Tracking Down Aspen around Bishop

Tuesday, October 15
8883It was an easy ride up to Bishop. After a short stop in Independence to dump, get propane and fill with gas, we followed the coordinates Jim had given us and arrived at a very nice dispersed camping spot on Casa Diablo Road just north of Bishop. It’s a fairly busy road, as dirt roads go, but the large site is set back enough so that dust from passing vehicles doesn’t reach us at all. We have a terrific view of the White Mountains out our back windows with a wall of boulders that light up orange at dawn to our rear. There is a petroglyph trail that leads along the boulder wall that we may investigate later. It’s a great spot and quite close to town when the need arises.
8874So the hunt for fall color was on again. We stopped in at the Bishop Visitor Center in town (the only dam place to get any information about the area). We met Jim, a retired federal worker who had a few things to say about the shutdown, but he was also an energetic advocate for the entire Bishop area and and had lots of great suggestions for places to check out. Our first excursion was up Bishop Creek Road. Jim told us that at the upper elevations, the foliage was pretty much done, but at various spots along the way, we should find some nice color.
8889We first headed up 168 toward Lake Sabrina, stopping at the lovely Intake II lake. This was actually a very nice little holding lake of sorts and really the only one that had much water in it. There were several stands of aspen and lots of brush all nicely colored in yellows and tans. We walked around the lake a bit, made some photos and had lunch on a nice sunny rock near the picnic area away from the screeching children. The backlighting on the trees really made them pop.
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8892Moving further up the road, more aspen stands along the way caught our eye. We stopped to photograph Mist Falls that dumps it’s water into a very nice stand of aspen at peak color. The waterfall is actually a little hard to see in full sunlight and we decided to try again on the way back when the canyon was in shade. There was plenty of color in the canyon, but up higher, when we got to Sabrina, both the lake and the color were virtually gone. We could still see the lake off in the distance, but anything near the boat launch and marina were dry. It was a little disappointing, but I’m glad we didn’t have to hike 5 miles to find out. It was a good spot for coffee and cookies however.
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8916We retraced our route somewhat, then took a branch road off 168 up to South Lake. Again the water was very low and aspen naked. One the way up though, we passed an area on our right, already in shadow, that I thought had great potential. It was a cliff of granite with sparsely spaced and mostly spent aspen growing from it. A few patches of snow remained. Light was reflected off the granite cliffs on the other side of the road and this served to softly light the shadowed wall. We stopped here for a nice long time. Unfortunately, I still haven’t gotten used to how cold it can get in the shade. Everything that was covered was warm enough, but my hands were soon nearly numb. It doesn’t really bother me much though. I photographed with glee while Mary retreated to the warmth of the car after a short while. I figured I”d had enough cold when I could no longer control my shivering.
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8971By now, most of the deep canyon was in shadow, and after I got a little feeling back in my fingers, we stopped several more times. Everything is just so much more interesting in even lighting. The colors may not be so intense, but the forms and textures of the landscape seem to come through better and suddenly everything looks nicer to me.
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8996We stopped once more at Mist Falls, now in shadow, to finish our day. The entire day was enjoyable, but I’m glad we found a really interesting area to finish up the day with. Tomorrow (Wednesday) we plan a drive around Fish Slough Road. There probably won’t be any fall color along this road, be we do expect to see some nice red rock.

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