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Death Valley Crossing

Lone Pine (11/25/18) Crys Black

The story of the first crossing of Death Valley is an epic tale of ’49ers who attempted a late autumn trek from the Great Salt Lake to California’s gold fields by way of the “Old Spanish Trail,” which was purported to travel around the southern end of the Sierra.

By the time they neared Death Valley, they’d run out of water, abandoned their wagons, and killed their oxen and horses for sustenance. An early snow storm provided life-saving water.

Only one of the party, which had split into separate groups, died along the route, but as they made their way west over the Panamint Range, someone is said to have turned back to look upon the deep valley they’d struggled to cross and proclaimed, “Goodbye, Death Valley.”

And so, the valley was named.

Northern California color spotter Crys Black made her own Death Valley crossing over the Thanksgiving Day weekend. She wrote, “After struggling to get to the Eastern Sierra on Wednesday night, we enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving at The Rafters in Mammoth Lakes.

“Foiled from traversing desert trails due to road closures, we went down Lower Rock Creek Rd and were stunned to see some color still hanging in that little community near the bottom that calls itself Paradise with these photos taken near the Lower Rock Creek Trail Lower Trailhead.

“Suddenly hopeful, we spent the weekend around Death Valley. Beatty, NV, home to wild donkeys, and Lone Pine were both in full and glorious peak color.

“We were terribly thankful to have been at the right places to continue to enjoy a continuing, wonderful fall color season,” Crys concluded.

We turn back and add, “Goodbye, Fall Color.” 

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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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Skate Skiing to Peak

Skate Skiing, Rock Creek Rd. (10/11/18) Josh Wray

Skate Skiing, Rock Creek Rd. (10/11/18) Josh Wray

Skate Skiing, Rock Creek Rd. (10/11/18) Josh Wray

True to Mammoth Lakes’ 360-degree adventure theme, skate skiers have invented another new way to experience autumn, by skate skiing past boulevards of fall color on  Eastern Sierra canyon roads.

Mammoth Lakes is now virtually skating to Peak color, with GO NOW conditions at all canyon locations from Mammoth Lakes south to Rock Creek Rd.

A Fall Color Instameet is planned at Convict Lake on Saturday. For details, CLICK HERE

McGee Creek (10/11/18) Josh Wray

Here’s what’s happening:

  • Convict Lake (10/11/18) Josh Wray

    Crowley Lake (10/11/18) Josh Wray

    McGee Creek (10/11/18) Josh Wray

    McGee Creek (10/11/18) Josh Wray

    McGee Creek (10/11/18) Josh Wray

    McGee Creek (10/11/18) Josh Wray

    McGee Creek (10/11/18) Josh Wray

    Mammoth Lakes Basin  (8,900ft+) – Peak to Past Peak – GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT! – There’s still plenty of color around Twin Lakes. Though, the trees on the backside of Lake George are just about finished and will most likely be gone by the end of the weekend.

  • Laurel Canyon (8,500′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – 4WD high clearance vehicle required.
  • Convict Lake  (8,000’+) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – It’s finally “Go” time at Convict Lake. It’s only going to get better over the coming week.
  • McGee Creek  (8,000’+) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – McGee Creek is gorgeous. There’s lots of green, so this area will be at peak for a couple more weeks. Nevertheless, GO NOW!
  • Crowley Lake  (7,000’+) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Beautiful Colors are starting to fill the town of Crowley. Worth driving through town when traveling south from McGee to Rock Creek.
  • Rock Creek  (8,000’+)  Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!- Some groves are at peak. Others are off to a slow start. The lower half of Rock Creek Rd. is stunning while above 9,000′ it is Past Peak. Colder nighttime temps have helped speed the process. 

 

 

 

 

 

McGee Creek (10/11/18) Josh Wray

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Fire and Ice

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

It snowed today in the Eastern Sierra, providing the spectacular image of fiery-orange aspen against snow-coated sawtooth peaks.

Mammoth Lakes color spotter Josh Wray, lucky guy, was there and could only describe it with one word, “Gorgeous!”

