Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall in the Eastern Sierras

So Jaime and I booked a last minute trip to Mammoth Lakes to catch the fall colors this past weekend. We drove up early so we could take a detour from Bishop and check out North/South lake and Lake Sabrina. It's almost impossible to time all areas perfectly, as the colors in at North/South lake peaked last weekend but areas like June Loop haven't peaked yet. Day 1 we went to North/South Lake, Lake Sabrina, Rock Creek Lake, McGee Creek Canyon, and stopped by Convict Lake.

This post is pic heavy, as I didn't feel like splitting up the days.

Day 1:

First stop was North Lake. The lava flow behind North lake was past peak and starting to turn to a rust color. This is one lake I want to come back to during peak colors.

North lake fall color reflections Fall colors at North Lake
There was also a nice patch heading up the road framed by the mountains. Fall colors at North lake road
Lake Sabrina was only a few miles down the road so we checked it out. They are draining the water to do dam work, and all the trees near the lake were pretty much dead. There was a nice fiery orange patch on the way up. By the time we got here it was a bit overcast. Fall colors on the road to Lake Sabrina Lake Sabrina road fall colors
On the way back we stopped by the Lake Sabrina campground where we have camped many times. We hiked down past the campground where there was a bit of color as well.

Patch of fall colors near Lake Sabrina

Fall colors on the way to Lake Sabrina

Next we drove to South Lake. Everything was pretty much dead from the last half of the drive to the lake, but the colors near Parkers were still nice. Fall colors on the south lake road South lake road, patch of fall colors Close up of fall colors on the south lake road Fall color trail on the way to South Lake
Jaime's pics of me.

We heaeded back to Bishop for lunch. Every time we stop in Bishop we get jerkey and a sandwich from Mahagony and bread from Schat's. There is always a long line for the sandwiches so we never  try it. The line was short, maybe since it was a weekday. We got the pastrami, and the mule kick - a roast beef with spicy mustard and jalepenos. Both were good, but not as good as the double decker blt/roast beef from Mahagony.
We stopped off at Rock Creek and McGee Creek. There were patches of color here and there but nothing spectacular. the color by the creek was starting to turn, I would give it another week or so.

Aspen tree lit up by the sun in the fall Patch of fall color on the Red Rock Creek trail Fall leaves near McGee Creek Fall colors at McGee Creek Fall colors at McGee Creek
We got into Mammoth and had dinner at Toomey's, who used to own the famous resturant at the Tioga gas mart past Lee Vining. Our condo was close so we took it to go. We had the angus sliders, lobster taquitos and fish tacos. Tacos were good, rest were decent.

Day 2:

The next day I got up for sunrise at Convict Lake. I got there about 30 mins before the sun came out and there were already 4-5 people out there taking pics. I took some sunrise pics and took an early morning hike around the lake. First light at Convict Lake with fall colors starting to show Calm Convict lake reflection Behind Convict Lake Convict lake early morning reflection of fall colors Spotted some deer as well when we stopped by the evening before. It was pretty dark so I had to bump the ISO up to about 1600 using my 300mm f4.
Drove back to the condo and we had breakfast at Toomey's. Got the coconut pancakes and the breakfast burrito.
We spent the day in June Lake Loop however most of the trees just started turning, and probably won't peak for another 1-2 weeks or so. June Loop fall colors Fall colors on the June Loop road
Last stop for the day was Conway Summit which I read was peaking. It's a stop right off the highway, past Mono lake. It was a bit hazy, even using my polarizer but the grand view of the summit was nice with lots of color. Conway summit fall color peak Conway Summit close up fall colors Layers of fall colors at Conway Summit
Jaime taking another pic of me.
Since we didn't spend as much time in June loop as planned, we had some time to kill so we headed back to the villiage and walked around the shops. We drove up to Minaret Vista for sunset. The place was packed, probably with all the workshops going on. I pulled out on a side road close to the vista point and waited for sunset. The sky lit up like fire that night, making for some great views. Vide view of Minaret vista sunset The Minarets at sunset Sun going down at Minaret vista Fall sunset at Minaret Vista Fire in the sky, sunset at Minaret Vista
We ended the day at the best mexican joint in Mammoth - Roberto's. Their carne asada burrito is money, and Jaime got the fish tacos.

We stopped at the outlets the next day before heading home. I feel like I need a condo up there for the fall season to be able to capture all the colors at peak. Seeing how this is as good as it gets in CA, plans for Vermont/NY next year may just happen. We'll see.....

Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography
Landscape and Wildlife photography