Stansbury Island

Looking Down

The Great Salt Lake in Utah is home to many different hiking trails, and thankfully I decided to hike around Stansbury Island. This is the second largest island next to Antelope Island on the Great Salt Lake. The hike I decided to go on was just over nine miles one way but being short on time I only hiked four of the nine before I turned around. This place was surreal, I only encountered a couple of people, the sights were outstanding and the trail was easy to follow.

Back Side of the Trail

Getting to the island was fairly easy, you can google, Stansbury Island Trail and it will take you right out to the hiking area. Once you turn off the main highway, a dirt road takes you across what is known as the “Mud Flats.” To be honest I don’t know much about the Great Salt Lake, and driving on a road that is surrounded by the water was a little scary. The water was not very deep but I have no idea if the mud under it is soft and you could sink in it or if it is even safe to enter the water! It was beautiful though and once through the mud flats and onto the island there is just water on one side of you. The dirt road goes on for about six miles before you turn right into the parking area. From what I understand there is a shooting range before the parking area that you can start at but it shortens the hike and you miss out on some of the best views. If you go past the shooting range and find the parking area, which was kind of difficult to spot, there is a trail marker for where you should start.

For the first part of the hike we walked through a field at the base of the mountain. Here is where I ran into a couple of people, they were camping at this spot. For any backpackers out there it was a small site but is very easy to get to and has a campfire ring and a spot for a tent. Past here is the first accent up the mountain, the incline wasn’t too bad but is a little steep so be prepared! About half way up the trail is a flat landing area perfect for a break and some pictures of the lake! The dogs had to be coaxed a little to pose for a picture here! Once we accomplished that we kept going, the trail worked its way to the top in switch backs. At the top of the mountain you can see both sides of the Great Salt Lake. The view is mesmerizing!

Good Dogs

From here I followed the trail which cut along the side of the mountain, looping around the side and heading back inland. After four miles I stopped and took a second to look around! There are cows in the valley, and the trial kept working its way back up another mountain. I saw a couple of trail runners and one other couple with their dog. The hike is easy once you make it up the first hill. To hike 8 miles it took me just over two hours. The trail was easy to follow, it is kind narrow but no big obstacles to overcome. I plan on going back next time we are in Salt Lake and hiking the entire thing. I recommend bringing plenty of water because there is none once you get up there. I had to share my water with my dogs so that also contributed to cutting the hike short! If anyone is looking for a beautiful hike, that is fairly easy I say go on this one!

Pishkun

First Pike

Does anyone like to ice fish? I ask this because I used to HATE ice fishing! We would go all the time when I was younger and it sucked. I was always freezing cold, the wind was blowing constantly and we sat on five gallon buckets around a hole all day and never caught anything! Such a boring way to spend a weekend I always thought. Well if you agreed with me, I hope the rest of this changes your mind.

Dalton likes to ice fish, and I would never go with him because as I said above my experience with it was not fun. Fortunately for me though, Dalton convinced me to go with him one weekend. At this time we were living in Fairfield, Montana and the options of where to go were limited. We ended up driving to Pishkun Reservoir which is about 50 miles northwest of Fairfield. It was snowing and the wind was blowing like usual in that area. My mind was changed first when we set up our ice house. It is a four person Eskimo tent that is super easy to set up. All four sides and the top just pop open when you pull on a tab. The tent kept the wind out but not necessarily the cold. If I remember right the temperature was below freezing before the wind chill. Dalton had brought a small propane tank and a heater that attached directly to it. When this was running I was able to fish in just my t-shirt, no jacket, hat or gloves needed!

Soon enough I decided that I could learn to ice fish like this. A nice tent to keep the wind off, a heater to keep me warm, and I never had to go outside. When I was younger we never had the tent or heater. We were out on the ice for probably three hours and I started to get bored. I kept thinking about how typical it was to never catch anything ice fishing. We had brought Peyton with us, (we didn’t have Case yet), and her and I played outside for a while to keep from going insane. Bringing Peyton was not a horrible idea! She had a blast, but having her in the tent was a little crowded and I worried about her running around out on the ice. I didn’t want her to fall in. Nowadays we don’t usually take either dog when we go ice fishing.

