“We need the tonic of wildness… At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
—Henry David Thoreau
It has been quite a spell since I last wrote for the Transcript-Bulletin and it’s good to be back because there are a vast number of places in Tooele County and the surrounding area that need to be explored.
Those of us who live here are lucky because we reside in a truly varied environment with magnificent mountain peaks and fearsome deserts where the history is as incredible as the scenery. It is fun and interesting to explore the same trails the Indians and ancient ones walked long ago when they scrawled petroglyphs onto rocks.
It is also interesting to follow the paths of early explorers such as Jedediah Smith, John C. Fremont, Howard Egan, Howard Stansbury and others. I often wonder what was going through the minds of these trail blazers as they ventured into the wild unknown for the first time. The lands they explored are still there and in many cases, just as wild and formidable as they were back in those days, whether it’s an unbroken 40-mile stretch of white hard pan salt, or a 1,500-foot escarpment in the Deseret Peak Wilderness.
Seldom visited portions of the mighty Deep Creek Mountains beg further investigation as do the lonely and mysterious mountains such as the Fish Springs, House, Drum and Confusion Ranges. Closer to the populated areas of the county are the Oquirrh and Stansbury Ranges, both of which encompass more terrain and canyons than can be adequately explored in a lifetime.
The ever-changing shoreline of the Great Salt Lake and its islands — Stansbury, Antelope, Fremont, Carrington and others, make a person wonder what might be out there. And then you realize that this inland sea is just a distant echo of an ancient, exponentially larger body of water called Lake Bonneville that gouged its mark 1,000 feet above the floor of the valleys on the mountains’ knees.
Mormon Pioneers, miners, dragoons, emigrants, outlaws, danites, ranchers, Pony Express riders, railroad men, trailblazers, missionaries and Indians all left their mark upon the history and mystique of the Old West, which by the way, Tooele County is smack dab in the middle of. There are geologic wonders such as the oddities found in the Cedar Mountains — namely White Rock and Tabby’s Peak. But there are others as well. The Cedar Mountain Wilderness Area alone contains over 100,000 acres of Great Basin terrain that beg further exploration and the chance to see the proud and defiant wild mustangs.
Then there are the other places where people don’t think of as destinations such as the Sheeprock, Simpson, Drum and Keg ranges that all hold their secrets, some of which no doubt date back to the beginning of time. A walk along the wind swept ridges in any of these desert ranges is something to be remembered and thought of for a long time. Golden eagles, pronghorn antelope, coyote, cougar, bobcat, mustang, mule deer, badger and all manner of other rodents, snakes and crawlies, call the desert and mountains home. If you get out of your lazy chair and get outdoors, you might see them.
The bottom line is this: In this day and age of technology, fast paced economic environment, stress and fiscal uncertainty, it’s now more than ever the time to heed the words of Thoreau and ground ourselves back to the basics of some simple enjoyments of life. Take a break from the doldrums of the grind. Look forward to the weekend for something other than a six pack of brew and some show on the tube. Get back out onto the land and discover the amazing places that are literally in your backyard.
If you do, I believe you will find that it will refresh you and even recharge your batteries. I know that when I get out into the desert and mountains it always makes me feel better than I did before. So, as the weeks go by and the seasons change, I invite you to join me on a journey through the stories and geography of this amazing land we live in. Just like Thoreau said, “We can never have enough of Nature.”
Editor’s note: The Transcript Bulletin welcomes back Jaromy Jessop and looks forward to joining him on his many adventures around, across and through Tooele County’s landscape and history.