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Bishop Bows In Beautifully

Bishop (10/16/19) Gigi de Jong

As yet this autumn, Bishop Creek Canyon hasn’t yet reported one Past Peak, and yet now the town of Bishop bows in with Peak color.

In other words, it is peaking from 9,100′ down to 4,100′. That’s 5,000′ of PEAK along Bishop Creek!

We’ve never seen a fall like 2019.

Bishop color spotter toured the Buckley and Rawson Ponds, canals and neighborhoods that are presently filled with gorgeous peak orange and yellow cottonwood. Mariusz Jeglinski was equally dazzled by the peak color seen in the Owens Valley.

Sit back and enjoy the most amazing spectacle Inyo County has yet witnessed.

  • Inyo County (4,150′ to 9,500′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Perfection is Elusive

South Fork Bishop Creek (10/4/19) John Ehrenfeld

Perfection is elusive. Case in point: Bishop Creek Canyon. It struggled to start, but the color now being reported from that fork is gorgeous, with a layered blend that dazzles.

Color spotter John Ehrenfeld sends these photographs, which were taken on Friday.

Surveyor’s Meadow, S Fork Bishop Creek (10/4/19) John Ehrenfeld

In the above shot, Ehrenfeld shows the mix of lime, green, yellow and orange that travels 500′ up the mountainside at Surveyor’s Meadow. Not perfect, but then what ever is?

Some photographers delay going until they sense it will be absolute perfection. In doing so, they miss the beauty Ehrenfeld captured and risk not seeing it, at all.

Lake Sabrina, M Fork Bishop Creek (10/5/19) Aaron Thom

Aaron Thom wasn’t discouraged by the mixed start, either. He visited Lake Sabrina on Saturday and got a shot splashed with green, yellow and orange.

In years when it turns all at once, it’s a short-lived display. A visit not timed to the elusive moment of perfection could may miss peak by a day or two. Whereas, this year’s show is proving to be the Energizer Bunny of autumn displays. It keeps going and going.

Conditions permitting, peak at Bishop Creek could last another week or two longer, making it one of the longest-lasting we’ve recorded in the past ten years.

So, if you’ve delayed visiting, you’re missing an unexpected show, one we may not see again for years to come. GO NOW!

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Gallimauphry: Inyo County

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/7/18) Joe Pollini

North Lake Rd, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/7/18) Joe Pollini

Upper North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/7/18) Joe Pollini

“Gallimauphry” is a fun word. It means a confused jumble or medley of things.

While there’s little confusing about these wonderful photographs and reports, I love using the word when pulling together collections of shots from a given destination. As, when else would you use a word like gallimauphry?

In this case, the focus is on Inyo County, that long stretch of breathtaking scenery along US 395 from Lone Pine north to Topaz.

We begin with photos taken by Joe Pollini at North Lake in Bishop Creek Canyon, west of Bishop, this past Sunday.

Joe works at the Bishop Chamber & Visitor Center helping folks find fall color and arrange accommodations in the greater Bishop area. So, it was nice receiving Joe’s shots from his “busman’s holiday.”

Joe’s photos tell us what’s happening at North Lake. Areas near treeline are now Past Peak, though at lake level and along North Lake Rd, the aspen are bright yellow. However, North Lake only has another week at Peak.

Toru Takahashi reminds us why so many people enjoy Bishop and Bishops Creek Canyon in autumn, for the canyon’s great fishing.

Rainbow Trout, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/18) Toru Takahashi

Jennifer Cornell took a different angle at Lake Sabrina than we’ve seen previously … near the dock. She reported that on Saturday it was, “sunny and warm’ish, even up at the Sabrina campground.” Then, “Lo and behold, it began snowing in the early evening!” and continued off and on through the night. “We got up to freezing temps to shoot sunrise on Sunday morning at Lake Sabrina, even catching a dusting along North Lake Rd. 

Lake Sabrina (10/7/18) Jennifer Cornell

 

North Lake Rd. (10/7/18) Jennifer Cornell

 

 

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Bishop Creek’s Over The Top

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Adam Potts

This has been a mind-boggling past week up Bishop Creek Canyon. You might say, “it was over the top!”

North Lake finally caught up with Lake Sabrina and South Lake, rushing from Patchy to Peak in a few days. Then, clouds, rain, snow, refreshing clear autumn air and rainbows filled the skies over Inyo County.

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/30/18) Douglas Van Kirk

All that action attracted so many photographers that local color spotter Gigi de Jong described them as leapfrogging over one another for “the sweet spot and that great shot.””

