Some folks may think my significant other, Chris, and I are crazy, but we had saved up for a quite a while for a bicycle trip in Europe, only later to decide to purchase a tear-drop camp trailer instead. We figured we’d get more lasting bang for our buck having the ability to hook up and get out of Dodge with our camera gear whenever we got the urge, and sure enough, we’ve gone on several trips already. Recently, we took a spur-of-the-moment weekend trip to one of my favorite places in the world, the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains, for a little fall color reconnaissance mission, when I began seeing the fall color reports surface on the Mono County Tourism Facebook page.
As of last weekend, the aspens in the lower elevations around Mono Lake still had a significant amount of green, and were just beginning the transition to gold. The aspens in the higher elevations of the Sierras, however, grow a little more stunted and transition to autumn color much earlier than their more vertical growing cousins in the lower elevations, and are not as much loved by photographers. But, there is a specific aspen grove on a rural road near Virginia Lakes that I just love for their unique “stunted-ness” and the yellow ground cover that grows along the base of these trees.
Lundy Lake has a beautiful, primitive campground nestled in a thick aspen grove that I highly recommend. The aspens provide a sense of solitude from your neighbors, and you can listen to nearby Mill Creek bubbling in the background. We rose at dark on our last morning, to drive to nearby Lundy Lake from the campground. The sunrise provided a beautiful glow on Tioga Crest and the surrounding peaks, and was made very vibrant by the nearby wildfires, which lended an intense orange glow to the peaks and tree tops.
Despite the perception surrounding the drought’s effect on fall color in the eastern Sierra, I have high hopes for once again capturing my favorite spots when I return in October.