Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yosemite Valley Fall Colors October 22, 2009

Yosemite Valley was crowded for a Thursday. ROADWORK - I got stuck waiting for a flagman to let a caravan of cars going thru between Crane Flat and the Foresta Road. 90% of the big-leaf maples are at peak, with some of the losing their leaves. The dogwoods are at peak around the 5000 to 6000 foot elevation along Highways 41 and 120, and there are some red ones there as well. In the valley the dogwoods are about 50% turned. Most of them are a light yellow and only a very few are pink or red. Best places were Curry Village, Valley View, and Fern Spring areas. The Oaks seem to turn fast, I’ve seen a lot more yellow in them than 6 days ago. All the leaves appear to barely hang on, a light breeze in the valley yesterday and they were dropping. The light was harsh when I got to the valley and I was not going to stay until 5PM. The Merced River Canyon is coming along with great colors as well, but time to shoot here is in the morning (before noon).


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Colorful Big-Leaf Maple along the Merced River – October 22, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


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Motion Blur – October 22, 2009. I have seen this before and wanted to try taking a photo while driving to create this blurry image. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


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Black Oak in the shadow of Giants – October 22, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .




Black Oak Leaves – October 22, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


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Dogwoods in Color – October 22, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


These (digital) photographs are not in the public domain! They may not be used on websites, blogs, or in any other media, they may not be copied, printed or otherwise reproduced in any manner or form, whether in whole or in part without explicit advance written permission from Inge Fernau

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Eastern Sierra Fall Colors October 22, 2009

I made one LAST whirlwind trip to the Eastern Sierra on Thursday, October 22. I had heard from Kahlee on Monday that there was still color at Silver Lake, but that is was also snowing up there. A cold snap can turn these precious leaves black over night. My goal was to visit the June Lake Loop and the Lee Vining Canyon. On the road at 3AM, a short stop at the Whoa Nellie Deli for my last breakfast to go in 2009 and then straight to Silver Lake. Saw a bunch of photog’s hiking up the Parker Peak hillside area. This one still had a lot of orange. It was 25°F at 7:45AM when I got out of my car and there were frozen leaves around the shores of the lake. A lot of the leaves had been blown off by the recent storms and the trees by the picnic area had mostly black leaves or were bare. Overall there was still some color to be found, but I had to look for it. It became difficult to keep brown or black leaves out of my frames.




A beauty amongst the frozen – October 22, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


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A Cold Morning at Silver Lake – October 22, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .




FROZEN – October 22, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


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Fall Color Reflection at Silver Lake – October 22, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .




Fall Color Reflection at Gull Lake – October 22, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


The Lee Vining Canyon was hit harder by the cold spells. About 75% of the jeaves had turned black or the trees were bare. At the start of the Poole Power Plant road there was a nice section of aspens, but there were black leaved ones as well. Other areas by the campgrounds were almost all black. I did not spend much time in the Lee Vining Canyon, as far as I am concerned fall is done here. There is a nice stand of Aspens on the way down to Lee Vining along highway 120 and another one just past the Tioga Lodge on US 395. I made the decision to drive back to the Yosemite Valley by 11:30AM.




Majestic View - Eastern Sierra – October 22, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .




Small Aspen Grove along highway 120 – October 22, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


On my way back over the Tioga Pass I came across a few aspen trees around the Yosemite Creek area and one that really lit up in the midday sun. It was along a turnout close to the Lukens Lake trail head parking. There are a couple of more niceAspen stands close by the Tuolumne Grove. The black oaks along the Tioga road are at peak.


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Aspen light up in the Midday Sun – October 22, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


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Aspen light up in the Midday Sun – October 22, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


You will find the continuation of my report on Yosemite here:


Yosemite Fall Colors October 22, 2009


These (digital) photographs are not in the public domain! They may not be used on websites, blogs, or in any other media, they may not be copied, printed or otherwise reproduced in any manner or form, whether in whole or in part without explicit advance written permission from Inge Fernau

Please visit my website for this and more. All images may be purchased or licensed in a range of sizes.


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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Yosemite Fall Colors October 17, 2009

It was a spur of the moment decision to drive to Yosemite on Saturday 10/17. My friends Susan and Jim saw the fall color reports and wanted to go. We were going to meet between 7 and 8 in the AM by the Yosemite Chapel. My trip started at 3:45AM and I was at the Chapel by 7:15AM. My friends arrived 15 minutes later. We drove around the valley for a while and parted shortly after 9:30AM, because they wanted to hike to Sentinel Dome and also photograph the famous Ansel Adams Tree (which has now toppled over).


