Baxter Pass Gets Its Due

Charred trunks are all that remain of most trees on Baxter Pass (9/30/12) Dennis Vance

The forest canopy used to provide shade along Baxter Pass (9/30/12) Dennis Vance

Baxter Pass in the Southern Eastern Sierra rises 6,000′ over 13 miles, making it one of the longest passes in the Sierra.  Color spotter Dennis Vance says lightly traveled Baxter Pass once had  “one of the most beautiful canyons in the Sierra, boasting several colonies of White Oak and rich in Fox Tail Pine along Baxter Creek, with shade provided most of the way by the forest canopy.”  However that beauty was lost in 2007 when the “devastating Independence fire” occurred.  The devastation left behind is seen in Vance’s photos.

Riparian areas along Baxter Creek below 8,000′ (9/30/12) Dennis Vance

0 – 15% – Baxter Pass (Below 8,000′) – Visit riparian areas to see color along streams.

Baxter Pass (9/30/12) Dennis Vance

15 – 30% – Baxter Pass (8,000 to 9,000′) – Ferns are showing color to 9,000′.

Baxter Pass (9/30/12) Dennis Vance

30 – 50-% – Baxter Pass (10,300′) – subalpine fronds have turned orange.

White Oak Renewal (9/30/12) Dennis Vance

White Oak Renewal- Vance provides this photo of new white oak sprouting from the trunks of trees burned in the 2007 fire.  He writes that the photo was taken,  “just above the Baxter Pass trailhead at 6,300′ elevation. It dramatically reveals the rebirth of the white oak colony alongside the N. Fork of Oak Creek drainage. The fire of 2007 started down at 4,000′ and burned continuously up to 9,000′. It has been said that this fire became so hot in the pass that it split rocks!”