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Gallimauphry: Photographic Perspectives

Monitor Pass (10/13/17) Steven Crowley

When we receive photographs too late to be posted as a current report or perhaps so artistic that they do not tell the story of what was seen, we set them aside for later use as a collection of gallimauphry.

Here’s one on Monitor Pass by Steven Crowley. Click to enlarge.

Monitor Pass (10/13/17) Steven Crowley

Monitor Pass (10/13/17) Steven Crowley

Monitor Pass (10/13/17) Steven Crowley

Monitor Pass (10/13/17) Steven Crowley

Monitor Pass (10/13/17) Steven Crowley

Monitor Pass (10/13/17) Steven Crowley

Monitor Pass (10/13/17) Steven Crowley

Monitor Pass (10/13/17) Steven Crowley

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Carson Pass to Monitor Pass by Drone

Aerial color spotter Titus Davis flew his Phantom 4 Pro drone at points between Carson and Monitor Passes (CA-88 and CA-89) to create this video.

Here’s a rundown of where he flew:

  • :00 – Silver Lake Latitude: 38°39’54.90″N  Longitude: 120° 7’13.94″W
  • :52 – East Fork Carson River  38°40’33.38″N  119°44’12.25″W
  • 1:37 – Hope Valley Latitude: 38°44’58.72″N Longitude: 119°56’11.51″W
  • 3:34 – Monitor Pass Latitude: 38°40’30.87″N  Longitude: 119°37’21.42″W

The drone provides perspectives not seen previously. Titus’ video of Silver Lake has the best closeup view we’ve seen of the copses of color on the far side of the lake, as they’re difficult to photograph other than from the water.

Similarly, while the color along the E. Fork of the Carson River can be seen from Hwys 4 and 89, only part of it is visible. Whereas the drone gives us a bird’s-eye view of the color.

The same is true of the breadth of color atop Monitor Pass, which is not really realized until seen higher than the trees, as shown by the drone.

 

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Time to be Outside on the Eastside

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Whoa, if ever there were a weekend to get Outside on the Eastside, this is it in Mono County.

Peak color can be found anywhere you go and whichever direction you drive. We’ll be posting an update on Lake Tahoe and the Hope Valley, after returning to scout those locations (Oct. 12) and fully expect the color to be great, just as it is in Mono and Inyo Counties right now.

Part of the reason this autumn is so good is why it is so confusing. On the exact same day for the same location we’ve received conflicting reports stating, “It’s gone” or “it’s spectacular” or “not yet there.”

What’s happening is that the aspen forest, for the first time in anyone’s memory, is turning by grove. Stands of aspen are different genetically, and they’re demonstrating their individuality this autumn. In past years, the genetic differences between the groves seemed to make little difference, as the trees at least acted as if they were on the same clock. Not this year.

What that means for fall color viewing is that the show is lasting longer, but not as uniformly at any given location.

The big change this past week occurred at the highest elevations, which for the most part went Past Peak. Places like Upper Rock Creek (10,300′), Tioga Pass (9,943′) and Sagehen Meadows (8,139′ – High Desert, so it’s drier there) are now Past Peak.  Though, that’s not universally true. Some of the groves at “you’ll-get-winded walking there” heights are still green.

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Some spotters began declaring calamity after seeing stripped stands at some locations, posting on Facebook and elsewhere that high winds had stripped the color. So, I called Mono County fall color guru Jeff Simpson (Yes, you’ve now achieved guru status in your life, Jeff).

Jeff lives on the eastside and has been reporting autumn color for years. He seemed to be offended by the suggestion that fall had ended, saying, “in no way have all the leaves blown off.”

OK, Jeff, OK. I believe you, especially since you’re now a guru and after seeing your photos, taken as late as yesterday.

So, count on it.

This weekend, there’ll be lots of gorgeous color to be seen at: Twin Lakes Bridgeport, Lundy Canyon, Convict Lake, Rock Creek Road, McGee Creek Canyon, Conway Summit, Summers Meadow Road, Lobdell Lake Road, Lee Vining Canyon, Monitor Pass and the June Lake Loop, even if a few leaves have fallen, as seen at right.

Here’s a detailed report from Mono County, a go-to destination for great fall color this week:

WALKER / COLEVILLE / TOPAZ

Monitor Pass (8,314′) – Peak (75-100%) – Aspen on the summit are perfect, right now. Look for the large grove of trees on the east side of the summit to have the best display of color. GO NOW!

