31-May-2001 -- Top of the World, Ma!
Located at 9008 feet in a small dimple atop the Wasatch
Plateau, N40 W111 presents rather tame landscapes compared
to those seen on the way up. I didn't help the situation
any with another less-than-optimal shot of my Garmin II plus
registering the location.
The drive up starts at Soldier Summit, a town named for some
soldiers of Johnston's Army who died in a storm there in
1861. The army was in a sort of retreat, leaving its futile
three-year occupation of Utah to take part in the Civil War.
As a railroad and mining town, Soldier Summit grew, peaking
at a population of 2,500 in 1930. In the 70s, with a
population of about 30, it was a notorious speed trap,
tapping US 6 drivers for more than $50,000 annually. Once
this "industry" was shut down, the town disincorporated and
is now just a service station.
The unpaved road follows the right fork of the White River
before climbing to the top of the plateau. The variety of
vegetation is almost amazing, ranging from the typical
sagebrush near-desert to Alpine forests. The spring
wildflowers were in full bloom. On the ride down, I saw six
elk, three deer, and even two beavers.
Best of all, I saw no other humans or vehicles from the time
I left US 6 until I got back.