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Whitney Portal Aflame With Color

Whitney Portal (10/13/17) Blair Lockhart

The hiking trail at Whitney Portal in southern Inyo County often gets overlooked by color spotters because it takes some effort to see it, but as these images from Blair Lockhart attest, it shouldn’t be missed at peak.

This is definitely, a hike of the week.

Whitney Portal (8,374′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Whitney Portal (10/13/17) Blair Lockhart

 

 

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Eastside Getting Hotter

Cardinal Village (10/7/17) Ryan Prawiradjaja

Convict Lake (10/7/17) Carol Novacek

Convict Lake (10/7/17) Dave Olden

It’s taken a while for fall color to develop on the Eastside, but signs are that it’s getting hotter, as seen in Ryan Prawiradjaja’s shot of aspen near Cardinal Village (Bishop Creek Canyon, Inyo County).

Carol Novacek hiked around Convict lake in Mono County on Saturday and found it not as far along as it was last year, though the difference in change in her photos indicate’s it’s getting close to peaking, since I was there on Wednesday.

At the time, only about 25% of the trees at the far end of the lake, below Mt. Morrison, had changed. In the three days since, more than half have turned yellow.

Convict Lake Trail (10/7/17) Herb Hwang

Color spotter Herb Hwang hiked beside Convict Lake to find the aspen 50/50 in lime and yellow. While, Dave Olden found the same, but noticed the lack of oranges and reds.

Convict Lake (7,850′) – Patchy to Near Peak (10-75%) – GO NOW!

Carol found Lundy Canyon, to the north in Mono County, Near Peak and “Glorious!”

Lundy Canyon (7,858′) – Near Peak (50-75%) – GO NOW!

Erick Castellon visited McGee Creek to return with these spectacular shots of peak color along the creek.  The peak color starts above the trailhead parking lot. Down canyon, Near Peak and Patchy conditions exist, meaning that the show will continue for another two weeks at McGee (conditions permitting).

 

 

McGee Creek (10/7/17) Erick Castellon

McGee Creek (10/7/17) Erick Castellon

McGee Creek (8,600′) – Near Peak – GO NOW!

Color spotter Clayton Peoples was among several who reported they traveled to the Eastside, “hitting key fall color spots in Inyo and Mono Counties. Most places–particularly those above 7,000′.”

Here’s what he found:

Upper Rock Creek (9,000′ to 10,300′) – Peak GO NOW! – Similar to what is happening elsewhere, there’s a varied mix of color in the groves, though Upper Rock Creek is a consistent Peak (75%-100%). The area around Rock Creek Lake is especially stunning right now, and a short hike on the Hilton Lakes Trail provides a great introduction to the beautiful color–with Bear Creek Spire and surrounding peaks serving as an awe-inspiring backdrop.

June Lake Loop (7,654′) – Near Peak GO NOW! – There is a lot more variation here than the aforementioned locations–some groves are still sporting lots of green, while others are brimming with yellow and orange glow. As such, Clayton rates the Loop in its entirety as “Near Peak” (50%-75%), but some groves are already Peak (75%-100%). For instance, the grove along the north shore of Silver Lake has peaked, but the aspen lining the south side of June Lake are Near Peak with probably a week to go before Peak.

Sonora Pass, CA-108 (10/8/17) Robert Cherenson

Sonora Pass (9,623′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) GO NOW! – Sonora Pass (CA-108) is peaking reports Robert Cherenson. He traveled CA-108 finding peak color just west of the pass, two miles east of the pass, at the Leavitt Meadows Pack Station and the U.S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, near US 395. Spotty salmon-colored and yellow aspen grow along the West Walker River to the town of Walker on US 395.

Aspen, June Lake (10/7/17) Clayton Peoples

June Lake (10/8/17) Michael Brandt

Bishop Creek (8,000′ to 9,768′) – Peak GO NOW! – Most of the canyon has moved dramatically toward peak color, with “the Cardinal Village area is really popping right now. There is a beautiful pond on the property that is surrounded by white granite boulders and aspens–all of which are now peaking out in a vibrant yellow.”