Lobdell Lake Road (8,600′) – Peak (75-100%) – This area has never looked as good. Lots of peaking trees with deep reds and yellows. Get here fast, as some stands are past peak or will not last much longer.  Note: Burcham Flat Road to Lobdell lake Road are dirt roads – AWD or 4WD vehicles are recommended. GO NOW!

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Walker Canyon (5,200′)- Patchy (10-50%) – Walker canyon has slowed since last reported. There are stands with great yellows and lime greens while others are just getting started. Give it a week and it’ll be rating “Go Now!”, but not just yet.

Towns of Walker & Coleville – Just Starting (0-10%) – A few cottonwoods have started to turn but this is traditionally the last place to peak in Mono County. Look to go here in the 3rd or 4th week in October. Nevertheless, there are spots where the tall cottonwood are crowned with yellow in the midday sun.

Sonora Pass (9,623′)- Peak (75-100%) – It’s a fall color inversion here, as colors are looking nice around Leavitt Meadows Pack station and the lower sections of Sonora Pass, whereas aspen near the summit never seemed to get going. You’ll find peak to past peak groves along the road and is still worth the trip this weekend. See our earlier report about Obsidian Campground – glorious! GO NOW!

Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/9/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

BRIDGEPORT / VIRGINIA LAKES

Twin Lakes (7,000′) -Peak (75-100%) – The biggest change in Mono County this week has occurred at Twin Lakes near Bridgeport. Wonderful color has appeared along the upper and lower lakes, and up the mountainside toward Horse Creek. GO NOW!

Virginia Lakes (9,819’) –Peak (75-100%) to Past Peak – The leaves never got going at Virginia Lakes, this year. Though, there’s still some great color along Lower Virginia Lakes Road. GO NOW! as You’re About to Miss It.

Conway Summit (8,143′)- Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is lot’s of great color at Conway Summit right now. A few stands are a little green while most of the mountainside is at full peak. Tip: visit in the late afternoon, as shadows make this difficult to photograph in morning light. GO NOW!

Summers Meadow (7,200′) – Peak (75-100%) – – Simply spectacular. Entire groves of peaking aspens make this location a must stop.  NOTE: The Summers Meadow bridge sustained significant damage during the spring runoff. The bridge has been reduced to one lane traffic but is currently open to visitors traveling to Summers Meadow. GO NOW!

Conway Summit (10/11/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

LEE VINING 

Tioga Pass & Lee Vining Canyon (9,943′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is great color to be found in Lee Vining Canyon, especially along Log Cabin Mine Road. Higher up, Tioga Pass and Saddlebag Lake are past peak. GO NOW!

Lundy Lake & Canyon (7,858′)- Peak (75-100%) – Be prepared for brilliant color up Lee Vining Canyon at the first set of waterfalls. Color along the road and campground is our peak as Peak of the Week. GO NOW!

BENTON & 120 EAST 

Sagehen Summit (8,139’) – Past Peak (You Missed It.)

JUNE LAKE LOOP

Silver Lake, June Lake Loop (10/11/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

June Lake Loop/Hwy 158 (7,654′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is lots of bright lime, yellow and orange in the aspen around the June Lake Loop. There are peak trees just about everywhere. And yet, the June Lake Loop will last another week or two. We do not recommend delaying, but if you only can visit in two weeks, you should still find spots of good color. GO NOW!

Parker Lake (8,000′) – 50-100% Go Now!  – Wow. From Parker Bench to Parker Lake be prepared to drop your jaw. You will find a mix of color from Patchy to Near Peak, to Peaking, to Past Peak, but overall it’s lovely. GO NOW!

MAMMOTH LAKES

Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,996′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – Mammoth has come into its own, with good color along Mammoth Creek Road and Sherwin Creek Road and among bright orange willows at the Mammoth Lakes Basin. GO NOW!

Summers Meadow Rd. (10/9/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

CROWLEY LAKE/McGEE CREEK/CONVICT LAKE

McGee Creek Canyon (8,600’) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – – McGee Creek Canyon is at full peak and has wonderful color right now while the road is still a bit patchy. GO NOW!

Around Crowley Community (6,781′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – Poke around the community and you’ll find bright color there and along the hillsides beside U.S. 395. Take the “old US 395” road from McGee Creek to Tom’s Place for great views of the color change that’s occurring up the mountain. GO NOW!

