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Sensational Sycamore

California sycamore, Valyermo (11/22/18) Trent Vierra

Thanksgiving Day took Trent Vierra to the Antelope Valley (Palmdale/Lancaster – First Report) to celebrate with family, by way of Wrightwood and Valyermo.

As he descended on CA-2 through Wrightwood (5,935′), Valyermo (3,711′), Palmdale (2,657′) and Lancaster (2,359′), the fall color kept getting better.

Black oak were Past Peak in Wrightwood with only willow and cottonwood left showing orange and gold color.

However, the California sycamore (Platanus racemosa) that Trent saw throughout Valyermo were in a word, Sensational.

Their gnarled and bleached trunks were sculpted into Seussian shapes with their crowns carrying “great copper orange color that served as a great contrast to the crystal blue skies that rain the previous night had created,” Trent described.

He continued that in his home area of Palmdale/Lancaster, “almost all the decorative deciduous trees were at peak color, so the Antelope Valley … is definitely at peak.” 

  • Wrightwood (5,935′) – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT.
  • Valyermo (3,711′) – Peak to Past Peak, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.
  • Palmdale (2,657′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Lancaster (2,359′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

 

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Peak on the Wing

White pelicans, Lake Hemet (11/18/18) Alena Nicholas

Sometimes you don’t need fall color to find Peak.

Alena Nicholas found it Sunday at Lake Hemet in the San Jacinto Mountains, south of Idyllwild.

“Great cloud formations and active wildlife made up for “peak color,” she wrote. “As usual, there where plenty of guests fishing and camping at Lake Hemet,” and, as seen in these photos, several of them flew in for the weekend. (click to enlarge photos)

Bald eagle, Lake Hemet (11/18/18) Alena Nicholas

A photogenic flock of visiting white pelicans and resident pair of bald eagles have become local celebrities.

Lake Hemet’s human visitors rent 12′ motorboats, 22′ pontoon boats and kayaks at the marina or launch their own craft, to get closer to the birds. The pontoon boats are the most stable platform for capturing wildlife photography and the have the room to allow use of a tripod, which improves image sharpness.

The best way to approach is slowly and not closer than the point at which the birds notice or indicate concern about your presence. Otherwise, you’ll interrupt their natural behaviors and they will fly to another less-busy location. Too much of that and they’ll find another lake.

These wild birds perceive humans as a threat. So, a telephoto lens is needed to get closeup photographs.

Lake Hemet (11/18/18) Alena Nicholas

Dramatic cloud formations made colorful reflections on the lake. Along the shore, spots of Past Peak color could be seen. Nicholas estimates the remaining color should last through the Thanksgiving Day weekend, providing one more location to celebrate Orange Friday (the day following Thanksgiving Day to photograph fall color). 

  • Idlyllwild (5,413′) – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT.
  • Lake Hemet (4,340′) – Peak to Past Peak, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.
Black oak, Idyllwild (11/18/18) Alena Nicholas
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Cornucopia

An old red barn, Oak Glen (11/15/18) Alena Nicholas

At a mile high, Oak Glen in the San Bernardino Mountains is now past peak, though you couldn’t tell that from these photos submitted today by Southern California color spotter Alena Nicholas.

Unwilling to give up on autumn, Alena headed there today, returning with splashes of intense color to be seen along Oak Glen Rd. Firethorn, Pyracantha, hang heavy with their orange-red berries near the entrance to Parrish Ranch.

Pyracantha, Parrish Ranch, Oak Glen (11/15/18) Alena Nicholas

The 23 attractions along the route display a cornucopia of farm-fresh and farm-preserved apple butter, pears, apple pies, cider, blackberries, fudge, jellies and jams, cider-infused mini donuts and U-pick apples with a mix of hay rides, petting zoos and farm tours thrown in.

This weekend, the farms will be busy selling fruit pies and pastry for Thanksgiving dinners and entertaining visitors with homespun events.

Alena reports herds of deer are roaming Oak Glen orchards, feasting on unpicked apples that have fallen between the trees. 

