Tuesday, 23 August 2016

This Is The Place

A cold dawn start on Friday June 17th soon had us steadily climbing up into the Wasatch... 
 ...past the site of Wheaton Springs Pony Express station, to the summit of Big Mountain...
 We were now entering a protected watershed area surrounding Mountain Dell reservoir which provides drinking water for Salt Lake City.  I had sorted out the necessary permit, and had with me a plastic sack and a pair of rubber gloves purchased at Grump's to poo pick for the next few miles until we climbed over to Emigration Canyon.  Riding along the Big Mountain Creek valley towards the reservoir.... 
Mountain Dell Pony Express station, also known as Mountain Dale, Hanks' or Big Canyon Creek,  was further down the valley on the left, but the site is now under water.   The relay station was based at Ephram Hanks' home, which was built as a stage stop in 1858.
Having dumped the bag of poo in a rubbish bin at the next summit, we started on the last leg down Emigration Canyon, along which thousands of Mormon emigrants made their way to Salt Lake City...
 About halfway down I came to this small monument marking the 'Last Camp Site' of the First Company of Mormon pioneers led by a rather poorly Brigham Young on July 23rd 1847, before they entered the Salt Lake valley the following day...
 In spite of my tooth extraction, I am happy to report that I still got teeth...
 We were making good progress, and Mo was becoming inured to the many fitness freaks on speeding bikes whizzing past, when a car drew up.  It was newly appointed NPEA president for Utah, Mike Robinson with wife Bonnie, daughter Jennie and grand-daughter Katy. Mike had kindly offered to board the horses for me over the summer and provide a base, and suggested I stop for a meal with them at Ruth's Diner, a noted restaurant down the road.  Who was I to refuse, so the horses were tied up in the shade while I joined the family for a delicious meal in shady alfresco surroundings...
We arrive in Salt Lake City!   In front of the monument marking the spot where Brigham Young is supposed to have announced 'This is the place'.... 
... I imagine a no brainer if one has struggled for months across rushing rivers, dry prairies and steep mountains, are feeling decidedly under the weather and are then faced with a view of the Great Salt Lake desert ahead.  The three figures at the top of the monument are Brigham Young flanked by pioneers Wilford Woodruff on the right and Heber C Kimball on the left, the latter being an ancestor of Mike's.
Just down the hill was a statue of a Pony Express rider, who you may just be able to make out hurdling the bushes on the right while brandishing an American flag..
 I was now riding light, as Mike had taken a lot of my less necessary baggage.  I had arranged to stay another eight miles further on at Serendipity stables, tucked away in a residential area of Salt Lake City, but it was a pleasant evening ride through back street areas with non human residents....
The energetic Sue Hall, owner of Serendipity stables, in her flower garden
The horses had a paddock, I had a beer and a shower, and Sue offered me use of her trailer with comfortable bed to sleep in,

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