Yosemite Valley has plenty of good color right now. The sugar maple is amazing and has colors of deep orange and leaves turning red (and there is still a hint of lime green). To me a must see. The black oak behind the chapel is just starting to turn. It appears that most of the bigleaf maples have turned bright yellow, but a few leaves are already brown. Some of the dogwoods in Curry Village have turned and show of a colorful yellow and one is already red. I saw a few more colorful trees, but for most part the dogwoods in the valley just starting to turn and the best is yet to come.


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Sugar Mapel – October 17, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


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Sugar Mapel – I used a flash and it really showed how the transion is progressing. - October 17, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


The Elm tree in Cooks meadow looked brown and the black oaks just started to turn here. The same is true for the oaks in the El Capitan meadow, they are just starting. I did see a few black oaks with yellow leaves as well as brown ones.
To kill time during the harsh light hours I drove hwy 41 all the way to Wawona and the color of the trees in the 1990 burn area past Wawona Tunnel View--awesome with all the reds. I found most of the color around the Wawona campground and the creek (Alder Creek?). There is some color along Glacier Point Road, but with all the construction there is no space to pull out, so I enjoyed the colors.
The dogwoods between the Crane Flat entrance station and the Merced Grove are in full fall color spectrum – yellow, lime green, orange and red.


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Dogwoods are Red – October 17, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


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Dogwoods Fall Color Spectrum – October 17, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


Also there are a lot of yellow trees in the talus slopes below Sentinel Rock. Other areas with color are at the junction of hwy 140 & 120 and across from the Cascade Falls.


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The Talus Slopes around the Sentinel Rock are dotted in Yellow – October 17, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


Some color can be found along the Merced River Canyon outside of Yosemite.


These (digital) photographs are not in the public domain! They may not be used on websites, blogs, or in any other media, they may not be copied, printed or otherwise reproduced in any manner or form, whether in whole or in part without explicit advance written permission from Inge Fernau

Please visit my website for this and more. All images may be purchased or licensed in a range of sizes.


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Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall Color Summery 2009

2009 brought a lot of changes for me. One of them was that I had to drop my usual plans to chase the Aspen fall colors in the Eastern Sierra because in April my contract with a Biotech firm was cancelled and I joined the oodles of unemployed on May 6th. Renting an SUV was not in the budget this year, so a lot of the dirt roads I would normally explore had to wait until another year.
I was able to squeeze in four trips to the Eastern Sierra and details from three of them can be found here:


Fall Colors September 23, 2009
Fall Colors September 29 & 30, 2009
Fall Colors October 22, 2009


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Fall Colors along the South Fork of Bishop Creek – September 23, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


This season in the Eastern Sierra was very different from others I have been covering. The show started the last week of September in the Bishop Creek drainage above 9000’ and it was awesome for about two weeks. The Rock Creek Canyon around the lake also turned, however it was behind in terms of color as I had seen it the year before. Heavy winds and snow flurries on September 29th started to take down some of the colors and then an early cold snow storm on October 4th did its deed. This snow storm prevented me from meeting up at June Lake with a few photog’s from the California Nature Photographers Net . It had closed the Tioga Pass as well as the Sonora Pass and I was not going to install chains on my Corolla.


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A Stormy Morning at Lake Sabrina – September 29, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


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Morning at Weir Pond – September 29, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


What made this year so unusual is that the Aspen groves all along the Eastern Sierra below 8500’ were still green and showed no signs of wanting to turn. There was talk about an “early fall” or was it just wishful thinking? Except for Bishop Creek and Rock Creek there was no other color worth noting during this “early fall” spell. Everything at the lower or middle elevations was not cooperating. This year was also different in terms of a lot more people started to pick up on sites reporting fall colors, which was very helpful (in some way) planning trips to where the colors were:


Dan Mitchell’s list of fall color reports has a bunch of links to current updates. (Now they might be a little out-dated)
I recommend checking the fall color reports at the CalPhoto Website or some others such as Steven Bourelle’s Sierra Visions: Eastern Sierra Fall Color Report Links before heading up to the Eastern Sierra. Networks like twitter, facebook and flickr had fall color reports as well.


