the image are actually birds, not dirt on the camera lens. 🙂
Antelope Island – a study of White, last….
I made the images from this last series on the way back to the mainland from Antelope Island. About three hours had passed since I made the earlier images of the tree stump that you might remember from the first post in this study. Much of the fog had cleared and the clouds were slowly parting, allowing the blue sky to be revealed over the island behind the dramatic clouds.
If you’re not sick and tired of viewing images from Antelope Island and actually want to see more, either from this series or the other visits, you can scroll to the bottom of the page, find the Categories widget toward the right side, and then click on Antelope Island to view a continuous feed of all the earlier posts.
Antelope Island – a study of White, second….
This is the second of what has become five posts that document our most recent visit to Antelope Island out in The Great Salt Lake. With the exception of maybe one or two images that still hold a sense of desolation or extreme alone-ness, this next series presents a bit of brighter sky that we found as we neared the northern shore of the island…looking north and west in most of these photos, we were free of the fog and inversion that blocked the eastern view of the Wasatch Mountains and Davis County shoreline.
Again, you can click on any image to be taken to a slide-show where you can see each photo in a larger format.
Antelope Island – a study of White, first….
If you’ve been visiting this blog for at least a couple of years, or have spent some time browsing through the archives, you might remember the excursions that my family and I have made out to Antelope Island, the largest island in The Great Salt Lake of northern Utah, USA. As much of our local family is currently visiting other family down in Arizona right now, my second son, his son, and I thought we would take another field-trip to the island. We were expecting it to look a bit different with a blanket of snow.
If you’d like to see the posts from our other visits, you can scroll down to the bottom of the page, find the Categories widget, and then click on Antelope Island. If you’ll visit some of those earlier posts, I think you’ll agree that things look very different with the snow.
You can view the images in a larger format by clicking on any photograph…you’ll be able to view them in a bit of a slide-show….
You might remember this tree stump from September, 2012, when I had the series of posts, “by sun and salt,” first through last…
Antelope Island beyond Grandeur Peak
When hiking in the Wasatch Mountains, depending upon one’s elevation, one can see past the mountaintops and into the beyond…and in this case, out into the Great Salt Lake…where one can discern the familiar silhouette image of Antelope Island…approximately 30 miles to the north and west.
I made this image from the mountainside in Bowman Fork, one of the tributary drainages that run south from Millcreek Canyon…just east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
mountains and water
This is one stretch of the Wasatch Mountains over The Great Salt Lake, as viewed from Antelope Island in the middle of February, 2012.
Antelope Island in September, too….
I was surprised at how low The Great Salt Lake was during this visit…as it was significantly higher in February when when we made our first trip to the island.
Hmm…no, my son’s not dancing, there on the left…maybe celebrating because of a well-thrown skipping-stone….
Looks like a little island of reeds out there…and the water is a long way away….
One of the 500-600 American Bison, or Buffalo, that live on the island….
My little one brought his binoculars and a notepad and pen along for the trip…it was fun watching him take notes of his observations….
Small group of Pronghorn Antelope…the male has the larger horns and the black, cheek markings….
Whole bunch of Sunflowers….
Daughter carrying her pre-Christmas baby….
Hopefully we’ll have some wonderful snow this winter…and green, rolling hills out on the island in the spring….
Antelope Island in September
You might remember my earlier posts, Field Trip to Antelope Island and Antelope Island – Part II, from February and March of this year. I had planned on returning to the island sometime during the greener part of the year, as I wanted to capture some images of spring-rich rolling hills and vibrant Sunflowers. Well…we didn’t make it back during the greener time of the year, but the Sunflowers were still thriving, despite the golden brown hills that spoke of a very dry summer out on the island.
My second son and his son….
Beautiful Sunflowers with the Wasatch Mountains in silhouette in the background….
If you’re not familiar with Antelope Island, it is the largest of several islands out in The Great Salt Lake, Utah, USA.
My daughter (in-law), wife of my son mentioned above….
You might remember this tree stump from a couple of earlier posts….
The Pronghorn Antelope from which the island gets its name….
Grandson and my little one (on the right)….
This last shot was actually taken out on the seven-mile-long causeway that leads from the mainland out to Antelope Island….
More to follow….