What they saw, she described, were “soft clouds” sweeping across the sky “as the cumulus built in the late afternoon heat, then dissipated as the cool winds scattered them about.

“As the shadows played over the landscape, the colors seem to change from within. Sunlight brightened the yellows and shade deepened the oranges and reds.

North Lake Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Tracy Zhou

Every vista had something magical about it,” Gigi said, causing observers to see things they hadn’t noticed before, like an old log cabin opposite Weir Pond and lovers as in love with the scene as they were with each other.

So many images arrived, that it’ll take days to post a representative selection, here. We’ll do our best, but there are many repeats and we like to show variety. In the meantime, we’re over the top over what we received.

As for the outlook, color has almost peaked at the highest elevations, but there’s still great color to be seen up Bishop Creek Canyon for another two weeks. Presently, the color is peaking under 9,000′, and the storm just made it better. 

Autumn Storm, US 395, Independence (10/3/18) Ursula Esser

South Fork, Bishop Creek

  • South Lake (9,768′) – Peak to Past Peak (75-100%) GO NOW or YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!
  • Wier Pond (9,650′) – Peak to Past Peak (75-100%) GO NOW or YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!
  • Parcher’s Resort (9,260′) – Peak to Past Peak (75-100%) GO NOW or YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!
  • Willow Campground (9,000′)  – Peak (75-100%) 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%)
  • Mountain Glen Campground (8,200′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Four Jeffreys (8,000′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Big Trees Campground (7,800′) – 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′)- Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Aspendell (8,400′) — Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Intake II (8,000′)  – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Bishop Park Group Campground (8,400′) – Patchy (10-50%)

North Fork, Bishop Creek

  • North Lake (9,225′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • North Lake Rd (9,000′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Cardinal Village, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Gigi de Jong

Log Cabin, Weir Pond, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Gigi de Jong

Cardinal Village, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Gigi de Jong

Bishop Park Group Campground, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Gigi de Jong

Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Gigi de Jong

North Lake Rd., Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Gigi de Jong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain Glen Campground, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Gigi de Jong

Grass Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Tracy Zhou

Grass Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Tracy Zhou

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Tracy Zhou

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Tracy Zhou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sabrina Approach, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Gigi de Jong

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/30/18) Daniel Danzig

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/30/18) Daniel Danzig

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/30/18) Daniel Danzig

S. Lake Rd., Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Adam Potts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/29/18) Douglas Van Kirk

S. Lake Rd., Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Adam Potts

S. Fork Bishop Creek, Table Mountain Camp (10/1/18) Adam Potts

S. Lake Rd., Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Adam Potts

S. Lake Rd., Bishop Creek Canyon (10/1/18) Adam Potts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Heavenly

Lake Sabrina (9/29/18) Surjanto Suradji

North Lake (9/29/18) Surjanto Suradji

Surjanto Suradji submitted a heavenly look at Bishop Creek Canyon, forwarding his vision of fall color at night.

He wrote that the photos were taken Saturday night, as he was “curious to see these amazing landscape and gorgeous fall colors at night time.”

His results were better than he anticipated and truly remarkable, due to “the mystical quality of nighttime, with the milky way and millions of stars … added another level of richness to an already amazing landscape.”

Surjanto began photographing an hour after sunset but before moonrise, so that the milky way could be seen. He continued to midnight, providing for the long star-trails exposure. Heavenly. 

Note: To learn more about taking star trails timelapse photographs, CLICK HERE.

Weir Pond (9/29/18) Surjanto Suradji

South Lake (9/29/18) Surjanto Suradji

South Lake Road (9/29/18) Surjanto Suradji

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Blonds or Redheads?

Dunderberg Rd., Mono County (9/29/18) Bruce Wendler

Sagehen Summit, Mono County (9/29/18) Bruce Wendler

Virginia Lakes, Mono County (9/29/18) Bruce Wendler

Do gentlemen prefer blonds or redheads?

When it comes to deciding between red or yellow autumn leaves, it’s a toss-up.

Bruce Wendler visited Sagehen Summit, the Virginia Lakes and Dunderberg Road, finding beautiful blonds, redheads and even  trendy orange-frosted trees.

Though, he cautions, Sagehen is now almost Past Peak, the same at Virginia Lakes.  Though still peaking, go immediately or you’ll miss it.

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/29/18) Douglas Van Kirk

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/29/18) Douglas Van Kirk

Douglas Van Kirk found the “fiery” redheads climbing the slope beyond North Lake to be “Absolutely beautiful.” While, their blond relations at lake level were “just starting.”

