Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Great Salt Plains

Great Salt Plains and Lake

The water level in the lake has just gotten back up to its normal conservation level. Like most lakes in the state, to varying degress, it was mostly dry all summer. The added brownish picture in the upper left of the aerial photo was taken later in the day, it appears. The whole area should be salt white. The area has a very gradual gradient, making the lake cross section about like a cedar shake---long and thin. The water is so shallow, I would guess you could wade three-fourths of the lake. There are, however a couple upsides. The lake is on a major waterfowl and bird migratory route. Over 300 species of bird life are reportedly found here. Half of the lake, the shallowest area, is closed to any watercraft most of the winter to provide a quiet resting and feeding area for waterfowl. The salt plain is so large I understand it is visible from space, and it provides one of only two spots on earth where unique selenite crystals can be found. Digging for these is a popular pass time, and many people have sought these treasures in the salt plain. Unfortunately, a group of Boy Scouts dug up a bomb. Then someone remembered the area used to be used as a bombing range. It was closed for about a year until the area was scanned and ruled safe.

The southeast shoreline is bluff. Deeper water can be found as you approach the spillway at the east end of the lake, but from there the land flattens out very quickly. An advantage is that small children can play in water near the beach that rarely passes their kneecaps.

A disadvantage is that the bottom is never very far away, and this large stone shoal is about 50 ft. across, and barely awash, making it a hazard well away from the shore.

While I went to the lake to get some paddling exercise, Jean finished a baby quilt called a sheep and rail fence pattern. The border is a cable pattern. It is a beautiful job that the picture unfortunately doesn’t do justice to.

As for the lake, I managed another ten miles in light air, and bright sunshine.

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