Sunday, July 4, 2010

Great Salt Lake's Island

Visiting Salt Lake City without seeing the Great Salt Lake just didn't seem right.

Now we certainly knew about the Lake and its unique quality ("you can't sink in the Lake, because the salinity makes you more buoyant"), but we didn't know there were eight islands in the Lake.

So, we headed about 35 miles northwest of Salt Lake City to Syracuse. Then we headed west and onto a seven-mile causeway that led to Antelope Island, the largest of the Lake's islands.

At the Entrance Gate, we were greeted with a sign that announced that the biting bugs were bad today.

Kate is unsure what possessed her to buy a couple of "bug nets" that she saw in a store about two years ago. But buy them she did--she guesses it was the "you-never-know" rationale.

Fashionable? No. Effective? Definitely.

We took the short hike up the trail at Buffalo Point. At several points along the trail, we met fellow hikers. All commented on our nets: "Great idea," "Well, you really planned ahead," or "Wanna sell those nets?"

We stopped for a picnic lunch at the Fielding Garr Ranch on the southeast side of the island.

Still wearing the nets, we met a Park Ranger as we began lunch. "Looks like you've been here before," was his greeting.

After explaining that this was our first visit to the Island and to Salt Lake City, his comment to all within earshot was: "I don't believe it. People who live here and know about these bugs, don't wear these nets, but two people from Philadel-phia, who have never been here before, know what to wear."

We weren't sure if he was complimenting us, chiding the locals, or expressing amazement that these "city slickers" could be this prepared for this problem. We opted for the first choice.

After lunch, we took a walk around the grounds of the Ranch and the house. The Fielding Garr Ranch House is distinctive for two reasons: first, it is the oldest continually inhabited Anglo home in the state of Utah (from 1848 to 1981 when the island became a state park), and second, it is the oldest Anglo built house in Utah still on its original foundation.

But back to our hike up Buffalo Point. The view from the Point showed the causeway.

From this point, we could see a portion of the herd of 500 bison which inhabit the island. However, they were so far away that even with the telephoto lens they were still very small.

Explorers Kit Carson and John C. Fremont named the island in 1845 for the abundant antelope they hunted. We aren't sure if these greeters are pronghorn deer (antelope) or mule deer.

Antelope Island State Park is the largest island (28,022 acres) in the Great Salt Lake measuring 15 miles long and seven miles wide at its widest point.

From various points on the island, we had views of low mountains, grasslands, marshes, white sandy beaches, and sand dunes in the Great Salt Lake.

There is a marina, covered picnic pavillions, a camp-ground, and a very good network of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

And thousands and thousands of biting black bugs.

Wear a net.

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