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Colorful Leaves – September 29, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


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North Lake Road Glow – September 30, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


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Sun crests the mountains and lights up these trees – September 30, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


My last trip over the mountain for this fall season (this wasn’t my last, I went one more time – go figure) was from October 7th to October 10th. My shooting partner from last year Randy Walton and his wife and daughter had come over the Sierra Mountains on Sunday taking a long d-tour after the Tioga Pass literally closed as they got there. They ended up taking Hwy 50 to US 395 to Bishop. Randy send me a couple of disappointing color reports, so my hopes were low when I started my trip on Wednesday October 7th. As suspected the Conway Summit was still asleep and the groves were green or lime green. Color along the slopes was more brown or bare, than bright orange as I have seen it. The Jordan Basin and about 1 mile into the Virginia Lakes road was lime green, yellow or had bare trees. The yellow leaves were littered with brown spots. The story was about the same along the Lundy Canyon road up to the resort (I passed on the dirt road), there were a couple of yellow Aspen in the day use areas, but upon close-up, I saw brown spots again. The views did not improve down the canyons along US 395. Some groves had potential such as Sherwin Creek and McGee Creek Canyon a mile or so up the trail. Randy, family and I went shooting on Thursday starting with a “boring” sunrise in the Buttermilks. We drove along the South Fork Bishop Creek Canyon and in desperation for color at one point gathered fallen red leaves and placed them on a nearby rock, taking images that way.


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A cool reflection at Cardinal Pond – October 7, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


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Sunrise in the Buttermilks – October 8, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


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My Staged Leaf – October 9, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


It was great to actually put faces on people I knew from the forums, but not in person during my trips. Alpenglow’s Greg Russell and myself text each other with color locations or called the cell phones with messages on where the color is. I finally came across Greg by chance at the Cardinal Pond (in fact he was the one asking if I was Inge?). I met Kahlee and Cris for lunch at Jack’s in Bishop on October 9th and we shot for a while along Bishop Creek Canyon. Cardinal Pond and the area around the “Mist Falls” and Mountain Glenn campground were places with some color. Kahlee and I called each other a few more times with color locations – really cool.


On my way home on October 10th I took the June Lake Loop and found it promising. The Aspens along the shores of June Lake were turning yellow, however the ones along the road above the lake had a lot of black/brown leaves. Best color was around Silver Lake and Grant Lake. Carol spotted me at the Silver Lake picnic area and we chatted for a while. I planned on driving all the way to the Monitor pass and then cut over to Hwy 88. There was some good color around Lee Vining, but the Conway Summit was still mostly lime green with a few yellow areas. The Monitor pass had promise, but it was noon by then and I stopped on top of the pass only to eat my breakfast. Nothing I saw along the Monitor pass was worth my time photographing. The same was true for Hope Valley and the western slopes along Hwy 88. There was a lot of traffic going east on the road – not surprising, people were looking for the fall colors. I should have stayed around Lee Vining, not waste driving all the way over to Hope Valley! By the time I drove down Hwy 88, I was so tired of lime green, brown spotted yellow leaves and bare trees, I turned onto the Mormon Emigrant Pass to see something different. I passed this road many a times so this was as good as any for me to drive it. No Aspens here, but it is still a nice back road. Toward the end of this road I stopped at a dogwood patch that had a few red leaves.


It was an interesting 2009 fall season; not what I was used to in the past seven years. I will add on more as I check out the Wine Country and Yosemite………..
Instead of posting more images about my Yosemite Trips go to the links below:


Yosemite Fall Colors October 17, 2009
Yosemite Fall Colors October 22, 2009
Yosemite Fall Colors October 26, 2009
Yosemite Fall Colors October 30, 2009


These (digital) photographs are not in the public domain! They may not be used on websites, blogs, or in any other media, they may not be copied, printed or otherwise reproduced in any manner or form, whether in whole or in part without explicit advance written permission from Inge Fernau

Please visit my website for this and more. All images may be purchased or licensed in a range of sizes.


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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Eastern Sierra Fall Colors October 10, 2009

I send the following Eastern Sierra Fall color report to the CalPhoto Website:

JUNE LAKE LOOP: This one has promise. The shores along June Lake have yellow Aspen, but the rim has a lot of brown leaved trees. Shooting down from the beach is most likely best. All along the loop there are more and more yellow trees vs. lime green or green. Silver Lake picnic area and around the lake are more yellow than lime green. On close-up the yellow leaves have a lot of brown spots. Between Silver Lake and Grant Lake I saw 4 different stands of Aspen in bright yellow. Aerie Crag is also yellow and lime green. Along Grant Lake are groves in orange/brown, yellow, lime green, green and bare.

