, ,

Head ’em up, Move ’em out

Groves Above Cardinal Village, M. Fork Bishop Creek (9/23/18) Matthew Pacheco

Time to hit the trail to Bishop Creek. GO NOW!

Reports filtering in from Bishop Creek Canyon (west of Bishop, CA) are confirming peak color at the highest elevations. The upper regions of the S. Fork and M. Fork are peaking. Only the North Fork of Bishop Creek (North Lake) has been lagging, and that could change any day within the coming week.

Here’s the long and the short of it.  First, the long …

Parchers Resort, S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/23/18) Gigi de Jong

Bishop Creek Canyon – Peak (75-100%) at South Lake, Parchers and Lake Sabrina GO NOW!

Bishop color spotter Gigi de Jong has committed to submitting weekly reports from her color-rich area, this autumn. Her reports will be supplemented with observations from visiting and resident color spotters and photographers.

Gigi writes that on Sunday (9/23) Bishop Creek Canyon was “awash in yellow,” at its highest elevations, saying she caught the sun just setting with its “last rays catching the peaks and opposite ridge lines” as “aspen groves shined like polished lemons tumbling down the ravines,” with crisp and bright trees lining the road, “in counterpoint to the soft, reddish-orange tinge that illuminates bare peaks ahead.”

Lake Sabrina, M. Fork Bishop Creek (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

She was treated to seeing “high wispy cirrus clouds,” the kind that “indicate the approach of wintery weather patterns” and that reflect pink, orange and lavender sunset light. Oh, to be there!

Lower Bishop Canyon remains green, but, Gigi continued, “further up the canyon, bright yellow is widespread. The forest of pines alongside the road appears to glow yellow from within – as if the forest floor is lit from beneath. At South Lake, gray granite rises up stark and craggy in contrast to the bright yellow that sparkles like sweet lemon drops offered by the gently waving branches.”

 

Willow Campground, S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/24/18) Gigi de Jong

Gigi found color to be “almost uniformly yellow with a few hints of orange and red. A branch overhanging the creek opposite Parchers Resort looks like it’s testing the water and has seared to a warm orange and crimson. A small patch of trees near Willow Campground are all deep orange and seem to stand in defiance against the surrounding green and slate gray of the rocky outcrop behind.”

“From Parchers Resort to South Lake the color is peaking at 75% – 100%, however it may deepen in color as the nights get cooler. Some leaves are showing signs of decay with brown spots scattered about, so the deeper fall colors may not materialize in abundance this year.  A little lower down the canyon, from around Habeggers to near Parchers, the color is patchy at about 50%, and beautifully bright.”

Alena Nicholas agreed, reporting that “fall color is definitely ‘On The Way’, with color up in the higher elevations of Bishop Creek. Both the Sabrina Fork and South Fork of the creek has nice color, and both Sabrina Lake and South Lake too. As mentioned, North Lake is still pretty green.” (Click to enlarge photos)

Surveyor’s Meadow, S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

South Lake, S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

Weir Pond, S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

Sabrina Approach, M. Fork Bishop Creek (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

Sabrina Approach, M. Fork Bishop Creek (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

Weir Pond, S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surveyor’s Meadow, S. Fork, Bishop Creek (9/23/18) Matthew Pacheco

Approaching Parchers, S. Fork, Bishop Creek (9/23/18) Matthew Pacheco

Approaching Parchers, S. Fork, Bishop Creek (9/23/18) Matthew Pacheco

Approaching Parchers, S. Fork, Bishop Creek (9/23/18) Matthew Pacheco

Matthew “Mizzy” Pacheco, a CaliforniaFallColor.com reader for the past decade (yes, we’re in our tenth season) estimated Lake Sabrina would peak this week, but that “amazing color” would likely last a bit longer, as there was lots of green still to develop.

He also wrote that the ground cover at North Lake “was amazing … best I’ve seen it. But the main groves on the lake level are just starting. Mostly green,” including the large aspen grove seen on the way up. North Lake Road’s famous “leaf tunnel” is only 10 percent there, “though the trees near the 2nd parking pull of just before the tunnel looked amazing.” Beyond that, the groves appear green.

