Bass Lake and Crystal Lake

2006 August 13

Bass Lake and Crystal Lake

Not another trip to Bass Lake! Perhaps this should be a newsletter...

Em and I made another trip to Bass Lake on Sunday and for the first time in the last 3 or 4 years it was overcast the entire time that we were there. No matter, the water was still nice and once dried off we were not cold when lounging at the flat area above the lake. We certainly would have welcomed the sunshine but this trip showed us that a questionable forecast is not a good reason to not go to the lake. Just for the record, the weather forecast for that day was sunny and 80 degrees.

Also note that the rope swing is back up, albeit on another branch which means you swing down on the opposite side of the tree. The swing is much less sketchy than the previous one in that you can't go as high but you also don't swing nearly so close to the tree on the way down. Next time we go, if it is still up, I'll get some pictures.

Each summer we seem to get a new inflatable toy. This one takes about 10 minutes to blow up and about the same amount of time to deflate. But look at the pure joy on Em's face, how could we not bring it.

My blow up toy is considerably smaller however it brings out the oval shape of my head so nicely that it is also a must. When sitting on the ring in the lake, the tops of my shoulders are just exposed above the waterline.

In my world, function always prevails over fashion. In this case, had I forgotten a cap the ring would have provided ample shade while maintaining maximum breathability.

For the first time in our Bass Lake experience, horses came to the flat area above the lake. Em and I both agree they should not be allowed. They poop and pee where people want to spread their blankets and relax, in addition to kicking up dust and taking up a lot of room. The riders, all young girls, started their trip from the Five Brooks trailhead which is about 6 miles one way to Bass Lake. Earlier this year I convinced Em that we should hike to the lake by the same route. In addition to being twice as long as the costal route it was steep (up then down) and didn't have the dramatic vistas we have come to expect along the coast. Being a standup kind of guy, I volunteered to make the 6-mile trek back to the car while Em took the easy 3-mile downhill walk to the Palomarin trailhead. Our timing worked out pretty well, Em only had to wait about 10 minutes for me.

I was so excited about my dinner that I took a photo of it; aioli toast with tomatoes and fresh basil. This combination is soooooooo goooooooood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! However, don't make this meal until the tomatoes are just right, which occurs at the middle or end of the tomato season, not at the beginning.

While Em was making dinner I interrupted her about a million times to take photos of both ourselves and the food. Twenty years from now she'll thank me.

Side Trip to Crystal Lake

Just the name conjures stunning images and, in my little world, I was going to rediscover a long lost pristine Point Reyes lake. If I had, I probably wouldn't share it with you. Since I am, you already know this trip was a bust.

The distance along the Coast Trail between the turnoffs for Bass Lake and Crystal Lake is 5 minutes (you can convert 5 minutes of my walking to a distance anyway you like). The strange thing is that the wildly popular Bass Lake has no sign at the turnoff while Crystal Lake does. This photo was taken at the overgrown sign and indicates that Crystal Lake is 0.4 miles from the Coast Trail.

It's no wonder that no one goes to Crystal Lake. This photo, looking directly at the overgrown trail, was taken while still on the Coast Trail.

Not too far along the trail towards Crystal Lake you will come across this sign. If you heed its advice, as I did, you're in for a world of hurt. If you ignore it, as I did on the way back, you will find a much more direct and less overgrown route to Crystal Lake.

Although stretches of the trail are overgrown, some are wide open and a delight to walk along. When I took this photo the camera automatically engaged the flash, it wasn't really this dark.

Turning the flash off yielded much better results as you can see by juxtaposing this shot with the one above.

The trail is directly behind my right shoulder. At this point my shins were already "buzzing" from having walked through so many stinging nettles.

Although the trail is relatively easy to follow you will want pants and a long sleeve shirt, maybe even a mask. One out of three isn't so bad.

At times I crashed directly through the head high brush which consisted mainly of poison oak and sharp vines. In this area I walked sideways. In other areas I almost had to crawl.

And finally I made it to Crystal Lake which ought to be renamed. This shot is looking back at the way I came with the trail, or lack thereof, to the right out of the picture.

At nearly the same spot as the previous photo, but looking in the opposite direction, we see that the lake is quite large. Note the abundant animal tracks to the right of the reeds.

Further along the lake opens up quite a bit but I got the impression that it is quite shallow and will soon be a meadow (in geological time that is).

After I returned from Crystal Lake, my shins were swollen, bloodied, and buzzing from the stinging nettles. Additionally, I was covered head to toe in poison oak oil. At the flat area above Bass Lake I stripped, while Em watched from a safe distance, then dashed down to Bass Lake where I flew into the water in front of 10 people sitting at shore. For the next 15 minutes I bobbed in the water and tried my best to rub the poison oak oils from my body and shorts. The cold water felt nice and soothed my throbbing shins but I worried that water alone wouldn't take the oil off. Perhaps it wouldn't matter how much I scrubbed since the oil had ample opportunity to get directly into my blood via the open wounds on my shims.

That night, although I was tired, I couldn't sleep. First, my shins, just below my feet were stinging. I wasn't an itch and I wouldn't say that it hurt but rather it bothered me enough that sleep eluded me. Of course it didn't help that something had caused me to have an upset stomach. After lying in bed from 10 pm to 1 am Em got out the medicine box and administered Pepto-Bismol for my tummy and Lanacane creme (anti-itch, active ingredient: benzocaine 20%, benzethonium chloride 0.2%) for my legs. The creme worked right away and after an hour on the toilet I was ready bed. Yet sleep still eluded me until 4 am and then lasted only 90 minutes. The next morning I realized the third reason I couldn't sleep, Ben and Jerry's ice cream. After dinner I had finished off a pint of "Vermonty Python", first ingredient: coffee liqueur.

However, the good news is that, as of the Monday after the trip, I don't appear to have contracted any poison oak whatsoever.