Past Peak Beauty

Even when a tree or shrub is past peak, there’s beauty to be appreciated.

With the onset of winter, Lassen Volcanic National Park Guide Shanda Ochs closed up the Loomis Museum near Manzanita Lake and relocated to her winter station in the Kohm-Yah-Mah-Nee Visitor Center at the southwest entrance to the national park.

On arrival, she found Past Peak color adding reddish contrast to the saffron-stained Sulphur Works and splashed across rocky slopes leading toward Mt. Conrad.

The ruddy branches of mountain alder (Alnus incana ssp. tenuifolia) and rusty-brown leaves of mountain mule ears (Wyethia mollis) and arrow leaved balsam root (Balsamorhiza sagittata) brighten scenes, just waiting to be covered with snow, that Shanda says will arrive today.

The plants she noticed will remain dormant through winter, blanketed with white as snowshoers and cross country skiers explore the park and Shanda counts the days until the snow melts and alder are again covered in purple blooms and mule ear and balsam root decorate the mountainsides with yellow blossoms.

Only ten days earlier, fall color peaked at Manzanita Lake, as Shanda winterized the museum. There, black cottonwood were reflecting their gold upon the lake and a bald eagle overlooked the iridescent scene.

Today, Manzanita Lake is past peak and the eagle has it to itself.

  • Lassen Volcanic National Park (7,000′) – Past Peak, You Missed It.