Posts

,

Freeway of Love

Bigleaf maple, Moccasin, CA-89, Plumas County (10/27/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Black oak, CA-89, Crescent Mills (10/27/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

There’s something about taking a long, slow weekend drive in a classic Cadillac, especially on a beautiful autumn day.

Roll down the windows and take in the sweet smells of autumn leaves as they tumble about you.

I recall drives like that in my mother’s two-toned mint/forest green ’56 Sedan de Ville with satin brocade seats.

Dad had gotten it for a song after it was returned to a dealership when its sale went bad.  Suddenly, everyone thought we were rich and snooty. Neither was true, though mom liked to pretend that we had more than we really had.

Indian Creek, CA-89, Crescent MIlls, Plumas County (10/27/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

To a kid, mom’s Cadillac was magical. The lights would dim automatically when cars approached. In other cars, the driver would stomp on a floorboard button to dim them. The gas cap was hidden under one of the tail lights. You pushed a reflector to open the fin-shaped dome. And, at 214.5 inches long, there was plenty of leg room for a kid, two kids, three kids, a whole Pack of Cub Scouts, and no seat belts.

In the ’60s, Cadillac was the automotive brand most mentioned in songs. I found a couple of dozen songs that mentioned or were about Caddys, before I gave up counting. Cadillac still holds the number three position for most songs ever written about a car, and they’re some of the best songs ever written. Sure, Brian Wilson wrote “Little Honda,” which is a great song, but it’s about a motorbike, not about a Civic.

So, what do my reminiscences about Cadillacs have to do with fall color? Only that Plumas County color spotter Jeff Luke Titcomb is like me. He knows there’s little in life better than listening to old songs as you slow-drive an oldie-but-goodie down a country road past fall color. And, he did it along the backroads and byways of Plumas County in his classic Caddy, this weekend. 

Now, let’s roll down the window, let that warm/crisp autumn air blow our cares away and listen as Aretha sings …

“Oh, we got some places to see
I brought all the maps with me
So jump right in, it ain’t no sin
Take a ride in my machine
 … “

— Aretha Franklin, Freeway of Love

  • Indian Valley, Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Round Valley, Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Black oak, Round Valley Reservoir, Greenville, Plumas County (10/27/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

, ,

Less To Cheer About

June Lake Loop (10/24/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

McGee Creek (10/24/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Color spotters may have less to cheer about Sunday afternoon, should strong winds (20 – 30 mph) blow across the High Sierra and Cascades, as now predicted.

Locations shown in this article were photographed within the past week. Today (Fri., Oct. 26), tomorrow (Sat., Oct 27) and Sunday morning (Oct. 28) may be the last days to raise your arms in celebration at these locations, if it is windy on Sunday afternoon.

So, if you wanted to see peak color this autumn at Mono County, Lake Tahoe or Plumas County, change your plans and GO NOW! 

McGee Creek (10/24/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Convict Lake (10/24/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

In anticipation of changing peak areas, we’ve shifted the weather forecast on this site from Mammoth Lakes to Quincy. When judging weather (temp., precip., wind), please keep this in mind.

Should high winds arrive Sunday afternoon, peaked leaves will be stripped quickly from the trees and the peak color you see in these photos will be gone.

That does not mean, however, that California’s autumn show will end.

Trees still carrying green, lime or freshly yellow leaves will not lose many from the wind. And, areas not yet at Peak will continue to develop fall color. They include the: Western Sierra (Yosemite NP, Sequoia NP, Kings Canyon NP, Calaveras Big Trees SP) , Southern California mountains, Trinity County, North Coast, Gold Country, all wine country regions, Central Valley orchards and California’s urban forests.

Nevertheless, if you want to see June Lake, Lake Tahoe, or Plumas County this autumn, get there before Sunday afternoon. Any later and we may be reporting, YOU MISSED IT! 

