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Go Now! – Rock Creek Near 10,000′

Upper Rock Creek (9/10/16) Don Vilfer

Upper Rock Creek (9/10/16) Don Vilfer

Upper Rock Creek (9/10/16) Don Vilfer

Upper Rock Creek (9/10/16) Don Vilfer

Color spotters Don Vilfer and his wife rode by horse to the upper reaches of Rock Creek in the Eastern Sierra (Mono County) to find aspen near 10,000′ in elevation near peak.

He reported, “At the end of the canyon and up at 10,000 feet the color is at 70% or so. I shot the attached on Saturday, from our camp overlooking the canyon. There are bands of color on the other side of the canyon as well and some groves at creek level that have turned.”

GO NOW! – Upper Rock Creek (10,000′) 

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Weather To Go or Not

Mark Finan and Eileen Javora, KCRA-TV3

Mark Finan and Eileen Javora, KCRA-TV3

Two of my favorite meteorologists to watch are Mark Finan and Eileen Javora of KCRA-TV3 (NBC) in Sacramento. They aren’t just spot-on accurate meteorologists, they’re fans of fall color, too.

I suppose that comes with the job. As, how would you otherwise immerse yourself in analyzing the weather and predicting it, without also becoming fascinated by the turn of seasons?

Mark moved from meteorologist to color spotter this past weekend, driving a long loop in search of inspiration (and there is much of it along this drive), east from Sacramento over Carson and Monitor passes, then south along the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway over Conway Summit and past Mono Lake, June Lake and Mammoth Lakes, to Convict Lake and back… all to see what’s developing.

Like others who have visited the area, he notes that most of the well-known fall color locations along the route remain mostly green or lime (Caples Lake, CA-88; Monitor Pass, CA-89; June Lake and Convict Lake), though promising yellow is emerging at the highest elevations: (above Mono Lake and on individual trees at June Lake).

For those judging whether to head to the east side or not, it is still a bit early, though emerging color can be seen and it will continue to improve through the last two weeks of September, particularly at the highest elevations.

How’s that for a forecast?

Gorgeous Light and Shores Carpeted with Color

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Rock Creek, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Rock Creek, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Rock Creek, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Rock Creek, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Convict Lake, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Convict Lake, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Rock Creek, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Rock Creek, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Photographer Darrell Sano was mesmerized this past weekend by early autumn beauty seen in the Eastern Sierra.

He stayed in Mammoth Lakes at Twin Lakes and reports, “it was truly a memorable experience. The fall light is gorgeous, and the night sky was clear and pristine.”

Darrell poked around the Mammoth Lakes Basin though, because we’d just posted shots of that area by Josh Wray, chose to send images from nearby Convict Lake where color is just starting, “especially the low shrubs.”

Convict Lake is a late bloomer by Eastern Sierra standards, due to its lower elevation. If you go now, don’t expect to find aspen to be showing much color, though the beauty and serenity of the lake is uplifting. 

Darrell wrote he found Convict Lake to be “wonderful to watch fishermen float above giant boulders in the clear water.” His imagery seems almost Salvadore Dali-esque, doesn’t it?

Hiking Rock Creek Canyon, he found patches of color anywhere from high above the road, down to eye level.

Darrell pointed out things many people miss when they visit too late in autumn.  He noted the beauty of the trees when backlit, that their “golden leaves were stunning, a visual treat in the clear air.”

As always, we recommend looking down not just up, and Darrell confirmed that recommendation, saying the low grasses lining the crystal-clear lakes that he hiked past carpeted the edges with autumn color.

On Darrell’s return to the East Bay, he crossed Sonora Pass (CA-108) and found patchy areas of color on the east side of the pass. The aspen in this area are artistically set among boulders and water falls, well worth including on your search for fall color.

Just Starting (0-10%) – Convict Lake (7,851′)

Patchy (10-50%) – Sonora Pass (9,623′)

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Autumn Rolls Into Mammoth Lakes

Autumn hues brighten a Harley stopping at Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Autumn hues brighten a Harley that stopped at Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Mule deer, Sherwin and Laurel Creeks, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Mule deer, Sherwin and Laurel Creeks, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Sherwin and Laurel Creeks,Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Sherwin and Laurel Creeks,Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Sherwin and Laurel Creeks, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Sherwin and Laurel Creeks, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Quaking aspen, Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Quaking aspen, Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Lake George, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Lake George, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

To be assured of autumn color, bring it with you, as the couple above did on their Harley-Davidson motorcycle when they stopped at Twin Lakes, yesterday.

Mammoth Lakes’ Josh Wray captured the scene and reports that color continues to emerge among the willows, grasses and aspen surrounding Mammoth Lakes.

