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First Report: Coffee Creek Colors Up

Boulder Creek Rd., Coffee Creek (10/8/15) Ruth Hartman

Boulder Creek Rd., Coffee Creek (10/8/15) Ruth Hartman

Take CA-3 north of CA-299 and you pass Trinity Lake, the Trinity Alps on your way to Coffee Creek.

This western side of the vast Shasta Cascade region is wild, beautiful and so lightly traveled that few photographers or leaf peepers have explored it.

The drive to Coffee Creek is along narrow roads that are flanked with bigleaf maple that dance and sway, littering the road with a carpet of spent leaves that swirl up in spirals as you pass.

Color spotter Ruth Hartman of the Coffee Creek Ranch says the color is peaking right now.  Her dude ranch is better known for its stable of horses and miles of trails that lead into 367 acres of ranch property and the Trinity Wilderness area, though it could become known as a fall color retreat for the lovely color to be found in its forests.

Boulder Creek Rd., Coffee Creek (10/8/15) Ruth Hartman

Boulder Creek Rd., Coffee Creek (10/8/15) Ruth Hartman

The predominant deciduous tree is the bigleaf maple with its golden leaves.  Black oak provide orange color and wild cucumber speckle the forest with chartreuse.

One of the rarest and most beautiful trees on the continent, though not deciduous, is Brewer’s weeping spruce, picea breweriana, with its dark green boughs hanging in abstract, Seussian forms.

For anyone who loves showy trees, Brewer’s weeping spruce are well worth the trip north to the Trinity Alps to see them.

Alder, Lassen Volcanic National Park (10/14/15) Gabriel Leeth

Alder, Lassen Volcanic National Park (10/14/15) Gabriel Leete

Kings Creek, Lassen Volcanic National Park (10/14/15) Gabriel Leete

Kings Creek, Lassen Volcanic National Park (10/14/15) Gabriel Leete

Elsewhere in the Shasta Cascade region:

Alder are at full peak in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Color spotter Gabriel Leete captured this beast of an Alder near Kings Creek.

Dogwood and Maple, Round Valley (10/13/15) Jeff Titcomb

Dogwood and Maple, Round Valley (10/13/15) Jeff Titcomb

Dogwood, Round Valley (10/13/15) Jeff Titcomb

Dogwood, Round Valley (10/13/15) Jeff Titcomb

Dogwood, Round Valley (10/13/15) Jeff Titcomb

Dogwood, Round Valley (10/13/15) Jeff Titcomb

Plumas County color spotter Karen Moritz reports, “dogwoods are really showing up nicely on Bucks Lake Road out of Quincy.

While, Indian Valley color spotter Jeff Titcomb reports the dogwoods, big leaf maple and oak trees are looking great on the road to Round Valley Lake Reservoir.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Coffee Creek – Bigleaf maple leaves flutter down through the forest along the country roads leading to Coffee Creek Ranch.  Bring your fly rod and riding boots.  Nearby areas to explore include Trinity Center, Trinity Lake, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area and the historic gold rush town of Weaverville.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Lassen Volcanic National Park – Alder are at full peak throughout the park.

NearPeak GO NOW! (50-75%) – Plumas County – Indian Rhubarb have been peaking along the Feather River.  Dogwood and bigleaf maple are peaking in the Round Valley.  Other areas of Plumas County are filling up with color.

 

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First Report: Marlette Lake, Tahoe

Marlette Mirror, Marlette Lake, NV (10/9/15) Dotty Molt

Marlette Mirror, Marlette Lake, NV (10/9/15) Dotty Molt

Color spotter Dotty Molt scores a rare First Report by taking the trail to Marlette Lake near Lake Tahoe.

Marlette Lake, North Canyon Road (10/9/15) Dotty Molt (10/9/15) Dotty Molt

Marlette Lake, North Canyon Road (10/9/15) Dotty Molt (10/9/15) Dotty Molt

Marlette Lake (10/9/15) Dotty Molt

Marlette Lake (10/9/15) Dotty Molt

She writes, “People seem to forget that we have fall color around Lake Tahoe.

“Marlette Lake can only be reached by hiking or mountain biking back 4.5 miles from Spooner Lake.

“It’s a moderate uphill, but a quick downhill, especially on a bike.

“Aspen line the trail all the way back to the Lake, and Marlette has beautiful stands of Aspen on the Southwestern shoreline.

“Beautiful colors are seen around 9 a.m. when the sun peeks over the ridge, illuminating the Aspen from behind.”

Dotty makes an important point… Consider the orientation of the fall color on the landscape in relationship to light.

That is: will it be best viewed in morning or afternoon? Will it be backlit or front lit? How have you set your camera for depth of field, motion or sharpness? Is there something to make the image extraordinary, such as a compositional element that would enhance the image (Dotty’s awareness of the sun star and mirror effect)? Finally, what post production work may be necessary to duplicate what you are seeing and feeling?

Peak GO NOW! – Marlette Lake

Autumn Abstract, Marlette Lake (10/9/15) Dotty Molt

Autumn Abstract, Marlette Lake (10/9/15) Dotty Molt

Marlette Lake, North Canyon Rd (10/9/15) Dotty Molt

Marlette Lake, North Canyon Rd (10/9/15) Dotty Molt

Sunstar, Marlette Lake (10/9/15) Dotty Molt

Sunstar, Marlette Lake (10/9/15) Dotty Molt

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First Report: Ebbett’s Pass

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kofala

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kolafa

I can’t recall when we’ve received a report on the fall color at Ebbett’s Pass, but today we correct that with one from color spotter Kimberly Kolafa.