North Lake (9,225′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – North Lake is the problem child of Bishop Creek Canyon. Some color spotters love it, while others say it is done… put a fork in it. As Xin Wang’s sunset photograph of North Lake shows, there are still many green aspen on the hillside above where the aspen are at peak. Though also in the photograph, some stands are now Past Peak. While, along the North Lake Road, it has been peaking, as seen in Peter Robbins’ shot (thumbnail below – click on thumbnail images to enlarge).

Bear Creek Lodge, S. Fork Bishop Creek (10/7/17) Kevin Gilligan

Quaking Aspen, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/7/17) Ryan Prawiradjaja

Cardinal Village, Bishop Creek (10/7/17) Ryan Prawiradjaja

Mist Falls, S. Fork Bishop Creek (10/7/17) Ryan Prawiradjaja

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pond at Cardinal Village (10/7/17) Clayton Peoples

Bear Creek Spire, Upper Rock Creek (10/7/17) Clayton Peoples

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/7/17) Xin Wang

Table Mountain Group Camp, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/7/17) Ravi Ranganathan

Conway Summit (10/7/17) Ravi Ranganathan

Sagehen Meadows (10/7/17) Ravi Ranganathan

June Lake Loop (10/7/17) Ravi Ranganathan

Silver Lake (10/7/17) Ravi Ranganathan

South Lake Rd. near Parchers, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/7/17) Ravi Ranganathan

North Lake Turnoff (10/7/17) Peter Robbins

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Lime, Yellow, Orange and Gone

Table Mountain Group Camp, S. Fork Bishop Creek (10/3/17) John Poimiroo

Bishop Creek Canyon is a mix of every level of peak, from Just Starting, to Patchy, to Near Peak, to Peak, to Past Peak, some occurring at the same location.

North Lake is a puzzle. It’s lime, yellow, orange and gone, all at the same place.

Peak color is near the lake with green aspen far above. We rate it Near Peak, though it’s peaking in areas, nowhere close in others and past peak, too.

Sabrina is topsy turvey. The higher you go, the less consistent the color is. Intake II (at the lowest elevation) is Near Peak, while Sabrina Approach (higher up) is Patchy.

Aspen at the center of the Groves Above Cardinal Village were past peak and surrounded by a ring of patchy, though mostly green aspen. Aspendell has hardly any color, though that’s not unusual. It’s often the last to peak.

We were there to sort it out and ran into dozens of color spotters and photographers who were shrugging their shoulders in confusion. Seeing me trying to find some color along a stream at Sabrina Approach, one photographer turned and said, “I did the same thing, and came to the same conclusion… not yet there. Still, I’m glad to be here.”

Those of us who were there this week, were certainly glad to be in Bishop Creek Canyon searching for fall color, as there were moments of breathtaking wonder.

Travel writer/photographer Lee Foster and I found it in a dazzling display along the South Lake Road. From Parchers down to the Mist Falls at Mountain Glen the hillsides are lit with pink, orange, yellow and lime aspen.

While several of South Lake’s groves could technically be rated as “Patchy,” Oh!, how beautiful they are in the midday sun. No one photographing them was disappointed. That’s why it gets rated as peaking. GO NOW!

Southern Inyo County

  • Whitney Portal (8,374’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)
  • Onion Valley (9,600’) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Big Pine Creek (7,660’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)
  • Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery (4,000’) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Alabama Hills (4,534’) – Just Starting (0-10%)

South Lake

  • Weir Pond (9,650’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Parchers Resort(9,260′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Willow Campground (9,000’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Table Mountain Group Camp (8,900’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Surveyors Meadow (8,975’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Mountain Glen (8,500′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350’) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Four Jeffrey Campground (8,000’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)

Sabrina Lake

  • Lake Sabrina (9,150′) – Patchy (10 – 50%) to Peak (75-100%)
  • Sabrina Approach (9,050′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Sabrina Campground (9,000’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)
  • Groves above Cardinal Village (8,550’) – Patchy (10 – 50%) 
  • Aspendell (8,400’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%)
  • Intake II (8,000’) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Big Trees Campground (7,800’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%)

