This Tuesday, October 28th, I missed the display in the aspen groves in the Loney Meadows and Lindsey Lake areas on the fringe of Grouse Ridge country. Probably by several days. The leaves were raining down from the rapidly baring crowns still holding their heads high in the crisp blue October skies. I felt I was in a rain storm as I captured the last pictures of fall colors for that area this year. The plop of each falling leaf was magnified by my disappointment.
I had been up there only 12 days earlier and the still mostly-green leaves, especially given the continuing warm weather, had me thinking I had up to two weeks to catch the colors. I missed my guesstimate by nearly a week. The picture I've included at least shows the setting: a large grove, stately, energetic aspen reaching for the sky, the thick, lush, wet meadow – all highlighted by the split rail fence. I'll be back again next year.
During the day, windows of time for ideal lighting for picture taking are at best only a few hours, even minutes. My previous visit had helped me realize that the mid-afternoon sun would be perfect in Loney Meadows. Same with Lower and Middle Lindsey Lakes. Yet, the shadows of Fall Creek Mountain looming over the small grove on the shore of Upper Lindsey had changed my ideal shot to one that was degraded by sharp contrasting light. At 4:00 PM, I was an hour too late. I'll be back next year, an hour earlier.
My mind is already planning on next year's outings. Mother Nature will give us all new patterns of summer vs. cooling fall weather. Similar but different. The game is on. Me and my new-fangled pacemaker already marshaling my pace for the long haul until then. Our challenge is to simply be here, be there. Mother Nature has had more practice than we have; I have a lot of faith that she'll be back.
The vibrant yellows and golden hues above Truckee Saturday October 25th were as close to ideal as we can hope for. The grove in Pole Creek west of Highway 89 and a half-dozen miles south of Truckee were brilliant. Although many new aspen are returning, several larger trees are passing on. Not only for this fall, permanently. The heart of the grove is taking on a ratty look as dead snags jut their last moments into the October sky. Like us, aspen have a similar finite time: 80 to 100 years is a normal life-span.
Aspen along Martis Creek and Highway 267 southeast of Truckee provided the inspiring glow of candles dotted against the rich green of the forest. However, the best display of fall color was past its prime by only a few days in the picturesque grove on the right (west) side of the highway shortly north of Martis Peak Lookout Road as it heads east about a half-mile north of Brockway Summit. The old shed in the stand of aspen is a favorite of artists and photographers alike. Two falls ago, I caught the colors not only perfectly, but lucked out with a photo of an artist painting the beautiful stand.
Still, the large grove just east of Highway 267 alongside the lookout road as it begins its climb to the peak, was ideal this Saturday the 25th. Yet, the cold snap this coming weekend (November 1 and 2) will knock many of the leaves off the trees if a rain peppers the stand.
In short, go before then, or wait until next year.