Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lunchtime Hike

Today I have the late shift at work so I had an hour lunch. I ate my tomato soup and bagel, then decided to go for a short hike before I had to go sit in the entrance station for 5 hours. I chose the Basin Overlook, on the east side of the Rim Trail because it's short and there are a couple small hills along the way. I've been working hard to get more exercise lately and decided that was perfect for a long lunch break.

This is looking east toward the La Sal Mountains, named by Spanish explorers who thought the snow-covered peaks looked like piles of salt. There is salt in the area. The bright blue ponds in the distance are evaporation ponds for the Intrepid Potash Mine. There is a large salt deposit underground, which is responsible for shaping a lot of the landscape surrounding the park (more on that in another post!). Water is pumped into the salt deposit, where the salt dissolves. The salt water is then pumped out into these ponds and dyed blue. (I heard that blue absorbs more sunlight than any other color.) When the water evaporates, the salt is left behind. Then it is scraped up, refined and shipped across the country. It's potassium chloride (instead of sodium chloride, or table salt), which is a main ingredient in plant fertilizer. We use it at the park on the sidewalks in the winter as an ice melt. That is probably the most frequently asked question around: "What are those blue pools down there?" So, I use the previous explanation every single day at work!

Basin View Overlook, looking at the Colorado River. This is one of my favorite views of the river, but I don't make it out to this overlook very often anymore. I think, even when I lived at the park I only hiked out there once in a while. The Bighorn Overlook was my favorite hike then, because it started right behind the ranger houses and was easier to get to.

Just another view from the Basin View Overlook. One day when I was first working here, I hiked out to this overlook and sat for a while, trying to take it all in. After I had sat still long enough, a chipmunk came up to explore, and so did a desert spiny lizard. They poked around for a little while, getting closer and closer to each other, until they were finally close enough to look each other in the eyes! Then they each went their separate ways. It was one of the most fun overlook experiences I've had out here.

So now I am out here in the entrance station answering questions about the park and selling entrance fees. I'm also catching up on my blogs! Utah State Parks has a blog now... I am Ranger Kim (surprise!) and I'm one of the contributors.

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