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The Eye of the Beholder

June Lake Loop (10/30/18) Mark Harding

A proverb restated since the third century, B.C., is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

One might look at Mark Harding’s photographs of June Lake, post peak, and see nothing but gray, bare limbs.

Mark recognized the beauty within the austerity of the forest.

Just because an object, a plant or a person is worn, past peak or aging does not mean it is without beauty, character or interest as Mark so artistically  depicts in his photographs. 

  • June Lake Loop (7,654′) – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT. Or, did you?
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June Swoon

Black leaf spot, Aspen, June Lake Loop (10/27/18) Jake Puchalski

Black leaf spot can be lovely, we just discovered.

June Lake Loop (10/27/18) Jake Puchalski

June Lake Loop (10/27/18) Jake Puchalski

Jake Puchalski toured the June Lake Loop on Saturday and appreciated, “a really cool mix of greying leaves blended throughout” peaking aspen.

The grey Jake saw was a blend of bare trees whose grey limbs had dropped their leaves and aspen groves still carrying leaves damaged by black leaf spot.

He noted, that because peak has been so durable (Mono County is getting a half-week more peak color this year than last, on average), “there were both vibrant gold aspen tree tops and green, grey, gold, and red leaves scattered all over the forest floor.”

What’s on the forest floor will be the story at June Lake this week, as more wind is predicted by Halloween. Could that be the trick that treats us to a final June Swoon? 

  • June Lake Loop – Peak to Past Peak, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!

June Lake Loop (10/27/18) Jake Puchalski

 

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An Unbelievable Autumn

Walker River (10/24/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Convict Lake (10/24/18) Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

California’s 2018 Autumn will be remembered as one of the most unbelievably beautiful and long-lasting, ever. In Mono County, the show has simply been beyond exclamation.

That’s encouraged Mono County’s Alicia Vennos to declare that her destination, our previous pick as “Peak of the Week,” should get its title extended another week, “thanks to gorgeous fall weather with little to no wind.”

Alicia certainly has a point. Many of Mono County’s fall color hotspots deserve a “GO NOW!” designation.

Being that it is so close to Halloween, we don’t want a curse placed on us that would upset fall spirits. So, we urge you to GO NOW! As, this well could be the last call for Peak viewing along US 395.

At the beginning of autumn, had Alicia vowed Mono County’s aspen would be peaking right up to Hallow’s Evening, we would have accused her of brewing an “Unfallen Leaf” spell.

Instead, she’s made us believers and expect one unbelievable Peak Party in Mammoth Lakes on All Hallow’s Eve. 

US 395, Coleville (10/24/18)Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Topaz Lake (10/24/18)Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

US 395, Coleville (10/24/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

US 395, Coleville (10/24/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Walker/Coleville/Topaz

  • Monitor Pass (8,314′) – Past Peak – YOU MISSED IT!
  • Lobdell Lake Road (8,600′) – Past Peak – YOU MISSED IT!
  • Walker Canyon (5,200′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – The shores of the West Walker are gleaming.
  • Towns of Walker & Coleville – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Massive cottonwood along US 395 and beside the Walker River in the Antelope Valley are beautiful.
  • Sonora Pass (9,623′) – Past Peak – YOU MISSED IT!

Conway Summit (10/24/18)Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

 

Bridgeport/Virginia Lakes

  • Twin Lakes (7,000′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! –
  • Virginia Lakes (9,819’)- Past Peak – YOU MISSED IT!
  • Conway Summit (8,143′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – The south side of Conway Summit is at its prettiest. The north side is almost past peak. Conway has a rolling peak with some groves still green, beside bare branches and peak color mixed between them.
  • Summers Meadow (7,200′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – There’s great color all along the road.

Lee Vining

  • Tioga Pass (9,943′) – Past Peak – YOU MISSED IT!
  • Lee Vining Canyon (6,781′)  Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!
  • Lundy Lake & Canyon (7,858′) – Peako Past Peak, GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT! – Lundy Lake Rd, Lundy Lake, Lundy Campground and the Beaver Ponds still have lots of peak color. The trail to the waterfalls is now Past Peak.

