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Airbrushed with Crimson

Davis Knotweed, Lassen Volcanic National Park (10/4/18) Shanda Ochs

Davis Knotweed, Lassen Peak Trail (10/4/18) Shanda Ochs

It almost appears as if the trailhead to Lassen Peak was airbrushed with crimson in this photograph by Shanda Ochs, taken yesterday afternoon.

The color, in fact, comes from Davis Knotweed (Aconogonon davisiae). There are 27 varieties of knotweed native to California. Douglas knotweed grows in Lassen Volcanic National Park at this elevation.

Shanda said, “It was spectacular with the fog which made the color pop!” The dusting of frost on the volcano adds to the photo’s drama.

Notice the golden-orange ground cover near the base of the trailhead. The source of that color remains unidentified. Though, Fall Color creds go to the first person to comment and identify it. 

Lassen Peak Trail, Lassen Volcanic National Park (8,200′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Davis Knotweed

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Shine On Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon, Lassen Peak (9/23/18) Chico Hiking Association

Mountain Maples and Oceanspray (9/24/18) Chico Hiking Association

Mountain Maples (9/24/18) Chico Hiking Association

Indian Rhubarb, Deer Creek, CA-32 (9/24/18) Chico Hiking Association

On its explorations yesterday, the Chico Hiking Association captured the harvest moon (the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox) rising over Lassen National Park.

A harvest moon is called such, because it puts out a lot of bright light in early evening, that has traditionally aided farmers with bringing in the harvest, the Old Farmer’s Almanac tells us.

Harvest moons also have the shortest difference in the time that they rise each day. Whereas in other months of the year, moons rise about 50 minutes apart on each successive day. Near the autumnal equinox, a harvest moon rises both near sunset and 30 minutes later than the previous day.

That is a yearly minimum difference which explains why it can appear that there are multiple full moons in a row. If you happened to photograph this year’s harvest moons, send images to We’d love to share them.

On its weekend explorations, CHA visited Elam Campground in Lassen National Forest (50 mi. east of Chico) where sunlight, not a harvest moon, illuminated the gold and orange foliage of Mountain Maple, Acer glabrum, and Oceanspray, Holodiscus discolor, formidable shrubs ( 5 to 20′ tall) that grow along rocky slopes.

Indian Rhubarb, Darmera, are approaching Near Peak beside CA-32 along Deer Creek.

Elsewhere in the Shasta Cascade Region, color spotter Jeff Titcomb sent the following snaps of a variety of native and exotic foliage exhibiting early peak color, including: California wild grape, firethorn (pyracantha), Pacific dogwood, bigleaf maple, and chokecherry. 

Elam Campground (4,380′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

California Wild Grape , Quincy (9/22/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Firethorn, pyracantha, Quincy (9/22/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Pacific dogwood, Quincy (9/22/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Bigleaf Maple. Greenville (9/22/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Bigleaf maple, Greenville (9/22/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Chokecherry, Greenville (9/22/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Chokecherry (9/22/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb



Meadows and Shrubs Are Where It’s At

Kings Creek Meadow, Lassen VNP (9/8/18) Shanda Ochs

Rock Spiraea (creambush), Lassen Peak, Lassen VNP (9/8/18) Shanda Ochs

California’s best end-of-summer/beginning-of-autumn color is being found in high meadows and wherever colorful shrubs grow.

At Lassen Volcanic National Park in northeast California, Kings Creek Meadow at 7,500′ in elevation is in the process of transitioning from gold to brown, while at 8,200′ at the base of Lassen Peak, Rock Spiraea (Petrophytum caespitosum – creambush) is tinted with dusty rose blooms, LVNP color spotter Shanda Ochs reports. 

Peak (75-100%) – Lassen Volcanic National Park – Meadow grasses and shrubs above 7,500′ in elevation are at peak color, though deciduous trees are still green.

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Upper Lassen and Shasta Counties Move Past Peak

Middle McCloud Falls (10/24/15) Dotty Molt

Middle McCloud Falls (10/24/15) Dotty Molt

Color Spotter Dotty Molt took a road trip last week up to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.  Along the route she took, Dotty spent a few hours in Shasta County, then continued north and back.

She reports that Susanville, Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta are now past peak with much of the route visibly diminished by drought.

She writes, “The effects of drought are everywhere, even up in Oregon.  The leaves are kind of crunchy orange, brown and muted yellow, with black spots.

“McCloud Falls, near Mt. Shasta is still beautiful, but smaller than I expected, and the foliage around it is past peak, especially in the streams,” she continues, scoring a First Report for her photo of Middle McCloud Falls.

Smoke has filled the air and cast a blue haze across many areas, making photos appear foggy.  Dotty notes that the color can be adjusted in post processing, though the smoke “makes everything look dull.”

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Susanville

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Lassen Peak

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Mt. Shasta – Some good color remains to be captured near middle McCloud Falls, but not for long.