Well, truth be known, he needed three words, also writing, “Wow!” and “Stunning.” Not even Ernest Hemingway could have said it better. 

  • Rock Creek  (8,500’+) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Josh wrote, “Wow. Just wow!” The colors are still pretty green below 8,500′ but above that, it’s stunning and made even more dramatic when contrasted against the snow-covered Eastern Sierra.
  • Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,000’+) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – -–  Colors in the Mammoth Lakes Basin are still bright and vibrant. Definitely worth stopping by Lake George, then making your way back through Twin Lakes.
  • McGee Creek Canyon (8,600’) – Patchy (10-50) –Not a whole lot happening here at the moment. Colors should change in the next couple of days as nighttime temps drop to the 20’s at night.
  • Convict Lake (7850′)- Patchy (10-50) – Similar to McGee Creek, this location is off to a slow start. Should pick up in the next few days. Colors are quite beautiful up high in the canyon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McGee Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Convict Lake, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

 

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Sky High Over Mammoth

Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Agnew Lake, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Mammoth Lakes Basin (9/25/18) Josh Wray

In a week, Mammoth Lakes has transitioned from Patchy to Peaking. And, Mammoth Lakes color spotter Josh Wray was sky high over it.

To see it all, he rode an exhilarating scenic flight with SkyTime Helicopter Tours out of the Mammoth Airport. Then, returned to earth to hike with a friend around lakes and along trails that are natural boulevards through bright yellow arbors of rustling aspen leaves.

Josh reports that fall color has matured quickly and though it will likely remain good for at least another week, we’re declaring Mammoth Lakes as a GO NOW! destination and the Rainbow Falls trail as this week’s Hike of the Week.

This is big country. Hikes can vary from heart thumping to easy romantic strolls. Josh recommends, “Head up to Lake George an hour after sunrise for the best light.”  Or do as Josh did and get above it all on a helicopter tour. Anyway you experience Mammoth, it’s a 360-degree adventure. 

Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,000′ and Up!) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! 

Lake George, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Aspen, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake George, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

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Hike of the Week: Rock Creek Lake

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

For the most developed color, the loop around Rock Creek Lake in southern Mono County (Eastern Sierra) gets this week’s nod as Hike of the Week. A photograph taken earlier in the week shows some of the beauty to be seen this weekend.

Though, there are plenty of other inviting trails to explore, as depicted by Will Ridgeway who hiked several trails to Lake Sherwin, at Convict Lake and at Lake Sabrina last weekend, returning with this compact portfolio of developing color. (Click photos to enlarge)  

Sherwin Lake (9/15/18) Will Ridgeway

Sherwin Lake (9/15/18) Will Ridgeway

Convict Lake (9/15/18) Will Ridgeway

Sabrina Approach (9/16/18) Will Ridgeway

Lake Sabrina (9/16/18) Will Ridgeway

 

 

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360-Degrees of Summer

Here’s one last look at summer as it transitions through autumn toward winter at Mammoth Lakes. 

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Mammoth Autumn Events Planned

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

The Town of Mammoth Lakes’ plans for fall festivals is absolutely Woolly! Here’s what’s ahead:

For more about what’s happening in Mammoth Lakes, download a Mammoth Lakes Visitor Guide or view the online Eastern Sierra Fall Color Guide

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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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It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Autumn

Twin Lakes Waterfall, Mammoth Lakes Basin (9/6/18) Josh Wray

As long as we’re in the singing mood, how about turning Johnny Mathis’ classic upside down.

No, it’s not beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but it is beginning to feel a lot like Autumn, Mammoth Lakes color spotter Josh Wray reports. “It’s really starting to feel like the early days of fall in Mammoth Lakes now with summer crowds calming down and temperatures dropping at night.”

He visited the Mammoth Lakes Basin a couple of days ago, “…to see what it’s looking like up there, and it was gorgeous. There were traces of yellow aspen leaves off in the distance but nothing to report on quite yet.”

The color seen in the photo at left are grasses ringing the Twin Lakes. Otherwise, there’s little fall color yet to be seen at 8,500′ in the Eastern Sierra. 

Just Starting (0-10%) – Mammoth Lakes (8,500′)