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Peak Flows Into Owens Valley Softly, Like a Poet’s Verse

Old and Young Cottonwood, Owens Valley (10/22/18) Gigi de Jong

Pine Creek Canyon, Inyo County (10/22/18) Gigi de Jong

Pine Creek Canyon, Inyo County (10/22/18) Gigi de Jong

Pine Creek Pass Trailhead, Inyo County (10/22/18) Gigi de Jong

Cottonwood, Owens Valley (10/22/18) Gigi de Jong

“Peak fall color is tumbling down the mountains and spreading out across the Owens Valley,” Bishop color spotter Gigi de Jong describes poetically.

Bishop Canyon is now drained of its Peak color, which she says “seems to be flowing into
the lower creeks and canyons.”

California’s largest and finest display of peaking black cottonwood are at peak in Pine Creek Canyon, “with a beautiful display of yellow and umber … alongside the creek.”

While higher up the steep-sided canyon, Gigi writes, “Small knots of young aspen … are holding onto their color as tightly as they’re holding onto the mountainside.

As the canyon opens up to the valley below, cottonwoods cluster in groups and stand in
lines like partygoers dressed in their golden finery at an Autumn Harvest Ball.

Across the Owens Valley, Gigi continues, “Every open field, where water courses along canals or spreads out in marshy tracts, hosts these radiant trees. Every neighborhood street is glowing with color. They all seem adamant to outshine one another.

“On the east side of Bishop, in the wide-open spaces near the Owens River, are where the larger groups congregate. These groves are wild and wonderful and really show the passage time.

‘Younger trees stand shoulder to shoulder with mature trees, showing off their strength and
resilience. The big, old trunks that have lost their limbs and their shimmering coats, still play a part in the cycle of life out here.

‘There are signs and sounds of life everywhere. There are deer in the canyon and birds in the
trees,” she concluded that when you stand quietly, you can “feel the energy of life as is shifts from one season to the next.” 

  • Bishop Creek Canyon – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Pine Creek Canyon – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Owens Valley – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Bishop – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

 

Mule Deer, Pine Creek Canyon, Inyo County (10/22/18) Gigi de Jong

Red-tailed Hawk, Owens Valley (10/22/18) Gigi de Jong

Red-tailed Hawk, Owens Valley (10/22/18) Gigi de Jong

Owens Valley, Inyo County (10/22/18) Gigi de Jong

Bishop, Inyo County (10/22/18) Gigi de Jong

 

 

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All The Leaves Are Brown …

North Lake, (10/7/18) Jerry Sy

Sabrina Approach (10/7/18) Jerry Sy

As The Mamas & The Papas sang, “All the leaves are brown” above 8,500′ in Bishop Creek Canyon, “though the skies aren’t gray.”

This autumn, weather conditions were never better for viewing color in the Eastern Sierra. That resulted in a vibrant, long-lasting display.

However, if you delayed visiting South Lake, Lake Sabrina or North Lake, YOU MISSED IT and will have to do some California Dreamin’ to imagine them at Peak again.

That does not mean that you missed seeing peak fall color everywhere in California. It will continue to descend to lower elevations, well into December.

There’s also a lot of Peak color yet to be seen in Inyo County. Presently, Bishop Creek Canyon is peaking between 8,000 and 8,500′. That means you’ll see Peak aspen at the Mist Falls (8,350′), Aspendell (8,400′) and Four Jeffreys (8,000′) this week. Thereafter, Pine Creek Canyon (northwest of Bishop) and the Owens Valley will peak.

Though, the fall color captured by Jerry Sy in these pictures more than a week ago, can now only be imagined by “getting down on your knees and pretending to pray.” 

Markleeville, Alpine County (10/7/18) Jerry Sy

Sonora Pass, Mono County (10/7/18) Jerry Sy

  • Markleeville, Alpine County (5,531′) – Peak (75-100%) – GO NOW!
  • Sonora Pass (9,623′) – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Sabrina Approach (9,100′) – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • North Lake (9,225′) – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Aspendell (8,400′) – Peak (75-100%) – GO NOW!

Aspendell (10/7/18) Jerry Sy

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Fading Fast at North Lake

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/13/18) Bruce Wendler

North Lake Rd., Bishop Creek Canyon (10/13/18) Bruce Wendler

North Lake (Bishop Creek Canyon) took a while to move toward peak, then got hot, hot, hot for a week. Now, it is fading fast.

Bruce Wendler said North Lake “still has some charm.” Further down the N. Fork of Bishop Creek, trees are at peak, as is the pond at Aspendell.

Roberto Ferido found the South Fork of Bishop Creek to carry Peak color below 8,500′.

The June Lake Loop is transitioning from Patchy to Near Peak, with lots of color now surrounding Silver Lake in Mono county. 

  • North Lake (9,225′) – Past Peak – YOU MISSED IT!
  • North Lake Rd. (9,000′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Aspendell (8,400′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Silver Lake (7,200′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • South Lake Rd. (8,500′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

S. Lake Rd., Bishop Creek Canyon (10/13/18) Roberto Ferido

S. Lake Rd., Bishop Creek Canyon (10/13/18) Roberto Ferido

S. Lake Rd., Bishop Creek Canyon (10/13/18) Roberto Ferido

S. Lake Rd., Bishop Creek Canyon (10/13/18) Roberto Ferido

 

Aspendell, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/13/18) Bruce Wendler

Rabbitbrush and aspen, McGee Creek, Mono County (10/13/18) Bruce Wendler

McGee Creek, Mono County (10/13/18) Bruce Wendler

Silver Lake, Mono County (10/13/18) Bruce Wendler

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Gallimauphry: Inyo County

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/7/18) Joe Pollini

North Lake Rd, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/7/18) Joe Pollini

Upper North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/7/18) Joe Pollini

“Gallimauphry” is a fun word. It means a confused jumble or medley of things.

While there’s little confusing about these wonderful photographs and reports, I love using the word when pulling together collections of shots from a given destination. As, when else would you use a word like gallimauphry?

In this case, the focus is on Inyo County, that long stretch of breathtaking scenery along US 395 from Lone Pine north to Topaz.

We begin with photos taken by Joe Pollini at North Lake in Bishop Creek Canyon, west of Bishop, this past Sunday.

Joe works at the Bishop Chamber & Visitor Center helping folks find fall color and arrange accommodations in the greater Bishop area. So, it was nice receiving Joe’s shots from his “busman’s holiday.”

Joe’s photos tell us what’s happening at North Lake. Areas near treeline are now Past Peak, though at lake level and along North Lake Rd, the aspen are bright yellow. However, North Lake only has another week at Peak.

Toru Takahashi reminds us why so many people enjoy Bishop and Bishops Creek Canyon in autumn, for the canyon’s great fishing.

Rainbow Trout, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/18) Toru Takahashi

Jennifer Cornell took a different angle at Lake Sabrina than we’ve seen previously … near the dock. She reported that on Saturday it was, “sunny and warm’ish, even up at the Sabrina campground.” Then, “Lo and behold, it began snowing in the early evening!” and continued off and on through the night. “We got up to freezing temps to shoot sunrise on Sunday morning at Lake Sabrina, even catching a dusting along North Lake Rd. 

Lake Sabrina (10/7/18) Jennifer Cornell

 

North Lake Rd. (10/7/18) Jennifer Cornell

 

 

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Heavenly

Lake Sabrina (9/29/18) Surjanto Suradji

North Lake (9/29/18) Surjanto Suradji

Surjanto Suradji submitted a heavenly look at Bishop Creek Canyon, forwarding his vision of fall color at night.

He wrote that the photos were taken Saturday night, as he was “curious to see these amazing landscape and gorgeous fall colors at night time.”

His results were better than he anticipated and truly remarkable, due to “the mystical quality of nighttime, with the milky way and millions of stars … added another level of richness to an already amazing landscape.”

Surjanto began photographing an hour after sunset but before moonrise, so that the milky way could be seen. He continued to midnight, providing for the long star-trails exposure. Heavenly. 

Note: To learn more about taking star trails timelapse photographs, CLICK HERE.

Weir Pond (9/29/18) Surjanto Suradji

South Lake (9/29/18) Surjanto Suradji

South Lake Road (9/29/18) Surjanto Suradji

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Road Trip: The Big Loop

Dunderberg Meadow, Mono County (9/30/18) Phillip Reedy

Dunderberg Meadow, Mono County (9/30/18) Phillip Reedy

Dunderberg Meadow, Mono County (9/30/18) Phillip Reedy

Fall color junkies will go to any length to satisfy their craving for color, even if it means driving for three days straight.

Phillip Reedy proved that this past weekend when he took a road trip that we’ll call “The Big Loop.”

He began by crossing Carson Pass (CA-88), then Monitor Pass (CA-89), before heading down US 395 as far south as Bishop Creek Canyon (with numerous stops along the route).

Phil reports, “Carson Pass to Red Lake Creek is bursting with colors right now, but it ranges from all green to nearly past peak. The meadow by Red lake is just starting to turn, but heading down 88 from there to Red Lake Creek and the cabin the colors are brilliant yellow and oranges. In another week those trees will likely be losing their leaves.”

