Friday, September 24, 2021
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Bear Lake Monster

Meet the Bear Lake Monster

Bear Lake offers one of Utah’s most scenic vistas. As you crest the hill of Logan Canyon into Rich County, the lake sprawls out into a vivid, sparkling blue jewel defining the valley that bears its name. If Delicate Arch is southern Utah’s Mona Lisa, then Bear Lake is northern Utah’s Girl with the Pearl Earring.

 

But beware. Bear Lake’s stunning blue waters are said to hide a great serpentine beast, as wide as a man and, depending on the account, anywhere from 40 to 200 feet long. The creature’s head is alternatively described as a be-tusked walrus or a toothy alligator, both bearing giant eyes, set widely apart. The beast has conical ears (“like a pint glass’) and an indeterminate number of legs, is awkward on land but can swim, as one written account has it, “faster than a locomotive.”

The local lore, even today, has it that the depths of Bear Lake have never successfully been fathomed and it is within these deepest, coldest depths that the creature lurks, hidden from the eyes of man. Down there. In the dark. That’s where the Bear Lake Monster waits.

But Bear Lake’s depth has been measured plenty, says Ted Alsop, the affable Utah State University professor of physical geography, from whose lips I first heard tell of the beast. Alsop used the story to debunk the myth that the lake’s depths had never been plumbed and to artfully describe the difference between a crater lake and a lake, like Bear Lake, created from a “dropped-down graben.” (Which sounds equally monstrous, really: Watch out child, or the Graben will get you!)

“It was a story made up by drunk Mormons,” Alsop, now retired, told his freshman classes year after year. “The lake is 280 feet deep at bank full, and no, it’s not a crater lake, although there are crater lakes in the area…” etc.

But the legend (and all legends like it: Loch Ness, Sasquatch) persists because these tales of fearsome, left-behind creatures are vestigial holdouts from the time when we were fighting for control of this world.

They live on in our deep cortex. The feral, fight-or-flight memories of a time when we named the monsters and mastered them. But on a darkened shore of a silvery lake, these long-forgotten fears spring forth as a primal response to errant and suspicious splashes amid the lapping waters.

And we can easily see in our mind’s eye the scaled beast breaking the water’s surface, gliding in the moonlight in a stern warning. It is a shadow of what we once encountered and conquered, and it waits with the patience of eons in its dark, murksome home to rise from the waters and take back what we took.

One year ago today: Utahns mourn at a vigil for Breonna Taylor. Taylor was shot and killed by a police officer in March 2020, inspiring worldwide protests and calls for racial justice. ...

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Gayle Dowdle as Queen Elizabeth I of England ⁠

@dowdledesign is the queen of renaissance fairs and comic conventions. Dowdle began cosplaying six years ago and has been planning to recreate Queen Elizabeth I ever since. She spent as many as 700 hours constructing the ensemble. She entered her cosplay into the @fanxsaltlake 2019 cosplay contest, winning first prize. Since, she has continued to make upgrades to the royal cosplay she has created. “My dress will never be finished,” she says. 👑⁠

The wig is actually made of Dowdle’s own hair, which she cut off before beginning chemotherapy treatments last year. She says, “When I wear this wig, I don’t feel like Gayle with cancer, I just feel like Gayle again.” ⁠

See more portraits of Utah cosplayers at the link in our bio! ⁠

Photo by Adam Finkle⁠
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Missy Moody as Giselle from "Enchanted"⁠

@madamemoodycosplay has competed on the stage at comic conventions from Salt Lake City to New York in Giselle’s massive wedding gown from Disney’s "Enchanted." The self-taught seamstress has remade the dress five times over the course of four years, eventually wearing it to her very own nuptials. ⁠✨⁠

While Moody’s Giselle cosplay has been hailed as screen accurate, Moody advises, “Just have fun with cosplay. Don’t worry too much about accuracy. It’s OK to take some shortcuts.”⁠

