Monday, September 29, 2014

A Preview of Sierra Fall Colors - September 2014

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We pulled to the side of the highway at Luther Pass through the small snow berm from the recent plowing. It was still dark this early Saturday morning. This was a handy spot; a usual stop, a reminder of our first wake up cup of coffee we had started the trip with. It was quiet on the road as we continued on our way. The day was just coming alive with light as we dropped out of the West Fork Carson River Canyon, and out of the snow, driving down highway 88 toward Gardnerville. The welcome familiar scent of wet sage hung heavy in the air. It was delightful, woke us anew, and made us feel at home.

The clouds hung low in the sky. Rain drizzled in the valleys, grew more steady in the higher country, and turned to light snow at 7500 feet. There was little wind and we moved in and out of fog as we continued south on 395. We had breakfast at the Hays Street Cafe in Bridgeport. The small storm backed up against the Sierra crest had kept most deer hunters home this weekend. One large pack of modern day sportsmen shared a large table together inside the small warm cafe. Times had certainly changed from when I was a young lad and my Dad taught me to hunt. This was the type of weather we hoped for in the good old days. But now, with my hunting days behind me, it was exactly the type of weather that would allow us a quiet weekend in the mountains during deer season.

We have a lot going on in our lives, especially with getting the Lady's parents settled amid major life changes. Since our quick return from our summer trip, Mom is now in a nursing home, we have Dad in a retirement apartment, their home is up for sale, and belongings sorted through. It is still ongoing and it takes its toll and when we have the opportunity to get away, even for just overnight, we grab it.

We were just going to wander this Saturday. We'd poke around and get a feel for how fall was coming to the high country. Our first stop was up Upper Summer Meadows Road. Snow greeted us as we wandered among the aspen starting to put on their new wardrobe of fall color.

The aspen along Dunderburg Meadow Road are also turning.

We ventured up to Virginia Lakes. The wet weather did not impact the number of fishermen or hikers much. It was still fairly busy and a Forest Service crew was working on new trailhead signage. We continued down into the Mono Basin and headed up Lundy Canyon. The Lady wanted to explore up the trail and look at this access point into the Hoover Wilderness and the climb into the Twenty Lakes Basin, an area we have enjoyed hiking in. Lundy Canyon is coming alive with color but is not at its peak.

Many photographers were about. The annual migration is starting in search of color. We walked back down the trail with one gentleman who told us, in his opinion, the South Lake area above Bishop was now at its stunning peak. We should go there now, today, or we would be too late. He had been there this morning and was driving back as soon as he reached the trailhead.

We headed back up Conway Summit and returned to Dunderburg Meadows Road. We'd stay overnight at what we call Ted's Camp on the north lateral moraine above Virginia Creek. In the late afternoon we watched the fog move across the landscape.

The breeze brought light snow. We returned to the camper and the luxury of a forced air furnace, our idea of complete decadence. As the snow brushed across the windows, afternoon coffee and reading aloud the latest fishing story from my cousin - this one about fishing the Lower Deschutes - was prefect relaxation. We walked in the night before turning in. The dusting of snow on the ground brightened the night and along with the sweet smell of wet sage and the singing of nearby coyotes held us from quickly returning to the camper. This quick trip was working its magic on us.

We thought it may clear during the night. The lady reported stars on one trip outside. We were prepared for lower overnight temps but it only dropped to 30°. We were shrouded in fog in the early morning. I was out and about before the sun.

The Lady joined me just as the light changed in the east.

Would the sun cut through the fog?

We enjoyed breakfast outside in our chairs as we continued to watch this spectacular morning unfold.

There was one group of aspen I was hoping to catch with blue sky behind. After breaking camp, we headed north.

As we continued toward home, clouds again engulfed us. Theresa asked us if we were going to brave dining outside as we stopped at Walker Burger for lunch. Of course we were. She said it was very quiet this Sunday. We were order number one. Rain turned to snow at the top of Monitor Pass although the ground was bare. We continued in light rain as far as home. But home is a relative term, we had been home all weekend. That smell of wet sage reaffirmed it over and over again.

1 comment:

  1. Stunning photos -- some of your best ever! Thanks so much for posting this.