Castle Rock - April 3, 2021

scatman

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I attempted this hike back in November of 2017 with my daughter, and with my late start that day, and shorter days that time of year, we didn't make it to the summit of Castle Rock. Castle Rock is located on Stansbury Island, which with the lower water level of the Great Salt Lake isn't really an island now.

The trailhead is located about fifty miles to the west of Salt Lake City and the entire hike is without a trail, but even without a trail, there is no chance of getting lost as you can pretty much see where you need to go from the get go. The entire route is exposed, with a few Juniper trees here and there. There is private land located on Stansbury that one is supposed to avoid, which makes for a rather long approach to the high point.

We began by making our way up to the old Lake Bonneville bench. Once on the bench, we hiked north along it. Occasionally we would have to cross steep gullies where running water had eroded the bench over time. We continued north until we reached the easiest grade of slope to hike up in order to gain the main ridge of the island. Once we were on the ridge, we continued to follow the ridgeline north and on to the summit of Castle Rock. There is a little bit of scrambling as you get very close to the summit.

Here are some shots of our hike.

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The Jeep doesn't get to go on many long drives anymore so it was quite excited.

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Early morning sun on Stansbury Island. Castle Rock is the small bump along the ridgeline to the right of center.

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Yellows Bells were beginning to bloom at lower elevations

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Making our way up to the Lake Bonneville shoreline (bench)

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View to the north

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Dead Juniper at bench level

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Very pleasant hiking along the bench

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Looking west down first drainage that we had to cross

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A good look at the old bench from across the second drainage we encountered.

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Juniper tree

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Strolling along the bench

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Finally some wildlife! :) I'm not sure what differentiates Stansbury Island Bison from Yellowstone Bison. Anybody out there know? :D

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Layered rock along our route

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Some Spring Parsley and Common Storksbill. The Spring Parsley was the hit of the hike as it was plentiful and blooming everywhere along our route

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Some fossilized sea shells in the rock

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Making our way up to the main ridgeline.

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62 in the shade of a Juniper tree. It would end up reaching a high of 79 degrees, which is relatively hot for this time of year here.

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We took a break in the shade of this Juniper before completing our trek to the ridge

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Getting close to the ridgeline

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On the ridge. :thumbsup:

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Castle Rock

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View to the west from the ridgeline. The Lakeshore Mountains in the distance

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First view to the east with Antelope Island and Frary Peak visible and the Wasatch Front in the far distance.

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Some ups and downs along the ridge

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Sheila, making her way along the ridge with the snow covered Stansbury Range in the distance.

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A very quick energy bar break before heading on to the summit

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Seems within reach. :thinking:

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Castle Rock - only one more hill to climb

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A look back along the ridge we had been traversing

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The summit! I can almost reach out and touch it.

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The scrambling portion

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On top

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Views from the top - looking south along the spine of the island

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View from the top - looking north to the northern end of the island

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View from the top - looking southeast towards the Oquirrh Mountains

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On our way down at this point - a view into one of the canyons.

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View up one of the drainages we had to cross

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Another drainage that we are crossing again. On this one though, instead of hiking down to the
bottom of the drainage and then hike back up and out of it, we hiked up to the crack between the
rocks that you can see just above the center of the image. We then worked our way back down
to the bench and continued heading south


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Approaching another drainage

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A look back on Castle Rock in the late afternoon sunshine

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Take us home 94 Wrangler.


The End.
 
OK, to answer the question: what differentiates Stansbury Island Bison from Yellowstone Bison?

The definitive answer: Yellowstone Bison are off-limits to hunters, so their gene pool is much purer.
Stansbury Island Bison have been hunted for decades by Texans. I know, because my uncle has a ranch with bison like that, and also similar-looking elk. He's always running Texans off.

ETA: Apologies to Texans who know the diff.
 
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Hey thanks. What a relief! I knew there had to be a reasonable explanation behind the differences. I'll sleep much better now. :D
 
Great spot for a spring hike! I love the views from the ridge. I've never been up to Castle Rock before, so it's awesome seeing this!

And I've gotta mention this because I'm curious. There's some plant that grows on Stansbury Island in the spring that always leaves a strong scent on my shoes that takes weeks to go away. Was that the case for you this time?
 
nice fossils!

You know, we saw quite a few rocks that had fossils in them, but for some reason that was the only picture I took of them. Some of them were positioned in the rock in such a way, that it seemed like you could reach down and just pick them up.
 
Great spot for a spring hike! I love the views from the ridge. I've never been up to Castle Rock before, so it's awesome seeing this!

And I've gotta mention this because I'm curious. There's some plant that grows on Stansbury Island in the spring that always leaves a strong scent on my shoes that takes weeks to go away. Was that the case for you this time?

I think those were cow pat...... Oops, I mean Stansbury Bison patty lilies. :)

If the odor was a pungent one, then it was probably the desert parsley (It was very abundant). We ran into some wild onions as we approached the ridge and then all along the ridgeline. I didn't notice any onion smell hiking up to the bench or walking along the bench. There were numerous pockets on the ridge where the smell of onion was pretty intense. The onions weren't blooming yet though. So if your shoes smelled like onions, it had to be the wild onions.
 
I think those were cow pat...... Oops, I mean Stansbury Bison patty lilies. :)

If the odor was a pungent one, then it was probably the desert parsley (It was very abundant). We ran into some wild onions as we approached the ridge and then all along the ridgeline. I didn't notice any onion smell hiking up to the bench or walking along the bench. There were numerous pockets on the ridge where the smell of onion was pretty intense. The onions weren't blooming yet though. So if your shoes smelled like onions, it had to be the wild onions.
Ahh I'm almost certain it's desert parsley then. Definitely isn't an onion smell. The mystery plant has been identified! Now is there any culinary use for desert parsley? :D
 
Go man go!

love that knarly old lone juniper.

looks like your “sea shells” could be horned coral, at least 250 million years old up to almost 500 million years old. I’ve come across this in the weirdest places.
 
Ahh I'm almost certain it's desert parsley then. Definitely isn't an onion smell. The mystery plant has been identified! Now is there any culinary use for desert parsley? :D

I read that the Native Americans ate the stems and roots of this plant, but I have never tried any myself.
 
Go man go!

love that knarly old lone juniper.

looks like your “sea shells” could be horned coral, at least 250 million years old up to almost 500 million years old. I’ve come across this in the weirdest places.

Thanks for identifying the fossils.
 
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