Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Eastern Sierra Fall Color: Going, Going…

… and soon gone, especially if you are looking for aspens.

I follow a bunch of reports on the net (including the Calphoto fall color report) and it is clear from the reports and my own visits over the past few weeks that the aspen show in the eastern Sierra is for the most part over – although there are scattered reports of a few good groves here and there, mostly at lower altitudes and some further north in the range.

What’s left? While the aspens are my primary interest in early October, there are other spectacular subjects elsewhere. I especially like some of the lowland trees and meadows/pastures in the valleys east of the Sierra, Owens Valley in particular. The area just north of Bishop (Round Valley?) nestles up against a steep portion of the eastern Sierra escarpment and features beautiful pastures and trees that were just turning last week.

The lower country in the western foothills also begins to provide some great color this time of year. Oaks and dogwoods are starting to turn. (As I drove out of Yosemite after dark last weekend I could see that there were some extensive groves of colorful dogwoods.) I love visiting Yosemite Valley around the last weekend of October or possibly the first weekend of November when the colors there are spectacular. (I have a hunch that erring on the early side will be a good idea this year.)


October 13, 2007 Posted by | Commentary, Sierra Nevada | Comments Off on Eastern Sierra Fall Color: Going, Going…

A Cancelled Trip

By tradition, I join a group of backpacking friends almost every year for an “end of season” pack trip in mid-October. The usual plan is to head to Tuolumne Meadows late on a Friday and hike, either that night or the next morning, to the Fletcher Lake – Vogelsang High Sierra Camp area. However, mid-October Sierra plans must be subject to change…

… and this time the plans changed.

It has been a bit of an unusual fall in the Sierra so far. It isn’t uncommon to get a dusting of snow or two in late September or the first half of October, but more typical weather this time of year includes lots of beautiful golden sunshine. However, this year we’ve seen a string of early Pacific storms pass over the Sierra. I’ve been up there on each of the past two weekends to photograph aspens in the eastern Sierra, and both times I had to concern myself with temporary closures of the higher trans-Sierra passes. (On the plus side, I’ve also been able to include newly fallen snow in many of the photographs.)

Yesterday, my plan was to leave the south SF Bay Area by about 2:00 and arrive at Tuolumne by 6:30 or so, at which point I would shoulder my pack and start up the Rafferty Creek trail in the fading light and complete the hike using a headlamp. (I’ve done this before – it has its pluses and minuses, but mostly pluses…)

However, this morning finds me sitting at home on a couch typing on my computer instead. Another front came though yesterday, dropping quite a bit of rain in the Bay Area. Knowing that the Park Service folks close Tioga Pass Road if there is even a slight dusting of snow this time of year, I was concerned that I wouldn’t make it to Tuolumne. I might have, but they did close the road by about 8:30. In that case, my hike would have been in snow flurries. At night. With no moon. Alone.

While that situation does have its attractions (I’m strange that way… ;-) the sensible part of me said, “no.”

Knowing that the Yosemite dogwoods are turning fall colors right now and that the road is likely to be open and clear by tomorrow and that it will close soon for the winter, I may just do a quick up-and-back trip on Sunday.

For now, I think I’ll have another espresso… :-)

October 13, 2007 Posted by | Trips | Comments Off on A Cancelled Trip


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