Convict Lake (7850′) – Peak (75-100%) – Convict Lake is a “must” stop this week. Colors are at their peak along the lake and up Convict Canyon. Take the 2.5 mile “Convict Lake Loop Trail” around the lake for a close up view of the leaves and different angles of Mt. Morrison. GO NOW!

ROCK CREEK CANYON

Rock Creek Road (9,600’) –Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) –  – Wonderful color along the lower section of Rock Creek Road from Tom’s Place. There are sections of great Yellows and Oranges while other areas above the lake may be past peak. GO NOW!

Lower Rock Creek Road(7,087′) – Patchy (10-50%)

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Near Peak Aspen Surround Sorenson’s

Monitor Pass (9/30/17) Steve Greer

A number of information-rich reports arrived this weekend… so many that with other commitments it was difficult getting them up quickly.

Woodford’s Canyon (9/29/17) Steve Greer

Color spotter Steve Greer traveled back from the Eastside, over Monitor Pass, passing Sorenson’s Resort in Woodford’s Canyon, before continuing through the Hope Valley.

Greer concurs with Phillip Reedy’s assessment, that peak is likely a week away in the Hope Valley, although aspen in Woodford’s Canyon near Sorenson’s Resort are now Near Peak.

He also notes that the aspen seem to be so healthy in this area (not what they were last year at this time) of the Northern Sierra (CA-88) that the show should be bright and vibrant.

Greer took the drone shot (above) from the summit of Monitor Pass, providing a glimpse of the overall “patchy” condition of the weathered aspen at that elevation.

Woodford’s Canyon (9/30/17) Steve Greer

Monitor Pass (8,314′) – Patchy (10-50%)

Woodford’s Canyon (7,000′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Hope Valley (7,300′) – Patchy (10-50%)

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Weather To Go or Not

Mark Finan and Eileen Javora, KCRA-TV3

Mark Finan and Eileen Javora, KCRA-TV3

Two of my favorite meteorologists to watch are Mark Finan and Eileen Javora of KCRA-TV3 (NBC) in Sacramento. They aren’t just spot-on accurate meteorologists, they’re fans of fall color, too.

I suppose that comes with the job. As, how would you otherwise immerse yourself in analyzing the weather and predicting it, without also becoming fascinated by the turn of seasons?

Mark moved from meteorologist to color spotter this past weekend, driving a long loop in search of inspiration (and there is much of it along this drive), east from Sacramento over Carson and Monitor passes, then south along the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway over Conway Summit and past Mono Lake, June Lake and Mammoth Lakes, to Convict Lake and back… all to see what’s developing.

Like others who have visited the area, he notes that most of the well-known fall color locations along the route remain mostly green or lime (Caples Lake, CA-88; Monitor Pass, CA-89; June Lake and Convict Lake), though promising yellow is emerging at the highest elevations: (above Mono Lake and on individual trees at June Lake).

For those judging whether to head to the east side or not, it is still a bit early, though emerging color can be seen and it will continue to improve through the last two weeks of September, particularly at the highest elevations.

How’s that for a forecast?

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June Lake is Jumping – Go Now!

Despite the warning, Greg Newbry shot this at June Lake, anyway (10/19/14) Greg Newbry

Despite the warning, Greg Newbry shot this near June Lake anyway (10/19/14) Greg Newbry

June Lake Loop (10/19/14) Alicia Vennos

June Lake Loop (10/19/14) Alicia Vennos

June Lake Loop (10/21/14) Steve Wolfe

June Lake Loop (10/21/14) Steve Wolfe

June Lake Loop (10/21/14) Steve Wolfe

June Lake Loop (10/21/14) Steve Wolfe

Lee Vining Canyon (10/21/14) Steve Wolfe

Lee Vining Canyon (10/21/14) Steve Wolfe

Mono County color spotter Alicia Vennos reports that fall color continues to explode in Mono County and predicts it should hold for at least another weekend, barring storms or high winds.

Today, Eastern Sierra color spotter Steve Wolfe left Bishop Creek Canyon to drive north along U.S. 395.  He confirmed what Alicia’s been saying, that aspen up Lundy Canyon, along the June Lake Loop and in Lee Vining Canyon are, surprisingly, still full in many places, with at- or past-peak, “Go Now!” colors.

Steve predicted that “with weather due to warm up about 10 degrees for the next few days, the color should continue to hold at least until the end of the week.  The color north of Bridgeport and south of Walker River is at- or past-peak, too, with yellow, orange and the occasional red.”

