K and I were finally able to take our second hike of the year. In years past we would have already accomplished several hikes by the end of April, but between being sick, M visiting for Spring Break and the cold, wet, rainy/snowy weather of the last few weeks we’ve only managed 1 hike before yesterday. And I’m not sure I’d qualify that as a real hike since we turned around halfway due to high winds. So not only was this a success as the second try of the year, but it was also our second try doing this particular hike. Though to be fair we ended up on the wrong trail the first time. And I do believe that I promised you a story on that in my last post!
Last year, at the recommend of a co-worker of K’s we drove west to Stansbury Island, not a true island, but surround for the most part by the Great Salt Lake. Those that have lived here long enough know that while it is a large body of water, and something cool to say you have seen and cross of a bucket list, it is not one that is generally welcoming and enjoyable depending on the time of year. Because it is so briny that little can survive in it baring brine shrimp and brine flies and I think a form of alge , it is not always pretty to view – or nice to smell. It certainly does not qualify as a “day at the beach”. But Stansbury and Antelope Islands can both offer pleasant hikes if you time it right, with scenic views and wildlife. Although it was a bit later in the year we were assured that we would not be bothered by flies since we would be hiking away from the water. That was Mistake #1. We drove out there, with the dogs in tow, and found very little in the way of signage and had nothing much in the way of directions from the co-worker. That was mistake #2. So after arriving on the island (via a road off the freeway at one of the points that is not surrounded by water) and driving around for about 45 minutes we ended up at a dead end that did have a trail head marker and determined that “this must be it.” That was mistake #3. Not long after heading off the path lead us out onto a completely empty stretch of land/salt flats with only the most determined small bits of sagebrush here and there. I’m guessing the stretch was about a quarter of a mile wide before we gained just enough in elevation for the salt to have transitioned back to soil. Okay, so far so good. Or so we thought. We hiked along for about 45 minutes, with water to one side, sagebrush all around, a occasional jack rabbit of extra large proportions hopping across the path and not much else. Finally we came to the end of the path. What lie ahead was nothing but craggy rocks and boulders, difficult to navigate. And was surrounded us was a post-apocalyptic, abandoned settlement of 2 or 3 living structures (if you could call them that) made from old cargo storage containers, some attached with lean-tos, and all rusted out and definitely not able to keep out the elements. There was some chain link fence with barbed wire through the top which looked like it was meant to keep Kujo in his cage, some old lawn chairs and a camp stove, a few empty tin cans, etc. You get the picture. Weird. We couldn’t figure out a) why anyone would have ever decided to try to live there. And b) how they could have managed to get everything there to begin with. Long since past we had figured out that this was not the proper hiking trail as we were promised scenic overlooks but had decided to keep going and see where it led. And since we still wanted that scenic view we thought we were going to get we decided to make our way up the craggy rock hill, followed by the dogs who I sometimes wonder aren’t crossed with goats. Not a bad view when it was all said and done, but where did all the bugs suddenly come from? We quickly determined while making out way back down that the gentle breeze that had accompanied us on the trip in had stopped and the brine flies had taken it as an invitation to feast!
Mind you it took 45 minutes to get out to the end of the path hiking in. And now we were covered. Literally covered by swarms of flies getting in our ears, stuck in our eyebrows, getting in our mouths and up our noses. And biting! They were stuck in eyelashes and the inside corners of our eyes. And no amount of bug spray or protective clothing seemed to help! K had not brought a jacket, but it wouldn’t have helped much anyway. I had my own jacket on with hood up and cinched closed so that only a small hole, maybe 2 inches in diameter, was left. AND I had on my sunglasses, but still those little devils found a way through. My guess is that by the time we got back to the car, hindered by the tiny biting beasties it had taken twice as long. One of our dogs, Bernard, was bleeding all around his eyes from the dozens of bites he had received. Kevin’s arm hair was filled with little black critters. That was probably a better defense than any amount of chemicals we sent their way.
So you may think it crazy that we took a second try at finding the ‘real’ trail yesterday. But while not experts, we are avid hikers. And it paid off. The lake itself driving is was so still that the reflection of the surrounding mountains was crystal clear.
We found the trail head much faster this time and without issue, enjoyed the variety of wildflowers,
the sightings of ravens, red tail hawks, and turkey vultures soaring above and butterflies flitting below, the calls of larks and other song birds and even came across a gopher snake, one of K’s favorites.
Not to mention some beautiful and strange rock formations…
And the scenic overlook was everything it was promised to be.
\via Daily Prompt: Avid