Ted's Hiking World Bassi Falls
Crystal Basin Recreation Area

May 14, 2008

I have ventured up here today after reading on the Eldorado National Forest website that the Bassi Falls road is open for the season.  Although no helpful signs are in evidence, a national forest map shows the location of the falls.  Starting up a well-graded dirt road hopefully, I immediately encounter a rare snowplant — my favorite flower and first of the season.  That is a good omen.

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Snowplants are quite satisfying to find

With but one minor detour I soon find what looks like a trailhead; another vehicle already is here.  As I open the car door, I am greeted by the unmistakable roar of the falls.

I am not expecting to see many wildflowers this early in the season; the manzanita, however, are in full bloom:

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The cute little manzanita bells don't last long

The next pleasant encounter is the patches of spreading phlox beside the trail; so often they add color to the landscape when there isn't any other.  This variety comes in combinations of white, pink, and purple.

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The more the Phlox spread, the better

A curious lizard doesn't delay me much; within fifteen minutes I am at the falls.  Their lack of great height is adequately compensated by volume; for there is lots of water here today.

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This guy isn't as fearful as some

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Bassi Falls

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A closer view

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Lots of action atop the cascade

The stream breaks into several channels below the falls.  Each little section has a special flavor.

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Little fall

While rock-hopping downstream, I encounter three flower types that I have not seen before.  Also evident is some fascinating geologic activity.

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Elegant Quick's Phacelia

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There is lots of Service Berry by the creek

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Hiding under the bushes is a lot of Prostrate Ceanothus, a.k.a. Squaw Carpet

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Nifty patterns in the rocks

When I return to the falls, three other visitors appear, having been exploring themselves.  After a brief conversation, they accept my offer to post a group photo on the Internet.  I hope someone sends me an email, so that I will know that they visited this page.

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Ina, Mike, and Craig

After a final shot of the principal attraction, some bushwhacking straight up the cliff achieves the brink of the falls.  An interim rest stop is in order, as this is my first steep hill-climb of the season.  From the top I can see my erstwhile companions below.  Just barely visible in the upper right-hand corner of the picture is a glimpse of Union Valley Reservoir some two miles distant.

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Last chance from this angle

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Life at the top

There is a long, relatively flat section of creek just above the falls.  One portion features a triple "water wheel" formation.  This is a good place to stop and munch some trail mix.  Beside my resting spot is a patch of interestingly colored lichen, and right beside that is another little phacelia.

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Waterwheels

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Nice colors

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The Phacelia are so tiny that it's easy to miss them

It proves unnecessary to scramble back down the cliff-side, as there is an easy cross-country route that wends its way slowly around and down to the main trail.  A few more flowers present themselves, including one species that I have yet to identify.

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Common Monkeyflower

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More feel-good Phlox

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Broadleaf Knotweed

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Redstem Springbeauty

After nearly stepping on the only butterfly that I would see on this trek, my last photo is the most interesting of the day.

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A lone butterfly on the trail

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Sulfur-flower Buckwheat


§: This was a good early-season outing.  Later it might be too hot here, and the water will have dried up.  Somewhere within the next month will occur the best combination of adequate streamflow and proliferation of wildflowers.

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