Sunday, November 15, 2015

An Early Winter Visit to Pruess Lake

 My friend Jenny and I had the same idea one Saturday morning: We need to get the kids out of the house! So we made plans to meet at Pruess Lake after lunch. We brought some digging equipment and a spirit of adventure.

Our dog Henry was so happy to go too.

The water level is always low this time of year, which exposes thousands of California floaters (Anodata califoriensis), a large mussel found in several states in the western U.S. They rely on fish to help distribute their glochidia (part of their life cycle).

Pruess Lake is historically a lake, named for cartographer Charles Preuss (not that the vowels got switched somewhere along the way); Preuss accompanied Fremont in his explorations and made many important early maps. In the late 1800s, a land development company wanted to make the desert green so came up with a plan to dam the lake to enlarge it. The first dam blew out in a few years, but a second one was constructed, using bricks made in a kiln up Snake Creek. That dam still stands today, and a tunnel through the rock allows water to leave the reservoir for fields in Garrison, Utah. However, the reservoir never got as large as the developers wanted because the surrounding rock is limestone, which is rather porous. The miles and miles of ditches they built were never filled with water, but you can still see them today (one spot is near the stateline on NV Hwy 487/UT Hwy 21 and another is south of Garrison next to some of the road cuts). Thus it was another water speculation that was ill-thought out and poorly researched and did not work. (Read more about it in my book.)

A small outlet stream leads from the lake to the tunnel, and Desert Boy wanted to see if he could jump over it.

Success! (Well, mostly, just one muddy foot.)

We picked up some broken glass bottles and sharp aluminum cans from the exposed mudflats and then started on our hike.

The kids were delighted to be outside. We found all sorts of interesting things to look at.

We lucked out with a nearly windless day, making for great reflections in the lake.

Although the lake water was too cold for humans, the dogs were willing to venture in.

One of the exciting finds was a catfish head. Two species of catfish live in the lake, along with Utah chub, carp, Sacramento perch, and one other species that is escaping me at the moment.

Did I mention the kids were having a good time? (The moms, too!)

The amount of California floaters in some areas was amazing. When the mussel dies, the gases cause it to float, thus the shells are distributed along the shorelines.

Eventually the kids tired of walking, so we turned around and headed back. We got in nearly a two-mile beach walk. They still had energy, but they wanted to channel it in a different way.

It was sandcastle building time!

Finally, with turrets, a moat, and a few other accessories, they declared it done (aka the moms said it was time to go).  What a great afternoon!
p.s. With the recent cold weather, quite a bit of the lake is now frozen over. Maybe it will get cold enough this winter we can go ice skating on it!

1 comment:

jhami said...

Great photos! What a beautiful day that was :)

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