October, 23For our final full day in the Hot Creek area, we decided to explore a couple more canyons in better detail. Much of the foliage has dropped from the trees at this point, but we keep seeing patches that are worth a look. Others we have met along the way told us McGee Canyon still had good color, so we first headed up that way. We came to what appeared to be a shuttered horse camp along the road on the way to the trailhead, so we stopped there for a while. Most of the changing trees here were birch and cottonwood, and there was a nice thick covering of the leaves on the ground. While there was some aspen still looking good, the other trees were the real attraction. We spent an hour or so walking the grounds, kicking up leaves and making pictures before moving up to the McGee Canyon trailhead.
We had our lunch in the picnic area and really enjoyed the peaceful setting. This time of year is so great because there are almost no other people around. There were only two cars in the parking area when we arrived, and one soon left. At this higher part of the canyon, few trees still showed much interesting color, but now the bare trunks stood out. Combined with a nice side lighting, the many wiggles of the branches made for some interesting compositions.
As we started up the trail it soon became clear that there wasn’t much here for us. We could see pretty far up the canyon in front of us and, while there was some nice looking foliage off in the distance, down where we were – not so nice. Mary decided she’d had enough and was content with hanging around the picnic area with her book and coffee. I wanted to find out what trees were producing the nice color off in the distance, so I continued up the trail for maybe another mile or so. But as i got closer, the color got less impressive. Once I was satisfied that I wasn’t going to get anything particularly nice, I turned back. Kind of a wasted effort, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out. In any event, I got a good walk in.
After getting back, we thought we’d look at a part of Lower Rock Creek that we didn’t have time for a few days earlier. We approached it from the opposite direction than last time via Old Crowley Lake Road. There wasn’t really much to see until we entered a tiny little community named Hilton Creek (I think) nestled in a perfectly at peak grove of aspen. We drove through slowly until I noticed a little creek which fed into a catch basin before traveling through a large drainage under the road we were driving on. I had to stop.
The little stream was covered in newly fallen aspen leaves which floated on the surface and were actually in a slow continuous motion. I’ve been looking for a situation just exactly like this in all the locations we’ve visited. Mary was more interested in the fake deer by a home next to the creek, but I spent a good half hour just making long exposures of the slowly moving leaves. This alone would have made my day, but when we finally reached Lower Rock Creek, we found more trees and surrounding foliage in prime color.
We first stopped along a particularly nice spot along the road where another photographer was shooting some aspen. He had the spot I was wanting to photograph and he wasn’t leaving soon. I didn’t really want to set up right next to him, so I shot from well behind. It turned out OK, but we decided to move on. We arrived at a spot we’d found earlier next to the creek, and followed a nice path along it. I found a couple of really nice compositions of creek, rock and leaves. We finished up our last day in the Hot Creek area on a very nice note.