North Lake 

  • North Lake Road – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • North Lake (9,255’) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Upper North Lake Road – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Round Valley/Pine Creek

  • Pine Creek Pack Station – Peak GO NOW! – A small grove of aspen is at peak near the trailhead and pack station.
  • Pine Creek Rd. – Patchy (10-50%) – The black and Fremont cottonwood along Pine Creek will be gorgeous when they peak.
  • Round Valley – Patchy (10-50%) – Landmark black cottonwood grow throughout the Round Valley, often near old weathered cabins. They are now crowned with yellow and will be beautiful at peak.
  • Lower Rock Creek Rd. – Patchy (10-50%)

Owens Valley/Bishop

  • Owens Valley – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Bishop – Just Starting (0-10%)

Here’s a fun gallery of snaps taken at various unidentified Bishop Creek Canyon locations.

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

 

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Unsynchronized North Lake

(North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon – 10/3/17) – Here’s a report from Bishop Creek Canyon, recorded today.

North Lake and Sabrina Lake are Near Peak, though with large areas of Patchy color. South Lake has Peak color and is glorious!

Please note: This autumn is very different in Bishop Creek Canyon from previous ones in that the color is not synchronized. Groves in the same area are at all stages, from Just Starting to Past Peak.

So, if you delay visiting, you’re likely to miss it all, as no one area is going to peak all at once this year.  Only South Lake has that potential, but even the green among the groves is spectacular, there. Expect to see bare limbs near brilliant color, beside green trees.

Bottom Line… GO NOW!

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It All Begins at 1:02 p.m. Today

Autumn begins throughout California at 1:02 p.m.

That’s when the autumnal equinox occurs, starting a new astronomical season. At that moment, the sun’s rays are almost equally divided between the northern and southern hemisphere.

Thereafter and continuing to the winter solstice on Dec. 21, days get shorter and colder, as the amount of sunlight reaching the northern hemisphere declines.

Less light results in less chlorophyll being produced in deciduous plants. As the green chlorophyl subsides underlying brown, red, orange and yellow colors are seen. Colder temperatures also intensify red, orange and yellow colors. Though, eventually, the leaves weaken and fall.

Autumn is the only season with two names: Autumn and Fall. It gets the latter from those falling leaves.

Many believe California’s best weather occurs in autumn. Days remain clement, but nights are cooler. There’s a crispness in the air, but also a soothing envelopment that almost feels as if you’re being embraced by the season.

Why is it that there is such celebration when pumpkin-spiced lattes return to cafe menus in autumn?  Is it their taste, or the recollections of this gathering season that they inspire?

Autumn is the season of harvest, reunion, tailgating, wine making, costume parties, sweaters and thanksgiving. Though it would not be what it is, without Fall.

Over the past couple of days, snow has fallen in the High Sierra. Several of you have asked what effect the early snow might have on autumn color. The answer is: “Little to No Effect.”

Snow usually only damages the change of color on leaves that have turned color or have nearly turned color. Leaves that are vibrant and still producing chlorophyl shake off a little snow with no effect on the color. However, were the same to occur at an elevation that was near peak to peak, leaves in the process of turning would either be spotted or blown from their branches.

Rock Creek Canyon (9/22/17) Will Ridgeway

Rock Creek Canyon (9/22/17) Will Ridgeway

Will Ridgeway took these photographs near Rock Creek Pack Station yesterday morning.

He writes that “The snow on green Aspen leaves makes it look like we’re going straight from Summer to Winter, though that’s temporary.

“That said, there was a good amount of colour above Lake Sabrina this morning, roughly equal parts green, yellow and orange depending on the location of each grove.” he describes.

Lake Sabrina – Near Peak (75-100%) – Will Ridgeway rates the upper groves high above Sabrina Lake near 10,000′ in elevation as nearing peak. GO NOW!

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County (9/22/17) Bruce Wendler

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County – Patchy (10-50%) – Color spotter Bruce Wendler found “the first fire of autumn” lighting the hills around Sagehen Meadow, south of Mono Lake. Frigid temperatures are stimulating vibrant color change in high areas of Mono County.