Conway Summit (10/24/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

(10/24/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Conway Summit (10/24/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Beaver Ponds, Lundy Canyon (10/24/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Aspen, June Lake Loop (10/24/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Cyclists, June Lake Loop (10/24/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/24/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

June Lake Loop (10/24/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Silver Lake, June Lake Loop (10/24/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twin Lakes, Mono County (10/21/18) Rodney Chai

Conway Summit (10/21/18) Rodney Chai

McGee Creek Canyon (10/21/18) Rodney Chai

McGee Creek Campground (10/21/18) Rodney Chai

Lundy Canyon (10/20/18) Crys Black

Upper Summers Meadow (10/20/18) Crys Black

Upper Summers Meadow (10/20/18) Crys Black

Twin Lakes, Mono County (10/20/18) Crys Black

Luther Pass, CA-89 (10/20/18) John King

Luther Pass, CA-89 (10/20/18) John King

Luther Pass, CA-89 (10/20/18) John King

Black oak, Greenville (10/21/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Black oak, Greenville (10/21/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Black oak, Hideaway Motel, Greenville (10/21/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Black oak, Hideaway Motel, Greenville (10/21/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

,

Legends and the Land

Keddie Ridge, Plumas County (10/21/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

All cultures pass stories and legends from generation to generation. Some are related to religious or origin beliefs, others to civil or moral codes. Some are intended as guidance to children, while others are of family or tribal history.

California native people retold many legends about land features, and it is impossible to scout for fall color without being at places that were described in these legends.

When filing a report about fall color in the Indian Valley, Jeff Luke Titcomb mentioned “Indian Head” a feature of Keddie Ridge in Plumas County that is now skirted with golden yellow maples and orange/yellow oaks, saying the Mountain Maidu people of Northeast California tell stories of its origin.

In Jeff’s picture above, rock outcroppings on the ridge resemble the face and body of a sleeping man. According to Mountain Maidu legend, an ancient giant once traveled the world measuring the depths of lakes and streams. After measuring a lake atop the ridge, he was so fatigued that he lay down to rest and fell into a deep sleep. He never awoke, and his reclining figure is seen to this day. According to Maidu elders, when he eventually awakes, it will mark the end of our time on Earth.

By learning legends, such as this, we enrich our search for fall color, gain a greater connection to the places we visit, better appreciate the cultures that preceded us, and sustain their memory.

To know more about Mountain Maidu legends that are connected to auto tours of Plumas County’s Indian Valley, CLICK HERE

,

One Fine Day

Courthouse Park, Quincy (10/21/18) Michael Beatley

Courthouse Park, Quincy (10/21/18) Michael Beatley

Plumas County Veterans Memorial, Courthouse Park, Quincy (10/21/18) Michael Beatley

Plumas County Superior Court, Quincy (10/21/18) Michael Beatley

Yesterday was one fine day in Quincy.

I got there about noon, and it was beautiful. I could see, however, that it would get better later that day. Regretably, I had a schedule to keep that didn’t involve lingering to see it.

Michael Beatley didn’t have the same restriction and got there in the late afternoon, to capture Quincy at its best.

Plumas County’s fall color is everywhere you drive, right now. It rolls over ridges and down hillsides in avalanches of muted orange, auburn and yellow.

Along highways that wind through Plumas National Forest, sparkling splashes of lemony yellow and deep gold appear at every turn.

Black oak are an emerging blend of evolving green, yellow and orange leaves.

Country villages like Greenville virtually glow from towering, iridescent-yellow Fremont cottonwood and pop with spots of hot red.

As for Quincy, I was lucky to be there on one fine day (my photos will appear in a separate post).

Sky-scraping crimson, orange, electric yellow and lime foliage crowned the town’s skyline on approach. Once in Quincy, the color was everywhere. Though, the Thieler Tree, Quincy’s famous sugar maple, had just passed Peak. Its red and orange leaves had curled and were sprinkled like confetti at the corner of Lee Way and West High St.

Peak color will continue to be seen through this week, but will weaken slowly throughout town as more leaves fall.

Plumas County, on the other hand, has two more weeks of peak, conditions permitting. 

  • Quincy – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Quincy (10/21/18) Michael Beatley

Quincy (10/21/18) John Poimiroo

Plumas County Superior Court, Quincy (10/21/18) John Poimiroo

Courthouse Park, Quincy (10/21/18) John Poimiroo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quincy (10/21/18) John Poimiroo

Plumas County Superior Court, Quincy (10/21/18) John Poimiroo

Courthouse Park, Quincy (10/21/18) John Poimiroo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courthouse Park, Quincy (10/21/18) Michael Beatley

Quincy (10/21/18) Michael Beatley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quincy (10/21/18) John Poimiroo

Feather River Hot Springs (10/21/18) John Poimiroo

Plumas County Superior Court Annex, Quincy (10/21/18) John Poimiroo

, ,

Plumose Plumas

Community United Methodist Church, Quincy (10/20/18) Michael Beatley

Quincy (10/19/18)Ravi Ranganathan

Plumas County is absolutely beatific.

Peak fall color is brightening all its byways and Quincy, the county seat, has never looked better.

Michael Beatley, Phillip Reedy and Ravi Ranganathan have been working the byways, backroads and city streets of Quincy to show Plumas and its environs at plumose perfection.

Beatley describes Quincy as “gorgeous right now. Beautiful peak with blue skies, daytime temps low 70s, nights 25-32 degrees. The wonderful thing about Quincy, is that all its downtown power lines were buried years ago. No telephone poles. The whole town is full of beautiful foliage.”

To get this fabulous light, he was up at dawn to shoot historic Plumas Superior Courthouse and Community United Methodist Church bathed in color so angelic, it makes me want to genuflect.

Ravi began his photo safari in Quincy, but then traveled to Oakland Camp where “the rhubarbs were mirrored gloriously along Spanish Creek.”

Oakland Camp, Feather River (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

The highlight of Ravi’s Plumas County fall color excursion was a hike along the Cascades Trail “with beautiful colors all along. I hiked ’til I came upon a couple of wooden bridges. Looking down, the view of the stream was amazing with the fall colors reflected with gold.” (First Report)

Ravi’s fall color expedition included stops at Thompson Lake, Bucks Lake and Big Creek Road, all “filled with aspen, oak and maple. He had used CaliforniaFallColor.com to research the places he wanted to photograph and gave a nod of thanks to Michael Beatley and Jeff Luke Titcomb for additional guidance and inspiration.

What Ravi accomplished in capturing in a short amount of time was nothing short of astonishing, hitting a number of Plumas highlights.

Plumas County Superior Courthouse, Quincy (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Plumas County Superior Courthouse, Quincy (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Similar to Ranganathan’s photo tour, Reedy began in Quincy, then toured through the Lakes Basin and down Hwy 49 to Downieville along the north fork of the Yuba.

Phil said “Quincy looks lovely, although the maples at the courthouse still have a bit to go to reach full color. Perhaps another week will do it.” That’s good news for anyone reading this, as there’s a week to get there and still see it at peak, though as Ravi’s photographs show, aspen at Thompson Lake are dropping color.

One of the reasons Plumas County is such a great fall color destination is that a variety of trees show at one elevation in successive displays over about three weeks: first pink dogwood, then yellow aspen, then golden bigleaf maple, then multicolored exotics, and finally orange black oak.

Reedy said CA-70 from Quincy to Graeagle is showing “a lot of oaks at Peak color right now and very pretty. There are some aspens in the Lakes Basin area, but nothing too exciting when compared to areas like Hope Valley.”

Yuba River, Sierra City (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Salmon Creek, Sierra City (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Yuba River, Downieville (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Black oak, Quincy to Graeagle (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Black oak, Quincy to Graeagle (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Sardine Lake (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He continued, between 5,000 and 6,000′ along CA-49 east of Sierra City, “the aspens are definitely at peak or a bit beyond. Downstream between Sierra City and Downieville there are nice colors from big leaf maples, but I would guess another week will be needed to fully develop the colors.” 

  • Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Big Creek Rd., Plumas County (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Big Creek Rd., Plumas County (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Big Creek Rd., Plumas County (10/20/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Road to Buck’s Lake (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Thompson Lake, Plumas County (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Bucks Meadow, Plumas County (10/20/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Oakland Camp, Feather River (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Oakland Camp, Feather River (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Quincy (10/19/18)Ravi Ranganathan

Quincy (10/19/18)Ravi Ranganathan

Keddie Wye, (10/19/18) Plumas County Ravi Ranganathan

Sugar maple, (10/19/18) Thompson Ranch, Ravi Ranganathan

Plumas County Superior Courthouse, Quincy (10/20/18) Michael Beatley

, , ,

Indian Rhubarb – Darmera

Indian rhubarb, Rock Creek, Meadow Valley (10/18/18) Michael Beatley

Indian rhubarb, Rock Creek, Meadow Valley (10/18/18) Michael Beatley

Indian rhubarb, Rock Creek, Meadow Valley (10/18/18) Michael Beatley

Indian rhubarb, Rock Creek, Meadow Valley (10/18/18) Michael Beatley

One of California’s most spectacular native plants is Darmera, or Indian Rhubarb.

With its large, umbrella formed, orange-red leaves, it is spectacular when contrasted with wild blue streams and lush riparian foliage in the Shasta Cascade.

Plumas County color spotter, Michael Beatley visited “Rock Creek in Meadow Valley, which flows into Spanish Creek, which flows into the North Fork of the Feather River, which flows into the Sacramento river and on to San Francisco Bay.” Rock Creek and Spanish Creek were gold mining creeks in the 1860s.

To get to the most colorful examples of Darmera beside these creeks, you’ll need to hike to them. Begin by driving six miles west of Quincy along Bucks Lake Road toward Meadow Valley.

“Just before the park,” Michael explains (which park, he never said – but we figure there must be only one), “turn left onto the USFS dirt road at the sign that reads, ‘Deans Valley, Meadow Camp 2 miles.’ At the bridge is Meadow Camp, a National Forest campground which lies beside Rock Creek.  Hike downstream.  There are no trails; forge your own. The Indian Rhubarb is at Peak and just Past Peak. Gold pan, if you like. Best time is 10 a.m., as the sun crests the tree tops hitting the water. The  campground is dry and free. The road is dirt, bumpy, but accessible by car. This is a hiking spot for fall color, not a drive by.”

I tried to find the camp on Google maps, but could not. You’ll have to trust Michael’s directions to find it. This may just be the time to pack along a copy of the 3rd Edition of NOLS Wilderness Navigation by Gene Trantham and Darran Wells.

It’s NOLS’ official guide to finding your way in the outdoors, since no bread crumbs were otherwise left by Michael to follow. 

Indian rhubarb, Rock Creek, Meadow Valley (10/18/18) Michael Beatley

  • Indian Rhubarb, Rock Creek, Meadow Valley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

 

, ,

Sampling Chips

Chips Creek, Ben Lomond Trail, Plumas County (10/18/18) Chico Hiking Association

Chips Creek, Ben Lomond Trail, Plumas County (10/18/18) Chico Hiking Association

Bigleaf maple, Chips Creek, Ben Lomond Trail, Plumas County (10/18/18) Chico Hiking Association

The Chico Hiking Association dipped into Chips Creek along the Ben Lomond Trail (a section of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail) yesterday, to find bigleaf maple Patchy and black oak Just Starting.

Ben Lomond is an 7.9-mile, lightly trafficked, out-and-back trail beside Chips Creek, a tributary of the North Fork of the Feather River.

The trail is considered to be difficult with a 4,297-foot  gain along its length. Hikers rate it as excellent and scenic, though demanding.

The trailhead is in Beldon off CA-70 at the upper end of Rock Creek Reservoir (Feather River). After a short climb, the trail parallels Chips Creek. If you continue, it continues to climb, eventually descending to near the creek, which is a native trout stream.

Certainly, this isn’t a trail for casual color spotting, but for someone who wants a challenge, it’s rewarding. Therefore, for it’s beauty and challenge, the Ben Lomond Trail is named Hike of the Week.

Patchy bigleaf maple and black oak are seen along the hillsides and down to Chips Creek. There is nice gold and orange color among shrubs and small trees now (a wildfire burned the area in 2012), though the color will continue to improve over the coming two weeks. 

  • Ben Lomond Trail, Chips Creek (2,400′) – Patchy (10-50%)

, ,

California’s Crater Lake

Crater Lake Campground, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jason Paine

Crater Lake Campground, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jason Paine

Crater Lake Campground, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jason Paine

Crater Lake Campground, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jason Paine

Crater Lake Campground, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jason Paine

Crater Lake Campground, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jason Paine

California has a Crater Lake, too.

It’s not as big, as deep or as blue as Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park, but unlike the national park, hardly anyone is ever there.

It’s Crater Lake Campground in Lassen National Forest near Susanville.

The campground has 17 sites that rent for $10 each.

Groves of peaking aspen ring the lake, as shown in these shots in this First Report on Crater Lake submitted by Jason Paine.

Best of all, by camping there in autumn, you can say you visited Crater Lake and had it all to yourself. 

  • Crater Lake Campground (6,929′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

,

Road to Round Valley

Bigleaf maple, Round Valley (10/13/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Bigleaf maple, Round Valley (10/13/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Bigleaf maple, Round Valley (10/13/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

“Road to Round Valley,” sounds like it should be a country song, doesn’t it?

In my mind, I hear the “Yodeling Blonde Bombshell” Carolina Cotton, singing about losing her first love along that road “when a black oak stole his blackened heart.”

The pain of her loss just makes me saddle sore, though having seen these oaks at peak, I understand how her cowboy’s affections could be stolen so easily.

So, when Jeff Luke Titcomb sent images taken along the “Road to Round Valley” in Plumas County, the black oak, bigleaf maple, California ash and Pacific dogwood he’d photographed had me humming a cowboy melody as Carolina might sing, complete with mournful yodel.

Pacific dogwood, Round Valley (10/13/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

California ash, Round Valley (10/13/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Black oak, Round Valley (10/13/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Jeff writes, “The road to round valley is still waiting for the oaks to change and they still have some time to go. Dogwoods started early but slowed down when the rain came, but now the leaves are just dropping in some places most likely due to months of dry weather.”

The action appears to be among the bigleaf maple, “which are in full color.”

Perhaps in my reverie, Carolina wins her cowboy’s heart again “beneath the spreading branches of granny’s golden maple tree.” Brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it? 

  • Round Valley (4,692′) – Patchy (10-50%) – Bigleaf maple are Near Peak, though dogwood have slowed and black oak are weeks from peak.

 

 

,

Indian Falls: Short Hike 4 Color

Black oak, Indian Falls (10/12/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Indian rhubarb, Indian Falls (10/12/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

It’s a short hike from CA-89 to Indian Falls. So short, that Jeff Luke Titcomb walked there for a picnic lunch.

Indian Falls is a popular summer swimming hole (be cautious of ankle grabbing rocks), but in autumn it’s a convenient spot for a quick get away.

Black oak (Quercus kelloggii) that have grown between cracks among the boulders like larger bonsai trees, have turned bright red and orange. Mid October is an early Peak for black oak, which is more a Halloween tree.

In comparison, the bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) and Indian rhubarb (Darmera) near the creek are Patchy. Still, it’s worth the hike to see the oaks and enjoy a bit of solitude by Indian Creek. 

  • Black oak, Indian Falls (3,202′) – Peak – (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Indian rhubarb and Bigleaf maple, Indian Falls (3,202′) – Patchy (10-50%)

Indian Falls (10/12/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Black oak, Indian Falls (10/12/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Black oak, Indian Falls (10/12/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Indian rhubarb, Indian Falls (10/12/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Indian rhubarb, Indian Falls (10/12/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Indian rhubarb, Indian Falls (10/12/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb