in Family Time, Not Quite What We'd Planned, The State We're In, Things we do

“Win standoff with a bison” wasn’t even on my bucket list. Nevertheless: check!

About mmmmm, maybe half a mile into our 7-mile hike at Antelope Island State Park today, we encountered a speed bump. It had four legs, a gigantic shaggy head, and likely weighed in at about 2,000 pounds.

Dude. Are ya kididng me? We're trying to hike here!

Dude. Are ya kidding me? We’re trying to hike here!

Bison!

Hundreds of them roam the island. We know not to approach them, not even for selfies (oops — see below), but this guy clearly hadn’t read the signs. And he was in our way. So we made noise, and waved our arms, and begged, and cajoled, and finally seemed to annoy him enough that he wandered off down the hill toward the females, as I suggested.

But first, and since you insist on standing there, lemme take a selfie anyway.

But first, and since you insist on standing there, lemme take a selfie.

(Disclaimer: I do not recommend this strategy. We emerged unscathed, but also aware that things could have gone sideways quickly. But at least we didn’t put him in our car because he looked cold.)

Anyway, after that the hike was far less exciting, but wickedly strenuous. We gained about 2100 feet of elevation in 3.5 miles, and it took nearly 2.5 hours to reach the 6596-foot summit of Frary Peak. Per park signage, the hiking level is “Difficult.”

The last half mile, however, was what I would call treacherous, in that a fall could cause serious bodily harm — if ya live to limp back down the mountain and into an ER. I talked to myself for that whole last stretch, thanking my feet for taking cautious steps, my legs for holding me up, the rocks for providing footholds, and the breeze for providing oxygen so that I didn’t hyperventilate. I also sang songs. “One Singular Sensation,” “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” and “Baby Got Back” all made my mental playlist. Don’t judge. I made it to the top because of them.

Island map. From the summit (see the number 6576 about halfway down?), we could see the entire island!

Antelope Island
From the summit, we could see the entire thing, lots of the Great Salt Lake surrounding, and distant mountain ranges I am too lazy to look up on a map.


Going up -- and thinking this rock outcropping slightly resembles a bison head. Also, I'd been hiking in full sun for an hour, so if you don't see it, it's me, not you.

Going up — and thinking this rock outcropping slightly resembles a bison head.
Also, I’d been hiking in full sun for an hour, so if you don’t see it, it’s me, not you.


My guys, ascending.

My guys, ascending.

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Made it! Man, that was a tough climb. And there's no shade or water, so plan carefully if you decide to give this one a try!

Made it!
Man, that was a tough climb. And there’s no shade or water, so plan carefully if you decide to give this one a try.

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Views from the top...

Views from the top…


... south end of the island...

… south end of the island…


... and the reason we didn't spend much time at the top. If you don't move, the flies infest you. I count eight there on my knees, and the SOB's bite.

… and the reason we didn’t spend much time there.
If you don’t move, the flies infest you. I count seven there on my knees, and the SOB’s bite.

After our hike, we took a quick swing through the park’s historic Fielding Garr Ranch, which dates back to 1848 — and bonus, offers running water in the public restrooms instead of the usual state park pit toilet with empty hand sanitizer dispenser.

After our hike, we took a quick swing through the park's historic Fielding Garr Ranch, which dates back to 1848 -- and bonus, has running water in the public restrooms!

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We couldn't resist taking a peek inside the sheep herder's wagon. RV of the times!

We couldn’t resist taking a peek inside the sheep herder’s wagon: RV of the times, with cookstove, bunk, and storage areas!


Final glimpse of the bison -- this time from a safer distance, and with the engine running!

Final glimpse of the bison — this time from a safer distance, and with the engine running!

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  1. One of my friends (a newspaper journalist) was out on an assignment, and she pulled up to this farm (on the Iowa/South Dakota border), and a pack of dogs raced up to her car door to meet her. She was so intent on them that she was momentarily distracted from the fact that with the dogs came a buffalo, jumping and everything, just like he was a puppy.
    His name was Norm, and his owner came out to help my friend leave her car (since she was essentially being held hostage in her car by a tame bison).
    Needless to say, she remembers that assignment well.