Unidentified exotic tree, Downtown LA near Fig Plaza (9/21/17) Mohammad Delwar

Los Angeles – Just Starting (0-10%) – Often what appears to be autumnal change is not exactly the same thing. Del Hossain saw this blooming tree in downtown Los Angeles yesterday and had the presence of mind to photograph it and ask if it might be fall color.

This is one of the myriad of non-native (or exotic) trees that have been planted in our urban forests. It has a flower or seed pod (similar to a Bougainvillea bloom) that Del described as “a splash of pinks, reds,or orangish”.

What is most important is that Del turned a break while working in the heart of Los Angeles (Downtown Magnets High School – Go Suns!) into an inspirational fall color sojourn.  Fall color creds to anyone who can identify the tree, and to Del for sharing.

Southern Inyo County

Whitney Portal Trail (9/16/12) Dennis Vance

A new feature this autumn is driving tours of prime fall color destinations across California. First up: Southern Inyo County. These driving tours predict when and where color will be peaking. As with any prediction, it is subject to be off, depending on conditions.

Whitney Portal Peak Color: mid September. From Lone Pine, drive west along the Whitney Portal Road to trail’s end, then hike (strenuous) up the trail to Big Horn Sheep Meadow (10,300’) to be dazzled by bright yellow willows.

Onion Valley – Peak color: Early to mid October. From Independence, drive west on Onion Valley Rd., along Independence Creek to the Onion Valley Campground.  Stands of aspen and meadows full of willows provide displays of autumn color. For hikers (strenuous), the Bubbs Creek trail leads to Pothole, Gilbert and Flower lakes.

Big Pine Creek – Peak color: Early to mid October. From Big Pine, take the Glacier Lodge Road west along Big Pine Creek to Glacier Lodge.  Aspen, cottonwood and willow grow along the creek and in meadows. For hikers, the North Fork hike gains 3,000’ in 9.2 mi. and is listed as strenuous, though beautiful stands of color are seen the higher you hike.

Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery – Peak color: mid to late October. Although the fish hatchery has been closed since 2008, due to storm damage, its majestic structures and surrounding cottonwoods provide dramatic color and visual interest.  The site is reached easily from Independence.

Alabama Hills – Peak Color: late November to early December. Take US 395 west from Lone Pine to the Alabama Hills, a rugged location often used as the backdrop for television and motion picture “westerns.” In December, weathered cottonwoods provide a colorful contrast to the snowcapped Sierra.

Next up: driving tours of the Bishop area of Inyo County.

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Gallimauphry: Weekend Update

Hope Valley (10/8/16) Andrew Zheng

Hope Valley (10/8/16) Andrew Zheng

This is one of the longest reports California Fall Color has ever published. It is so, because of many detailed reports received.

Unbeknownst to us, our inbox crashed along with the server, causing reports sent to us last week to arrive today. So, please bear with this long post, as it’s full of great photos and important guidance for the week ahead.

NORTHERN SIERRA

The upper areas of the Hope Valley are past peak, though as seen in Andrew Zheng’s photo (above) of the cabin near the junction of CA-88 and CA-89, a mix of developing lime to fully peaked trees can be seen side-by-side with stripped trees.

Hope Valley – Peak to Past Peak YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!

EASTERN SIERRA

Glacier Lodge (10/5/16) Clayton Peoples

Glacier Lodge (10/5/16) Clayton Peoples

First Report: Longtime contributor, Clayton Peoples sent news of “an oft-overlooked gem,” Glacier Lodge which is west of Big Pine in the southern Eastern Sierra, off US 395. He visited the previous weekend and found some nice patchy color in the lower elevations and near peak higher up, with more color appearing this week.  He promises to return.

Tip of the Day: a number of canyons lead up into the Eastern Sierra from US 395. These are often lightly visited and full of color.  No, they don’t have the big stands of aspen found in Bishop Creek or at June Lake, but they’re beautiful, nonetheless. And, for So. Calif. color spotters they’re a lot closer to reach.