Mono Lake (10/24/18)Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Lundy Lake (10/24/18)Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Beaver Pond, Lundy Lake (10/24/18)Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Lundy Lake (10/24/18)Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Lundy Lake Rd (10/24/18)Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Lundy Lake Rd. (10/24/18)Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Benton & 120 East

  • Sagehen Summit (8,139’) -Past Peak – YOU MISSED IT!

June Lake Loop, Down Canyon (10/24/18)Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Silver Lake, June Lake Loop (10/24/18)Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/24/18)Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

June Lake Loop

  • June Lake Loop/Hwy 158 (7,654′) – Peak (75-100%)

Gull Lake Marina (10/24/18)Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

GO NOW! – Fall Color Viewing Tip: The most iridescent color is seen when trees are backlit. Because this is a loop, drive it in both directions to see the best light and color. June Lake at Oh! Ridge is peaking, as is Gull Lake – highly recommended, right now.  The mountainside between Grant Lake is shining with a number of gold and orange aspen groves. Silver Lake is past peak, as are some of the roadside aspens along the Loop, particularly down canyon.

Mammoth Lakes

  • Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,996′) – Past Peak – YOU MISSED IT!
  • Laurel Canyon (8,500′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! (high clearance 4WD required)

Crowley Lake/McGee Creek/Convict Lake

  • McGee Creek Canyon (8,600’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Fingers crossed that it doesn’t blow. If it doesn’t, the color will remain good for another week around the campground and along the trail.
  • Around Crowley community (6,781′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – This has been Crowley’s best year for Fall Color. It is literally aglow with color.
  • Convict Lake (7850′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Convict Lake Campground, the road between Convict Lake Resort and the Marina, and the entire shoreline are inspirational this week. The hike around the lake offers colorful views and photo ops around every bend.

Rock Creek Canyon

  • Rock Creek Road (8,500’+) – Past Peak – YOU MISSED IT!

Remember: even though an area is listed as Past Peak, you will still be able to find spots of nice color. So, if you have the time to explore them, you won’t be disappointed, as the scenery is other worldly.

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Lovin’ Lundy

Lundy Canyon Campground (10/21/18) Sophie Geaney

Lundy Canyon Campground (10/21/18) Sophie Geaney

Sophie Geaney was lovin’ Lundy this past weekend, finding it “peaking perfectly,” with lush aspen throughout the campground and up the first 1.5 miles of the trail, described as “really amazing.”

The trail to Parker Lake is Past Peak, though there’s color once at the lake. June Lake, of course, is magnificent this week. 

  • Lundy Canyon Trail – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • June Lake Loop – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!’
  • Parker Lake – Peak to Past Peak, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!

 

 

 

 

Lundy Canyon Trailhead (10/21/18) Sophie Geaney

Lundy Canyon Trail (10/21/18) Sophie Geaney

June Lake Loop (10/21/18) Sophie Geaney

Parker Lake (10/21/18) Sophie Geaney

Convict Lake (10/21/18) Candace Gregory

Gull Lake, June Lake Loop (10/21/18) Candace Gregory

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Stay or Drive

Lundy Lake, Mono County (10/21/18) Clayton Peoples

Conway Summit, Mono County (10/21/18) Clayton Peoples

Lundy Lake, Mono County (10/21/18) Clayton Peoples

Lundy Lake, Mono County (10/21/18) Clayton Peoples

Lundy Lake, Mono County (10/21/18) Clayton Peoples

June Lake, Mono County (10/21/18) Clayton Peoples

June Lake, Mono County (10/21/18) Clayton Peoples

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park (10/21/18) Clayton Peoples

Lower Yosemite Fall, Yosemite National Park (10/21/18) Clayton Peoples

Merced River, Yosemite National Park (10/21/18) Clayton Peoples

There are two types of color spotters: one Stays at a location and works it, the other Drives to many locations, seeing fall color across a broad area.

