Two weeks ago we headed out to the east side for a casual, relaxing fall colors weekend. Of course, at the last minute, Sooz and I decided to climb Mt Morgan, a really fun and easy nearly-14k peak. It wasn’t necessarily so easy for us since we weren’t prepared or acclimated, but the terrain and route finding was straightforward enough that the acclimation was really our only enemy. I explain the route in the captions in my images in my Smugmug album, so if you’re interested head over there for a peek. Here are a few shots of the climb – definitely a worthwhile summit!
Happy fall! Up until Saturday, I was still functioning in 100% summer mode – summer can’t quite possibly be over, right? Although I wasn’t really ready for it, on Friday we hopped in the truck and headed out to 395 to check out the colors. It was absolutely glorious and I insist that you all check it out NOW! I say NOW not because I think you don’t have anything else to do, but because the cold system that is coming in right now is bringing high winds along for the ride, and I’m afraid it may ruin the lovely show that the aspens are putting on.
So without further ado, here is a rundown of the places I got to check out. I have tons of raw photo data to process so it may be a while before most photos are posted, but these should give you an idea what you can see right now.
June Lake (update 9/26 and 9/28)
After driving out Friday night and crashing at Glass Creek campground, we started off on Saturday morning along the June Lake Loop. The aspens were still pretty much green, with occasional bursts of yellow. It was nothing too exciting, so after a few half-hearted photos in a greenish-yellow grove, we decided to fish Rush Creek instead. Today (Monday), when driving north along 395, I looked over towards the Loop and saw a blanket of orange on the hillside above Silver Lake. I don’t know if it was there on Saturday – might not be visible from the loop itself. Unfortunately, the time of day was horrible for light, so we didn’t stop to photograph the distant mountainside.
Rock Creek (update 9/26)
After the complete bust at June Lake (both colors and fish), we headed up Rock Creek. Here, the colors were much better. Still green in the lower groves, the colors started to pop as we worked our way up to Mosquito Flat. Bright yellows, oranges, and occasional blots of red lined the road and mountainsides. We parked at the trailhead and hiked through Little Lakes Valley all the way to Morgan Pass, but unfortunately the colors through here were brown and bland – if you want a pretty hike it’s great, but if you want fall colors, stick to the upper half of Rock Creek Road, between the middle campgrounds and the trailhead at Mosquito Flat.
Lake Sabrina and North Lake (Bishop Creek) (update 9/27)
They are both peaking right now. They will be done by next weekend, especially with the weather system that is currently coming through. Below the lakes (Aspendell), the trees are still fairly green, but I don’t know if they’ll have a chance to turn before being frozen/windblown. Go NOW! We spent about 6 hours Sunday morning at Sabrina – first when the colors were shaded and contrasty, and later as the sunlight made everything glow. The colors around the lakeshore and on the surrounding mountainsides made for some fantastic big-mountain photography, and also for some closer in, more intimate reflection shots. North Lake probably has the most variety – greens near the lake fade to deep reds above, making for some interesting reflection shots in the lake. It’s perfect – in case I didn’t mention it, go NOW!
(Note: I spent so much of the day up at Sabrina and North Lake, I didn’t get a chance to check out South Lake. Oh no!)
McGee Creek (update 9/28)
Although the area around Bishop Creek is absolutely beautiful in its peak right now, my favorite stop of the weekend was McGee Creek. After spying a streak of orange on the flanks of Mount Baldwin from 395, we headed up to the trailhead, grabbed our cameras, and threw on the daypacks. McGee Creek is a lovely and easy trail and as we strolled along the colors and views just got better. The aspens are in every phase up there – from bright green to deep orangey-red – and with the contrast of the unique bands of rock on Baldwin, there are breathtaking views to be had and photos to be taken. This is the canyon for the ‘big mountain’ photos – I made good use of my 18mm wide angle up here. Make sure to hit this one late morning – too early and you’ll have some annoying shadows to deal with, but too late and you’ll lose the contrast of the mountain’s colors.
It’s a great year for colors – I hope they hold on through this weather system. Go now and have a great time!