North Lake appears to be about what it did last year, getting hot upstairs while still warming downstairs.

On his return (Sunday), Bruce found Tioga Pass still open (it often remains open until November) with more red to be seen along the west shore of Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park. 

Dunderberg Rd (7,500′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Sagehen Summit (8,139′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Virginia Lakes (9,770′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Tenaya Lake, Yosemite National Park (8,150′) – Peak  (75-100%) GO NOW! – Shrubs and ground covers are at peak.

North Lake (9/28/18) Larry Salmi

North Lake (9/30/18) Bruce Wendler

Tenaya Lake, Yosemite National Park (9/30/18) Bruce Wendler

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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

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Near Peak – Upper Bishop Creek At Peak – Upper Rock Creek

Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

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

Color spotter Alena Nicholas planned a trip to Bishop Creek Canyon on the day of the autumnal equinox, texting these mobile phone shots of color from Lake Sabrina, Weir Pond and the upper S. Fork where fall color is Near Peak.

Lake Sabrina is demonstrating the family nature of aspen with some stands still green and lime-colored, while others are at full peak in glorious tones of red, orange and yellow. Float fishermen drift across the lake’s wind-brushed surface.

At Weir Pond, between Parcher’s Resort and South Lake and along upper S. Fork, Bishop Creek, aspen now vary from Near Peak to full Peak. A rocky hillside of stunted aspen that forms a backdrop to the shaded pond is a mix of brightly lit yellow and lime. Fly fishing anglers cast for wary trout upon the pond’s still water. (Click photos to enlarge)

Clayton Peoples agreed with Alena Nicholas that Upper Bishop Creek is Near Peak, at least at the highest reaches. He stated, “It all depends on elevation.” On Saturday, he found the color Lake Sabrina and along the road to North Lake. But other areas–including North Lake–have yet to display much color.”

That means Bishop Creek “should remain a great color destination for at least the coming week or two as color works its way down,” Clayton concluded.

He also visited Upper Rock Creek and the trails to Hilton Creek and the Little Lakes Valley, to declare them at full peak and absolutely stunning.

Change happens quickly in the Eastern Sierra and that’s happened within half a week at the highest elevations of these two canyons.

Within a few days, Upper Rock Creek has evolved from Patchy to Peak. While the two areas should continue to improve, you’ve got two weeks at most to see the high areas of these two canyons at peak.

Lake Sabrina is a day or two from being at Peak, and Rock Creek Lake is already there. If these two areas are on your must see at peak list, GO NOW! 

Bishop Creek Canyon – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Rock Creek Lake, Hilton Creek and Little Lakes Valley Trail – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

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

Lake Sabrina, Sunrise (9/22/18) Clayton Peoples

North Lake Rd. (9/22/18) Clayton Peoples

Upper Rock Creek (9/22/18) Clayton Peoples

Aspen, Lake Sabrina (9/22/18) Toru Takahashi

Lake Sabrina (9/22/18) Toru Takahashi

Lake Sabrina (9/22/18) Toru Takahashi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fall Color Detectives

Poison Oak, Briones Regional Park (9/4/18) Darrell Sano

I just love “Who Done Its.” Though, in fall color’s case, it’s more “Where Is It?”

Today, I received reports from Lance Pifer and Darrell Sano who uncovered more evidence that fall is approaching.

1000 Island Lakes, Pacific Crest Trail (9/1/18) Lance Pifer

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/1/18) Lance Pifer

Lance visited the Eastern Sierra where he found spots of fall color lighting up the Pacific Crest Trail near 1000 Island Lake and at North Lake in Bishop Creek Canyon, where aspen remain  green and lake grasses are highlighted lightly with gold.

Darrell was a road warrior, exploring far and wide. On Friday (as previously reported) he drove across Sonora Pass, returning via Tioga Pass. About three to four miles after entering Yosemite National Park’s east entrance, he stopped to investigate “a scene that looks like it was planned, meaning so perfect–layered trees, leaves from pink to golden yellow, colors receding into the background, such depth. And it’s peaceful, quiet.” He continued that this area was severely damaged by fire, with at least half of it changed.

The following day, he drove north from the Bay Area to Cloverdale, then along CA 128 to the coast. As expected, there was no color to be seen other than a little in low shrubs, though reminds us that by driving the route he was reminded about how stunning Mendocino county is.