  • Oak Glen (5,200′) – Peak to Past Peak, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.
Pumkin patch, Oak Glen (11/15/18) Alena Nicholas
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Orchard Pickings

Apple tree, Los Rios Orchard, Oak Glen Rd. (11/11/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Visiting orchards has become a late-autumn tradition, with Californians heading to Julian for apple dumplings, to Oak Glen for cider-infused mini donuts, to San Luis Obispo for hard cider, to Sebastopol for U-pick apples, to Kelseyville in Lake County for a Pear Belle Helene (pear ice cream sundae), and to Apple Hill in Camino for apple pies.

With so many calories ahead, Southern California color spotter Ravi Ranganathan recommends walking the Oak Glen Preserve Botanical Garden in Yucaipa, soon after the trail opens at 8 a.m. It’s  got kid-friendly sections, as well as others that get your heart pumping and “beautiful fall colors along the trail.”

Of course, if that hike works up your appetite, head over to Snow Line Orchard for their delicious apple-cider-infused mini donuts and a glass of freshly pressed cider. Ravi recommends picnicking under an ancient chestnut tree beside an apple orchard. 

  • Julian – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Oak Glen – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • San Luis Obispo – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Sebastopol – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Kelseyville – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Camino – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
Chestnut and apple orchard, Snow Line Orchard, Oak Glen Rd (11/11/18) Ravi Ranganathan
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The Color of Harvest

Sunset, Oak Glen, San Bernardino Mountains (11/3/18) Alena Nicholas

The color of harvest is many faceted.

At Oak Glen in the San Bernardino Mountains, it is as: garnet-red as an apple, carrot-colored as a pumpkin, sorrel-brown as a chestnut, flaxen as a dry stalk of corn and as dazzling as a California sunset.

Harvest and Autumn’s peak met this week at Oak Glen, where visitors gathered apples, corn, chestnuts and pumpkins for their holiday tables.

Southern California color spotter Alena Nicholas was there to share the color of harvest. 

Harvest, Oak Glen (11/3/18) Alena Nicholas
  • Oak Glen (4,734′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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San Jacinto Sunset

 

Lake Hemet (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Saturday was special throughout California. It was particularly so for those lucky few camping at Lake Hemet in Southern California’s San Jacinto Mountains.

The Golden Hour seemed to be an all-day affair at Lake Hemet Campgrounds and nearby Idyllwild with the low angle of autumn light warming every scene from sunrise to sunset.

Bald eagles perched and white pelicans preened beside the lake. Anglers searched for fish the birds hadn’t caught. Campers lounged by their campsites enjoying a clement day or walked the autumn woods.

At day’s end, one of California’s most magical sunsets painted the western sky with intense purple, red, orange, pink, turquoise and gold.

Alena Nicholas was there to record it. 

Lake Hemet (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Hemet (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Hemet (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Hemet (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Idyllwild (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Idyllwild (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Idyllwild (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Hemet (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Hemet (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Hemet (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Hemet (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Hemet (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Hemet (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Hemet (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Idyllwild (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Idyllwild (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

 

 

Idyllwild (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Idyllwild (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

Idyllwild (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bald eagle, Lake Hemet (10/27/18) Alena Nicholas

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Another Week of Peak

Aspen Grove Trail, San Bernardino NF (10/21/18) John Dinsmore

The San Bernardino Mountains have another week of peak at most elevations, reports John Dinsmore who visited Green Valley Lake, Barton Flats, Aspen Grove Trail, Running Springs and Oak Glen this past weekend.

Aspen have fallen the most, while black oak and bigleaf maple and exotics continue to show strong color. 

Best bet for the coming week are Lake Gregory and Oak Glen.