He wrote that “Lundy Canyon, while not as spectacular as June Lake Loop in its variety and intensity of color, is still uniformly yellow, with some green hanging in there. Lee Vining also has brilliant, full aspen stands.”

Lower Rock Creek Road (Near Peak – 50 – 75%) The lower trail is finally turning and should be close to peak this weekend.

Convict Lake (Peak to Past Peak) – “Ambush at the Lake” the Convict Lake Resort’s annual fall fishing derby is running now through Nov. 15, with cash and resort prizes.  Morrison’s Bonus Derby Weekend is Oct. 31 – Nov. 2, 2014.  For more about these events, contact Convict Lake Resort at 800-992-2260 or www.ConvictLake.comGO NOW!

Mammoth Lakes (Peak to Past Peak) – GO NOW!

June Lake Loop (10/19/14) Greg Newbry

June Lake Loop (10/19/14) Greg Newbry

June Lake Loop (Peak – 75 – 100%) – The June Lake Loop/Hwy. 158 is particularly beautiful from Gull Lake, “down canyon” to Grant Lake.  GO NOW!

Little Walker Lake (10/19/14) Alicia Vennos

Little Walker Lake (10/19/14) Alicia Vennos

Walker Lake (Peak – 75 – 100%) From the north end of the June Lake Loop/Hwy. 158, Little Walker Lake (Walker Lake on the Google Map) is peaking at lake level, and should hold through the weekend. Alicia Vennos provides this advice on how to get there: the trailhead is the only public access (you cannot drive to the lake on Walker Lake Rd. as that end of the lake is private).  Find the trailhead at the end of Sawmill Canyon Rd.  On the Fall Color Map, it doesn’t look that close to the lake but you just walk up a short incline from the parking lot, and you can look right down on the lake. GO NOW!

Lower Tioga Road (10/19/14) Alicia Vennos

Lower Tioga Road (10/19/14) Alicia Vennos

Lee Vining Canyon (Peak – 75 – 100%) – Groves at the base of Tioga Pass Rd./Hwy. 120 just north of the US 395 junction in Lee Vining Canyon are just turning now while along Poole Plant Road, the color is peaking and again should be amazing this weekend, as well. GO NOW!

Lower Lundy Lake Road (Peak – 75 – 100%) Lower Lundy Lake Rd. is rich in color — definitely peaking. GO NOW!

Sonora Pass (Peak to Past Peak) Sonora Pass and Leavitt Meadows are also glowing, with some areas and stands past peak.  Autumn rides through the trees are still available at the Leavitt Meadows Pack Station: text (preferred) or leave a message at (775) 450-0014GO NOW!

Walker River (Patchy – 10 – 50%) – The drive along the West Walker River in north county is becoming golden as the trees and willows along the shore get increasingly brighter.

Walker, Coleville, Topaz  (Patchy – 10 – 50%) – Spots of bright yellow and lime are seen among the Antelope Valley’s stands of black cottonwood.

Monitor Pass (Past Peak) – YOU MISSED IT!

[weatherlayer country=”United States” city=”June Lake”]

 

 

 

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Fall Color Hike: Lundy Canyon Trail

Fall color edges the Lundy Canyon Trial (9/28/14) Alicia Vennos

Fall color edges the Lundy Canyon Trail (9/28/14) Alicia Vennos

GO NOW! Near Peak (50 – 75%) Mammoth Lakes Basin – Twin Lakes in the Mammoth Lakes Basin is at peak with beautiful orange colors.  Other lakes in the basin either lack fall color or are still patchy. Color spotter Kevin Lennox reports erratic uniformity of color among the trees in the Lakes Basin.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Laurel Canyon – Very little color showing at base, though about a fourth of trees have turned at the top of the canyon.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Convict Lake – Convict has lots of yellow just appearing around the lake; Convict Canyon has a way to go.

GO NOW! Near Peak (50 – 75%) – McGee Creek Canyon – Gorgeous color above 8,500′

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Crowley Lake – Very little color is showing, as yet.

