Modern Hiker correspondent, hiker and color spotter Scott Turner spent yesterday afternoon at Mt. Laguna in eastern San Diego County and provides these compelling images of the effect of drought on trees that live at the edge of a desert.
Black oak there, which would normally be a vivid mix of green, lime, yellow, orange, gold and buff are, sadly, a dull beige. Scott said the effect of drought on the forests of Mt. Laguna are palpable. Some trees appear to have lost the majority of their leaves, though what remains is still partially green.
Scott found it hard to assess the change, because so much has dropped, though he classifies Mt. Laguna as near peak, but nothing like the vibrant show seen last autumn. He notes that the oaks were hit hard by bark beetles with a lot of them dying.
Scott plans to hike and photograph Mt. Palomar on Friday. On his last trip, he noted that the oaks there appeared to be healthier, but then they live at an elevation that is 1,000′ lower. That likely means Palomar’s peak is two weeks away.
On a separate Southern California note, I met with Jonathan Patterson of Lake Hemet yesterday. Jonathan said the color is beginning to look beautiful around the lake. He was reluctant to classify it as near peak, though from other reports made directly to me by John Koeberer who’d been there this weekend, the San Jacinto Mountains are a definite GO NOW! Jonathan said Idyllwild has been peaking for a week. Our recommendation is head up to the San Jacintos, camp at Lake Hemet in the middle of the color and take side trips to Idyllwild and Mountain Center. If you get great photos of the San Jacintos, email them to us and we’ll post.
Mt. Laguna (Near Peak – 50 – 75%) - Drought and bark beetles have damaged the trees. The color is not the brilliance it had last autumn. Do a rain dance for Eastern San Diego County.
Idyllwild (Peak – 75 – 100%) - Beautiful color in and around Idyllwild is nearly past peak. GO NOW!
Lake Hemet (Near Peak – 50 – 75%) - Camp beside the lake surrounded by intense fall color. Very few people and developing color that should be good for the next couple of weeks (weather permitting). Just say no to Santa Anas! GO NOW!