There’s something to be said for both approaches.

The Stay approach allows time for hiking, relaxing, taking in the color and being at a select spot longer providing for better opportunities to see and photograph it at its best.

The Drive approach provides the experience of enjoying driving along boulevards of fall color, of seeing many places, of appreciating the variety of color to be seen and exploring the forests and towns where fall color is best.

This past weekend, color spotter Clayton Peoples drove a large Sierra loop to the Eastern Sierra and back to the Western Sierra, demonstrating the advantages of the Drive approach.

He reports, “Conway Summit is still just patchy. There’s lots of green among the aspen groves, but there are some stands that are turning. A good zoom lens is best at the moment, which allows one to focus in on groves that are turning and/or mixed.

“Lundy Canyon is at peak. The groves around Lundy Lake are in full color, as are the groves along the dirt road to the trailhead and beside the Lundy Canyon Trail. It is mostly brilliant yellow with a bit of light orange mixed in. Definitely worth a trip!

“The June Lake Loop has reached peak color. Aspen along the Loop and surrounding its pristine lakes have all turned and range from vivid golden yellow to orange. Good color will likely last here another week or so … I recommend that folks “GO NOW” before the best is in the past.

“Yosemite National Park is patchy. The few aspen groves at higher elevations are at full peak, but trees at lower elevations are just beginning to turn. That said, some of the black oak along the Merced River are already sporting bright yellow leaves, and brush ranges from green to yellow to red, so progress toward “near peak” status is not far away,” Clayton reported. 

  • Conway Summit, Mono County – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! (While Clayton rated Conway as Patchy, that’s the nature of the groves, which turn sequentially. The area evolves through successive Patchy, Near Peak and Peak ratings.)
  • Lundy Canyon, Mono County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • June Lake Loop, Mono County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Tioga Road, Yosemite National Park, Tuolumne County – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County – Near Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! Again, our assessment varies from Clayton’s, as Yosemite has rolling peaks. Because of this, it is easily mis-classified. After the small amount of fall color has peaked along the Tioga Road, Pacific dogwood begin to turn rose to pink and red, then bigleaf maple turn yellow, then cottonwood gold and finally black oak turn orange. Though one specie may be patchy, another may be past peak or peaking. Knowing this helps determine when to visit Yosemite. Yosemite’s famous pioneer sugar maple (planted a century ago near the Yosemite Chapel) peaked in the past two weeks. Now, bigleaf maple are peaking and cottonwood and black oak are approaching peak.

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What Matters Most

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

So what if:

  • It’s your daughter’s wedding.
  • You have 50-yard-line tickets to the big game.
  • Your big retirement dinner happens Saturday and everyone will be there.
  • After flirting for months, you finally got asked out by the hot barista at the coffee shop.
  • The Nobel Prize committee just called and would like to meet you on Sunday.
  • It’s your tenth wedding anniversary and you have tickets to Paris.
  • Your doctor called and you’re finally scheduled for open-heart surgery.

Don’t get tunnel vision (unless it’s what you see, above).

All that matters is that fall color surrounding Mammoth Lakes in Mono County is peaking and that’s EPIC! 

Cancel all plans and GO NOW! Here’s why:

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Gull Lake, June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Gull Lake, June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Beaver Ponds, Lundy Canyon (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Beaver Ponds, Lundy Canyon (10/18/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

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Over The Top

Log Cabin Rd., Mono County (10/13/18) Gene Miller

Tioga Pass (CA-120E), Yosemite National Park (10/13/18) Gene Miller

June Lake Camp, June Lake Loop (10/14/18) Gene Miller

On a whim, this past weekend, color spotter Gene Miller crossed the Sierra Nevada to the East Side and found “over the top” color.

Gene is a midwest transplant who misses autumn there, though has  “come to appreciate the Fall Colors … here.”
He said that getting there, was fraught with stops along the Tioga Road (CA-120E) where the trees were “mostly ‘At Peak’ or a little ‘past peak’,” depending on elevation, though when he descended Tioga Pass to Log Cabin Road, he found it “At Peak and brilliant!”

