The salty crust crunched underneath our feet revealing a foul stench of decay, and littered around us were the bones of seabirds that had at some point succumbed to the inhospitable environment.

The Great Salt Lake

Written By Louisa Mow in Salt Lake City, UT
After spending the night parked up at a Walmart near Salt Lake City, we were all eager to head straight to the marina. The day was bright and we passed dry salt flats on the way down. Everything, excluding the sky, had a washed out look, a result from the intensity of the sun and from the colour of the desert. You could see weaves of white salt crystals clinging to the edges of cracks in the ground and you could smell and taste the saltiness in the air.

We soon arrived at the marina. All the boats along the wharf were dry docked and you could see rust along their hulls and propellers. It was hot and we headed down onto the salt flat "beach" to park ourselves by the waters of the lake and admire its vastness.

As we proceeded onto the beach, the salty crust crunched underneath our feet revealing a foul stench of decay, and littered around us were the bones of seabirds that had at some point succumbed to the inhospitable environment. Holding our breath, we ventured on.

 As we ventured nearer to the waters edge, we noticed that it was bordered by what we thought was mounds of black debris brought in by the lake. Not so, our footsteps towards the mounds confirmed that the black mounds were alive and moving, and upon further inspection, they were in fact millions of black flies piled up on top of each other in a half a foot high moving ripple stretching the entire shoreline.
It was disturbing but we were determined to swim and be buoyant in the high salinity. So through the flies we entered the warm water, and we waded out as far as we dared. The water was shallow, and we were at least 100m from the shore before we realised, at knee depth, that it wasn't going to get deeper anytime soon, so we just dived in and lay in the shallow water. It was complete Sensory deprivation, as the air and water temperature were the almost identical, and the surrounding area was again so bright and washed out. Swimming was like levitating in a syrupy, salty red bubble (as we were surrounded by thousands of brine shrimp).

We found out later, from an old Vietnam war vet who managed the marina, that due to extreme drought the lake at its deepest point was only 27ft and that the salinity level was at 16%, one of the saltiest bodies of water on the planet. This meant all the boats in the marina had to be individually taken out by crane to avoid damages.


Walking in the sun after swimming in the salt lake ensured that we all looked like white crusted zombies, and by unanimous decision we booked a motel room by a desert canyon in Helper, Utah. We watched the NBA draft, showered, drank beer and ate pizza. We definitely needed it and were grateful for a comfortable sleep.