The Groves between Cardinal Village and North lake were beginning to look “kinda magic,” though Pacheco estimates they’ll need another week before darker yellows and oranges appear.

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/24/18) Mark Harding

Color spotter Mark Harding did what few others have done in the past two weeks. He submitted pictures of North Lake. Others probably thought it was worthless to submit photos of North Lake, because it is Patchy. However, Mark’s photograph shows that the aspen gully stretching up 1,000′ from the lake is at Peak. When the Patchy aspen below it peak, they’ll do so quickly and a shot like Elliot McGucken captured (see our scrolling masthead) will be possible at sunset with high clouds.

Note: Tomorrow evening (9/27), at last report, the sky is predicted to be partly cloudy in the Eastern Sierra. Such forecasts are seen in the weather bar on the right of this page. Caution, they do change. Partly cloudy skies provide ideal conditions for sunset photography. Sunset will be at 6:53 p.m. Presently, days are hovering in the 70s with nights in the 30s with colder nights approaching, providing a perfect setup for spectacular color within the next two weeks up Bishop Creek Canyon. Right now, you cannot go wrong heading there and it will be even better next week.

 

N. Fork, Bishop Creek (9/24/18) Mark Harding

N. Fork, Bishop Creek (9/24/18) Mark Harding

Pine Creek Canyon (9/24/18) Gigi de Jong

Pine Creek Pack Station (9/24/18) Gigi de Jong

Pine Creek Canyon – Just Starting (0-10%) 

Color here is provided mostly by “sunshine-yellow rabbitbrush that is in full bloom. The road (leading from the Round Valley north of Bishop) is lined with thick bushes of brilliant yellow flowers.” Gigi felt almost as if driving Pine Creek Canyon Midafternoon in Pine Creek Canyon is still warm and green. The sky is deep blue above the towering walls of the canyon. The sound of the burbling creek flowing below is quiet and soothing. A few cottonwood trees are showing their changing colors, but it the sunshine-yellow rabbitbrush that is in full fall bloom. The road is lined with thick bushes of brilliant yellow flowers. Driving up toward this head of this impressive glacial canyon makes one feel almost triumphant with a fall color guard lining the street.

Habeggers, S. Fork Bishop Creek Approaching Parchers, S. Fork, Bishop Creek (9/23/18) Gigi de Jong

Entrance to Pine Creek Canyon from Round Valley (9/24/18) Gigi de Jong

Lower Rock Creek Canyon – Just Starting (0-10%)

Lower Rock Creek Canyon (north of Bishop in the Round Valley) is still green, but fall color isn’t the reason to visit, right now. Mountain Biking is the reason. As, the Lower Rock Creek trail is the gold standard for mountain biking in the Eastern Sierra. It earns gold for its superior ride. And, once the color turns and also because fall is the golden season in this beautiful narrow canyon. If you go, pack a light camera for the up close and intense experience of sweeping through an arbor of leaves (best when they turn). A winding mountain road runs alongside this creek and trail, which also serves as an auto and motorcycle touring route. Stay tuned for updates on when the fall color is best here. 

Now, the short …

South Fork, Bishop Creek

  • South Lake (9,768′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Wier Pond (9,650′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Parcher’s Resort (9,260′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Willow Campground (9,000′)  – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Surveyor’s Meadow (8,975′)  – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Table Mountain Camp (8,900′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Mist Falls and the Groves Above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Aspendell (8,400′) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Middle Fork, Bishop Creek

  • Lake Sabrina (9,150′)- Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Sabrina Approach (9,100′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Sabrina Campground (9,000′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Groves Above Cardinal Village (8,550′) – Patchy (10-50%) – At the high end of Patchy, likely to peak within a week.
  • Four Jeffries (8,000′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Intake II (8,000′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Big Trees Campground (7,800′) – Just Starting (0-10%)

North Fork, Bishop Creek

  • North Lake (9,225′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • North Lake Rd (9,000′) – Just Starting (0-10%) – ground covers are the best in years, aspen groves still green

Groves Above Cardinal Village, M. Fork Bishop Creek (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas