,

It’s Nuts Along The Midway

Walnut orchard, Midway Rd. (11/10/19) Robert Kermen

Walnut orchards are carrying Near Peak to Peak color along Midway Rd. between Durham and Chico.

Chinese pistache, Midway Rd. (11/10/19) Robert Kermen

For those who can get there, the coming week and a half will be beautiful in the Chico area. Best bets: Midway Rd., Chico Seed Orchard, Downtown Chico, the Esplanade (Chico’s famous boulevard), Chico State University campus and Bidwell Park drainages.

  • Chico (197′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) GO NOW!
,

Chico’s Chinese Color

Chico Seed Orchard (11/3/19) Robert Kermen

Growing throughout Chico in the Northern Sacramento Valley are hundreds of Chinese Pistache trees, pistachia chenensis, and their nut variety, pistachia vera.

That has happened due to the efforts of the Mendocino National Forest’s Genetic Resource Center, commonly known as the Chico Seed Orchard, where new plants from all over the world are observed as to how they will fare in this climate.

The result of all that experimentation has been to introduce farm products such as kiwis, almonds, cherries and pistachios to California agriculture.

It also has made Chico one of the most colorful urban forests in California.

Chinese pistache, Chico (11/3/19) Robert Kermen

The Chinese pistache is one of the most appreciated landscape trees because of its fluorescent fall color, its summer shade, hardiness and deep rooting, which means they don’t raise sidewalks like many other ornamental trees.

Chinese pistache are now at all stages of color throughout Chico, reports Chico area color spotter Robert Kermen. Though, he adds that this year is different – a common theme experienced not just in California, but nationwide – with deciduous plants showing fall color early, late and inconsistently.

In some areas, this has resulted in longer displays (e.g., Bishop Creek). In other areas, much abbreviated ones (e.g., June Lake Loop). That Chico’s Chinese Color now varies from Just Starting to Peak, indicates this could be a long-lasting show for Chico.

Currently, Chico’s urban forest, overall, is transitioning from Patchy to Near Peak with vibrant color appearing throughout the city’s downtown and along The Esplanade, a boulevard that is canopied with landmark trees (Chinese pistache, red maple, dogwood, Western Sycamore, various oaks and London plane trees).

A visit to Chico in autumn is a delight, particularly with stops to tour the Sierra Nevada Brewery, to dine in its excellent restaurant or any of Chico’s other first-rate restaurants, to drop into one of Chico’s exceptional art galleries or visit Orient and Flume Art Glass or to tour the Bidwell Mansion, home of one of California’s most respected pioneers.

Following a visit to Chico, head north seven miles on CA-99 to visit the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina where an 800-year-old Cistercian gothic monastic chapter house (a true architectural masterpiece) has been rebuilt to serve as the abbey’s church. Wine tasting is offered on weekends at the abbey winery.

  • Chico (197′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
,

Finding Gold in Rich Bar

Unmarked graves, Rich Bar (11/2/19) Michael Beatley

It’s name speaks of its wealth … Rich Bar.

In the 1850s, Rich Bar in the Feather River Canyon attracted thousands of argonauts. Many never left. Gravemarkers, memorials and headstones tell a grim story of their fates.

Mining accident … drowned … illness … hanged for theft … murdered … stabbed … hanged for murder … accidental shooting … killed in duel … shot … gunshot suicide.

Plumas County color spotter Michael Beatley spent a day exploring his county’s historic places and came back with a few visual nuggets, though no real gold.

He reports that the oak and dogwood are still golden. Union Pacific tracks pass near Rich Bar along the Feather River, for those who enjoy combining rail and fall color photography.

  • Rich Bar, Plumas County (2,402′) – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.
,

Decent Color Declines

Kentucky Mine, Sierra City (11/2/19) Philip Reedy

“Decent color is getting hard to find,” wrote Philip Reedy of a scouting trip he took through Plumas County. “Most of the color is gone.”

He was surprised, however, by the color surrounding Sardine Lake at 6,000′, from the black oak near Bassetts Station (CA-49) and enveloping the historic buildings at Kentucky Mine in Sierra City (now closed for the season).

And, to show his ride also promotes what he does, Phil – who photographs fly fishing – sent this image of his license plate.

  • Plumas County – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT.
,

El Rio de las Plumas

Rail and automobile bridges crisscross in the Feather River Canyon (10/29/19) Jeff Luke Titcomb

John Marsh and Jose Noriega were exploring Northern California in 1836, traveling up the Sacramento River in dugout canoes, when they came to a tributary to the Sacramento that was covered in feathers. They named the newly discovered tributary, El Rio de las Plumas, River of the Feathers.

Feather River (10/29/19) Jeff Luke Titcomb

The Feather River is one of California’s great waterways. Most impressively, it drops 4,350′ in its first 74 miles.

That makes it not only one of America’s most scenic rivers but also one of the most productive at generating hydroelectric power.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co., gets a good part of its energy from Feather River hydroelectric plants in a “stairway of power” that climbs from Lake Oroville to Mountain Meadows Reservoir, above Lake Almanor.

Along CA-70, a beautiful mix of fall color can be seen growing beside the river and the creeks that run into it. Willow, black oak, bigleaf maple, dogwood, grasses and Indian rhubarb are now at peak and reflecting their chartreuse, yellow, gold, orange and red colors in the river’s clear waters.

Dogwood, Feather River (10/29/19) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Plumas County color spotter Jeff Luke Titcomb drove down the canyon from Greenville to Beldon Town Resort.

We’ll let you in on a secret. Jeff didn’t make the trip just to scope out fall color. He treated himself to a cheeseburger at Beldon Town. Though, he did find peak fall color at Indian Creek, Feather Falls, Twain, Beldon Town and Howell’s Bridge, not to mention a scary jack o’lantern in the Beldon Town store.

Beldon Town Resort Store, Feather River (10/29/19) Jeff Luke Titcomb
  • Feather River (CA-70) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
,

Going, Going, Gone

Going, 50/50 Tree, Quincy Airport (10/14/19) Robert Kermen
Going, 50/50 Tree, Quincy Airport (10/20/19) Jeff Luke Titcomb
Gone, 50/50 Tree, Quincy (10/29/19) Jeff Luke Titcomb

The 50/50 Tree, so-called because – when first noticed by Robert Kermen – it appeared to be one tree that was half Just Starting and half Peaking, has now gone Past Peak.

After Kermen’s discovery, the tree was revealed by Jeff Luke Titcomb to be side-by-side mountain maples. However, we also learned that this phenomenon can happen in circumstances where the sunny side has peaked and the shaded side has not.

It’s another of the weird discoveries of Autumn 2019.

,

Wind Is A-Peeling

Heavy winds lashed Northern California, yesterday, stripping many trees of turned leaves.

While driving along Blue Ravine Rd in Folsom leaves littered the road in great piles and would swirl and chase vehicles as they passed.

In Shasta County, Martha Fletcher reported the wind as peeling leaves from trees and shrubs. However, trees that had not yet reached abscission continue to hold onto their leaves.

At Fall River Mills, black oak and redbud are full of yellow, dark rust, dark orange and red. Their colors provide a beautiful contrast to the sparkling whitewater of Pit River Falls.

  • Pit River (3,400′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
, ,

Siskiyou Sonata

Mount Shasta, Siskiyou County (10/25/19) Philip Reedy

Sometimes, spent color is the most beautiful of all.

Appliance Graveyard, CA-96 (10/25/19) Philip Reedy

Philip Reedy photographed dazzling fall color beside the Upper Sacramento and McCloud Rivers in Siskiyou County, then also found beauty in the spent grasses and wind-swept oaks of late autumn.

He was out for another of his fly fishing photography expeditions, this time with stops at Castle Crags State Park, Mossbrae Falls and the Cantera Loop, all near Dunsmuir, then north along the Klamath River and into the Seiad Valley.

What’s interesting about Phil’s first two shots (top of page) is that the first is a classic landscape depicting a California icon, but not as Mt. Shasta is typically presented. Instead of being bright and heroic, his view is moody and reflective. The second is of discarded appliances leaning beside a deteriorating shed.

The first image is classic artistic landscape photography, but so too is the second. More importantly, the latter one confirms the idiom, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Click photos to enlarge.

Milkweed (10/25/19) Philip Reedy
Bigleaf maple (10/25/19) Philip Reedy

Reedy shares my view that while the oaks aren’t as colorful as aspen, they have their own distressed beauty, and again his photographs are showing bigleaf maple can be other colors than French’s mustard.

Siskiyou County is a visual sonata right now, though rush to see it. As, strong winds now lashing Northern California (100 mph posted at Lake Tahoe) will surely be transporting these leaves south to the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

  • Siskiyou County – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.
, , ,

Hike to Potem Falls

Potem Falls, Montgomery Creek (10/23/19) Laura Jean

Hike of the week takes you to Potem Falls, an impressive 60-foot drop along Montgomery creek in Shasta-Trinity National Forest near CA-299.

AllTrails.com describes the trail as a .4-mile, lightly trafficked out & back along Montgomery Creek (Trinity County) that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels.

The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best from March through October. Dog-friendly.

For directions, CLICK HERE.

Bigleaf maple, Potem Falls, Shasta-Trinity NF (10/23/19) Laura Jean

Laura Beeson scores a First Report and Hike of the Week, plus the above maple is red, a rarity for bigleaf maple. We’ll have to see more.

  • Potem Falls (1,246′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
, ,

Hamilton Branch/Lake Almanor

Hamilton Branch, Feather River (10/26/19) Jeff Luke Titcomb

The Hamilton Branch of the Feather River drops from Dyer Mountain into Lake Almanor.

The designated census area or community of Hamilton Branch has 587 residents beside this stream which is considered to be exceptional for fly fishing.

In late October, Hamilton Branch is edged with firey orange color from oak, willow and maple. Plumas County color spotter Jeff Luke Titcomb scores a First Report for Hamilton Branch, and what a beauty it is.

  • Hamilton Branch, Lake Almanor (4,505′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!