Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wild Rose – Wintertime


I have been wanting to do more hiking in the winter. I don’t know why I usually don’t. I guess it being cold, and the days so short, and the fear of it just being deep snow always made it too intimidating. Now that I have done a couple I can honestly say don’t let that stop you! So far I have found 2 good trails that are popular enough that the snow is packed down for easy hiking. I have also decided it never hurts to try. If the trail is not traversable, you can always turn around and try something else. Of course, make sure you have good hiking boots with good traction and a hiking pole to help keep your balance (or as we learned to use as a brake when you start sliding).

I chose this trail because we have done it before so I knew what we were getting into. It is nearby, I remember it being mostly full sun, and I thought it was high up enough that it would get us out of the nasty inversion. I didn’t think it was popular enough to be packed down, but luckily I was wrong on that.

This is another one of those wind your way through neighborhood roads to find the trailhead. To get here take US 89 in NSL to Eagle Ridge Dr. Go up the hill and turn right on Eagle Point Dr. Turn left on Sky Crest Ln. and you will find a nice community park. The trailhead is up past the picnic tables.


The park from the parking lot. The trailhead is strait back, next to that sign.


Nice packed down snow.


The pipeline scar appears to be filling in a little more. Hopefully come summertime it won’t be such an eyesore.


Ok the first section is shaded unfortunately, so it was a bit cold. Eventually you pop up over the ridge and it is much better.


Oh cool. They have added a bench. The trail splits here and you can keep following down along the canyon bottom, or start climbing the ridge. We opted for the ridge.


Hooray we are up above the funk! Ben Lomond Peak kind of looks like it is floating.


Another bench. I guess this is the “Lookout” the signs refer to. I never did figure it out last time.


Steep section here.



The smog.


There is another trail split here. You can keep hiking up towards that peak, or go out along a ridge and take in the views. We decided to head out to the ridge.

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It’s really quite beautiful if you choose to ignore the fact that it is smog.


Davis County


Salt Lake County.

It might just be where I am relative to the position of the sun, but it really looks like the smog is much, much worse in Salt Lake County.

Inversion (2)

Which this panoramic also shows.


The weird layered landscape causes little snow stripes.


The Salt Lake Valley. And I am not certain, but that looks like Kennecott filled in with smog as well. Ew.


A good fire pit. We should come camp up here sometime.

We decided to return and hike up to the peak today. It doesn’t look too far.


Of course I didn’t realize there was a small side canyon to climb down and back up.


Ok it is a little steeper than I thought it would be.


Nice snowy hill.



More snow and fog.


Every time we got to what I thought was the peak, we see a short flat section followed by more up. Ok, it is not a close as I thought it was.


Nice patch of trees.


And more up. The sky is actually blue when you get up above the smog!


Another campsite.


Cell towers.


There was a pole at just about every spot I thought was the peak. I told myself I would stop at the next one no matter what as we were getting tired. Yup, still not the peak.




Just some more pictures showing just how bad the inversion is. Under that blanket is a whole valley filled with cities.


You can just make out a plane rising out of it. Alright time to start heading back.



Pretty sure these are bunny tracks.


Stripey hills.


The peak on the other side of the canyon. I still want to go up and explore that cave.


Looking out towards Ogden.


Scrub oak and snow.


According to my pedometer it was about .7 miles from where we turned back to the trailhead so we still had a little ways to go to get to City Creek Ridge. Meh, maybe next time.


Little patches of autumn under the snow.

So we did about 2.5 - 3 miles today including exploring the lower ridge. Not bad for a wintertime hike.

Now that I have done this trail in spring and winter, I think winter is the better time to come. Most of the trail is in the sun which keeps you warmer, the snow is well packed and you get pretty views. (Better without an inversion, but I like the inversion shots as well). I haven't done much winter hiking so I don’t know how fair I can be rating it, but I really enjoyed it and will bump it up from a 7 in the spring to an 8 in the winter.

squirrels 8

As for difficulty well again, I haven't done much winter hiking so I don’t have a lot to compare it to. But, I will say for the most part it was fine. There are a few really steep spots that were tough coming down and that was before we tried to go up to the peak. Going that way there were quite a few more steep sections. I guess I will go with a DR4.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Great Salt Lake Nature Center: Winter


I have been wanting to get out and do more adventuring during the winter time because I hate winter and usually hole up until it passes. That and the fact that we had a small storm last night that cleared out all of the haze made it perfect to go out.

We have been here before, hoping to see bald eagles, but I think we came too late in the year last time. Also, dogs are allowed September 16th – February 29th so we could bring Roxy with us.

It is pretty easy to get here, take i15 toward Farmington. Take exit 322. Take the first right and follow it around the curve to the frontage rd. Turn right onto Glovers ln. Drive 1.6 miles to 1325 w, and there is the small parking lot on the left before the gate. If the visitor center is open the gate will be as well and you can drive right up to it. If not, you can park here and still hike around by going through the access opening.


Which is just left of these signs that tell you everything I just did. The visitor center in usually 8-4:30 mon – fri and sometimes sat and sun. You can see additional hours on their website. Now, onto today's adventure!


The first thing I noticed is that the road was plowed so we didn’t have to trek through snow.


And here is the Visitor Center which has recently been renamed to The Robert N. Hasenyager Great Salt Lake Nature Center. Whew that is a mouthful. it was a short trek in. Like last time, it was closed, but it does have a nice deck with sitting areas that offer a nice view.


The Wasatch Mountains.


Antelope Island. Also a fun adventure.


Last time we were here there were quite a few nests on these poles. Nothing this time. Might be too early.


There are a few roads you can drive through around the dikes and ponds that offer better bird watching, but I wasn’t going to risk it today. (Little car, dirt roads, icy)


Well… we saw a bird today!



There are a few little representations of birds you might see hanging on the buildings.

We originally planned on walking some of the trails they have but Roxy was already acting cold so we decided not to make her tromp through the snow. Sigh, no eagles again.


Nice view of the mountains.


Another pretty mountain shot.


As we were heading back, my eyes were drawn to the tree covered in small birds.. and then I noticed something else.


Well hello there, we found a bald eagle!


Even with a 300mm lens it is still a bit far away.

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Here is a cropped image. Beautiful bird.


I wonder if the smaller birds know it is there.

After watching for a while, and hoping it would fly we decided to take the dike road to see if we could get closer.



Meh, not much closer.

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Another crop.

Well I came here for the bald eagles and I saw one! I am a little concerned he didn’t move much the entire 15 or so minutes we watched, I hope he doesn’t have the Avian Flu that has been killing the eagles off recently, but I don’t know a lot about them. As far as I know he was just looking for lunch, and am just worried because of the news hype of the deaths. Anyway, success! What a fun little adventure!

Not going to give it a squirrely rating today, we didn’t do much, but I will say I think this is a great family friendly, easy to do winter adventure. We saw fewer birds this year than last time, but we did finally see an eagle this year. I would recommend it! Oh, and if you are going this time of year, I would recommend a truck to adventure further out into the bays. Those dike roads are a little intimidating in a little sedan.

As for difficulty, for what we did definitely a DR2. Some of the dirt trails I would even rate DR2 (without snow anyway) and others maybe a DR3, and even some DR1 if you drive around the dike roads.