Fremont Island - February 19, 2022

scatman

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I've had this hike on my bucket list for a long time now, and since I had a three day weekend coming up, I decided to finally get it done. I had attempted this route six years ago in April, but an early morning storm had me and my son turning around just after heading out, with our tails between our legs.

I had originally wanted to go on Monday the 21st, but as I kept looking at the forecast, it became apparent that snow was on the menu for Monday, so I switched it to Sunday, until they began to call for a chance of precipitation for Sunday evening. Well, I guess that left me with Saturday to give it a go.

Now a little bit about Fremont Island for the uninitiated:
- The island was named after John C. Fremont, who was an early explorer of the West, as most here probably already know.
- Fremont, and the mountain man Kit Carson were the first explorers of European descent to visit the island in 1843
- While on the island, Carson etched a cross in a rock outcrop just off the summit of the high point of the island called Castle Rock
- In the 1870's precious metal claims for mining were granted.
- In 1886, a man named Uriah Wenner moved his family to the island where they homesteaded for six years until his death in 1891.
- The Wenners (Uriah and his wife Kate) have gravesites on the island. He was buried, while she had her ashes placed next to him when she passed in 1942.
- The island then when through a number of private owners including one who brought in exotic animals to hunt for a fee.
- In September of 2020 the Nature Conservancy purchased the island, and then donated the land to the State of Utah.

4194 is the key. What is 4194 you say? 4194 is the water level in feet by which a sandbar from the Antelope Island Causeway to Fremont Island is exposed. And since the lake level currently sits at 4190' the sandbar is actually more of a wide mudflat that links the two islands now.

My route to Fremont would begin at the marina at Antelope Island, backtrack along the causeway for a mile or so and then head out across the mudflat to Fremont. Once on Fremont, I'd make my way to Castle Rock to check out Kit Carson's cross. I'd then return by the same route back to the marina at Antelope. The roundtrip distance for the hike would be 22.5 miles.

Now a little Scatman info before we get going. First, I had gotten everything ready for my hike the night before except for making myself a peanut butter sandwich, which I planned on making before taking off from my house on Saturday morning. Well, I get up at 4:30 am, make my sandwich, and then place it in a plastic grocery bag. The only problem was that I had two plastic grocery bags, one for my hike, and another with some snacks for when I got back to my car after the hike was completed. As you can guess, I put the sandwich in the wrong bag. :( My second big mistake happened while I was on the hike, and it occurred while on Castle Peak. When I first got to the summit, I took a few pictures of the surrounding area, and then a sat down to apply some more sunscreen. Well, at some point after finishing, I must have touched my EOS M camera lens, so from that point on all the pictures taken with that camera had what I referred to as the "Sunscreen Effect." Which means that none of the rest of the shots turned out to be any good. I didn't realize this until this morning when I started to download the imagery. :( Fortunately, I had taken four cameras with me, three of which are point-and-shoot cameras, so I was able to have some decent shots upon my return to Antelope Island. My Canon PowerShot SD850 IS battery actually ran out of charge on the way to Fremont due to the cold morning temps.

Like I said before, I woke up at 4:30 am and took off for Antelope Island at 5:25 am. Arriving at the marina at 6:30 am to begin my journey - taking off before sunrise. A brisk 26 degrees at the marina upon my arrival.

01.jpg

I am just leaving the causeway to head out onto the mudflats.

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Dawn along the Wasatch as I begin to make my way across the mudflats

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Looking east towards Ogden as I make my way along

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View looking southeast towards Salt Lake City. Lone Peak can be seen at the end of the range.

05.jpg

Looking back at Antelope Island in the early morning light. I should probably mention at this point that the mudflat was actually
muddy. The mud was sticking to my boots which made them pretty heavy. It was worse for the first hour of hiking across the flat,
but continued to be problematic periodically all the way to Fremont. My return was a bit better as the sun had dried some of the
mud by the afternoon.

06.jpg

Some life trying to hang on the flats. Fremont Island is in the distance, along with the Promontory
Range.

07.jpg

A waning gibbous moon off to the west

08.jpg

Not sure what we have here. To me, it looks like a WWII bomb, but I'm guessing it has something to do with a boat.

09.jpg

Sunrise on the Promontory Mountains while Fremont Island is still in the shade on the left

10.jpg

Long legs and a tiny head. That's me! :D

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Some dead sage on my way

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For the first hour and a half, these markers led the way, but after that there were no more.

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Periodically I would run into wet, as opposed to just damp, areas, where the mud got bad again. Fremont looks like it is getting
closer. :thumbsup:

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Time to don the bicycle cap

15.jpg

Still long shadows to contend with

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Land ahoy! I'm crossing Wenner Bay at this point

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On shore! I had to pass through some very tall, large grass just off the shoreline, with David E. Miller Hill looming above.

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Over my head tall

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Looking back across Kate's Point towards Antelope Island.

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The foundation of the old Wenner Homestead

Wenner_Homestead.png

Wenner Homestead - date unknown - courtesy of the Utah Historical Society

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The Wenner's gravesites

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A closeup of the headstone

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Stansbury Island across the lake, with the Stansbury Range and Deseret Peak beyond.

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A look to the north towards Beacon Hill and Miller's Point

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A cabin ahead

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The hunter's cabin

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Hmm .............................

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An inside look

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Well this ought to give them something to talk about around the watercooler on Tuesday
morning. "Hey, some guy in a kilt is taking a picture of our camera!" :D

30.jpg

Heading to the top of David E. Miller Hill

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Another look back towards Antelope Island

32.jpg

On the ridge, with Castle Rock barely visible

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A look down on Kit Carson Bay with Ogden in the distance

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A landing strip on the ridge

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Castle Rock ahead

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A look to the northwest and Beacon Hill

37.jpg

Arriving at the base of Castle Rock

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Some common storksbill blooming on the slopes of Castle Rock. The storksbill was the only flower that i saw blooming on the
island

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Interesting rock outcrop as I make my way to the summit of Castle Rock

40.jpg

Another view of the southern end of Fremont Island

Kit_Carson_Cross_1962.png

Kit Carson's etched cross back in 1962 - photo courtesy of the Utah Historical Society

41.jpg

The cross today

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A closeup of the cross

43.jpg

looking north across the lake at the Promontory Range

44.jpg

A view to the northeast towards Little Mountain and the Wellsville Range . @swmalone

45.jpg

Another shot of Kit Carson Bay from Castle Rock

42b.jpg

The sunscreen effect. :mad:

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A weather station on David E. Miller Hill on my way back down the ridge

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Back at the hunting cabin

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Another look at the homestead ruins with a different sun angle

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Coyote tracks on the flats

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Coming and going through Wenner Bay

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Bye bye Fremont. :( Not looking forward to the long trek back across the mud.

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Beginning to hallucinate at this point. :D

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Some interesting shots of dried up pools of water along the way back

53b.jpg

More of my comings and goings

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Nice texture in the mud as I approach the causeway

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Me and Fremont

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back on the causeway heading for my vehicle

57.jpg

Back at the Subaru - Sunscreen Effect

Other than me pooching the camera lens, of course I didn't know it at the time, it was a fun yet tiring day. A highly recommended
hike for those who have all day to get it done. It will take you between 11 and 12 hours to complete.


The End.
 
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TractorDoc

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Nicely done Hugh!

The views from Freemont Island look well worth the effort involved in getting there.

Not being familiar with the level(s) of the lake is the mud flat more or less exposed right now or are there the equivalent of tides/periods when water will cover it now and again? In some of your pictures it looked as if vehicle tracks had crossed the mud flat at some point. . . was this the case? If so, did you have any E-bikes pass you up? :)
 

regehr

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Love it! Do you know what your mileage is? Are there any permit issues, and if not would it be OK to bike across the flats (when they're less muddy)?
 
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napatony13

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Very cool, thanks for sharing. Many years ago I had a couple of hunting trips up in the Promontorys, this brought back good memories.
 

CodyL

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Very cool report Scat!! You motivated me to get out to Fremont soon! Funny how I always overlook the great hikes that are close by! Love the pics of your footprints in the sand going both directions. Thanks
 

scatman

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Nicely done Hugh!

The views from Freemont Island look well worth the effort involved in getting there.

Not being familiar with the level(s) of the lake is the mud flat more or less exposed right now or are there the equivalent of tides/periods when water will cover it now and again? In some of your pictures it looked as if vehicle tracks had crossed the mud flat at some point. . . was this the case? If so, did you have any E-bikes pass you up? :)

No, the tides of the lake won't be covering it anytime soon due to the low water level.

Those are vehicle tracks. When the island was privately owned, I believe they were allowed to access the island by vehicle if the water level allowed access. Now that the state owns the island, it is now illegal to take a motorized vehicle to the island.

If I had seen an E-bike, there probably would be another grave site out on the island. ;)
 

scatman

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Love it! Do you know what your mileage is? Are there any permit issues, and if not would it be OK to bike across the flats (when they're less muddy)?

I mapped a route that reached Fremont, went through the old homestead, and then straight up the ridge and on to the Kit Carson cross. It said that it was 11.25 miles one way. Since I deviated a bit to get to the gravesite and the hunter's cabin, I'm pretty sure that I did a 23 mile day.

I did have a waypoint at a location on the USGS 7.5 minute map that showed where some seeps were located, northeast of the homestead, but I didn't make it over to them. :) From above on David E. Miller Hill, I looked down to where I thought the seeps might be located, but everything looked dry to me. Maybe with the continuing drought conditions over the years, the seeps no longer seep? My question is how did the Wenner's get water? A well perhaps? It seems to me that a well would just produce salt water. I'm baffled. And how does the wildlife on the island get fresh water? If I return to the island, I'll be heading straight for the location of the seeps.

No permits needed. Pedaling a bikes is okay, not sure about the E-bike though. You can't hunt on the island, or camp, or build a fire, other than that, you are good to go.
 

scatman

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22 miles? one day? I may reevauluate the beartooth trip ....... add miles?

Are those tire tracks in some of the pics?

If you add miles Bob, I will die in the Beartooth Wilderness. :) Please mark my headstone with the following:

Scatman
Born - July 14, 1964
Died - August ?, 2022
He died doing what he loved.


And yes, those are tire tracks.
 
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scatman

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Very cool, thanks for sharing. Many years ago I had a couple of hunting trips up in the Promontorys, this brought back good memories.

I've always wanted to hike to the top Messix Peak, the high point in the Promontories, but I understand that it is on private land.

I'm glad this report brought back some nice memories for you.
 

kwc

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Four cameras? Are you testing different ones or is this your usual MO? And 22+ miles, you, sir, are a hiking beast.
 

scatman

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Very cool report Scat!! You motivated me to get out to Fremont soon! Funny how I always overlook the great hikes that are close by! Love the pics of your footprints in the sand going both directions. Thanks

Thanks @CodyL. I think you would enjoy this hike. If you go, checkout and see if there are any fresh water seeps to the northeast of the old homestead and report back. :)
 
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scatman

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I just got an alert on my phone from the DNR to be on the lookout for a wildman in a kilt.

I was much wilder on my return by the cabin because I didn't get to eat my peanut butter sandwich for lunch! :mad:

I forgot to tell you @Rockskipper that I got buzzed by a plane just before reaching the hunter's cabin.

25b.jpg


It was like King Kong on the Empire State building for a few seconds! :D Except there was no Fay Wray in my script.
 

scatman

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Four cameras? Are you testing different ones or is this your usual MO? And 22+ miles, you, sir, are a hiking beast.

So this kilt that I wore has two really big pockets that attach to it. I recently picked up a used Canon PowerShot SD600 for eight dollars on Ebay and I wanted to test it out. My SD850 ended up being dead weight because I was only able to take four pictures with it before the battery ran out of juice due to the cold. My EOS M I carry in a case around my shoulder. I also took my Fuji XP point-and-shoot which is waterproof and I think takes pretty good pictures.
 

Kmatjhwy

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Scatman, Great Great Trip Report! Loved It! An odd question ... did you see many birds out on the island and on this trek? In my memory anything over 20 miles is a good day, but on those days I would surely feel the effects on my feet from all the trekking afterwards. Hope your feet are okay. Guess your wife decided not to come with you on this one. Thanks and I look forward to hearing of more of these adventures of yours. And interesting, so your sun sign is in Cancer by the zodiac. Just Interesting.
 

scatman

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Scatman, Great Great Trip Report! Loved It! An odd question ... did you see many birds out on the island and on this trek? In my memory anything over 20 miles is a good day, but on those days I would surely feel the effects on my feet from all the trekking afterwards. Hope your feet are okay. Guess your wife decided not to come with you on this one. Thanks and I look forward to hearing of more of these adventures of yours. And interesting, so your sun sign is in Cancer by the zodiac. Just Interesting.

Yep, I'm a Bastille Day boy, so Cancer is my sign. I'm not sure if that is good or bad though. :)

I invited Sheila to join me, but she said that the 20+ miles would be a bit much for her.

As for birds, I had two Canada Geese fly over me when I was crossing Wenner Bay on my way to Fremont. Here is a bad shot of them.
58.jpg


I also saw two crows when I was on the island, and I saw six or seven birds that flew between the sage on the island. All were the same type, but they were too quick for me to get a picture of them. They appeared to be brownish in color with a lighter underside. I'm sorry, I don't know my birds like I should. Would you happen to take a guess at what they might be? I was expecting to see some seagulls at some point along my route, but I didn't see a single one all day.

I also came across these as I made my way up the ridge to head for Castle Rock. Appears to be a pair bird wings.
01b.jpg

01c.jpg


After I was done, my feet felt fine, but my left knee was pretty sore, and I had some slight aching in my hips, which isn't anything new.
 
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