See more portraits of Utah cosplayers at the link in our bio! ⁠

Photo by Adam Finkle⁠
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Ryan Bielik as Caleb Widogast from "Critical Role"⁠

“It was a demanding mistress,” @moody_kittens says of his Caleb cosplay, his take on a character from the Dungeons & Dragons live-streaming sensation turned multimedia empire "Critical Role." Bielik started cosplaying in 2013 and typically attends three conventions per year. After the pandemic, his Caleb cosplay represents a return to form: an obsessive attention to detail. Bielik plans to publicly debut his Caleb cosplay this year at @fanxsaltlake, where he will also enter the cosplay contest. 🪶

“I wanted something elegant to do—flashy, colorful. Something with a lot of grace in the costume,” says Bielik. ⁠

See more portraits of Utah cosplayers at the link in our bio! ⁠

Photo by Adam Finkle
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Kimber Gabryszak as Brienne of Tarth from "Game of Thrones"⁠

@kimber.and.connie.cosplay sets a high bar for herself. “I love to be as screen-accurate as possible,” she says. Gabryszak has always loved costuming, “I was cosplaying before I realized what cosplaying was.” But she did not attend her first comic convention until 2015. She says, “Brienne is the most ambitious character I have ever cosplayed.” Gabryszak had to learn leatherworking, for example, but by far the most difficult undertaking was constructing the chainmail. ⚔️ ⁠

"I like doing villains or people with a unique appearance who might not be as conventionally pretty,” she says. “Brienne is this tough, badass, giant, imposing woman.”⁠

See more portraits of Utah cosplayers at the link in our bio! ⁠

Photo by Adam Finkle
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IT'S GIVEAWAY TIME!⁠

We're teaming up with @gotbeautydotcom and @goodthingsutah to offer a $150 beauty package. Got Beauty is celebrating 30 years of business locally owned and operated by women. ❤️⁠

Here's how you can win: ⁠
✨ Like this post and tag three friends in the comments.⁠
✨ Follow @slmag, @gotbeautydotcom and @goodthingsutah.⁠
✨ Enter by 5 p.m. Friday for a chance to win!⁠
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Get ready to explore a city of secrets⚡👁️⁠

In a brand new issue of @slmag, we're uncovering the strange, obscure and unexplained stories and lore from Salt Lake City’s history, from a lost Mormon colony to a rampaging royal elephant to a sphinx with the face of Joseph Smith.⁠ Plus, we highlight outdoor gear trailblazers and continue our 2021 Travel Series in the Big Sky State.

Subscribers: look for this issue in your inbox soon. The magazine will be on newsstands Sept. 1! 📪⁠
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If you’re wondering if it’s worth the trip to a certified Dark Sky Park to view the Perseids, the short answer is “yes.” The long answer is “heck yes.” 🌠⁠

It's not too late to see the yearly Perseids meteor shower light up the night sky. Learn more at the link in our bio!⁠

Photo: Gates of Lodore in Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal; Credit: @miahwatt courtesy @visitutah
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Trade the snowy mountains for sandy peaks. 🏂⁠

At Idaho's Bruneau Dunes State Park, enormous dunes are the perfect playgrounds for dreamy sunsets, night sky views and a sandboarding adventure.⁠

Check out more of our favorite Idaho destinations at the link in our bio!
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Today is National Watermelon Day! 🍉🍉🍉⁠

Celebrate with easy-to-make watermelon granita, summer's coolest frozen dessert. The full recipe is at the link in our bio!⁠
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It's giveaway time!🐒🍻⁠

We're giving away two tickets to @hoglezoo's Zoo Brew. Visit the zoo's more than 800 animals while sipping a local beer at this 21+ event. ⁠
⁠⁠
Here's how you can win:⁠
🐘 Like this post and tag three of your favorite party animals in the comments.
🐘 Follow both @slmag and @hoglezoo.⁠
🐘 Enter by 9 a.m. Wednesday for a chance to win!⁠

(Tickets are valid for any 2021 Zoo Brew event.)⁠
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