Stansbury Island can lead to adventures — on trails or off

07 Nov


Alkali beach: Bridger and Miss Ella explore one of Stansbury Island's salty playas (photo by Clint Thomsen)

Bridger dropped the sheet of salty clay he had been examining and dashed toward his brother. I had to chuckle at the way the empty playa skewed his sense of direction. His route was direct for the first dozen yards, but he curved sharply as he ran, looking very confused before he finally corrected his course.

The dry, expansive lake beds of the Great Basin have captivated man ever since he first laid eyes on them. The playa’s intrigue lies in our futile attempt to visually comprehend it. The absence of normal visual cues triggers cognitive dissonance and lays the groundwork of our fascination. As writer William Fox put it, “A playa is the absolute visual sink in the core of the void, a white hole into which our imaginations vanish.”

While Stansbury Island’s receding shorelines aren’t the most extreme examples of playa phenomenon — it’s plane is broken frequently by color variation and rock intrusions — the Great Salt Lake’s second largest island certainly holds its own in the arena of visual marvels.

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One response to “Stansbury Island can lead to adventures — on trails or off

  1. Kristine Shreve

    November 7, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    I love the way you describe this. I don’t think I’ve experienced anything like it, but your description allows me to think I have.

    Also, how cute is that picture of Ella and Bridger?


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