Log Cabin Rd., Mono County (10/13/18) Gene Miller

Log Cabin Rd., Mono County (10/13/18) Gene Miller

Sherwin Creek Campground, Mono County (10/14/18) Gene Miller

Sherwin Creek Campground, Mono County (10/14/18) Gene Miller

Spent aspen, June Lake Loop (10/13/18) Gene Miller

Silver Lake, June Lake Loop (10/14/18) Gene Miller

June Lake (10/14/18) Gene Miller

Silver Lake, June Lake Loop (10/14/18) Gene Miller

June Lake Loop (10/14/18) Gene Miller

Silver Lake, June Lake Loop (10/14/18) Gene Miller

On Sunday, he was impressed by color along the June Lake Loop and at Silver Lake, but realized areas like Sherwin Creek Campground at Mammoth Lakes were Past Peak and loosing leaves. 

  • Tioga Pass (9,943′) – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Log Cabin Rd. (7,545′)- Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • June Lake Loop(7,654′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Sherwin Creek Campground, Mammoth Lakes (7,600′) – Peak to Past Peak, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!

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Ducky at Silver Lake

Mallard ducks, Silver Lake, June Lake Loop (10/14/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono Lake Tourism

A mating pair of Mallard Ducks enjoyed a rest from their southbound migration Saturday at Silver Lake on the June Lake Loop where fall color is Near Peak. Now, isn’t that just ducky? 

  • Silver Lake (7,200′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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June is Busting Out All Over

June Lake (10/13/18) Bruce Wendler

June Lake Loop (10/13/18) Todd Backman

Grant Lake, June Lake Loop (10/13/18) Todd Backman

It’s time to scream, “GO NOW to June Lake,” as June is busting out all over.

Cell phone snaps sent from Bruce Wendler and Todd Backman show Patchy to Near Peak conditions along the June Lake Loop.

Wendler assessed some stands as Peaking, while others were solidly Near Peak. 

  • June Lake – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

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Good To Go

Thumbs Up for Autumn, Rock Creek (9/13/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek Lake (9/13/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek (9/13/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Reports from the Eastern Sierra indicate that autumn color is good to go up the canyons with peak color starting to appear near 10,000′.

It happens quickly in late September, as days shorten and temperatures drop. So, be prepared for possible Near Peak at high elevations there, by the first day of autumn.

Josh Wray, of Mammoth Lakes, drove south to Rock Creek (southern Mono County) to capture what was happening up the canyon, and though it was still Just Starting for most of the canyon, more than enough Near Peak color could be seen along the Hilton Lake Trail at 10,300′.

Aspen, Silver Lake (9/3/18) Cindy Hoover

Willow, Silver Lake (8/31/18) Cindy Hoover

Color spotter Cindy Hoover explored the June/Mono Lake region of Mono County earlier in the week, reporting that Silver Lake is where early color is visible with willows full of gold and singled-out aspen branches bright yellow, while the rest of the trees remain green, but noticeably lighter than a few weeks ago.

Near Mono Lake, Cindy was wowed by a spectacular display of rabbit brush, carpeting the high plains toward a pink-orange sunset.

Krisdina Karady of Parcher’s Resort on the South Fork of Bishop Creek reported that color is still Just Starting, with some aspen branches carrying golden color, but most of the trees remain dark green to lime. A complete report is expected this coming week. 

Near Peak (50-75%) – Hilton Lakes Trail (10,300′)

Just Starting (0-10%) – Rock Creek (9,500′)

Just Starting (0-10%) – June Lake Loop (7,654′)

Just Starting (0-10%) – Mono Lake, South Tufa (6,378′)

Just Starting (0-10%) – Bishop Creek Canyon (Parcher’s Resort – 9,260′)

Rabbit Brush, Mono Lake S Tufa (9/6/18) Cindy Hoover