Here’s his report:

Just Starting (0-10%) – Mammoth Lakes Basin 8,500ft – The trees near the first parking lot at Twin Lakes have started to turn. There are even some willows and few aspens that have turned to yellow. As you make your way to the first Twin Lakes bridge near Tamarack Lodge, look northwest and you’ll gain a better view of the changing hillside. Trees around the lake are in that lime green stage, but my guess would be that in the next week or so we’ll start to see more brilliant colors on the water.

Just Starting (0-10%) – Lake George 9,000ft –  Lake George is the highest drive to lake in the Mammoth Lakes Basin, and it sits at about 9,000’. It’s not uncommon to only share this lake with a few float tubers in the early morning, so get up there while the light is good and enjoy the breathtaking views of Crystal Crag and the Mammoth Crest. From the dock look due west and you’ll be able to see a large patch of willows starting to change.

Just Starting (0-10%) -Mammoth Rock 9,100ft –  There is a large grove of tall aspens that reside near the historical site of the old town of Mammoth Lakes. This area is also a highlight due to the access to the Mammoth Rock trail for hiking and mountain biking. It’s still in its early stages for color change, but this spot is expected to produce a brilliant display this year.

Just Starting (0-10%) -Laurel Creek 8,000ft –  This is one of my favorite fall color spots to watch go through the stages. Because of the length of the grove, higher sections take on color earlier while the lower sections add some contrast. This view is visible from highway 395 but to gain the ultimate view drive down Sherwin Creek road for a closer look. Also if you’ve got 4×4 with high clearance you can take the technical road up to Laurel canyon and lakes. The meadow at the beginning of the canyon is a sight to behold in Autumn. 

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Bishop Creek Yellowing Up

North Lake Rd., Bishop Creek Canyon (9/5/16) Jill Donald

North Lake Rd., Bishop Creek Canyon (9/5/16) Jill Donald

South Lake Rd., Bishop Creek Canyon (9/5/16) Jill Donald

South Lake Rd., Bishop Creek Canyon (9/5/16) Jill Donald

Color spotter Jill Donald camped in Bishop Creek this week, capturing these shots along South Lake and North Lake roads.

She reported, “A few aspen are yellowing; some willows are yellowing; and some leafy groundcover plant is turning vivid oranges and reds.”

Just Starting (0-10%) – Upper Bishop Creek Canyon

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Catching Up: Virginia Lakes, Santa Rosa, Piedmont

Piedmont (9/2/16) Darrell Sano

Piedmont (9/2/16) Darrell Sano

Holiday weekends always seem to delay posting observations.  That’s the case with these reports, submitted with apologies for their maturity.

Virginia Lakes Rd. (9/7/16) Carolyn Webb

Virginia Lakes Rd. (9/7/16) Carolyn Webb

Quaking Aspen and Rabbitbrush, Virginia Lakes Rd. (8/27/16) Carolyn Webb

Quaking Aspen and Rabbitbrush, Virginia Lakes Rd. (8/27/16) Carolyn Webb

Carolyn Webb reported from the Virginia Lakes Resort last week that color has been appearing increasingly along the Virginia Lakes Rd.

Above is a photo received on 9/8/17 to compare how the color has developed in the past 12 days. Since she took the original shot of quaking aspen (at left), more yellow has emerged and the rabbitbrush remain at full peak bloom.

Early Color (8/31/16) Anirudh Natekar

Early Color (8/31/16) Anirudh Natekar

Flowering Plum, Santa Rosa (8/31/16) Anirudh Natekar

Flowering Plum, Santa Rosa (8/31/16) Anirudh Natekar

Anirudh Natekar contributed shots of color found in Santa Rosa. Though, we assess it to be normal summer color. Some ornamental trees, like purple leaf plum, Japanese maple, American persimmon and Norway maple, provide beautiful maroon, purple and deep red color in summer. Even liquidambar can do so.

Though, the red or purple color is not the result of autumn. It’s just the tree’s normal color. Still, they do provide bloody good contrast to the greenness of summer.

Piedmont (9/2/16) Darrell Sano

Piedmont (9/2/16) Darrell Sano

Piedmont (9/2/16) Darrell Sano

Piedmont (9/2/16) Darrell Sano

Piedmont (9/2/16) Darrell Sano

Piedmont (9/2/16) Darrell Sano

Piedmont (9/2/16) Darrell Sano

Piedmont (9/2/16) Darrell Sano

Piedmont (9/2/16) Darrell Soto

Piedmont (9/2/16) Darrell Soto

Darrell Sano took an 8-mile “town walk” this past week from the BART station at Lake Merritt in Oakland up windy hilly roads through Piedmont.

The day was clear and sunny day, he reported, “a departure from the overcast ‘June Gloom’ that has plagued the Bay Area most of July and August, with below average temperatures and a thick marine fog blanketing the sky.  Darrell got a number of lovely images of what’s happening among the landscaped and native color of the East Bay, backlit with late summer light.  Darrell exudes, “There is nothing like fall light!… backlit fall colors simply glow vividly.” 