Lower areas of the Lundy Canyon trail are still green (9/28/14) Alicia Vennos

Lower areas of the Lundy Canyon trail are still green (9/28/14) Alicia Vennos

Peak color is found higher along the Lundy Canyon trail and near waterfalls (9/28/14) Alicia Vennos

Peak color is found higher along the Lundy Canyon trail and near waterfalls (9/28/14) Alicia Vennos

Lundy Canyon (9/28/14) Alicia Vennos

Lundy Canyon (9/28/14) Alicia Vennos

GO NOW! Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Lundy Canyon Trail – Color Spotter Alicia Vennos of Mono County picks Lundy Canyon as a peak hike for this weekend.  She reports color at peaking along the trail and in waterfall areas though the Lundy Lake Road and the lake itself are still green.  That means the color should be good not just this weekend, but for the following week (wind and weather permitting).

Patchy (10 – 50%) – June Lake Loop – A mix of green, lime and yellow color the aspen surrounding the June Lakes. Brush are painting surrounding mountainsides auburn and orange. June Lake has at least a week to two weeks before peaking.

GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Saddlebag Lakes – Upper Tioga Pass is at full peak.  There aren’t many aspen in this area, though riparian color is beautiful.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Lee Vining Canyon – Similar to June Lakes, it has a way to go before full color.

YOU MISSED IT! Past Peak – Upper Virginia Lakes Road – Wind stripped turned trees at Virginia Lakes, last weekend.

Patchy (10 – 50%) Lower Virginia Lakes Road – Wind swept aspen surrounding Virginia Lakes lost their leaves this past week. Color spotter Steve Wolfe reported “The last half of Virginia Lakes Road at Conway Summit is past peak, with lots of leafless stands, but the first half… is still just this side of “patchy”, with green, lime and yellow stands.”

GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Sonora Pass – Most of the color to be seen along Sonora Pass is on the eastern side of the pass. Higher elevations are at full peak with lower groves of aspen a mix of yellow and green.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Walker/Coleville – Very little yellow and orange color is showing among the willows and cottonwood.

Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Monitor Pass – Wind stripped some of the turned color this past week, but leaves that hadn’t turned are now coloring up.  Color Spotter Kimberly Kofala reports the white trunks of the aspen contrast nicely with the new color.

[weatherlayer country=”United States” city=”Lee Vining”]

Finally, It’s Fall

Google

Google

We’re feeling lucky today.  Even though fall color has been visible in locations throughout California since August, Google’s search masthead today makes it official.  Finally, it’s fall. In the past week, I traveled to attend a travel writer’s conference in Iceland.  Though that Nordic country has much to its credit, Iceland’s fall color doesn’t hold a candle (or more appropriately, a lava flow) to California’s. Here are some of the great photos that have appeared on our Facebook site, since I took off towards the artic circle.

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Alena Nichols posts these shots taken in the San Bernardino Mountains

Rock Creek (9/6/14) Steve Wolfe

Rock Creek (9/6/14) Steve Wolfe

Virginia Lakes (9/12/14) Steve Wolfe

Virginia Lakes (9/12/14) Steve Wolfe

Virginia Lakes Rd (9/12/14) Steve Wolfe

Virginia Lakes Rd (9/12/14) Steve Wolfe

Bishop Creek (9/14/14) Steve Wolfe

Bishop Creek (9/14/14) Steve Wolfe

Dunderberg Meadow (9/21/14) Steve Wolfe

Dunderberg Meadow (9/21/14) Steve Wolfe

Steve Wolfe sends these shots from the Eastern Sierra.

Rock Creek (9/20/14) Susan Taylor

Rock Creek (9/20/14) Susan Taylor

Napa Valley (9/20/14) Susan Taylor

Napa Valley (9/20/14) Susan Taylor

Susan Taylor visited the Napa Valley and Eastern Sierra for these great images.

Sabrina Lake (9/21/14) Kimberly Kofala

Sabrina Lake (9/21/14) Kimberly Kofala

Monitor Pass (9/1/14) Kimberly Kofala

Monitor Pass (9/1/14) Kimberly Kofala

Hope Valley (9/20/14) Kimberly Kofala

Hope Valley (9/20/14) Kimberly Kofala

North Lake (9/22/14) Kimberly Kofala

North Lake (9/22/14) Kimberly Kofala

Kimberly Kofala always has great shots, and these did not disappoint.

Mosquito Flat Trail (9/17/14) Candace Gregory

Mosquito Flat Trail (9/17/14) Candace Gregory

Mosquito Flat Trail (9/17/14) Candace Gregory

Mosquito Flat Trail (9/17/14) Candace Gregory

Mosquito Flat Trail (9/17/14) Candace Gregory

Mosquito Flat Trail (9/17/14) Candace Gregory

Candace Gregory sent these warm aspen leaves from the Mosquito Flat Trail near Rock Creek Lake.

