Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Location: Silverzone Pass is located about 20 miles west of West Wendover, Nevada, on Interstate 80. Depending on which part of the pass you want to photograph you can get off 80 at the Pilot Valley Exit or go over the pass and get off at the Shafter Exit. Please be advised that a four wheel drive car is a must because each road is rough.
The last couple of months I have spent many days photographing the old Western Pacific (now Union Pacific) from various vantage points. My March 8, 2013, post showed photos from three different locations: at a rock cut, grade crossing and near the top of the pass. This post shows trains on the famous Arnold's Loop as well in the Pilot Valley from a rock outcrop way above. This line is tricky to photograph because of inconsistent traffic levels. You can go for hours without seeing anything and then have three trains in quick succession. I would suggest having a radio scanner or leaving West Wendover, Nevada, when a train is heading west. Even if you only see one train the scenery in the Toano Mountains is fantastic and wildlife is abundant.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Location: Jukebox Cave is located near Danger Cave in western Utah. Inquire at the Wendover Welcome Center for more detailed instructions on its location. Remember just like Danger Cave, Jukebox Cave has an iron gate in front of it. A short steep trail takes visitors up to the cave entrance. This trail is steep and rocky so watch your step.
Jukebox has an interesting history. The Desert Archaic People lived in the cave 8000 to 2000 years ago. They lived in the cave because of its location near Lake Bonneville which supported a wide variety of wildlife. Jennings and his team of archaeologists have uncovered many different artifacts including bones of animals, stone tools, and basketry. Unlike Danger Cave this cave has rock art which depicts people on horses with lances, and bows and arrows. In 1943, soldiers at the Wendover Air Base constructed a concrete dance floor. For many years serviceman and women came up here to dance at night.
Sadly, vandalism and funding have been problematic. In the cave someone spray painted over one of the petroglyphs ruining it. Visitors have also dug underneath the dance floor and in other parts of the cave hoping to find artifacts. With this gate vandalism has come to a halt. Second, funding for state parks in the state has been cut drastically. As a result, Utah has not been able to put up more informative signs on the grounds, create a good trail up to the cave or been able to offer regular tours. (Information from Utah State Parks brochure).
Location and Information: Danger Cave (originally Hands and Knees Cave) is located outside of Wendover, Utah, in western Utah. To get to the cave take the Boneville Speeway Exit off of I-80. Follow dirt roads going west toward Wendover. The cave has a metal gate on it now so visitor will need to inquire about tours through the state of Utah.
Danger Cave is an important archaelogical site for the Great Basin. Because it is a dry cave artifacts have been preserved for 1000s of years. During the years of 1949-1953 Jesse Jennings and his team from the University of Utah uncovered a large amount of artifacts from the Desert Archaic people who lived in Utah 8000 to 2000 years ago. Items recovered include leather, basketry, wooden artifacts and bones from many wild animals. Within the layers of soil, archaeologists have even found evidence of campfires lit 6000 years ago. Many of these artifacts are on display at the University of Utah. The cave has a low temperature all year long making it a great place to escape the desert sun.
Sadly this cave has a history of vandalism. For decades residents of Utah and Nevada were able to wonder into the cave freely. Most visitors treated the cave with respect however, a small number dug into the ground ruining precious artifacts and some people even spray painted on the walls. The BLM created the iron gate to keep vandals out. Make sure to respect our natural heritage or more sites such as this will be fenced off. (Information from Utah State Parks Brochure).
Location: The Fielding Garr Ranch House is located on the southern end of Antelope Island. After crossing the seven mile causeway, turn left onto the road that follows the eastern shoreline of the lake. Follow this road 11 miles to the Ranch which will be on your left. Keep an eye out for Bison and other animals as you drive south along the road.
General Information: Admission is free because it is on state park land. Please realize that upkeep of the grounds and buildings is expensive so donations are encouraged. Highlights include a museum with artifacts and history of the ranch, Grain Silo, Ranch house, cellar and stable. The grounds themselves are beautiful with large Cottonwoods and flowers. A large picnic area offers a great place to eat lunch or dinner with plenty of shade from trees.
Short History: The Fielding Garr Ranch has a number of distinctions. First, the ranch house is the oldest "Anglo" structure still standing on its original foundation. Second, the ranch was in operation from 1848 to 1981. Cattle and sheep were the primary livestock managed by ranch hands. In 1981 Utah bought the southern half of the island ending operations.
In 1848, Fielding Garr had been commissioned by the Mormon Church to establish a ranch on Antelope Island to manage the churches tithing herds (livestock to fund the Perpetual Immigration Fund). (Church members created the fund to aid in the relocation of Mormons to the Salt Lake Valley). Fielding Garr chose this area because of its location on the strong Garr Spring which supplied ample water. The Mormon Church operated the ranch until the late 1870s.