Green Valley Lake, San Bernardino Mountains (10/19/18) John Dinsmore

Green Valley Lake, San Bernardino Mountains (10/19/18) John Dinsmore

Running Springs San Bernardino Mountains (10/19/18) John Dinsmore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Green Valley Lake (7,200′) – Peak to Past Peak – YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!
  • Big Bear (6,752′) -Peak to Past Peak – YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!
  • Aspen Grove Trail – Peak to Past Peak – YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!
  • Lake Arrowhead (5,174′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Grass Valley Lake (5,058′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Lake Gregory (4,554′) -Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Running Springs – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Oak Glen – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

 

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Lovely, Rain or Shine

Red maple, Big Bear Lake (10/13/18) Kathleen DiGregorio

Liquidambar, Big Bear Lake (10/13/18) Kathleen DiGregorio

North Lake, Big Bear Lake (10/13/18) Kathleen DiGregorio

Aspen, Big Bear Lake (10/13/18) Kathleen DiGregorio

Kathleen DiGregorio says Big Bear Lake is lovely, rain or shine.

A rainy Saturday drive took DiGregorio to Blue Jay (First Report), Big Bear Lake and Snow Summit, where she found color mixed, estimating two to three weeks more color, depending on weather.

We’re not as optimistic, rating Big Bear native color as now Near Peak to Peak. It should be noted that several of the species Kathleen photographed were exotics, which have a different fall color clock.

To get away from it all, Kathleen found solitude by using the AllTrails app, reporting that an aspen grove near the rangers’ station at North Shore is lovely. 

  • Big Bear Lake (6,752′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

 

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A Painter’s Palette of Peak

Green Valley Lake, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Big Bear Lake, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Big Bear, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Big Bear, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Big Bear, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Green Valley Lake, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Green Valley Lake, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Green Valley Lake, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Green Valley Lake, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Rim of the World, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Rim of the World, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Black oak, Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Grass Valley Lake, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Aspen, Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Aspen, Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory, San Bernardino Mountains (10/14/18) Alena Nicholas

A painter’s palette of lime, yellow, orange and red is daubing the San Bernardino Mountains with vibrant Peak color.

From Big Bear, down to Lake Gregory, successive bursts of bigleaf maple, Frémont cottonwood, quaking aspen and black oak are exploding like fireworks over Big Bear Lake.

San Bernardino Mountains color spotter Alena Nicholas estimates Peak color will continue for a week to two, unless high winds hit again.

Nicholas said that several now peaking trees were “wind chaffed” from the most recent storm. Though, colder nighttime temperatures are helping to intensify the display.

Despite the cooler weather, Alena noticed that boaters, anglers, hikers and mountain bikers are still out enjoying the outdoors.

The San Bernardino Mountains’ famous Rim of the World drive is just beginning to lighten. “It was nice to see the iconic cloud cover down below,” Alena said, adding that in a week to two, an evening drive along it will provide an irresistible blend of fall color and sunset light. 

  • Green Valley Lake (7,200′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Big Bear (6,752′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Lake Arrowhead (5,174′) – Near Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Grass Valley Lake (5,058′) – Peak a(75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Lake Gregory (4,554′) – Patchy (10-50%)
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Apple Harvest

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

As American as … Apple Hill, Julian and Oak Glen.

These California apple harvest destinations are famous for their cider, pie, strudels, confections and sauce, all made of apples, of course.

Even though the apple pie was invented in England, the following prove that nothing could be truer than the expression “as American as apple pie:”

  • In El Dorado County, Apple Hill is so popular that a free shuttle bus system has been established to keep the roads in Camino from becoming gridlocked on autumn weekends;
  • Ten restaurants serve apple pie in Julian, a city of 1,500 (San Diego County) and
  • Twenty-four varieties of apples are grown and sold at Oak Glen (San Bernardino County).

That’s just the start of why autumn adventures in apple country has become such a tradition for Californians. Presently, fall color is Just Starting, though the apple harvest is happening, and Americans LOVE their apples.

San Bernardino County color spotter Alena Nicholas was there, today, and sent these images, but no apple pie. C’mon, Alena, share the love. 

  • Apple Hill, Camino (3,133′) – Just Starting (10-50%)
  • Oak Glen (4,734′) – Just Starting (10-50%)
  • Julian (4,226′) – Just Starting (10-50%)

 

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas