Saturday, July 6, 2013

Antelope Island State Park- Part Two

After our hot trip up the Buffalo Point Trail I was ready for a swim in the lake.  We stopped at Bridger Bay, the only public beach available on the island.  However, one look at the distance I would have to walk under the hot burning sun to get to the water, I changed my mind and decided instead to join John in the nearby cool cafe for lunch.  The picture below should give you an idea of the distance needed to hike from the beach house and cafe, across a short boardwalk and then a great expanse of beach before getting to the lake.  The brown-roofed building in the picture below is the cafe.  The lake is indeed experiencing a shortage of water!  It is hard to believe that in 1982 the island was flooded and needed to be closed for ten years.
By the time we had finished lunch a storm front was moving in and the weather had cooled considerably.  We changed our mind and hiked down to the lake.  We first walked on a small amount of sand, and then had to deal with a very rocky beach.  We imagined that at one time the hard stoney area had been the bottom of the lake.  Many small insects swarmed over us, they seemed to be the size of fleas.  Smell of dead fish permeated the air, and one dejected large bird walked past us dragging one of his wings.  He looked like he had just been in a fight and was still too much in shock to worry about us.  I did wade in the water,  that was all I could get myself to do.  It would have been a unique swimming experience, but I had to pass.  The lake water felt quite warm- not surprising as in most places it is quite shallow,  its deepest part is 33 feet.
 The island's namesake, pronghorn antelope, are native to the island.  Mule deer (pictured above) and bighorn sheep are the other large herbivores on the island.  We saw the mule deer on our drive to the Fielding Gar Ranch.  John Fremont and Kit Carson explored the island in 1845, and in 1849 Fielding Gar established the first permanent residence on the island.  We arrived there too late to take in a tour of the house, but we were able to walking around outside on the ranch grounds where we saw plenty evidence of its early pioneer days.  We were told that the house had been modernized into a 20th century home.  As I was gazing from the ranch grounds toward the salt flats I could not help thinking that it seemed a very strange setting for a ranch.  However, for 133 years it was a working western ranch.
Near the ranch we saw what appeared to be large number of the island's buffalo, they were probably on what looked to be the best grazing land on the island.  The sun was getting low in the sky at this time and it was time to head back to Brigham City and home.

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