After about another hour or two without catching anything we decided to call it a day and start breaking stuff down. Dalton had gone outside to reel up the six other holes we had drilled. I should mention that we had tip-ups, or for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a contraption that holds an ice fishing pole for you. You drill holes a ways from the tent, then take the tip-ups and place them over the holes. They are square so they won’t fall through the hole. Then the pole is placed in its holder and a spring loaded flag will pop up when something pulls on the line. We set these up to better our chances of catching a fish. As I was saying, Dalton went to pick those up while I cleaned up in the tent. Right then is when my mind was changed for good! One of the lines started going out so I grabbed the pole and started reeling in! I caught my first ever Pike and my first ever fish ice fishing! The experience was so fun and I regret not going more when I was younger!

Setting tip-ups

Also when we go, we use a big black sled to pull most everything, from the tent, to the auger, poles, buckets, heater and propane tank. It makes life so much easier and the sled doesn’t have to be anything special just something to pull everything in. We also wear YakTrax, which go over our boots and have small spikes on the bottom for traction on the ice. These are a life saver! Always be sure to check with your local Fish, Wildlife and Parks before going out on a lake. There are times when it is safe and not safe to go on the ice! Ice fishing started out as something I dreaded doing and now I look forward to it every winter. It is a great hobby to have in the cold weather and with the right gear it is enjoyable! I would like to mention that we do catch and release all of our fish.

Hoover Lake

The High Uinta Wilderness is full of beautiful lakes to hike to. Hoover Lake is just one of many that I have had the pleasure of seeing. The trail is about an hour to an hour and a half drive from Fort Bridger, WY, which is where we are currently living. The scenery to the lake is absolutely stunning! Huge mountain peaks, dense forests, rivers and lakes all around you as you drive. I had actually been by this lake in the fall and WOW! I think that fall would be the best time to visit Hoover Lake and all the other lakes in the Uinta Wilderness. There are Aspen and Birch trees all over. You drive along a winding road through a mess of color. Yellow, orange and red light up the mountain sides making the trees look like they are on fire. I drove through areas where leaves were falling from the trees like snowflakes from the sky. It really was a surreal drive.

Now I didn’t actually hike to Hoover Lake in the fall, like I said I had gone around the area but I actually hiked to the lake in November after there was snow on the ground. Dalton was with me on this trip and we had our two dogs, Peyton and Case. We decided one Saturday morning that we had wanted to go explore and maybe find a lake to hike to. I had gone to the Uinta Wilderness a couple times before so I knew where to go and off we went! We packed a lunch, winter jackets, water and the adventure began.

As we drove to the top of the pass, which is in Utah because we are right on the Wyoming, Utah boarder, the snow kept getting deeper and deeper. We thought that maybe we shouldn’t go since we couldn’t really see the trail when we parked, but decided that a hike anywhere would be fine. The sun was shining, there was no wind and the snow was hard packed. The walk was fairly easy, a small hill to go up and a kind of rock slide to get down into the lake, but the hike in was only about 1.5 miles!

Case was three months old and having a hard time in the snow. He was so cute trying to follow Peyton who just ran right along, happy to be out and about. The lake itself was beautiful! There were flat meadows for people to camp at, the water was clean and crystal clear. There was snow all around us, and it made for a quiet escape. We stayed for a little while, ate lunch on a log and watched as the dogs ran around the water. Eventually Peyton decided it was time to go for a swim and jumped in the lake! Crazy dog! She loves the water so much!

Dalton and I walked slowly around the lake, looking for fish and just visiting. There was no one else around because we are kind of crazy and the only ones that would hike to a lake with no trail! That’s how you find the best spots and the most beautiful pictures in my opinion! (Also it was not a far hike and we could just follow our tracks out!) However we didn’t follow our tracks out because we wanted to see more of the landscape. Our trail out was close to 2 miles long instead of the 1.5 miles on the way in. We followed the inlet of the lake, a small creek winding through the snow. Our dogs ran ahead of us, chasing each other and rolling in the snow. Dalton and I had to pack Case a couple of times because that is a long ways for a puppy! The hike out was a little harder because the snow wasn’t hard like before. We sank and stumbled along, but the exercise and fresh air was worth every second.

I would love to go back to Hoover Lake in the summer and camp out, I bet there are fish in that water and the views are amazing! I wouldn’t recommend to just anyone to go out and hike the trail when there is snow, but in the summer there is a sign at the trail head and I’m sure the trail is well beaten in! We enjoyed this little adventure and I know my dogs loved every second of it!