4Runner, 5D Mark III, Alpine Streams, American Basin, BH-55, Canon, Clouds, Colorado Columbine, F-Stop Gear, Forget-me-not's, Gitzo, Handies Peak Wilderness, King's Crown, LEE 0.9 Soft GND Filter, LEE Circular Polarizer, LEE Filters, Mill Creek Campground, Parry's Primrose, Really Right Stuff, Rocky Mountains, Rose Paintbrush, TilopaBC, Uncompahgre Mountains, Wildflowers
They say “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I must admit, I have missed the creative process of writing though my motivation and capability to discover purpose in writing have been absent. Adventures a plenty over the last few months exploring new places and hiking as much as I can. I suppose hiking over 200 miles in the last 2-1/4 months would be something to write about…
What motivated me to get writing again is the rejuvenating of my spirit over Independence Day weekend, while 4-wheeling, hiking and creating images in American Basin, in the Handies Peak Wilderness SSW of Lake City, CO.
I departed from metro Denver at about 10:30pm on Thursday night with the plan to stop in Frisco, for the overnight. Slept hard and got on the road by 7am. Knowing everybody and their brother would be headed into the mountains, I wanted to get to my chosen destination area and get camp set up as early as possible.
My plan was to secure a campsite at Mill Creek Campground if one was available or if need-be, find a dispersed site somewhere between Mill Creek Campground and American Basin trailhead. I was fortunate to get into the area early enough to have my choice of campsites. I picked a suitable spot and got camp set up.
It was approximately 12:30pm and I was ready to head up to American Basin while the weather was still fairly decent. The forecast for the weekend wasn’t looking great, following a trend for this summer of more moisture and slightly cooler temperatures.
Cinnamon Pass holds a special place in my heart; many years ago, my parents, sister and I spent some time in Lake city and during one adventure, we took our Chevy Suburban up over Cinnamon Pass. Somewhere near the summit, we passed through a choke point that literally left us with only a couple of inches between the rocks and the Suburban.
My 4Runner is still wearing her stock shoes (tires) with ~37,000 miles on ‘em and close to being replaced, so I was not prepared to go up over Cinnamon Pass just yet. Besides, I was focused on wildflowers in American Basin, so off I was to explore the magnificence!
I had already crossed one stream on the way up and had one more to cross before getting to American Basin. I chose my line and started to make my way across the stream. The crossing was pretty easy overall, though I was a little nervous due to the limited tread and less-than-ideal tires for the conditions. Once at American Basin, I had a task to complete before I could head off to create wildflower images. My sister recently picked up extension tubes for her camera, so I wanted to create a few examples for her, so she had a reference from which to begin her experimenting. Here is one example of the images I created for the extension tubes tutorial (70mm + 20mm extension tube)
Tutorial tasks complete, I grabbed my gear and started meandering around, looking for wildflowers. I found a nice cluster of Colorado Columbine that caught my eye:
As I continued my trekking around, I came across more of that unique purple looking paintbrush, that wasn’t familiar to me. Using my Colorado Wildflowers App on my smartphone later, I found these to be “Rose Paintbrush.” Mountain Goldenrod and Rose Paintbrush were plentiful in my trek:
The clouds were becoming more noticeable and hints of thunder in the distance had me wondering how long the conditions would last. This dark crimson wildflower around the basin is called “King’s Crown” and seemed to be rather abundant throughout American Basin:
A week prior, while hiking in the James Peak Wilderness, I came across some purple wildflowers that I had done some macro photography on…Parry’s Primrose! The Parry’s Primose in American Basin were not quite a big, but they sure added a nice color to the scenery!
The Lake Fork Gunnison River was flowing pretty strong still due to the ever-present snow up high in the Handies Peak Wilderness. As the clouds continued to get dark and ominous, I created one last image before I made my way back to the 4Runner and back to camp:
Once back at camp, I made some dinner (Mountain House Beef Stroganoff with Noodles) and was going to start post-processing the day’s pics. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my CF card reader or USB cable. So, I headed into Lake City to see if the General Store had anything to facilitate my need. As luck would have it, they had a CF card reader, so I purchased that and then updated the weather app on my smartphone. The update didn’t make me very thrilled, as it called for rain overnight and potential for heavy rains all day Saturday (I wouldn’t bank on the forecast validity beyond 24 hours right now; conditions seem to be fluctuating quite a bit).
A little thinking during the rest of the evening, to figure out the game-plan for Saturday…