He continued, “At the Carson bridge 1/2 mile west of the 88/89 intersection the grove right above the river is looking great with green, yellow and deep reds. But just across the valley to the north, the trees are nearly all green. From the 88/89/ intersection to Sorensen’s Resort there are great colors but some groves near Sorensen’ are losing leaves fast. In another week this area will be getting bare.

West Carson River (10/2/18) Phillip Reedy

West Carson River (10/2/18) Phillip Reedy

Reedy continues that Monitor Pass has some nice yellow areas but still-green trees seem reluctant to change and estimates that in a week “this area will be looking nice.”

Mono County has been getting rave reviews so far this autumn, with Dunderberg Meadow southwest of Bridgeport “in full glory right now. Beautiful yellow, oranges and reds. Don’t wait for this one.”

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/2/18) Phillip Reedy

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/2/18) Phillip Reedy

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/2/18) Phillip Reedy

Reedy was impressed by Bishop Creek Canyon, particularly South Lake, Lake Sabrina, and North Lakes as all looking great, as were the creeks near the lakes. North Lake is amazing right now. There are still some greens, but I would definitely go in the next week. Just downslope Aspendell is completely green so it will be a week or two before the colors look good there.”

Lake Sabrina (9/30/18) Mike Caffrey

North Lake (9/30/18) Mike Caffrey

Surveyor’s Meadow 10/1/18) Mike Caffrey

S. Fork Bishop Creek (10/1/18) Mike Caffrey

Mike Caffey also traveled a similar route this weekend, commenting that South Lake, Weir Pond and Parcher’s are nearly Past Peak. While there’s still color to be seen, it’ll be gone, soon. He was similarly pessimistic about how long peak would remain at North Lake and Lake Sabrina, though through the weekend it was “spectacular.”

I write this every autumn, but it never ceases to flabbergast me as to why people ask what they’ll see at North Lake in two weeks, when I’m reporting GO NOW! So, I answer, “bare branches.”

Remember, peak color lasts about two weeks. So, when you first see GO NOW! on a Near Peak destination, pack your bags. If you see it on a Peak destination, the car should be running and you should be heading out the door. If you don’t, YOU MISSED IT.

Red Lake Creek Cabin, Hope Valley (9/30/18) Mike Caffrey

Note that just because it’s Past Peak at one elevation, you haven’t missed it everywhere. If you’re truly in search of beauty, go to a lower elevation. For example, plan now to visit June Lake from Oct. 11 – 18. It should be gorgeous, then.  I can make no promises, however, how good June Lake will be on Oct. 20. 

  • Hope Valley (7,300′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – It’ll be great for maybe another week.
  • Monitor Pass (8,314′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Dunderberg Meadows (8,609′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – This is a wow destination right now.
  • June Lake Loop (7,654′) – Just Starting to Patchy (0 – 50%) – Plan now to visit in mid October.
  • South Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9,768′) – Peak to Past Peak (75-100%) GO NOW or YOU MISSED IT! – There will still be great color down the canyon, but it’s almost past peak at the highest elevations.
  • Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon (9,150′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Are your bags packed?
  • North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9,000′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Is your motor running?

Red Lake Creek Cabin, Hope Valley (10/2/18) Phillip Reedy

 

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Bishop Creek Is Up and Running, but Slowly

Groves Above Cardinal Village, M. Fork Bishop Creek, (9/17/18) Jared Smith

Willow Campground, S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/17/18) Jared Smith

Surveyor’s Meadow, S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/17/18) Jared Smith

Table Mountain, S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/17/18) Jared Smith

North Lake Rd., N. Fork Bishop Creek, (9/17/18) Jared Smith

North Lake Rd, N. Fork Bishop Creek, (9/17/18) Jared Smith

Spotty color is being seen at and above 9,000′ in Inyo County’s Bishop Creek Canyon, where Jared Smith of Parcher’s Resort near South Lake says, “the best of it is at Lake Sabrina along North Lake Rd and along the back side of South Lake.”

Fall color should improve rapidly in upper Bishop Creek Canyon in the coming week, with possible movement from Patchy to Near Peak by next weekend. Though what seems to be holding back quicker change, Jared observes, is that, “It still feels very much like summer up here.”

CaliforniaFallColor predicts that will change quickly, as colder nighttime temperatures have arrived (now sub freezing). Days remain warm (60s and 70s), meaning that the show will soon be awesome. 

