Basin Field Notes

  • There’s a plant that looks like poison hemlock, but the leaves are different and so are the heads.
  • There’s also plants that grow in clusters with long stems, ending in bunches of fragrant seed pods.
  • Several burned plants are about, indicating a fire at some point.
  • Fires once spread low and fast, leaving charred sagebrush stumps with blackened skin.
  • The ridges have lichen higher up,  but it gradually shrinks down until it’s sparse.
  • The soil around here is very fine and grey, almost like ash.
  •  There’s very little animal life, although there are signs that some large herbivores, probably horses or cattle, passed by.
  • Still green sagebrush forms a great erosional barrier around the seasonally filled reservoir
  • A desert weed grass fills in the soil, hugging the crumbled basalt flows.I sit in a basin surrounded by the ridges all around.
  • The typical grass and sagebrush are present, and in the lowest point of the basin there are orange-red plants of an unknown type.
  • There are far more trees here than is normal, probably because of the drainage into the basin.
  • The occasional bird sings.
  • The omnipresent gnats are here.

A distant valley is just as surprised as the hunters by our unscheduled visit.  The rain, falling gently onto waterproof paper.  Raging waters once again the culprit of a massive depression into a basalt canyon.  As the reservoir holds less and less water each year, the sagebrush creeps slowly to the center of a low pothole. Talus sticks, chimneys without smoke, provide diversity to the canyon walls. Yarrow leaves a bitter taste in the mouth if it sits in hot water for too long. Water poured through this space from nearly all directions, except the southwest, of course. Game trails maze their way through the grass, only two ways in and out of here.  Up or down, ascend or descend, choose your fancy.

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