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.
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:
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.
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.
This guy isn't as fearful as some
A closer view
Lots of action atop the cascade
The stream breaks into several channels below the falls. Each little section has a special flavor.
While rock-hopping downstream, I encounter three flower types that I have not seen before. Also evident is some fascinating geologic activity.
Elegant Quick's Phacelia
There is lots of Service Berry by the creek
Hiding under the bushes is a lot of Prostrate Ceanothus, a.k.a. Squaw Carpet
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.
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.
Last chance from this angle
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.
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.
More feel-good Phlox
After nearly stepping on the only butterfly that I would see on this trek, my last photo is the most interesting of the day.
A lone butterfly on the trail
§: 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.