Glacier Lodge, Big Pine – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Surveyor's Meadow (10/6/16) Robert Provin

Surveyor’s Meadow (10/6/16) Robert Provin

Sabrina Approach (10/9/16) Abhi Bhaskaran

Sabrina Approach (10/9/16) Abhi Bhaskaran

Sabrina Approach (10/9/16) Julie Kirby

Sabrina Approach (10/9/16) Julie Kirby

Sabrina Approach (10/6/16) Robert Provin

Sabrina Approach (10/6/16) Robert Provin

Mist Falls, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/16) Michael Caffey

Mist Falls, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/16) Michael Caffey

Mist Falls, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/16) Michael Caffey

Convict Lake, Mono County (10/6/16) Michael Caffey

Bishop Creek is past peak at its upper reaches, though peak color can still be found (conditions permitting) at mid and lower elevations.

Then, there are exceptions like the Sabrina Approach, photographed by Abhi Bhaskaran, Robert Provin and Julie Kirby.

 

Following is a video from Bishop showing what the canyon looked like this past weekend.

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Bishop Creek Canyon – Upper Elevations – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

Bishop Creek Canyon – Mid Elevations – Near Peak and Peak  GO NOW!

Bishop Creek Canyon – Low Elevations – Patchy (10-50%)

Pine Creek Road (10/8/16) Gigi deJong

Pine Creek Road (10/8/16) Gigi deJong

Pine Creek (10/8/16) Gigi deJong

Pine Creek (10/8/16) Gigi deJong

Millpond County Park, Inyo County (10/8/16) Gigi deJong

Millpond County Park, Inyo County (10/8/16) Gigi deJong

Gigi deJong toured Round Valley, northwest of Bishop in the Eastern Sierra on Friday and found the cottonwood just turning yellow.

Though, there are “some lovely stand in picturesque spots,” with rabbitbrush in full irridescent yellow bloom, complementing the trees perfectly.

Counterpoints include bull rushes along the creeks, an occasional apple tree and “old structures that have lovely patina.”

Farm animals and the Sierra Nevada provide ornamentation that complements the scene and makes it classically a California Fall Color diorama.

She recommends exploring Pine Creek Rd., Round Valley Rd., Horton Creek Campground and Millpond County Park (Inyo County).

Round Valley, Inyo County (northwest of Bishop) – Patchy (10-50%), though well worth a trip.

Color spotter Anthony DeChiaro hiked to the Hilton Lakes on Oct. 6 to find the area denuded of leaves. He admitted he didn’t spend a lot of time searching for color around the lake, but that’s about what we would have expected, considering that the lakes are from 9,800′ to 11,000′ in elevation, and everything abover 9,000′ was reported as past peak the day Anthony headed up to the Hilton Lakes.

Hilton Lakes – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

Barney Lake (10/9/16) Leor Pantilat

Robinson Creek Trail to Barney Lake (10/9/16) Leor Pantilat

Barney Lake (10/9/16) Leor Pantilat

Robinson Creek Trail(10/9/16) Leor Pantilat

 

Barney Lake (10/9/16) Leor Pantilat

Robinson Creek Trail (10/9/16) Leor Pantilat

Barney Lake (10/9/16) Leor Pantilat

Robinson Creek Trail (10/9/16) Leor Pantilat

Leor Pantilat traveled to Mono County yesterday to capture these images on an iPhone.

He reports that the “Robinson Creek Trail to Barney Lake is at peak and dazzling with mountainsides full of yellow, orange and red contrasting with the rugged peaks surrounding the scene.

“After the short stretch in the pine forest near Twin Lakes, the trail emerges into meadows and the aspen at peak color is virtually unabated for 4 miles all the way to Barney Lake and beyond.

“I was at the same spot at the same time last year and the aspen show is substantially better this year with much less brown rot.

“Leaves were flying off the trees with every breeze so this is definitely a GO NOW! situation.”

He continues, “Strong winds are forecast as early as Thursday will likely end the show.”

Robinson Creek Trail to Barney Lake, Mono County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! 

June Lake Loop (10/9/16) Julie Kirby

June Lake Loop (10/9/16) Julie Kirby

June Lake should peak this weekend, with color lasting another week.  So, even if the winds strip some trees, enough color should remain along the June Lake Loop to keep it beautiful.

