Fall Colors
Fall Colors

Last weekend we did a quick trip to the Eastern Sierra to do some leaf peeping. Reports were coming in that the colors were peaking early, so we thought we’d check it out.

What we found was a weird year for fall colors. It seems that everything is either still bright green or already browning, without much in between. We found scattered groves of bright colors and got some nice photos, but then the storm came in.

The forecast on Saturday morning was a 20% chance of precip with snow at higher elevations, but not enough to stick. By the time we were on the east side the chance had upped to 85% and snow was falling. The forecast for Bishop was dry, however, so we planned on camping around there. Unfortunately that 0% didn’t hold and we were rained on pretty good for a few hours on Saturday night. Meanwhile, snow was falling at higher elevations.

Sunday on the road into Virginia Lakes
Sunday on the road into Virginia Lakes

Sunday morning was clear and there was a relatively heavy blanket of snow on the peaks above us. All the passes were closed, so we had two options for getting home: head the loooong south route, or drive north towards the passes and hope they opened up during the day. Since the roads are still open for backpacking, camping, and hunting, we figured they’d be quick to open the passes since people would otherwise be stranded. It was a smart bet: we got to the gate at Sonora Pass about 45 minutes before it was opened. That 45 minutes was a lot less than the extra hours it would have taken to go another way!

Below are photos from several locations to give you an idea of fall color conditions this past weekend: Rock Creek, North Lake, Lake Sabrina, South Lake, and Virginia Lakes (this last location was on Sunday after the snow had fallen). Unfortunately, I think the storm might have killed off a lot of potential for a good color year. It wiped out a lot of the leaves that had already turned, and I’m not sure how well the green ones survive a snow storm and if there is any chance for them to turn.

For more photos, check out the full album over on my photos page.

Rock Creek

Above Rock Creek Lake
Above Rock Creek Lake
Above Rock Creek Lake
Above Rock Creek Lake

North Lake

On the Road to North Lake
On the Road to North Lake
North Lake: green and brown
North Lake: green and brown

Sabrina

At 'Lake' Sabrina - which has been drained!
At ‘Lake’ Sabrina – which has been drained!
A long gone grove below the lake. This was pre-storm.
A long gone grove below the lake. This was pre-storm.

South Lake

South Lake is also dry
South Lake is also dry
Color below South Lake
Color below South Lake

Virginia Lakes

Small grove of color below Virginia Lakes
Small grove of color below Virginia Lakes
The best grove of the weekend: Dunderberg Meadow Road
The best grove of the weekend: Dunderberg Meadow Road

 

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  1. Brett William Bayley

    awesome report. me and my buddy were out at Midnight Lake this same weekend, so we enjoyed some nice colors from Sabrina on up. was unexpectedly early as you mention.
    we missed the snow-electing to leave a day early after getting blown around by 50MPH+ winds at 11K the night before and knowing the forescast. kinda regretting it a bit after seeing your pics.

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