Hwy 89, north of Truckee (9/21/14) Laura Thompson

Hwy 89, north of Truckee (9/21/14) Laura Thompson

Laura Thompson reports the color is beginning to develop on Hwy 89 north of Truckee.

Indian Corn (9/21/14) Katrina Lounsbury

Indian Corn (9/21/14) Katrina Lounsbury

And closing this gallery of recent shots is Katrina Lounsbury’s kernel of fall color.

On the Road Again

Conway Summit (9/18/12) John Poimiroo

This past Saturday, I headed to Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern Sierra for the Outdoor Writers Association of California fall meeting.  My route crossed Echo Summit (U.S. 50); Luther Pass and Monitor Pass (CA-89); and Devil’s Gate Pass, Conway Summit and Deadman Summit (U.S. 395).

Monitor Pass, aspen begin to turn lime green (9/15/12) John Poimiroo

Side trips during the conference took me through Mono and Inyo Counties, along U.S. 395 and over Sherwin Summit to Bishop, then up Bishop Creek Canyon to the Parcher’s Resort at South Lake.  I also joined outdoor writers on a Jeep expedition south of Mammoth Lakes and up Laurel Creek Canyon to 10,300′.

Returning yesterday, I checked the state of color change along U.S. 395 at June Lake and up the Virginia Lakes Canyon.  I then crossed Sonora Pass (CA 108) to the Golden Chain Highway (CA 49) and rode north to El Dorado County.

Yellow rabbitbrush provide the brightest color along Monitor Pass (9/15/12) John Poimiroo

I came away with an overall impression of what fall color will look like on Saturday, when autumn arrives officially.

My conclusion: The most colorful display (red, orange, yellow, gold, lime, dark green) will occur in the Bishop Creek Canyon (west of Bishop) toward South, North and Sabrina Lakes.  Though, fluttering yellow and lime will be seen in stands of aspen above 9,000′ throughout the Eastern Sierra.

Pockets of nice color can be found below 9,000′, though lower elevations are still two to three weeks away before they approach 50% change.

Here’s what I found:

U.S. 50

0 – 15% – Bracken fern have turned yellow-orange between 2,000 and 3,000′. At 6,000′, quaking aspen are liming with some yellow.  From Strawberry Lodge to Sierra at Tahoe, willows have turned yellow to gold with lots of the drainage plants having turned.

CA – 89/88

0 – 15% – Luther Pass – Quaking aspen lining the edge of Grass Lake are showing the slightest change in color.

0 – 15% – Hope Valley – Several stands of quaking aspen have turned yellow near the Sorenson’s Resort, though peak appears to be two weeks away.

0 – 15% – Monitor Pass – There is some lime showing among the several stands of aspen along the pass, but very little yellow yet showing.

Conway Summit aspen backlit by sunset (9/15/12) John Poimiroo

U.S. 395

0 – 15% – Conway Summit – Groves of aspen to the west of the highway, approaching the summit are liming and tinged with yellow and gold, particularly at sunset.

 

Virginia Lakes – Trumbull Lake (9/18/12) John Poimiroo

15 – 30% – Virginia Lakes Canyon (9,200′) – Aspen not near water are showing signs of stress.  Paul McFarland of Friends of the Inyo, a non-profit cooperative association that helps public agencies protect the Eastern Sierra, commented that he believes the previous dry winter has parched some trees and will lead to disappointing color in areas not near water sources.  That phenomenon was seen in select stands of aspen, where leaves appeared desicated or spotted.  However, most of the trees appear healthy, with their leaves green and shiny.

15 – 30% – Lundy Canyon Color spotter Janet Fullwood reports color starting to appear in Lundy Canyon.  It is similar to Virginia Lakes Canyon.

Virginia Lakes (9/18/12) John Poimiroo

However, leaves on aspen near water sources are deeply green and appear healthy.  Color spotter Carolyn Webb of the Virginia Lakes Resort believes it’s too early to tell whether the show will match previous years, though there’s still plenty of time for the trees to color up.

Virginia Lakes (9/18/12) John Poimiroo

The weather at Virginia Lakes has been ideal for fishing and should continue through the weekend.  Plan on the best color appearing in the next two weeks.

0 – 15% – June Lakes Basin – Too early.  Plan for color to be near peaking in two to three weeks.  In the meantime, the fishing is great!