Kimberly apologized for not having sent photos until this week, as she was in Maine backpacking amidst fall color “that never happened!” Un, huh, and…

Well, we have our own dismal story here, as most observers are noting that the drought has “really impacted leaf peeping,” so we quoteth Ms.Kolafa.

The drought is making it very difficult to rate an area, as aspen (such is the case with Carson Pass) may be stripped, while willows and ground shrubs are still Patchy but developing beautiful color.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. — Henry David Thoreau

If you’re driving this route, look for interesting subjects to contrast what color is there, as Kimberly did, while turning rotten apples into sweet-tasting apple cider (couldn’t pass up the autumnal metaphor).

Chalmer's Mansion, Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kofala

Chalmer’s Mansion, Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kolafa

She found the Chalmers Mansion and Cemetery, edged with bright color and came away with this story to complement her image.

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kofala

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kolafa

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kofala

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kolafa

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kofala

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kofala

Lewis Chalmers was superintendent of a mine in the Silver Mountain mining district (1870s – ’80s).  He and his brother had emigrated from Scotland; he returned to Britain in 1885 to raise funds for his mining operations and died there in 1904. Several of his family are buried near the mansion.

Photos like Kimberly’s shot of Chalmer’s Mansion could make up for the lack of color, in some locations, this autumn.

Editor’s Note: Please read the following comment about Hwy 4. This beautiful and historic route could use a little TLC, right now.  As, recent events (the Butte Fire, in particular) hurt the local economy and folks who live along the route would welcome seeing photographers, leaf peepers and all who appreciate beautiful places visit their communities and spread the word that the beauty and history are still there.  Favorites of ours are Ironstone Vineyards (Japanese maples in autumn, daffodils in springtime) in Murphy’s and Calaveras Big Trees State Park up the highway, where dogwood are getting good.  Bonnie Nordby suggests a particularly photogenic location. Our arms reach out to Brad Nordby’s family which lost their home during the fire.  Autumn is a reminder that what is lost always returns.

Patchy (10-50%) Ebbett’s Pass (Hwy 4) Shrubs – Grasses are yellow with green undergrowth and shrubs are yellow to maroon red along Silver Creek.

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Ebbett’s Pass Trees – Like Carson Pass and the Hope Valley, most of the aspen have lost their leaves, though again similar to these areas, there are patches of aspen and cottonwood that remain green or are changing to lime and yellow.

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Monitor Pass.

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Taylor Creek, South Lake Tahoe – Aspen are past peak, but there’s hope for a good salmon run, as the creek appears to be running better than past years.

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Off-Road to Laurel Lakes

Offroading on the Laurel Lake Road (9/13/15) Josh Wray

Off-roading on the Laurel Lakes Road, south of Mammoth Lakes (9/13/15) Josh Wray

Turned and unturned Laurel Lake Road (9/13/15) Josh Wray

Turned and unturned apsen in Laurel Canyon (9/13/15) Josh Wray

Laurel Lake Road (9/13/15) Josh Wray

Laurel Lakes Road (9/13/15) Josh Wray

Laurel Lake Road (9/13/15) Josh Wray

Laurel Canyon (9/13/15) Josh Wray

Laurel Lake Road (9/13/15) Josh Wray

Laurel Lakes Road (9/13/15) Josh Wray

Mammoth Lakes color spotter Josh Wray drove his 4 x 4 into the High Sierra to score a report from Laurel Canyon, and what a find!

CaliforniaFallColor reported about Laurel Canyon a few years ago, but we were early and missed the show. So, we’ll give Josh color spotter creds as the first to post a complete report with photos from the Laurel Lakes Road that travels up into the canyon.

As seen in his beautiful photographs, the area is dazzling.  Josh advises, however, that the road is driveable only by a 4WD vehicle with high clearance, making it impossible for an average vehicle to drive.  He drove off-road with friends and “stumbled upon the beautiful colors that are filling mountainsides and valleys.”

He writes that bright “orange and yellow are flowing down from higher elevations and meeting up with the lush dark green pine and aspen of the valley floor.  It really is incredible right now… and we expect to see the colors become even more glorious in the next week or two.”

Note that many of the aspen are lush and deeply green, while others have turned or are in the transition of turning.

 

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Laurel Canyon – Deep green pines offer contrast to multicolored aspen with orange-yellow willows and bright yellow rabbitbrush accenting the scene.  The contrast of red rocks, firey skies and blazing color will only get better in the coming weeks.  Getting off road to scenes like this is why you visit Mammoth Lakes.

Twin Lakes - A mix of turned, green and black leaf spotted aspen - (9/14/15) Josh Wray

Twin Lakes – A mix of turned, green and black leaf spotted aspen – (9/14/15) Josh Wray

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Twin Lakes – Bright green is starting to turn yellow surrounding Twin Lakes in Mammoth Lakes.

Lake George (9/13/15) Josh Wray

Lake George (9/14/15) Josh Wray

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Lake George – Orange is now present, which was a fast transition from last week’s developing color.  Josh recommends driving to the Mammoth Lakes Basin up Old Mammoth Road until it connects with Hwy 203.  Changing aspen are visible starting at Snowcreek Golf Course all they way to the Lakes Basin.