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In Your Backyard – Eastern Sierra Fall Color

In Your Backyard,” a feature of Fox26 in Fresno, sent Sports Anchor Nick King to search for autumn adventures. He found them in the Eastern Sierra, this past month.

Fall color is now Past Peak in most of the Eastern Sierra (pockets of it can still be found in the Owens Valley), though the perspectives stated in Nick’s piece are timeless.

Nick is a fan of CaliforniaFallColor.com, saying he turns to this site for guidance on where to find fall color.

In this segment, he leaned upon CFC color spotters Josh Wray, Jared Smith, Jeff Simpson and yours truly for comments on what makes fall so special in California. 

Fit to Print Fall Color

Today’s New York Times California Today repeats our assertion that, this year, California is Golden. 

USA Today and the A.P. Agree: West is Best

USA Today and the Associated Press are reporting that while autumn is “a big disappointment” in the East, the West is best.

To read the USA Today report, CLICK HERE

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The Tao of Epic Landscape Photography

The Philosopher’s Art

Landscape photographer Elliot McGucken combines fine art with the Yin-Yang wisdom of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching in his book, The Tao of Epic Landscape Photography.

Elliot’s photographs are well-known to readers of California Fall Color.com, as seen in his epic capture of a North Lake sunset gracing the banner of this site.

In his book he connects great landscape photography to following the teachings of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu who authored the Tao Te Ching, a guide to life.

McGucken writes, “We artists would be wise to adopt the way of the Tao and to capture nature not by seeking to conquer or dominate her, but by adapting to her shape and form as water does and by becoming one with her.

“Via humble persistence and subtle improvisation, we too can be like water and follow the lead of her streams and rivers towards the most magnificent landscapes, on towards the ocean, which, by occupying the lowest of station, is king to them all.

“And, so too should we artists seek the lowest station as humble servants and sailors, creating art not for ourselves, but for others. For the Tao teaches that the sage grows wealthy not by accumulating wealth, but by sharing it.”

The Tao of Epic Landscape Photography includes over 100 of Elliot McGucken’s landscape photographs and inspirational guidance. It can be purchased at Amazon for $8.99 or for free on Amazon Unlimited. 

Orange Crush

Whitney Portal Rd., Alabama Hills, Inyo County (11/15/17) Ursula Esser

Some years back, Japanese were asked what came to mind when they heard the word “California.”

You’d think it might be “Hollywood,” “Yosemite” or “Golden Gate Bridge,” but it was Oranges.

Associating orange with California certainly seems right on the first day of autumn. At least, that’s what the editor of Westways, AAA’s legendary SoCal Auto Club travel magazine, must have thought when headlining October’s story about California fall color, “Orange Crush.”

To read Westways‘ effervescent article, CLICK HERE.

While you’re at it, consider joining the auto club. They do a lot of good helping motorists who are out searching for fall color. 

Basking in The California Sun

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/30/16) Elliot McGucken

California journalist Mike McPhate’s blog, California Sun, is one that tells the story of our great state. He oughta know.

For years, Mike was the California Today Newsletter correspondent for The New York Times.

Now, we all know that New Yorkers just don’t get us. And, their “national” newspaper (Hey, like the storied Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and other worthy contenders don’t count!?) does even less.

So, it was refreshing that they employed a guy like McPhate who really understood that not everything about the Golden State is what you see on Hollywood-produced reality TV.

He got it, and still does, that … Dude, Autumn happens here, too.

Each autumn, Mike would call to get California’s story. I imagine many a Manhattanite sat in their bathrobes by apartment windows, slippered feet resting on satin ottomons, as they read – incredulously – McPhate’s descriptions of what happens here during autumn. (OK, we might have our misperceptions about New Yorkers, too, but then they have The New Yorker to blame for that.). 

It’s a wonder The New York Times kept him employed for so long, considering the heresy he espoused from his California roost. “Fall Color in California? You mean New England isn’t the only place that has it!?” Let’s put that into a West Coast perspective. To a San Franciscan, that’s as ridiculous as believing there’s culture in Chicago. Or worse, L.A.

With his publication of California Sun, Mike McPhate no longer needs to tempt fate within his audience, particularly when he illustrates this week’s number with Elliot McGucken’s glorious image of North Lake. Yes, autumn happens in California, too, dude. 

To read California Sun’s take on the five best places to bask in California’s fall colors, CLICK HERE.


LA Times Values Calif. Fall Travel

In this week’s Travel section, Terry Gardner of The Los Angeles Times travel section reported California as a “good value proposition” for autumn trips, listing budget-conscious places to stay. To read the full report, CLICK HERE.