June Lake Loop – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Sonora Pass (10/7/16) Dave Olden

Sonora Pass (10/7/16) Dave Olden

Sonora Pass and Leavitt Meadow are now wearing orange as if they were rooting for the San Francisco Giants in the playoffs.  When Dave Olden crossed the pass on Oct. 7, it was just beginning its peak.

Sonora Pass (10/10/16) Leor Pantilat

Sonora Pass (10/9/16) Leor Pantilat

Then, Leor Pantilat happened by on Sunday and found it had donned Giant colors. That’s how fast it peaks. Again, this color might not last out the week.

Sonora Pass – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! 

CENTRAL COAST

Fremont cottonwood, Rose Valley Road, Ojai (10/6/16) Kevin Rose

Fremont cottonwood, Rose Valley Road, Ojai (10/6/16) Kevin Rose

First Report: Traveling north from Ojai along SR33, color spotter Kevin Rose found a stand of Fremont cottonwood, brushed by refreshing mountain breezes off Rose Valley Road.

The trees were showing patchy color at coordinates 34.5595382 – 119.1654414 along Sespe Creek.

Nearby, several backpackers were gearing up to hike Lion Canyon. Kevin did some of the same hike and declares it hike-worthy!  Turn right off CA-33 on Rose Valley Rd. and follow the parking lot to its bitter end.

This is a nice walk for Central Coast color spotters and earns title as HIKE OF THE WEEK. “Totally worth it!” wrote Rose who followed Rose Valley Road.

Rose Valley Road, Los Padres National Forest, Ojai – Patchy (10-50%)

Poison Oak, Humboldt Redwoods State Park (10/10/16) Max Forster

Poison Oak, Humboldt Redwoods State Park (10/10/16) Max Forster

NORTH COAST

Prairie Creek RSP (10/10/16) Max Forster

Prairie Creek RSP (10/10/16) Max Forster

Lost Man Creek, Redwood National Park (10/10/16) Max Forster

Lost Man Creek, Redwood National Park (10/10/16) Max Forster

Jedediah Smith RSP (10/10/16) Max Forster

Jedediah Smith RSP (10/10/16) Max Forster

North Coast color spotter Max Forster happened upon the historically significant Luna tree while looking for color in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

This is the tree that Julia “Butterfly” Hill sat in for two years in protest of logging within the area.  

Humboldt Redwoods State Park – Patchy (10-50%).  Bigleaf maple and poison oak along the Avenue of the Giants have another week until peak yellow and crimson, though examples can be seen when rays of sun light the redwood forest. Look for the poison oak creeping up the trunks of the skyscraper redwoods along Mattole Road.

Redwood National & State Parks – (75%-100%) GO NOW!.  Most of the bigleaf maple are putting on their best show of the season.  Trees along Mill Creek (Jedediah Smith State Park) and Little Lost Man Creek (Redwood National Park) have turned particularly impressive over the last few days.

 

 

 

 

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Bishop Creek: Close, But No Cigar

Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/17/16) Gary Young

Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/17/16) Gary Young

Weir Pond, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/17/16) Gary Young

Weir Pond, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/17/16) Gary Young

Groves Above Cardinal Village, Bishop Creek (9/17/16) Gary Young

Groves Above Cardinal Village, Bishop Creek (9/17/16) Gary Young

Road to North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/17/16) Gary Young

Road to North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/17/16) Gary Young

Bishop Creek Lodge (9/17/16) Gary Young

Bishop Creek Lodge (9/17/16) Gary Young

The American idiom, “Close, but no cigar,” came from the mid-20th-century practice of fairground stalls awarding cigars to carnival game winners.  If you just missed – which often happened – the barker would tell you, “Close, but no cigar.”

Well, that’s sorta happening up Bishop Creek in Inyo County. Quaking aspen are close to peaking, but not yet enough to win a cigar.

Color spotter Gary Young was there today and reported Lake Sabrina was closest to smoking a stogie, of any location in the Eastern Sierra.  The photos he sent confirm that, though we agree that it has just smoldered into the lower end of a Near Peak rating.

Aspen stands across from Bishop Creek Lodge are mostly wearing kelly green, though splashes of yellow are painting high areas of the canyon.

Of course, that can change rapidly.  Last year, areas of Bishop Creek Canyon went from Just Starting to Peak in a week, and it peaked prior to the first day of autumn (this coming Thursday).

So, anything can happen this week.  If you go, you might just win that cigar.

GO NOW! – Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Lake Sabrina and areas above 9,500′.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Bishop Creek Canyon (Below 9,500′)

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Autumn is Events Season

BishopCA-BannerAd-CaFallColor

Bishop Chamber & Visitors Bureau

Tawni Thompson of Bishop reminds us that September and October are prime events months in Inyo County, with history, endurance, cultural, pop, film, sport and fishing faires, festivals, days, races, ralleys and seminars.  

Here are some highlights to combine with a fall color viewing trip.

9/10 – Laws Museum Good Old Days.  Pioneer crafts, demonstrations, live music & pie auction.   www.lawsmuseum.org 

9/9-9/11 – White Mountain Double Century Bike Race.  http://ndzone.com/white-mountain-double/

9/16-9/18 – Millpond Music Festival.  www.inyo.org 

9/23-9/25 – Pabanamanina Pow Wow & California Indian Days 

9/30-10/2 – Fall Colors Car Show, Fine Art Show & Sale, Arts & Crafts Faire and Choo Choo Swap Meet at Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop.  http://www.owensvalleycruisers.com/fallcolors.htm

10/7-10/9 – Lone Pine Film Festival.  http://www.lonepinefilmfestival.org/ 

10/7-10/9 – VCMC Dual Sport Motorcycle Rally.  http://vcmc.info/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=370060&module_id=183046 

10/14-10/16 – Fly Fishing Faire.  Seminars, vendors, fly-tying demonstrations, casting, classroom and on-the-water clinics.  All skill levels welcome!  http://www.bishopvisitor.com/event/bishop-fly-fishing-faire/

10/28-10/30 – Eastern Sierra History Conference.  http://esiaonline.com/eastern-sierra-history-conference/

For travel planning info, CLICK HERE.

 

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Scouting Report: Eastern Sierra

Aspen, South Lake (8/15/16) John Poimiroo

Aspen, South Lake (8/15/16) John Poimiroo

Aspen, Parcher's Resort (8/15/16) John Poimiroo

Aspen, Parcher’s Resort (8/15/16) John Poimiroo

Spots of bright yellow have begun to appear in a few aspen and willows at high elevations in the Eastern Sierra (U.S. 395) from Bishop Creek to Carson Pass (CA-88).

This is normal and does not indicate an early autumn show, though the overall health and robust green color of the aspen forest is encouraging. Conditions permitting, the fall color display in the Eastern Sierra should be as good as ever.

The Eastern Sierra aspen forest is mostly devoid of black leaf spot fungus, as was prevalent in the Northern Sierra last autumn. Though, willows, particularly at higher elevations, are dusted with yellow-orange rust fungus, and some aspen leaves carry nipple galls (small cream-colored bulges that contain insect larvae). The rust and galls will have inconsequential effect on the show, however.

More of a threat to California fall color has been the decline of native lady bugs (replaced by imported foreign varieties), as lady bugs are voracious consumers of aphids which can destroy aspen leaves and their color.

Aphids do not kill aspen, but they do reduce their autumn beauty. An Alpine County resident said she’s noticed a larger than normal number of aphids, as evidenced by the honeydew they drip on cars and deck furniture.

Aspen, Parcher's Resort (8/15/16) John Poimiroo

Aspen, Parcher’s Resort (8/15/16) John Poimiroo

Willows, South Lake (8/15/16) John Poimiroo

Willows, South Lake (8/15/16) John Poimiroo

South Lake (8/15/16) John Poimiroo

South Lake (8/15/16) John Poimiroo

Mist Falls, Bishop Creek Canyon (8/15/16) John Poimiroo

Mist Falls, Bishop Creek Canyon (8/15/16) John Poimiroo

0-10% – Just Starting – Bishop Creek Canyon and the Owens Valley – At Parcher’s Resort near South Lake, Jared Smith was encouraged by the high lake levels, which will provide brightly colored reflections at South, Sabrina and North Lake.

