Fall Color Road Trip

Sorensens Resort, Hope Valley (10/9/19) Philip Reedy

Of all the contributors to this site, color spotter Philip Reedy of Davis makes some of the longest, most varied and interesting road trips in search of fall color and fly fishing.

Phil is a college chemistry teacher and, on the side, photographs covers for fly fishing publications. So he, as do many readers of this site, combines interests in science, reporting and the visual arts.

These are people who work both sides of their brains. My kinda people.

On his most recent road trip (Oct. 9-12), Phil crossed Carson Pass on his way to the Eastern Sierra. Though his images are now not useful for planning trips to see peak, they are lovely reflections of what was.

The Hope Valley was suffocating under a pall of smoke from the Caples fire when he began the trip, capturing images of peak color lightly muted by particulates.

He continued past Woodfords and through Markleeville on CA-89, crossing Monitor Pass, all of which are now at Peak.

His objective was Bishop Creek Canyon. North Lake was nearing the end of its peak. It had lingered for weeks, then burst forth reflecting red, orange, yellow and lime all at once upon its still waters. Philip caught the end of it, much later than we’ve seen in past years.

Fly Fishing at North Lake (10/10/19) Philip Reedy

The purpose of his trip was to capture possible fly fishing images for future covers. As Phil wrote in OWAC Outdoors, the bimonthly newsletter of the Outdoor Writers Association of California, “In my experience, the background of the photo is the most important aspect of a successful fly fishing photo. To assure that I always have a scenic background, I search for them, noting scenes that would make a nice landscape photo, perhaps with a waterfall, snow-capped peak or rushing river. Then, when the light and color are right, I return to those spots and stage a model in the scene I’d pre-visualized.”

That’s what Phil did on this trip … he took pictures at locations he’d pre-visualized would make good cover photos.

The complication with that approach, this autumn, is that fall color has not appeared with the same timing as previous years. Parchers Resort, which was past peak on Oct. 11 last year, is at peak now and the June Lakes Loop, which was at peak back then, is still Patchy and in some areas stripped due to aspen blight.

But then, no road trip turns out as you imagined it. There are always disappointments and new discoveries along the way.