The Road to Lake Sabrina (9/30/15) Jared Smith
“Baffling brilliance” is all we can think of to describe what’s happening this year up Bishop Creek in the Eastern Sierra. Today, we announce ominously, Tah, Dah!, that if you didn’t get to Weir Pond, Parcher’s Resort, Table Mountain Camp, Surveyor’s Meadow or Lake Sabrina, YOU MISSED IT!
That’s right. You missed it. These areas are now Past Peak and it’s still September… well, at least for the rest of today it is.
However, despite being past peak, these areas retain impressive patches of fall color near streams. OK, now you’re as baffled as we are.
What is happening, in this fourth year of drought, is that some groves are going off quickly while others that have water seem to be on their normal schedule. That creates what Jared Smith termed, last week, “transitional change,” where part of the forest is peaking, while other parts are still patchy.
The bottom line to anyone who wants to photograph or see fall color at peak is that when we announce GO NOW!, you must not delay, even if the alert is for Near Peak areas. As, this year the color change may not last a week, OR (more bafflement), it could continue for weeks on end.
Here’s todays report from color spotter Jared Smith of Parcher’s Resort:
Overall Conditions Above 8500ft Elevation – Peak – Go Now! (75% – 100%) – Out of all the years Jared has been doing fall color reporting for the Bishop Creek Canyon, he writes “this has been by far the most difficult to put into a rating scale. There are areas of color that are absolutely going off in full peak color, right next to areas where the color is quickly diminishing, right next to areas containing lots of green still developing color…it’s very difficult.”
Still, while some areas in the higher elevations were better last week than they are today, there are more areas of peak color than not at the higher elevations so he went with a peak rating. The highlights this week are the South Fork of Bishop Creek near Willow Campground, and between Parchers Resort & Weir Pond. On the other side of the canyon, the area between Sabrina Campground and the Sabrina Dam is stunning, and North Lake has tons of peak color.
A storm is predicted for the weekend, including wind and a chance of snow. So, let’s cross our fingers that the color withstands the cold front.
Overall Conditions Between 7500ft & 8500ft Elevation – Patchy (10% – 50%) – The yellow continues to develop, along with a few patches of orange and red, but the green is holding strong, at least for the next few days. Look for this elevation to be in near peak condition or better by next week’s report. The best color is showing near Cardinal Village on up towards Cardinal Mine. A few small patches of brilliant color near Intake II also.
Road to Lake Sabrina (9/30/15) Jared Smith
Road to Lake Sabrina (9/30/15) Jared Smith
Peak – Go Now! (75% – 100%) – Sabrina Campground to Sabrina Dam (9000ft) – Some of the red shown over the past few weeks is gone, but without skipping a beat, the color within the campground on up to the approach to the Sabrina dam is absolutely spectacular. Especially beautiful are the views of the winding road across the bridges.
Peak – Go Now! (75% – 100%) – Willow Campground (9000ft) – The next few days will have primo color in and around Willow Campground. A few of the trees already have lost their leaves but the vast majority of the color is just now at or extremely close to peak. The color on the mountain above the camp and also along the old road between Willow and Parchers is really stunning.
North Lake Road (9/30/15) Jared Smith
North Lake Road (9/30/15) Jared Smith
Peak – Go Now! (75% – 100%) – North Lake (9255ft) – This area continues to give Jared fits as a reporter, since parts of the shoreline are naked, parts are bright red, and the famous grove lining the road between the first parking area and the campground is about as gorgeous as it gets, a far cry from last week when there was still green dominating that spot. Anyhow, there is enough peak color here, and enough areas that are at their best, for this to get a peak rating still. But seriously, GO NOW! Jared questions whether the color will be as good next week. Willows are almost completely naked now, a sure sign that the color won’t hold out for much longer at this location.
Weir Pond (9/30/15) Jared Smith
Past Peak – YOU MISSED IT! (but still impressive) – Weir Pond (9650ft) – As expected, Weir Pond isn’t quite as stunning as it was last week with much of the scrub aspen on the hillside above the pond having gone naked. Lots of color has developed along the road and the color is still beautiful surrounding the pond itself. Any photographer visiting the area should check this spot out – it’s still very much worth the trip.
Past Peak– YOU MISSED IT! (but still impressive) – Parchers Resort (9260ft) – There is a bunch of color still around the resort, especially along the back trail towards South Lake and below on the way to Willow. However, the best color has started to falter, especially higher on the mountains where the smaller aspen have given up. There is some especially brilliant color along South Lake road next to the resort as well as on the canyon wall to the west wall of the canyon that is hanging tough and very much worth a look.
Table Mountain Camp (9/30/15) Jared Smith
Past Peak– YOU MISSED IT! (but still impressive) – Table Mountain Camp (8900ft) – The color higher on the mountain and within the campground is showing past peak conditions. Lots and lots of color along the stream though, anywhere between the Stiny Loop and the campground.
Surveyor’s Meadow (9/30/15) Jared Smith
Past Peak– YOU MISSED IT! (but still impressive) – Surveyors Meadow (8975ft) – Color-a-plenty can be found in the area between Surveyors and the Tyee bridge, but last week was better than this week, so it gets the past-peak rating.
Lake Sabrina (9/30/15) Jared Smith
Past Peak– YOU MISSED IT! (but still impressive) – Lake Sabrina (9150ft) – The color in the back of the lake is gorgeous orange, yellow and red and a walk along the trail that skirts the west shore of the lake offers some pretty impressive views. The east shore is less so, and given how far the color is along here, Jared doubts much will remain after the weather this weekend.
Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Stiny Loop above Mt. Glen Camp (8600ft) – Jared questions how much peak color will develop at this location, considering that the color seems to disappear as fast or faster than it appears.
Mist Falls (9/30/15) Jared Smith
Just Patchy (10 – 50%) – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8350ft) – Finally a bit of progress in the color this week with a lot more yellow showing up around the waterfall and in the groves between there at Mt. Glen Campground. This will likely be one of the highlights by next weekend (not this weekend).
Aspendell (9/30/15) Jared Smith
Groves Above Cardinal Village (9/30/15) Jared Smith
Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Aspendell (8400ft) – Very little yellowing, but the green is getting very light so Jared predicts patchy or better color within the week.
Patchy (10 – 50%) – Groves above Cardinal Village (8550ft) – The aspen blanketing the hillside from Cardinal Pinnacle down are pretty much toast. But, now that is done, the color all down the creek from the North Lake turnoff winding down the canyon past the mine towards Cardinal Village is showing yellow. Jared anticipates a great report from this area next week, conditions permitting.
Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Four Jeffries (8000ft) – Nothing but a few yellow branches showing right now. The aspen have lightened considerably though over last week.
Patchy – (10 – 50%) – Intake II (8000ft) – The canyon wall is mostly stripped now but there are some very nice patches near the dam, and a couple of the large aspen along the shoreline are starting to yellow quite nicely.
Just Starting – (0 – 10%) – Big Trees Campground (7800ft) – Nothing but green here right now.