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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There were too many photos from our field-trip to Antelope Island to share in one posting. I hope you’ll enjoy the second batch, as well.
Years ago, I had the opportunity to drive the bridge that spans Lake Ponchartrain in Louisiana…and I’ll have to admit that it was rather un-nerving…nothing but water on both sides for 24 miles. Traveling the causeway that leads to Antelope Island out in the Great Salt Lake was very different. I don’t know if it was that there was literal dirt and earth beneath the roadway, or what…but the seven miles out to the island seemed no different than driving on a regular road out in the city or across the country…it was just a road.
I thought the layer of haze would negatively impact the result of the photos when I was out on the island, but when looking at them later, I find that I actually like the way it causes the mountains to almost appear to be rising up out of the lake.
My younger daughter looking out at the lake. I believe those are the visitors’ center buildings in the distance.
I love the sweeping earth tones, but am excited to see the island in the full green of spring and summer.
There were several horse trailers parked down by the bay on the west side of the island. These were the only riders we saw out on the trails.
I love the fence rails and the golden hills…. It’s almost hard to believe that all of this is on an island.
There’s something about this view…kind of stunning…beautiful.
It’s always pleasing when a recommendation (direct or otherwise) from a friend results in a rewarding experience. About two weeks ago, Fergiemoto commented on my Salt Lake City Seagull post and mentioned that you can see LOTS of sea-gulls on the causeway that leads from the mainland to Antelope Island out in the Great Salt Lake. As I have lived in the Salt Lake area for just over a year and had not yet ventured out to visit the lake up-close and personal, let alone traveled the 40 miles north of the city to visit Antelope Island, it seemed like a good time to do so. It was a rather chilly and windy February morning and afternoon, and while there were plenty of birds flying about and resting in the lake’s water, I have to admit that I didn’t take particular notice of the gulls…there were too many other things that captured my attention and begged for me to stop the truck and take their pictures. Anyway…thank you, Fergiemoto, for your recommendation. It was a wonderful day-adventure. 🙂
Antelope Island is about 15 miles long and 4.5 miles wide and is the largest of the six or eight or more islands that exist in the Great Salt Lake. This photo was taken on the road that lies on the eastern side of the island and leads out to a farm/ranch near the north end of the island that was originally established in the late 1800’s. Even though the island is smack-dab in the middle of a lake that has greater salinity than the oceans, there are more than 40 fresh-water springs on this eastern side of the island that serve as water sources for the natural and imported wild-life. Aside from the prong-horn antelope, from which the island gets its name, there is also a herd of more than 600 imported buffalo, or American Bison, that roam freely over the island. There are also long-horned sheep, mule-deer, bob-cats, coyotes, and many ducks, gulls, other water-birds, and raptors. The state-park literature also reports that Bald-Eagles frequent the island during their seasonal migrations.
We didn’t spot this antelope until we were actually leaving the island. As I got out of the truck to take the photos, I heard him making some barking-type sound…almost like he was calling to his friends to come back. A cyclist who had also stopped to look at the antelope and listen to his calls said that this particular antelope was a male, as only males have the black cheek markings and a bit of a mane that runs down the middle of the neck.
I think it’s remarkable that we could be on an island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake and see buffalo resting in the tall and winter-dried grasses.
The boys were eager to get out of the truck and climb the rocks…having fun with their own little adventures and seemingly mindless of the chilling wind. There was a bit of haze on the lake…maybe an inversion layer of vehicle particle emissions…or salt dust carried in with the winds from the desert south and west of the lake. Those are the Wasatch Mountains in the background.
I’ve seen these deer in the mountains of Colorado and in the mountains and canyons of Utah and Arizona…but on an island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake? Yep…
When I mentioned in my earlier post, Mass and Form, about trying to get a good profile shot of the bison/buffalo, this is the closest and best that I could get. He kept moving in circles away from me….
Everyone had a nice time driving and walking about the island…even my 3yo grand-daughter. This last photo was taken near the farm/ranch on the north end of the island. You can see that the winter grass has been mown beyond the fence.
I don’t mind that the buffalo/bison kept turning away from me as I kept trying to sidle along with him to get a good profile picture. The resulting photo of his large, hulking body standing there among the delicate, winter-dried flower stems with the Wasatch Mountains towering in the background is still appealing to me.