 

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Fall Color Guide and Map

Fall Color Guide & Map

Fall Color Guide & Map

Eastern Sierra destination marketing organizations (DMOs) have again published a comprehensive guide to fall color along US 395, a route named by USA Weekend as “one of the USA’s five best road trips.”

California’s Eastern Sierra Fall Color Guide & Map lists major annual events, significant fall color plants, and directs color spotters to 21 locations along US 395 from Big Pine to Topaz where spectacular fall color can be viewed.

The publication can be obtained at Mono County and Inyo County websites and visitor centers or CLICK HERE.

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Autumn is Events Season

BishopCA-BannerAd-CaFallColor

Bishop Chamber & Visitors Bureau

Tawni Thompson of Bishop reminds us that September and October are prime events months in Inyo County, with history, endurance, cultural, pop, film, sport and fishing faires, festivals, days, races, ralleys and seminars.  

Here are some highlights to combine with a fall color viewing trip.

9/10 – Laws Museum Good Old Days.  Pioneer crafts, demonstrations, live music & pie auction.   www.lawsmuseum.org 

9/9-9/11 – White Mountain Double Century Bike Race.  http://ndzone.com/white-mountain-double/

9/16-9/18 – Millpond Music Festival.  www.inyo.org 

9/23-9/25 – Pabanamanina Pow Wow & California Indian Days 

9/30-10/2 – Fall Colors Car Show, Fine Art Show & Sale, Arts & Crafts Faire and Choo Choo Swap Meet at Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop.  http://www.owensvalleycruisers.com/fallcolors.htm

10/7-10/9 – Lone Pine Film Festival.  http://www.lonepinefilmfestival.org/ 

10/7-10/9 – VCMC Dual Sport Motorcycle Rally.  http://vcmc.info/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=370060&module_id=183046 

10/14-10/16 – Fly Fishing Faire.  Seminars, vendors, fly-tying demonstrations, casting, classroom and on-the-water clinics.  All skill levels welcome!  http://www.bishopvisitor.com/event/bishop-fly-fishing-faire/

10/28-10/30 – Eastern Sierra History Conference.  http://esiaonline.com/eastern-sierra-history-conference/

For travel planning info, CLICK HERE.

 

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Little Lakes and Convict Lake Break Out

Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Little Lakes Valley in the Eastern Sierra near Mammoth Lakes is known for breaking out early, though Convict Lake usually waits to be paroled.

Color spotter Josh Wray escaped his office in Mammoth Lakes today and ran right to these High Sierra hideouts to see how fall color is developing.  He said the beautiful warm days and cool nights that Mammoth has experienced lately inspired his breakout.

Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

True to form, Little Lakes Valley beyond Rock Creek Rd. is showing more lime and yellow among the quaking aspen, than Convict Lake where most color has tainted the willows, yellow-orange, but both are showing signs of color. Here’s what he found:

Patchy (10-50%) – Little Lakes Valley  Rock Creek Rd. above 9,000ft – The Little Lakes Valley is off to a great start and is pretty far ahead of the rest. Changing color starts at about 8,500ft and there are some dark green giant aspens featuring bright yellow leaves at the top already. The aspen groves surrounding Rock Creek Lake have started the transition into lime green colors while trees higher up on the ridge already contain a mostly yellow shade. I give this spot two weeks until the largest groves start showing significant changes in coloring. Get up there early morning for soft light and while the lake is calm for epic photo ops. 

Convict Lake (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Convict Lake (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Convict Lake (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Convict Lake (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Rd. (8/31/16) Josh Wray

Just Starting (0-10%) – Convict Lake above 7,800ft –  Not worth a trip specific to fall colors right now, but some willows are changing near the outlet while the aspen grove tucked back in the canyon across the lake is showing a little bit. Nothing major though. With water levels up quite a bit from last year and a drier summer (helping prevent the black spot disease), the fall colors at Convict Lake should display one of the best presentations in years. This spot tends to peak around the middle of October given the fact that it’s elevation is a bit lower than other hotspots. Make sure to hit this spot in the early morning as well. And once it’s at peak take a little walk to the wooden path on the backside. You’ll be glad you did.

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Go Fly A Kite!

Eastern Sierra Kite Festival

Eastern Sierra Kite Festival

Walker, Calif. is the location of the first Eastern Sierra Kite Festival on the weekend of Sept. 17 and 18.

Colorful kites will be competing, demonstrated, built and displayed at this visual and fun event.

That’s great timing for a trip to Virginia Lakes, off Conway Summit, where color should be approaching peak.

Early peak color may also be near peak then at Tuolumne Meadows in eastern Yosemite National Park.

And, if you arrive from the south, a trip up Bishop Creek Canyon should be rewarding that week.

CLICK HERE or HERE, for more about the festival.