Sunday, October 30, 2011

Antelope Island - White Rock Loop Trail

Hike: Antelope Island - White Rock Loop Trail
Elevation Gain:  700 feet
Time: 4.5 hours
Distance: About 7 miles
Overall Impression:  This was very different from the hikes we've been doing in the mountains!  It was like one big yellow-grassy meadow with the occasional bison to keep us on our toes.  The views of the Great Salt Lake were mystical and hazy, the path was pretty easy, and we had a great time!

This was our first time driving North of Salt Lake City, unless you count that time we accidentally went North for a mile or two while driving ourselves to the airport.  Woopsies!

So first of all, don't make the same mistake we (Steve!) did.  After you park your car in the day-use lot, be sure to go left immediately  after passing through the fence.  You will then be on the right track and won't have to go off the trail and up the mountain-side to get back on the trail like we did, and like Steve is seen doing below.

It was a sunny, "last weekend of October" day, and though we expected it to be chilly, it was warm enough to shed almost all our layers!  I didn't post the picture of Steve airing himself out at one point.  (Luckily there were no people around really.)

They had spent the last two days rounding up the bison to do some tagging/checking/medicating stuff that they do every Fall and the ranger at the visitor's center told us that only the bulls who refused to be rounded up were still roaming the hills of the island.  I was hopeful we would see some, but a little weary of how aggressive these bulls might be.

Here I am, getting sun burned in almost-November!  Remember a hat and sunscreen, people!

We walked along enjoying the unique scenery and soon came upon our first bison herd.  Cool!  We haven't seen much wildlife yet here in Utah so this was pretty exciting.  We didn't get too close, but we did walk a bit towards them and then got scared when one or two stepped forward from the herd and looked right at us.  Ahh!  Steve suggested we climb up some rocks if the bison charged toward us.

When we actually got close to that rock, I realized it wasn't exactly a safe haven.  But it was a nice place to sit for a moment.

We took a side trip up Beacon Knob where there are a couple of picnic tables, and enjoyed our now go-to hike lunch of an Einstein Bros bagel with "schmear."  Delicious.

As we neared the end of the hike, we came across a few more bison, this time closer to the trail.  I must admit I was pretty nervous as we passed this guy by.  He stared us down every step of the way, but didn't make a move.  I don't know what I would have done if he had charged.

It's funny, I often have this peaceful, innocent feeling while we're hiking along like two clueless idiots in a horror movie, totally unaware of the spooky background music and impending danger.  You know those scenes, like of children playing in the lake and then they show their legs dangling and kicking playfully from the viewpoint of something scary lurking below?  Nothing has happened to us by any means, but I just feel pretty naive in the wilderness and like I'd have no idea what to do if something were to happen.  Hmm.. maybe I should do something about that feeling.

This bison was literally standing ON THE TRAIL as we got closer to the end of the loop.  We decided to walk through the long grasses a few feet away from him instead of risking any close encounters.

In the end, the bison were the highlight of our hike!  Nothing like a little bit of threatening wildlife to add some spice to an otherwise pretty but kind of monotonous hike.  Steve would disagree about my assessment of "monotonous".  He remarked upon its beauty at least once every ten minutes.  Might I remind you we hiked for 4.5  hours.

It was definitely a nice change, but I prefer the mountain hikes.

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