In an earlier story, LA Times travel reporter Mary Forgione included CaliforniaFallColor.com among “Five Ways to Find the Best Leaf-peeping Times in California and the U.S.”  

Signs That Autumn Is Almost Here

Pumpkins, Safeway, El Dorado Hills (9/12/18) John Poimiroo

  1. Pumpkins are stacked outside your local grocery store.

Comment to add additional signs …

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Identifying NorCal Plants

Plants of Northern California, Falcon Guides

With more than 7,000 species of native plants in California, it’s easy to misidentify one. As a journalist, not a scientist, I’ve made more than a few wrong identifications on this site. Hopefully, few misidentifications are still posted here, though – admittedly – I come across one, now and then. When I do, I correct it.

However, when you combine California’s native species to the thousands of non-native (exotic) plants in our gardens, parks and cities, it’s easy to imagine the difficulty involved in reporting accurately 100% of the time.

In order to identify obscure plants, I’ve sent photos of them to naturalists, botanists and foresters who’ve then identified them, but that takes time. So, increasingly, I refer to books and sites for answers. Recent additions to my library are field guides published by Falcon Guides.

In a previous post, I referenced Dr. Eva Begley’s Plants of Northern California. It illustrates, through color photography and text, native plants that grow west of the Sierra Nevada. This area includes the north San Francisco Bay, North Coast, Klamath and Cascade Ranges, and the Sacramento Valley.

Trees, Falcon Pocket Guide

Sierra Nevada Wildflowers, Falcon Guides

In the book, species are organized by color and family, and text describes their blooming period, elevation and habitat, plant characteristics, and other interesting facts. It is particularly useful in identifying flowering plants.

What has often bothered me about some field guides is that they’re written for scientists by scientists. So, common plants are often omitted, I suppose, because the author might think they’re so common that everyone must know what they are.

Dr. Begley did not make that mistake. Ordinary, as well as extraordinary plants are illustrated with sharp, colorful photographs and simple, direct and helpful text.

Falcon Guides even thought to print a ruler on the back cover, to help take the guesswork out of measuring blooms in the field and includes a glossary of terms (e.g., pinnate) that might otherwise be confusing to users.

Plants of Northern California has little within it to help in identifying deciduous trees or Sierra Nevada plants, though combine it with Falcon’s pocket guide Trees by Todd Telander and Sierra Nevada Wildflowers by Karen Wiese, and you have solid foundation of reference materials that will help you identify California plants when searching for California Fall Color. 

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KCET Continues Coastal Trail Series

Premiering tonight and continuing through summer, KCET airs six new video segments on its website, kcet.org/coastaltrail

The Web series explores the majestic California Coastal Trail; its past, its present and its future through historical narratives, camping and hiking guides, social media videos, and articles about important cultural points of interest along the Trail.

One new video per week will be posted on kcet.org/coastaltrail from July 6 to Aug. 3. The Web series will also be available on Roku and YouTube.

CALIFORNIA COASTAL TRAIL debuted three summers ago with the first year following the trail from San Diego to San Luis Obispo County. Then, in season two, it continued up the trail to Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Mateo.

Although there is little fall color to be enjoyed along the California Coastal Trail, we reasoned,
“What better way for fall color spotters to enjoy the outdoors and discover new areas of California in summer than exploring the California Coastal Trail?”

Partially funded by The California Coastal Commission, with support from Hilton Hotels, and presented in partnership with Rigler Creative, CALIFORNIA COASTAL TRAIL will share the state’s picturesque coastlines designed for a wide variety of audiences, including visiting tourists, casual vacationers and seasoned California outdoor enthusiasts.

This season’s segments head north passing through Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties while looking at spots along the coast like Pelican Bluffs, Noyo Headlands Park and the Humboldt Bay Trail.

The series will also travel to Crescent City, site of a deadly tsunami in 1964 and explore redwood restoration at Del Norte Redwoods State Park.

The series takes viewers to a mill site that was converted into a coastal park in Fort Bragg and MacKerricher State Park, home of the endangered Snowy Plover.

Here’s what’s planned:

Fri., July 6 – Pelican Bluffs

Fri., July 13 – Noyo Headlands Park

Fri., July 20 – Haul Road

Fri., July 27 – Humboldt Bay Trail

Fri., Aug. 3 – Del Norte Coast

Fri., Aug. 10 – Crescent City Harbor Trail

Join the conversation on social media using #myCAcoast.