South Fork, Bishop Creek

  • South Lake (9,768′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Wier Pond (9,650′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Parcher’s Resort (9,260′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Willow Campground (9,000′)  – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Table Mountain Camp (8,900′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Surveyor’s Meadow (8,975′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Mist Falls and the Groves Above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Aspendell (8,400′) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Middle Fork, Bishop Creek

  • Lake Sabrina (9,150′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Sabrina Approach (9,100′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Sabrina Campground (9,000′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Groves Above Cardinal Village (8,550′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Four Jeffries (8,000′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Intake II (8,000′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Big Trees Campground (7,800′) – Just Starting (0-10%)

North Fork, Bishop Creek

  • North Lake (9,225′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • North Lake Rd (9,000′) – Just Starting (0-10%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Sabrina, M. Fork Bishop Creek (9/18/18) Kathy Smith

North Lake Rd., N. Fork Bishop Creek (9/18/18) Kathy Smith

North Lake Rd., N. Fork Bishop Creek (9/18/18) Kathy Smith

North Lake Rd., N. Fork Bishop Creek (9/18/18) Kathy Smith

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What One Videographer Saw Last Autumn

Start planning your fall color trips. This autumn oughta be awesome. 

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Fall Color Detectives

Poison Oak, Briones Regional Park (9/4/18) Darrell Sano

I just love “Who Done Its.” Though, in fall color’s case, it’s more “Where Is It?”

Today, I received reports from Lance Pifer and Darrell Sano who uncovered more evidence that fall is approaching.

1000 Island Lakes, Pacific Crest Trail (9/1/18) Lance Pifer

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/1/18) Lance Pifer

Lance visited the Eastern Sierra where he found spots of fall color lighting up the Pacific Crest Trail near 1000 Island Lake and at North Lake in Bishop Creek Canyon, where aspen remain  green and lake grasses are highlighted lightly with gold.

Darrell was a road warrior, exploring far and wide. On Friday (as previously reported) he drove across Sonora Pass, returning via Tioga Pass. About three to four miles after entering Yosemite National Park’s east entrance, he stopped to investigate “a scene that looks like it was planned, meaning so perfect–layered trees, leaves from pink to golden yellow, colors receding into the background, such depth. And it’s peaceful, quiet.” He continued that this area was severely damaged by fire, with at least half of it changed.

The following day, he drove north from the Bay Area to Cloverdale, then along CA 128 to the coast. As expected, there was no color to be seen other than a little in low shrubs, though reminds us that by driving the route he was reminded about how stunning Mendocino county is.

Poison Oak, Briones Regional Park (9/4/18) Darrell Sano

On Labor Day, he stayed near home, taking “a long hike in Briones Regional Park (one of the great East Bay Regional Parks – some of the best managed and most beautiful in California), hiking nine miles while criss-crossing trails. Along his route, he passed “vile poison oak” in toxic profusion, recalling the many times he’s suffered after having been covered in its sap, but noted, “When you see beds of its brilliant red in filtered light, you know 1) don’t go in there 2) enjoy the color from a distance.”

Darrell’s detective work included observing the afternoon light which due to skies, still tinted with wildfire haze, cast a yellow ochre tint that was accented by the lower angle of sunlight, dramatizing the shadows, and noted the dryness of the landscape, observing that despite their parched appearance, thistles and grasses remained beautiful remnants of summer. 

Dry thistles and grasses, Briones Regional Park (9/4/18) Darrell Sano

Briones Regional Park (9/4/18) Darrell Sano

Just Starting (0-10%) – Tioga Pass

Just Starting (0-10%) – 1000 Islands Lake
Just Starting (0-10%) – North Lake
Just Starting (0-10%) – CA 128 (Cloverdale to the Coast)
Just Starting (0-10%) – Briones Regional Park, SF Bay Area
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Droning On

OK, Fall Color video junkies. While working on our year-end recap video, I ran across these videos of California Fall Color taken in October. All locations are past peak, though they give a glimpse of what was happening, as seen by various videographers and drones.

First up: Peter Mikuljan visited several locations in the Eastern Sierra on Oct. 14. Here’s his video of Big Pine Creek, South Fork Bishop Creek.

Peter’s take on Intake II in Bishop Creek Canyon. This area provided one of the best shows along the middle fork of Bishop Creek.

More of Peter’s crew in Bishop Creek Canyon.

And on a road trip to Aspendell in Bishop Creek Canyon:

Next: Titus Davis was in the Hope Valley in early October and got this zen-inspired video.

Titus also rocked out over the color he found on Monitor Pass in mid October.

Finally: William Thompson also took a road trip to the Hope Valley in mid October.

And, to Yosemite Valley in October (FYI, If you’re shooting commercially in a national park, always follow park rules and apply in advance for a commercial filming permit from the National Park Service. The fines for not doing so are pretty hefty).