LEE VINING AREA: Looking down from Lee Vining to the creek trail (this trail starts in the town of Lee Vining), the Aspen are yellow. Just outside of town along US 395 are a couple of small groves turning yellow.

MONITOR PASS: The big grove east from top of the pass is yellow, lime green and bare as well. Other groves are still green and bare. The grove on top of the pass is yellow, lime green and bare. Driving west on hwy 89 before it intersects with hwy 4, I saw a few nice yellow Aspen stands.

HWY 89 to HWY 88: The East Carson River Valley has some really nice sections with very yellow trees.

HWY 88, HOPE VALLEY, CARSON PASS: The trees at Soresens’s Resort finally starting to turn, and the trees between here and Picket junction are either bare, lime green or yellow. On close-up the yellow leaves have brown spots. Other areas around Hope Valley are yellow, lime green, brown, bare and some have an orange tint (can’t tell from afar if is orange/brown). The trees by the cabins that had color last week are bare now. Up towards the Carson Pass the trees are lime green or bare. Hwy 88 western side is mostly green, lime green, yellow w/brown spots or bare.

There is hope for a 2nd season, as long as this next storm is not taking down what is left. I am working on my summery right now and will post it in a few days with images.


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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Eastern Sierra Fall Colors September 29/30, 2009

My second marathon (to be) chasing the Eastern Sierra Fall colors started at 2AM on Tuesday September 29, 2009. The Old Priest Grade was still closed, so I had to take the longer way up Hwy 120. It was very lonely driving east on the Tioga Pass road, except for a few deer. I trucked along with my high beams on and about a mile before Olmstead Point during a left curve I saw a black shadow moving on the dark side of the road. I thought to myself, what is this guy doing in the pitch dark on the road and hit the brakes….my car came to a stop, the shadow jumped and came into my sights, and it was a black bear using the road for travel. I passed him with my heart still pounding. A fast and short encounter I will remember for a long time. We both are lucky; the only thing that happened was we both were scared. I don't drive fast around the curves anyway, because you are so blind, and I am glad I saw the movement in the corner of my eye. Hitting the bear would have been disaster for the two of us. Wow in all my years driving along the Tioga pass at night I have seen deer and coyote’s but never a bear. There is always a first and Tuesday morning was it. I think I am going to avoid driving the Tioga Pass in the dark for now.
There was not much wind along the western slopes, but as soon as I got to the steep section of the pass the wind was howling. I had to evade a couple of bigger rocks that were littering the road on my way down. It took 4 hours and 15 minutes to get to Lee Vining; the Tioga Gas Mart was still closed. I pressed on to Lake Sabrina, where Kahlee and I were planning on meeting at 8AM. Unfortunately she was not up to the task after that nasty fall she took the day before at North Lake, and I shall meet her next week. The wind was fierce at the lake, and in the late afternoon it started to snow a little. I did not drive back home that day; I spend the night at my favorite motel. The thought of being on the road in the dark, tired and in possible snow just did not appeal to me. Instead of talking about Bishop Creek Canyon again, I will report first on other places I visited on Tuesday and Wednesday. My decision was made to come home over the Carson Pass (Hwy 88), checking on the Monitor Pass and Hope Valley.


McGee Creek Canyon:
There was some brutal wind on Tuesday ripping off green leaves up there. The trees by the bridge are green. The Aspens by the campground are still green; color by the trail parking lot is mostly green with some trees showing change. A view into the canyon showed yellow, orange and green. Not sure how the leaves survived the dusting of snow and the wind.


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A Stormy View into the McGee Creek Canyon – September 29, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


June Lake Loop:
The Parker Mountain side is a mix of orange, yellow and lime green. The Aspens along Grant Lake are still mostly green with small yellow patches. The grove at Aerie Crag is mostly lime green with a little yellow. Hwy 158 between Grant Lake and Silver Lake is green/lime green. Silver Lake has mostly green trees with a few yellow patches. I saw some trees that have gone from green to black leaves. The trees at June Lake are lime green, yellow and some have already brown leaves. I took no images along the June Lake Loop this time around.