He reported that bright spots of yellow began appearing this week high up along the east canyon wall and among the willow.

In Bishop, towering cottonwood flanking the Owens River are verdant and seemingly unaware that autumn is approaching.

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (8/16/18) John Poimiroo

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (8/16/18) John Poimiroo

0-10% – Just Starting – Mammoth Lakes Basin – Similar spots of color are seen in the Lakes Basin at Mammoth Lakes. Mammoth Lakes’ many paved bike paths were full of families out for a ride through green groves of aspen. Mammoth Lakes Tourism is putting heightened emphasis on fall events, activities, festivals, programs and fall color reporting, this year, including locals recommending their favorite fall color hikes and rides. Mammoth Lakes Tourism has dedicated a page on their website to fall with new features and special offers.

June Lake (8/17/18) John Poimiroo

June Lake (8/17/18) John Poimiroo

Aspen, Virginia Lakes Rd (8/17/16) John Poimiroo

Aspen, Conway Summit (8/17/16) John Poimiroo

Aspen, Virginia Lakes Rd (8/17/16) John Poimiroo

Aspen, Conway Summit (8/17/16) John Poimiroo

Virginia Lakes Rd (8/17/16) John Poimiroo

Virginia Lakes Rd (8/17/16) John Poimiroo

Virginia Lakes Resort (8/17/16) John Poimiroo

Virginia Lakes Resort (8/17/16) John Poimiroo

Summer berries and lupine, Virginia Lakes Rd (8/17/16) John Poimiroo

Summer berries and lupine, Virginia Lakes Rd (8/17/16) John Poimiroo

Rabbitbrush, aspen, Virginia Lakes Rd (8/17/16) John Poimiroo

Rabbitbrush, aspen, Virginia Lakes Rd (8/17/16) John Poimiroo

0-10% – Just Starting – June Lake, Conway Summit, Virginia Lakes – No color is yet evident near June Lake or Conway Summit, where aspen are uniformly green. However, up toward Virginia Lakes, the change has started. Carolyn Webb of the Virginia Lakes Resort said “a burn (quick freeze) came through this past week, followed by spots of yellow appearing along the road.”

The color isn’t evident driving to the Virginia Lakes, but it is on the return when leaves are backlit by the sun.

Golden rabbit brush are beginning to bloom beside purple lupine beside the Virginia Lakes Road. For the coming month, the combination of early fall color and late blooming wildflowers can be seen at high elevations in the Eastern Sierra.

0-10% – Just Starting – Walker River and Antelope Valley – At Meadowcliff Lodge, north of Walker, Tim Fesko is still in summer season mode, too busy to notice early emerging fall color, though he is optimistic about the potential for this autumn’s display, noting how much rain and snow fell last winter.

0-10% – Just Starting – Monitor Pass – Hints of yellow are emerging as aspen lose their chlorophyll are seen in groves on the east side of Monitor Pass (CA-89) and beside the upper forks of the Carson River.

Markleeville Creek (8/17/18) John Poimiroo

Markleeville Creek (8/17/18) John Poimiroo

Black cottonwood, Markleeville Creek (8/17/18) John Poimiroo

Black cottonwood, Markleeville Creek (8/17/18) John Poimiroo

0-10% – Just Starting – Markleeville – Black cottonwood at the Markleeville Heritage and Nature Park are dark green, healthy and ready to reveal their golden color.

0-10% – Just Starting – Hope Valley and Carson Pass – Continuing north, the Hope Valley and Carson Pass (CA-88) have a mix of stressed (light green) to robust (dark green) aspen, though overall the forest is doing better. John Brissenden at Sorensen’s Resort near the junction of CA-88 and CA-89, was encouraged by the improved vitality of Hope Valley’s aspen groves.  Again, this area should expect a strong show of color this autumn.

The take away from this scouting trip is that Eastern Sierra deciduous trees and shrubs are healthy, robust and prime for a great show this fall.