Mountain biking on Antelope Island, Utah. That sounded like a good item to check off my 50 for 50 list. I had been to Antelope Island before but never mountain biked there. Sounds fun, right? Let me give a little history on Antelope Island. The island has an area of 42 square miles. It is the largest of 10 islands that lie within the Great Salt Lake. Antelope Island has natural scenic beauty and holds populations of pronghorn, bighorn sheep, American bison, porcupine, badger, coyote, bobcat, and millions of waterfowl. The bison were introduced to the island in 1893, and Antelope Island Bison Herd has proven to be a valuable genetic pool for bison breeding and conservation purposes. The bison do well because much of the island is covered by dry, native grassland. [Excerpt taken from Wikipedia. Lots more history there is you desire a deeper understanding.]
Bikes on car, helmets and water packed. Let's go. It's about an hour and half ride from Park City. Before I knew it, we were there and ready for some adventure. I suggested that we stop at the Visitor's Center which is one of the first stops when you get off the Causeway onto the Island. The center is a cement building perched on top of one of the highest points on the island. As I exited the car, I realized that there were swarms of gnats. Little tiny, annoying bugs that fly right into your ears and nose. Okay, this should be interesting. Perhaps the plan might have to be modified.
Pushing forward onto the island, we decided that Buffalo Point would be a great trail to do. It's about a mile round trip and is overlooking the Great Salt Lake. I suggested we hike in a bit to see what the terrain looked like since I had my son with me. He is a great mountain biker on flat trails, but this one looked a little challenging.
Once we exited the car, it became very apparent that the gnat issue was not going to get better. Undaunted, I suggested that we abandon the bikes, but still hike to the topmost section of the hill. Bad idea! Anytime we stopped, we were absolutely swarmed. If ever a person were to go completely insane, it might be in this instance. They were everywhere, moving with us as we ran faster and faster back towards the car. My son was screaming, I was screaming….
After finally getting back to the car, and getting whatever gnats were inside the car out, my kid declared that he never, ever wanted to come back to this island again. Can't say as I blame him.
As we started driving again, I realized we still had not seen any bison or antelope. One cannot come to the island and not see one of these animals. When I promised to not stop the car at all, my son agreed to continue down the road to see what wildlife we could see. We were rewarded with a herd of bison lounging on the beach and antelope prancing through the tall grass.
Antelope Island is very scenic and beautiful. I am sure there are times of the year when the gnats don't swarm. I, for one, am not ready to venture back there again. However, the day was not lost. We soaked in some beautiful scenery, turned the mishap into a funny story and ended up giggling the whole way home. My kid was re-naming it Gnatelope Island and kept saying we got "Gnatomic Bombed". It turned out to be a great bonding adventure. We were met with adversity and turned it into a great day!
"When adversity strikes, that's when you have to be the most calm. Take a step back, stay strong, stay grounded and press on." - LL Cool J
Until the next adventure,
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