Hope Arrives

Quaking Aspen, Hope Valley (9/23/20) Philip Reedy

There are moments when an image arrives that changes perspective. One of those moments occurred Wednesday, when Philip Reedy sent this picture of an aspen leaf from the Hope Valley.

The leaf embodies the transition from summer to fall in an unexpected way.

Aspen leaves are not just yellow. California’s are yellow, gamboge, lurid, limey, orange, pink, crimson and, well, then there’s this leaf with all of them put together.

It’s one of the leaves Phil found in the Hope Valley on his travels along Hwy 88 on Wednesday. (Click to enlarge photographs)

Heading east on Hwy 88, at the Caples Lake Resort, Phil stopped to check on the status of the aspen grove, two miles past Silver Lake, that is often dazzling in its display of deep reds and oranges. He noted that “the grove usually turns later, and this year is no exception, as it is completely green.”

Similar greenness continued along 88 over Carson Pass and down to Red Lake, as was the stretch of aspen from Red Lake to Red Lake Creek Cabin. “Ditto for the aspen around the cabin and across the road along the creek,” Phil described though he “detected a bit of lime color around the cabin, so I imagine in a week it will begin coloring up.” This area usually peaks during the first full week of October, and it appears to be on track to do so this year. 

From the cabin, down Hwy 88 to Blue Lakes Road, Reedy reports “little color.”  However, the pasture north of the highway has many lush, healthy aspen loaded with Near Peak color.

The scene is a mix of fully turned to completely green trees. If photographing this area, most of the land is public, though there are some private (fenced) areas. The hike to the best of the trees is easy and flat. Reedy took a series looking back through the trees at the pasture.

Reedy then continued east on Hwy-88/89 to the recently renamed and remodeled Wylder Hope Valley (formerly Sorensen’s) Resort where he was surprised to see a lot of color. Many of the trees surrounding the resort have fully turned, though there’s still a week of peak color to be enjoyed.

Because of its extreme range of elevations, California is one of the few fall color destinations in North America where wildflowers appear concurrently with fall color. Reedy’s photographs show that contradiction blooming near the Wylder resort.

Although it is in the Patchy range (Phil rates as 10 – 25%), the area surrounding the Wylder Resort as Near Peak and “should be even better in another week.” By then, he says, “perhaps the cabins will have some color around it, as well.”

  • Caples Lake (7,800′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Carson Pass (8,652′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Red Lake (7,861′)- Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Red Lake Creek Cabin (7,550′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Blue Lakes Rd (7,550′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Hope Valley (7,300′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Wylder Hope Valley Resort (7,000′) – Patchy (10-50%) – Groves near the resort vary from Near Peak to Just Starting.
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