From the Salt Lake to lonely roads and mountains

The Lincoln Highway runs south from Layton towards central Salt Lake City and then turns west to the lakeshore where it joins I80. Commuters were heading into the city as we left our hotel yesterday morning but we lost them when we turned towards the lake and stopped off at the Saltair Resort Pavilion. There have been four in the last hundred years and this is the only place on the south shore of the lake that there is public access. Dog walkers were on the beach and geese swimming in a pool. Back on the interstate we passed a huge pile of salt very similar to the one outside British Salt in Middlewich in the UK. 95% of our salt is mined under Cheshire with only 5% coming from sea salt. The heap outside the works is used to de-ice the roads in winter. We stayed on I80 for most of the way to Wendover across the Great Salt Lake Desert. There were more southern alignments of the Highway here but they now run through private and military land and permission to travel on them must be requested. Between Wendover and West Wendover we received a welcome from the large cowboy in the middle of the road, crossed the state line into Nevada and the Pacific Time Zone.
Great Salt Lake Desert 2  Utah 12 Jul 2016-1
Welcome to West Wendover NV 12 Jul 2016-1
The Lincoln Highway then takes what is called Alt93 southwest. It travels over the White Horse Pass at 6045ft and at Lages Junction, joins US93 which is also known as the Great Basin Highway. At this point we had a completely blue sky with only one tiny cloud in sight. A few miles before McGill we hit more roadworks and were stationary for a time. We stopped in Ely, explored the North Nevada Railway Museum and had lunch in the shade. I have spent a fair bit of time on trains in several countries and my grandfather was a locomotive engineer so the museum was interesting and the railway in these parts mainly served the huge copper mine just outside the town. Heading out of town, we noticed that all the local sheriffs were inside one café so things must have been fairly quiet. Highway 50 is billed as ‘Americas Loneliest Road’ and it was certainly quiet. We crossed over the Robinson Pass at 7588ft and then switched to an even quieter, lonelier road: Long Valley Road, another diversion from the Lincoln Highway.
The LOng Valley NV 12 Jul 2016-1
This heads north for 67 miles to Ruby Lake and has several gravel sections. We saw no other vehicle until we were almost at Ruby Lake and that was one wrecked car which had been abandoned. A sign informed us that we were also following the ‘California Trail Hastings’ Cutoff’ which later proved disastrous to the Donner Party. As we left Ruby Lake behind us, civilisation gradually appeared and after crossing Harrison Pass, we descended in Elko. We based ourselves here for a couple of nights as a friend who used to live in Reno recommend the Ruby Mountains. This morning we drove up to Lamoille Canyon and hiked from the trailhead at the road end, up to Lamoille Lake. On the way up the canyon, a large group of climbers were getting ready to tackle a steep cliff. Some University of Minnesota geology students were on the first half mile of the trail, examining the rocks and we met several runners heading back down the mountainside. Flowers were in bloom all around, I caught glimpses of some birds and we saw a few chipmunks. We had a rest at the lake and the walked back down talking to several who were on the way up. Lunch was at the side of the canyon road and we saw there had been rockfalls onto the road while we had been walking. Tomorrow we return to the Lincoln Highway and the Loneliest Road.
Lamoille Canyon Ruby Mountains NV 13 Jul 2016-1
Lamoille Lake Ruby Mountains NV 13 Jul 2016-1

The Great Salt Lake

We did not complete the entire Lincoln Highway route in Northern Utah which extends via I84 to Ogden and then turns south as yesterday’s drive was very long. Also, having stayed in quite a few city centres, I was now keen to see more open space and in particular explore the Great Salt Lake. So we based ourselves in Layton in order to be closer to Antelope Island State Park. Today was very slightly cooler with temperatures in the high 70s. Antelope Drive continues west towards Syracuse and then on to seven miles of the causeway to Antelope Island State Park. There was only one car in front of us at the Park entrance unlike the Rocky Mountains National Park we visited a few days ago.
Morning view Antelope Island  Utah 11 Jul 2016-1
Heading towards a trail head, we were early enough to see a herd of bison who were moving down the hillside towards the lake where others were feeding.
Bison Antelope Island 2 Utah 11 Jul 2016-1
We did see a flash of the eponymous antelope but Bighorn Sheep and the other mammals eluded us. On the hillside there were numerous dragonflies and other insects, lizards darting into the undergrowth and large numbers of birds. We stopped at the top of the lowest peak as despite the breeze, it was getting hotter and four more miles on the exposed hillside did not appeal. From there we had fantastic views across the lake towards the mountains. Descending, there were still some people only starting the climb and carrying very little water. We headed to the Visitors Centre where Barn Swallows were nesting and seemed unperturbed by the human presence as they fed their young. I managed to identify some of the flowers I have seen and learnt about the history of the place. Lunch was by the beach where some folks were swimming. A young Japanese boy who had headed off towards the water in bare feet, found the sand hotter than he had expected.
Antelope Island 11 Utah 11 Jul 2016-1
We then had a relaxing afternoon as tomorrow is another driving day and a new state, although we do gain another hour moving into Nevada.