Archive - Oct 2011 - Sports Article
After 18 years of seeking out every aspen grove in the Eastern Sierra, I thought I had found them all: Rock Creek and Lundy, McGee and Bishop, Convict and North Lake. Even the lesser known areas like Molybedenite and Birchim and the Parker Bench and the Little Walker.
Been there, done that.
Boy, was I wrong.
This past weekend, the crowds that can turn Lundy Canyonâ€™s tiny trailhead and one-lane road into a virtual Disneyland in the fall color season defeated me and I spun north like a compass, seeking solitude and gold.
Thick black clouds are already crashing against the grey bulk of Mt. Dana when we begin the run down the mountain. The wind whips past, running fast from the coast, pushing the first winter storm of the season west up Yosemite Valley, whirling around the base of Half Dome.
Pine needles fall in masses, covering the bare ground with a carpet of sienna gold. The air is thick with the smell of snow and rain and the sun, hot enough to go shirtless only a few hours ago, has gone home. This new cold bites hard. Thunder rumbles to the south.
Itâ€™s time to go.
Rock Creek Canyon, high above Toms Place resort, which is about fourteen miles south of Mammoth Lakes, is one of the Eastern Sierraâ€™s most spectacular canyons. Filled with dozens of lakes and ponds, fed by some of the highest mountains in the Sierra, itâ€™s a backcountry hikerâ€™s dream. And it just so happens to also have one of the best aspen shows for early fall viewing, which, in this odd, odd, weather year, is about what time of the year the trees think it â€” and itâ€™s not like you can argue with a tree.
Itâ€™s been an odd and wonderful fall.
Aspens and cottonwoods, still summer-lush with the life given to them by the record-breaking winter, met one of the warmest falls in many years. In no hurry to go dormant again after being buried alive for nine months, the trees held their green far into October, much to localâ€™s confusion and delight.
The summer, so late in coming, seemed like it would never end.
No one complained about it, either.