Along US 395 south:
The Mammoth Creek area looks mostly green. The Aspen “River” coming down from Laurel Canyon has some orange, but is mostly green/lime green. The Aspens at Sherwin Creek are lime green and yellow as well as orange higher up. Day temps along US 395 stayed around 50F on 9/30.


Virginia Lakes Road:
At the Jordan basin the trees are yellow, orange, lime green, brown and bare. By the creek there is a mix of lime green, green, yellow and some orange. Drove only as far as the heliport and the slopes with the Dunderberg Peak showing in the background are a mix of lime green, yellow and orange.


Conway Summit:
As has been reported before the big groves are still green, with a few Aspens showing some change. The groves on the slopes in the back country are a mix of lime green, yellow and orange. This could suggest that the Dunderberg Meadow is approaching full fall color. With the wind and cold there is no guarantee that the Aspens are going to make it much longer up there.


Monitor Pass & the Carson River Valley:
From the junction of Hwy 4 to the top of the pass mostly lime green and a few bare trees. Top of the pass mostly green with some yellow. A little bit further east a mix of lime green, yellow and orange and again some bare trees. The Carson River Valley is still green/lime green and I would expect this in late September.


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Top of Monitor Pass – September 30, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


Hope Valley:
This area has some nice colors by the cabins, but otherwise still a lot of green. Some areas in Hope Valley have small yellow patches. Hwy 88/89 between the Pickett's Junction turn-off and Sorensen’s show some colors, but the resort is still mostly green. I was fighting direct sun at 5PM when I took the image below. The western slopes of Hwy 88 are still mostly green.


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Cabin at Hope Valley – September 30, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


O.K. this is it for new places I checked out and now I am back to Bishop Creek Canyon, because here is where the color was. So if you are tired reading about fall colors at Bishop Creek Canyon you can stop now. I did not make to Rock Creek so no further reports from there.


I made it to Lake Sabrina on 9/29 by 7:30AM and it was very very windy here. I was going to try a pano regardless, so off I went to the dam. Some of the groves around the lake looked bare, but I saw some green trees holding on. I found still a lot of color along the middle fork, but also some trees with black leaves. The trees below the Lake Sabrina dam are coming into color; they are orange/red, yellow and green. The big grove above Aspendell is half bare and the trees around Cardinal Village are still mostly lime green with a small patch of yellow/orange.


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Road to Lake Sabrina – September 29, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


Along the South Lake Road between Willow camp and the South Lake parking lot the trees are yellow/orange and bare, there is still some green mixed in. The slopes above Weir Pond are mostly bare. The area around Table Mountain is at peak with some bare trees and still some green ones. At 2PM I returned to Bishop for some food and when I returned to Bishop Creek, the mountain range was enshrouded in one big moist cloud. In the late afternoon it started to snow lightly above 8700 feet and the temps had dropped to 42F by 5PM. The snow did not stick where I was, but I checked out North Lake road and it had a lot of red, yellow and orange.
I went back on 9/30 to see what damage the wind/snow had done. At 8AM the skies were blue, almost wind still and the temp at North Lake was 22F. To my delight the damage from the day before was not as bad as I feared. The grove behind the lake is about 1/3 bare and the rest is yellow/orange and green. The slopes above are brown/orange and bare. Just as I was packing up my gear to come down a hill by North Lake when I saw a familiar face, it was Phil Radlick I met last year at a photog meet. We swapped a few fall color findings and I was on my way. There is a lot of red and yellow along the road as well as a little green. Some leaves have developed those ugly brown spots.


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North Lake after the wind and snow – September 30, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


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Color along North Lake Road – September 30, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


I did see more brown/black leaves around the higher elevations at Bishop Creek and it appeared to me as the sun started to hit the yellow/red leaves they were turning brown. I left the area around noon and the temps stayed below 30F, so I am not sure if more trees turned brown.
The lower elevations such as around the Bishop Creek Lodge, before Aspendell and Intake II are still mostly green. The small Aspens on the slopes above Intake II are orange, yellow and bare.


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Color along a Trail in the Sabrina Basin – September 30, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .




These (digital) photographs are not in the public domain! They may not be used on websites, blogs, or in any other media, they may not be copied, printed or otherwise reproduced in any manner or form, whether in whole or in part without explicit advance written permission from Inge Fernau

Please visit my website for this and more. All images may be purchased or licensed in a range of sizes.


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