Wednesday, February 5, 2014

High Times In the Rockies Continue

My daughter, Melanie, called me early this morning and suggested we take a hike out on Antelope Island.  Antelope Island sits in the middle of the Great Salt Lake and I live close enough to it to see it from my bedroom window.  I have only visited there briefly earlier this fall for a kite show.  I had never explored the entire Island, nor had I done any hiking out there, so it sounded like a fun day!

We carried my brand new snowshoes, but as it turned out our clip on spikes were enough for the climb.

However, before we ever got started on our hike, we were addressed by a DNR official who told us that they would be relocating 200 mule deer today to reduce the size of their 800 head herd.  She just wanted us to know the helicopter would be flying over rounding up the deer and it might spook the Bison who live on the Island.  Okay, we would watch out for running Bison!   We continued down the road and stopped at the Ranch on the Island where they have various displays and information.  There we met a friendly gentleman who told us exactly how this roundup was going to occur.

As it turns out, they use a helicopter to take men called "Muggers" yep, muggers up the mountainside.  When they get to the deer, the mugger jumps out of the copter, wrestles the deer to the ground, and puts him in a net.  Then, as if that is not amazing enough, they put the deer in these net slings and attach them to the helicopter and fly them back down the mountainside to a waiting crew.  This crew includes a veterinarian who checks them out, treats them if necessary and some are tagged before being loaded into trailers to move to a new location.  WOW!

This was like being there while they were filming a show for Animal Planet!

It was incredible.  They had quite a number of men and women participating in this activity.  It is wonderful how they take care of the wildlife out here.

The deer is placed in a sling and thoroughly inspected before being moved into the wiring trailers for transport.
Truck belonging to some of those who participate in this "roundup" adventure.
After watching some of the deer being transferred, we headed out on our adventure around the rest of the Island.  This is one of the many Bison we saw today, and none of them seemed bothered by the helicopter.  
The views on Antelope Island are amazing all the time, but today was really interesting, because snowstorms were rolling in across Great Salt Lake as we were there.
It looks dark, but it isn't rain, it's actually snow! And lots of it! Pictures just don't do this gorgeous part of the country justice!

The snow here is so powdery, it doesn't even feel wet!  I couldn't help playing in it a little!
I made my very first snow angel of my whole life at age 67! LOL…Am I losing it, or what?
Really, isn't this an amazingly beautiful place…and I am one happy Utahn!
 We finally did hike up the Buffalo Point Trail.  It was lovely, and we were the first HUMAN footprints in the fresh snow.  We saw a ton of little fat birds who seem to live up on the mountain.

Googled them when I got home…they are called Chukar's! Who knew!?

There are Big Horn Sheep and Antelope on the Island as well, but today they were hiding from us.  There is an abundance of wildlife here on the Island.  Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi.  The lake is actually a remnant of prehistoric Lake Bonneville, which covered more than 20,000 square miles during the Ice Age.  Four distinct shorelines from the lake may be seen from Antelope Island.

Great Salt Lake is currently 75 miles long by 28 miles wide, covering 1,700 square miles.  At this level, maximum depth is about 33 feet.  Size and depth vary greatly with seasonal evaporation and precipitation.

Salinity is too high to support fish and most other acquatic species.  However, brine shrimp, brine flies and several types of algae thrive in the lake and are the primary food sources for millions of migrating birds.

Nearly 80 percent of Utah's wetlands surround the Great Salt Lake, making its ecosystem one of the most important resources in North America for migratory and nesting birds.  The area hosts 250 bird species each year, which represents a significant part of the six to nine million migratory birds passing through the Pacific Flyway.  The lake and its marshes provide resting, nesting and staging areas for birds.

There is so much neat about this amazing Island, and about so much of Utah that I haven't even seen yet.  We are going to do a lot more exploring, so I'm gonna have to stay in good shape!  

For now, sweet followers, I wish you all…


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