Updated: Jun 19, 2021
This is my first time to Utah, EVER. I arrive in Salt Lake City, I grab a rental car, and I go straight to a bike shop to rent a mountain bike for a week. They felt the front tire was a little “squishy” so they decided to replace the tube. It seemed like quite a process. It took the guy about 30 minutes using all their high tech bike equipment. Remember this. We’ll come back to that later.
I decided for my first evening that I would head to Antelope Island State Park. It sits out in the Southeast part of Salt Lake and is said to have some wildlife. They say you COULD see buffalo, prog horn sheep (antelope), mule deer, coyotes and a number of birds. They say the best chance to see wildlife is on the road that runs along the East side of the island. Just as I started, I did see two buffalo in two different spots. One was far, the other, not the best lighting.
I continued on the road that heads to the South tip of the island. I saw a few mule deer bucks high in the hills, I saw one coyote hiding in the grass and possibly some prong horns way up at the top of the mountain. But nothing to give me a good shot to take home. The road basically just runs along the lakeside at the bottom of the mountain. It seemed all the wildlife were up in the hills. So I wanted to get up there. Well, there’s a trail that goes up and over the peek of the mountain. It’s about a 900ft elevation I believe.
So I decide to pull out the mountain bike and give it a shot. Isn’t that what a “mountain” bike is for? Crossing a mountain? It was quite challenging with soft dirt and large loose rocks. I got a little past half way or so and stopped to take a picture. I could barely see my car which was directly below me. I was UP there. For those of you that are asking, “where was my invite?” Well this is why. This is a challenge for any Utes. So it’s quite the challenge for a Florida flat land boy. You gotta keep up and I’m not easy to keep up with.
Anyway, after my photo, I start off again and realize my rear tire is flat! This is no bueno. I want to get to the top. The sun will be setting on the opposite side of this mountain. So I keep going. Now I’m not only carrying a camera with a long lens, a short lens and a full size 8lb tripod, now I’m also pushing a $3200 (useless) bike with a flat tire. And I’m not sure how I’m getting back down. I really wanted to ride down. That would be the fun part. But riding on a flat could damage the tire and possibly bend the rim and cost me more money. The bike did come with a little tool kit which included an extra tube and a CO2 cartridge to inflate the tire. So I could attempt a repair. But remember how hard it was for the bike shop guy to do it with his equipment? It’s like him having a sewing machine and me having a sewing kit. Could I really do it? I decided I would decide that once I reach the top. All this time while I’m struggling to climb this mountain on a rocky and soft dirt road, I’m thinking, “please reward me somehow for this effort.”
As I neared the summit, I thought I saw some bison, so that excited me. At least I’ll get some shots of that. Once I reached the top, no bison. They were rocks. I can’t stay for the sunset, because that is at 9pm. The park closes at 10pm. I’m 12 miles in by car and way up on top of a mountain with a bike with a flat tire. Walking it down is going to take a great deal of time. I’m frustrated because I haven’t seen one animal all the way up this mountain and I can’t stay for the sunset. So I decide to attempt to repair the tire. It was a challenge, but I pulled it off. It seemed to be perfect. Holding air. Whoohoo. So now I’m thinking stay for the sunset then jet down the mountain to the car.
I then check out the side of the mountain where I came up and here comes a big bison right at me. It’s coming to the top of the mountain during the golden hour with the sun hitting it perfectly and the bay and mountains behind it! SCORE! My reward. Then comes another younger one. Now I’m a bit concerned. You don’t ever want to get too close to wildlife, especially a bison...and especially when it has young ones around. These guys are between me and my road down the mountain. So I just hold my ground. They know I’m there. I’m snapping away as they both come toward me. They come within the perfect distance and just go around me. Then I look back and here comes a shit ton of them. It was a herd of over 60 and they all passed right by me. It was such an awesome experience. They circled all the way around me and between me and the sunset. I got tons of shots. Follow me to see those down the pike.
So it was successful. Now I need to pack up and get my ass down this dark side of the mountain without killing myself. I told the bike, “ok, buddy, let’s do this”. It was actually fun…no peddling needed. I got to that point where I discovered my flat on the way up and noticed I have a flat again! There’s no way I can walk this bike to the car and get out of here on time. So I just keep riding and baby it all the way down. It took me about 30 mins to get down. It’s gonna be tight. You can’t go 60 in the park. I ended up getting to the exit gate at 9:56pm. What an evening! More pics to come!