Early Storm Knocks Color Down the Canyons


75% -Past Peak — Bishop Creek. Snow fell at higher elevations in the Sierra past Friday evening, dusting the peaks and continuing through Saturday into the Buttermilks and White Mountains.  Color in the upper Bishop Creek drainage is now past peak.  At North Lake, most aspen at higher elevations are now bare of leaves and much of the yellow has become spotted with brown and black from freezing temperatures.  Those photographers and leaf peepers who ventured out into the storm still got a beautiful show of brightly yellow leaves covered with fresh snow, though winds were knocking off the turned leaves.

A lot of the aspen up the Bishop Creek drainage remain green, “particularly along the road to South Lake” reports Kahlee Brighton on CalPhoto.com, “Some are getting lighter, possibly preparing to change, however, it appears a number of these green trees are losing leaves and may not ever turn color before falling off. Everything looks very dry, so it will largely depend on the weather, especially winds. At mid-level in the canyon, there are a few groves with a rainbow of colorful leaves (green, yellow, orange and red), but also a lot of brown and black-spotted foliage.

15-30% — Aspendell and Intake II. Color is beginning to appear at Aspendell.  Kahlee reports that aspen below the village are “much lighter green and a few are tinged with yellow and orange. Same thing with Intake II.”

Kahlee said she spent Sunday afternoon at Rock Creek, “where it was snowing steadily, with light flurries just above Tom’s Place. It’s still primarily green up to the Sno-Park. After that, it’s a mixed color situation. There are some aspen groves with a combo of green, yellow and orange, but also a LOT of bare trees.

“I drove all the way up to the Mosquito Flat trailhead parking area. It was snowing heavily (thankfully, no wind or ice on the roads). Looked like white-out conditions in the distance. Color at the top was 95% gone. Lots of bare trees. What was left was brown, black and a touch of copper here and there. Looked like winter more than Fall!

“Around Rock Creek Lake, it was virtually deserted, snowing frequently and quite cold. The usually colorful aspens around the perimeter of the lake were losing color and leaves rapidly. Definitely past peak.”

Kahlee predicts that Rock Creek for the rest of autumn probably won’t deliver “the same kind of brilliant color seen in past years. The snow and harsher weather have painted a different kind of Fall landscape, rendering the beauty of this season’s offerings in much more subtle ways.

“This has been an interesting Fall season. Areas that were prime a week ago are done; lower elevations are still predominantly green. Anyone’s guess as to how the color will unfold in the days to come.”  To see Kahlee’s recent images visit http://www.flickr.com/groups/easternsierrafallcolor/.


75-100% — CA-190. “krazkim” reports on CalPhoto that a lot of the aspen trees along California highway 190 in the Sequoia National Forest, east of Porterville have brown spots.  At the end of the meadow by Quaking Aspen campground (Sequoia National Forest) many of the trees have lost most of their leaves. Krazkim reported some color in ferns and aspen at Upper Peppermint campground, but a small amount of snow and ice pellets were falling yesterday, which could reduce color.


San Gabriel Mountains – Raphael reports on Modern Hiker that he found beautiful displays of big leaf maple along riparian areas of Cooper Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains.  Some of these areas remain closed to fight lingering wildfires.