Poison Oak, Briones Regional Park (9/4/18) Darrell Sano

On Labor Day, he stayed near home, taking “a long hike in Briones Regional Park (one of the great East Bay Regional Parks – some of the best managed and most beautiful in California), hiking nine miles while criss-crossing trails. Along his route, he passed “vile poison oak” in toxic profusion, recalling the many times he’s suffered after having been covered in its sap, but noted, “When you see beds of its brilliant red in filtered light, you know 1) don’t go in there 2) enjoy the color from a distance.”

Darrell’s detective work included observing the afternoon light which due to skies, still tinted with wildfire haze, cast a yellow ochre tint that was accented by the lower angle of sunlight, dramatizing the shadows, and noted the dryness of the landscape, observing that despite their parched appearance, thistles and grasses remained beautiful remnants of summer. 

Dry thistles and grasses, Briones Regional Park (9/4/18) Darrell Sano

Briones Regional Park (9/4/18) Darrell Sano

Just Starting (0-10%) – Tioga Pass

Just Starting (0-10%) – 1000 Islands Lake
Just Starting (0-10%) – North Lake
Just Starting (0-10%) – CA 128 (Cloverdale to the Coast)
Just Starting (0-10%) – Briones Regional Park, SF Bay Area
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Lime, Yellow, Orange and Gone

Table Mountain Group Camp, S. Fork Bishop Creek (10/3/17) John Poimiroo

Bishop Creek Canyon is a mix of every level of peak, from Just Starting, to Patchy, to Near Peak, to Peak, to Past Peak, some occurring at the same location.

North Lake is a puzzle. It’s lime, yellow, orange and gone, all at the same place.

Peak color is near the lake with green aspen far above. We rate it Near Peak, though it’s peaking in areas, nowhere close in others and past peak, too.

Sabrina is topsy turvey. The higher you go, the less consistent the color is. Intake II (at the lowest elevation) is Near Peak, while Sabrina Approach (higher up) is Patchy.

Aspen at the center of the Groves Above Cardinal Village were past peak and surrounded by a ring of patchy, though mostly green aspen. Aspendell has hardly any color, though that’s not unusual. It’s often the last to peak.

We were there to sort it out and ran into dozens of color spotters and photographers who were shrugging their shoulders in confusion. Seeing me trying to find some color along a stream at Sabrina Approach, one photographer turned and said, “I did the same thing, and came to the same conclusion… not yet there. Still, I’m glad to be here.”

Those of us who were there this week, were certainly glad to be in Bishop Creek Canyon searching for fall color, as there were moments of breathtaking wonder.

Travel writer/photographer Lee Foster and I found it in a dazzling display along the South Lake Road. From Parchers down to the Mist Falls at Mountain Glen the hillsides are lit with pink, orange, yellow and lime aspen.

While several of South Lake’s groves could technically be rated as “Patchy,” Oh!, how beautiful they are in the midday sun. No one photographing them was disappointed. That’s why it gets rated as peaking. GO NOW!

Southern Inyo County

  • Whitney Portal (8,374’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)
  • Onion Valley (9,600’) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Big Pine Creek (7,660’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)
  • Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery (4,000’) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Alabama Hills (4,534’) – Just Starting (0-10%)

South Lake

  • Weir Pond (9,650’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Parchers Resort(9,260′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Willow Campground (9,000’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Table Mountain Group Camp (8,900’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Surveyors Meadow (8,975’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Mountain Glen (8,500′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350’) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Four Jeffrey Campground (8,000’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)

Sabrina Lake

  • Lake Sabrina (9,150′) – Patchy (10 – 50%) to Peak (75-100%)
  • Sabrina Approach (9,050′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Sabrina Campground (9,000’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)
  • Groves above Cardinal Village (8,550’) – Patchy (10 – 50%) 
  • Aspendell (8,400’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%)
  • Intake II (8,000’) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Big Trees Campground (7,800’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%)

North Lake 

  • North Lake Road – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • North Lake (9,255’) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Upper North Lake Road – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Round Valley/Pine Creek

  • Pine Creek Pack Station – Peak GO NOW! – A small grove of aspen is at peak near the trailhead and pack station.
  • Pine Creek Rd. – Patchy (10-50%) – The black and Frémont cottonwood along Pine Creek will be gorgeous when they peak.
  • Round Valley – Patchy (10-50%) – Landmark black cottonwood grow throughout the Round Valley, often near old weathered cabins. They are now crowned with yellow and will be beautiful at peak.
  • Lower Rock Creek Rd. – Patchy (10-50%)

Owens Valley/Bishop

  • Owens Valley – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Bishop – Just Starting (0-10%)

Here’s a fun gallery of snaps taken at various unidentified Bishop Creek Canyon locations.

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf