Thursday, November 1, 2012

where the deer and the antelope play

Our Sunday activity was quite nearly the opposite of our Saturday one: we still went hiking, but we drove north to Antelope Island and walked for 11.2 miles on dry, sandy trails wearing t-shirts and shorts.  We even got sunburned!
Looking southeast to the island's center
from the White Rock Loop trail

Once across the causeway and on the island, we drove to White Rock Bay on the west side.  The bison round-up had just occurred and we could see the big beasties in the corrals up on the hill to the north of the beach.  There were several other vehicles in the day-use parking lot: trucks hauling horse trailers and cars with bike racks; a number of MTBers rode into the lot as we were heading out, leading us to understand that there actually are MTB-friendly trails in this state park.

Pretty cushy walking

We did the White Rock Loop, plus an out-and-back jaunt to Elephant Head, and once out there really didn't see too many other people, a few trail-runners, a few MTBers, a few folks on horseback.  The White Rock Loop trail is lovely, running level about mid-way up the rolling hills, the low grasses toasted gold from the summer's hot sun.  It is so wide open out there that you can see everything: distances look great but the miles just disappeared under our feet with the easy walking.

The Wasatch, peeking over the ridge of the island

To go out to Elephant Head, you have to climb up a little bit to the ridgeline, then walk out on that level to the bluff.  There was bison poop everywhere up there - it must be a favorite spot of theirs.  The whole west side of the island drops away from that trail.  It couldn't have been more different from what we'd been doing just the day before.

Couple of big guys who did not get rounded up

Antelope Island is a great place for wildlife viewing.  On our just-under 4 hour jaunt, we saw: bison, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, two coyotes, chukkars, hawks and a cowboy sipping on a can of Budweiser while he was a-horse.  After the hike we went up to the bison corrals.  Hundreds of them were there, the older ones lying down unconcernedly, the younger ones milling about more nervously.  The noise the herd was making was great, sort of a low, humming, grunting, collective groan.  Antelope Island State Park is such a cool place (I don't understand why more locals don't go there) - if you're ever visiting the greater SLC area, it's worth the trip.

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