0 – 15% – Mammoth Lakes Basin – Too early.  Plan for color to be near peaking in two to three weeks.  More great fishing here and nearby.

0 – 15% – U.S. 395 – The upper reaches of the Hilton Creek drainage (south of Mammoth Lakes) seen from U.S. 395 are aglow with orange, yellow and lime aspen.

Jeeps drive a rocky road to Laurel Canyon (9/17/12) John Poimiroo

15 – 30% – Laurel Lakes Canyon – Lots of lime and yellow are beginning to show among the aspen lining Laurel Creek.  This is a rock and boulder strewn Jeep road that should be driven only with a 4WD vehicle.  Only a couple of turnouts exist, so it’s a long drive uphill to get to one, once you pass the color.

A Gecko-green Jeep Wrangler seems camouflaged as it rides toward the changing colors of Laurel Canyon (9/17/12) John Poimiroo

CA 168

Bishop Creek Canyon, approaching South Lake (9/18/12) Janet Fullwood

15 – 30% – Bishop Creek Canyon – Dogtrekker.com editor Janet Fullwood (who won two photography awards at the Outdoor Writers conference) provided the following photograph taken in Bishop Creek Canyon.  This area is prime to be full of color this weekend and for the next couple of weeks.

U.S. 395

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

0 – 15% – Whitney Portal Road – Color spotter Dennis Vance sends this photo taken last Sunday at the  Mount Whitney Portal trail at Big Horn Sheep Meadow as well as Out Post Camp.  He saw a ” shade of yellow appearing on the willows within the meadow at 10,300′.

CA 108 – Marine Corps Warfare Center (9/18/12) John Poimiroo

CA – 108

15 – 30% – Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center – An impressive stand of quaking aspen is beginning to glow.

CA 108 – Leavitt Meadows Pack Station (9/18/12) John Poimiroo

30 – 50% – Leavitt Meadows Pack Station – A spectacular stand of quaking aspen is seen on the eastern side of Sonora Pass at the Leavitt Meadows Pack Station.

0 – 15% – Sonora Pass (8,000′) – Clusters of robust aspen are seen at 8,000′, a dried out stand of aspen is found at 9,000′.

Mullein – Stanislaus Nat’l Forest (9/18/12) John Poimiroo

0 – 15 – Stanislaus National Forest – California is one of the few fall color destinations where wildflowers continue to bloom as trees turn color.  This is seen at the entrance to the Eureka Valley Campground where a mullein grandmother plant and Yosemite aster bloom near stands of Fremont Cottenwoods with their distinctive tear drop shaped lime to yellow leaves.  Black oak are still three weeks away from showing their deep orange color.

CA 49

0 – 15% – The only gold to be found along Hwy 49 is in the Gold Country’s stream beds, as cottonwood, maple and oaks are still dressed in green.

Fremont Cottonwood – Stanislaus Nat’l Forest (9/18/12) John Poimiroo

Shasta Cascade

0 – 15% – Sarah, a color spotter in the Shasta Cascade reports it’s still too early to see much change throughout the region, though expect ground plants in Lassen Volcanic National Park to turn color, first.

Find of the day: “The Big Cheese” sandwich served at Tahlula’s Restaurant in Sonora… a grilled combo of bacon, mac ‘n’ cheese, chedder, mozarella and parmesan.  It’s worth the drive, even if there’s little fall color yet to be seen along Hwy 49.

Colorful Routes to the Eastern Sierra – Go Now!

From the Central Valley and SF Bay Area, the most direct and most colorful route to June Lake and Mammoth Lakes is across Tioga Pass (CA Hwy 120).  Color spotters are reporting rosy dogwood glowing in the forests of Yosemite National Park along the park’s Big Oak Flat and Tioga roads (Hwy 120).

75 – 100% – Tioga Pass (Hwy 120) – 90% of the aspen are showing yellow with “huge swaths of color, with quite a bit of orange” along slopes visible from US 395, according Ann Turner reporting in CalPhoto.com.

75 – 100% – Monitor Pass (Hwy 89) – Most of the aspen over the pass are at peak with brilliant yellow.

75 – 100% – Conway Summit (US 395) – Broad areas of orange, yellow and red color cover the hillsides east of US 395 at Conway Summit.

75 – 100% – Carson and Luther Pass (Hwy 88 and 89) – The Hope Valley is flickering with bright yellow and at peak.