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Record-Breaking Heat: Is Autumn Even Close?

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Quaking Aspen, Agate Bay, North Lake Tahoe (9/4/17) John Poimiroo

With California experiencing record-breaking temperatures statewide this past week (Death Valley recorded 129.72 degrees – tying its previous record), one has to wonder whether all that hot air will delay the appearance of fall color.

There was certainly little of it to be seen in the Northern Sierra this past weekend. On a getaway at North Lake Tahoe, only a few spots of color could be found.

So, I called Parcher’s Resort at 9,290′ near South Lake in Bishop Creek Canyon (Inyo County), which is about the highest and earliest reporting location in our network of color spotters. The desk clerk at Parchers (Jared Smith was out fishing, lucky guy) said “just tiny splotches of yellow” can be seen in the aspen groves that surround the resort and along South Lake Road.

As can be seen in this photo, the aspen appear to be healthy and vibrant. Last winter’s heavy snowfall has kept them nourished. So, when they do begin turning lime, yellow, orange, pink and red, the show should be long-lasting and brilliant.

Soon, the hot days of summer will vanish and the golden days of autumn will be here.

Bishop Creek Canyon – Just Starting

June Lake – Just Starting

Ebbett’s Pass – Just Starting

Lake Tahoe – Just Starting

Shasta Cascade – Just Starting

Big Bear/So. Calif – Just Starting

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8 replies
  1. David Calhoun says:

    Thanks for the report! Starting to see splotches in the aspen trees up here around Big Bear Lake (southern California). Also have done a few hikes at higher altitudes and have noticed some plants have blotches of yellow as well.

    Looking forward to some trips to see the colors in the eastern sierra!

  2. Kevin Gilligan says:

    Thank you very much for this wonderful site and the info. Heading up to the Sierras the weekend of 10/6. I’m happy to share reports and photos of what I find for your site. Do you have any particular recommendations for locations at that time? I’m like to hike so if it’s a bit of hike that’s fine. Coming from SoCal. headed anywhere up to around Mammoth. Thank you! Sincerely, Kevin. http://www.photosbykag.com

    • John Poimiroo says:

      Kevin,
      During the second week of October, areas above 9,000′ will nearly be past peak, though areas between 8,500 and 9,000′ will be peaking. I recommend Bishop Creek Canyon, Round Valley to Pine Creek, Rock Creek, Hilton Lakes (hike), Davis Lake (hike) and Little Lakes (hike), also try out McGee Creek (hike), Convict Lake (mild hike) and Laurel Canyon (OHV trail). In Mammoth Lakes, the hike along Sherwin Creek is strenuous but with rewards along the trail. Ask at the Bishop or ML Visitors Centers for current conditions. I’ll be posting driving tours, soon.

      • Kevin Gilligan says:

        John,
        Thank you very much for the excellent and specific information. It is very much appreciated.
        I grew up on the east coast, and have lived in So Cal for 30 years. The one thing I miss the most from the east coast is the fall. I miss the crisp air and fall colors. Looking forward to exploring the Sierras and photographing the fall. I’ll let you know what I find! Again, many thanks! Kevin

      • Sandi Schaffer says:

        Do you suggest the same areas for foliage color the week of October 2? Also good shorter bicycle rides.
        First time going to June Lakes and Mammoth in the Fall. Very excited.

        • John Poimiroo says:

          Parker Lake, Lundy Canyon, Summers Meadow, Green Creek, Little Walker should all be nearing peak then. The whole Eastern Sierra is fabulous for bike rides. June Lake Loop will be patchy, but try Sagehen Meadow Road south of Mono Lake for great color.

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