What a uniquely cool place. Unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. It’s been amazing feeling different climates as we make our way across the states. I’m certainly now the closest to any desert I’ve ever been in. My inexperience with that inescapable midday sun led to cutting the day short and returning at sunset, Duke was pretty limited . With the island being surrounded with by salt water, I was wondering the entire time where the hell do the buffalo, sheep, antelope, etc drink?! It was as dry a climate I’ve ever been in and I didn’t see any fresh water sources. They’ve gotta be somewhere.
You drive onto Antelope Island via a long bridge with water on both sides. Looked to me as if there’s been a drought, the water was very low. You could see the sand and salt deposits below. Birds by the thousands landing in the water and on sand bars. As many as I’ve ever seen with my own eyes.
When I was a kid in Kentucky there were two buffalo ranches close to where I lived. I visited both probably 15 years ago, I was definitely too young to appreciate simple things the way I do now. There’s something so much more wild to them in their own habitat, on their own island. With all the yellow signs letting you know not to approach them, they make it quite clear when they feel like you are. But I’m a self proclaimed photographer now and you can’t get a good look at the rim from the other side of the court. There’s a thrilling vulnerability when staring down the lense of a camera for the perfect shot, feet in front of a thousand pound animal that can toss you around like a rag doll. From the swinging tail changing its pattern to aggressive and the bobbing of their head, those bison don’t play. They make it quite apparent when you’ve come close enough. There were two occasions I pulled the car to the side of the road where a bison was laying. When Duke stuck his big noggin out the window and started whining they stood up clearly quite agitated. Those stays were short lived.
I’m blown away by the resilience of these animals living on the island. Now knowing how hot it feels during the day there I’m sure they look forward to the coolest of nighttime climates. During the day there would be a dust bowl floating about the herd as they meandered. It feels like there’s not a drop of moisture in the air. Living in ridiculously humid climates like Kentucky and Florida most of my life I grew to love the dry heat of Colorado. As I’ve made it further west it seems I left that happy medium in CO. It’s too dry in the desert. Imagine that.
On the map of the island you’ll see the 5-mile hike on the side of the island with no roads. I’m planning on devoting a morning to it. The park is open from 6:00am-10:00pm certainly long hours for a state park, I’m assuming because the climate is so rough it gives people time to make it and escape the heat. Knowing there’s a lot more wildlife to be seen on the island I’m committed to an early morning hitting that hike on the other side of the mountain. I’m sure that’s where the antelope, mule deer and big horned sheep are. I’ve even seen online there was a rare wolverine sighting. I’m sure beasts are hiding from the human traffic on that side.
When we made it back for the sunset session the bison were definitely more active, enjoying the cooling temperature as I was too. We did some new adventuring and found the pics you see of the Frary family who originally settled the island in the late 1800s. One family homestead to the island of over 28,000 acres, living mostly in solitude with your family, imagine what that was like. You can see in the pics some of their material remains are still lying there nearly 150 years later. It was in their education billboards I learned there are natural springs on the island, which provides for the trees that are grouped at the base of the mountain. Makes sense now. I’m sure the bison along with every other animal of the island has its usual routine of making way to a stream or two. Duke and I didn’t hike far enough to find one, but that’s the mission on our early morning 5 miler when we go.
It didn’t take much journeying to figure out which of the mounds is called Molly’s Nipple. Bet you can’t guess which one of the pics it is, they knocked this one out of the park. Lol
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