The next owner was John Dooley Sr. who purchased Antelope Island for one million dollars. Under his direction the newly created Island Improvement Company introduced 12 bison to the island in hopes of creating a commercial hunting venture. Under John Dooley's direction the ranch would also have one of the largest industrialized sheep and cattle ranches in the west. It would be a large working ranch until 1981. (Information from Fielding Gar Ranch Informational Booklet Produced by Utah State Parks).
Friday, May 17, 2013
General Information: This trail is approximately 6.4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2100 feet. The trail is easy to follow but there is no shade. I cannot stress enough that it is imperative a hiker wears a hat and brings enough water. I hiked the trail at 7 am in order to beat the daytime heat from the sun. There are some steep sections with loose rock the last half mile from the summit. Take it slow and watch your footing. While hiking keep an eye out for Antelope, Mule Deer and Bighorn Sheep near the summit. From the top the view is extraordinary with the Stansbury Mountains to the southwest, the Wasatch to the east and desert ranges to the west.
Directions to the trail head: After crossing the causeway onto the island, turn left at the first road junction. Follow this road along the east shore of the lake until you see the turnoff on your right. The turnoff is marked with a big sign.
Below: Elevation profile of the trail.
General Information: To see the sunset I hiked out the Buffalo Point Trail. This trail is about a 1.5 round trip. Benches are located along the trail making it suitable for families. There are a few steeper sections where it is necessary to watch your footing. This trail is not hard to follow making for minimal navigation skills. Even though it was warm I wore a long sleeve shirt and pants to keep the insects from biting me. If you visit the island during the spring I would suggest wearing a head net. Enjoy my photos of the sunset.
General Information: One trail head for this hike is the Bridger Bay Campground. I chose to do this hike because the Gnats were so bad in camp. This trail is about 3 miles one way with minimal elevation gain. The hike provides great views of the Great Salt Lake. This is an out and back hike so a shuttle might be a good plan of action. Since I was camped in Bridger Bay I hiked on an unestablished trail over the point back to the campground. Enjoy the photos from my hike. Remember to wear a hat and bring enough water.
General Information and location: To get to Antelope Island take Exit 332 on I-15 in Layton. Turn left onto Antelope Island Road and continue through Layton to the Causeway+. Entrance fees: $9 for each car and $3 if you are biking. Camping is available at Bridger Bay Campground and White Rock Bay Campground for $13 a night. There is no water at the Bridger Bay Campground so either bring enough or stop at the Visitor Center. Gnats are a problem in the Spring on the island so make sure to bring a head net. They don't bite but will drive you crazy because they fly into your nose, eyes and ears.On this blog I have included posts giving information on the Buffalo Point Hike, Lake Point Trail, Frary Peak and Fielding Garr Ranch House.
Activities on Antelope Island: Biking is popular on state park roads. Watch out for groups of bicycles on the shoulder when driving in the park. Throughout the year roads might be closed for races. Visitors come from around the world to watch birds and wildlife on the island. In fact Antelope Island has one of the largest breeding colonies of California Gulls, Wilson's Phalaropes and Eared Grebes in the United States. Viewable wildlife include Coyotes, Bison, Antelope, Bighorn Sheep and Mule Deer.
With about seven trail heads hiking is a popular activity on the island. Trails range in length from 0.25 to over 16 miles in length. Make sure to inquire at the Visitor's Center about trail conditions and difficulty. Popular trails include Buffalo Point, Frary Peak and the Lake point trail near Bridger Bay Campground. The Frary Peak trail gains over 2100 feet of elevation to an elevation of 6596. Caution: there is no shade when hiking so make sure to bring enough water and wear a hat. I would suggest hiking early in the morning before the sun becomes intense. Buffalo Point is a nice place to watch the sunset over the Great Salk Lake. If you are a runner there are runs throughout the year of various lengths including 5Ks, 10Ks, 50Ks, and 100Ks. If interested inquire on the state park website.
Short History: Antelope Island has a rich history of human habitation from Native Americans to settlers. The earliest known habitation on the island was 6,000 years ago with the Freemont people. They were primarily hunters and gatherers. The Visitor's Center has an impressive collection of viewable artifacts.
Important settlers include John C. Freemont and Fielding Garr. John C. Freemont and Kit Carson, the first people of European descent, arrived at the island in 1845. They did not stay very long but hunted large game including Antelope. In 1848 Fielding Garr established residency in the southern part of the island. His family and John Dooley Sr. herded Sheep and Cattle until 1981 when the property was brought by the state. Brigham Young paid him to watch the Tithing Herd for the LDS Church. This herd provided funds for the Perpetual Immigration Fund which funded church members to immigrate to Utah. In 1981 the state of Utah acquired the rest of Antelope Island. (Information from State Park website and Wikipedia).