Aspens, Waterfalls and Streams: Fall color in the Sierras (Day 1)

I almost have to fight the urge to apologize for the long gap between posts. It’s a holdover from my days as a practicing, devout Catholic letting the priest know how long it’s been since my last confession. I do assure you that I haven’t been idle, eating bon-bons on the sofa (do they still even sell or make bon-bons?) watching American Idol or Seinfeld reruns. Rather, the weather in Northern California has been spectacular and it has allowed me to extend my hiking season.

Bridalveil Falls, Highway 50

Last week I took extra days off and spent it in the Lake Tahoe area. When I drive through the Sierras in autumn, I always have to allow myself extra time to reach my destinations, because of irresistible urges to pull over and take pictures. Rest assured, I do this safely and I refrain from slamming on my brakes with RVs and other vehicles lined up behind me. I make liberal use of turnouts.

I left my island paradise of Alameda early Tuesday morning with music blasting, a full tank and Peets coffee in my cup holder. After a quick stop for gas and more coffee (Starbucks) in Placerville, I continued east up the mountain. Just a quick aside (When is Peets going to open stores in Placerville and South Lake Tahoe?) The next stop is somewhat a ritual for me: Bridalveil Falls. It’s not the grandest or most majestic of falls, but it puts me in a serene frame of mind and acts as a reminder that I’m entering a special place.

October 18, 2011

Bridalveil Falls

Near Echo Summit, the brilliant fall colors force another stop. I pull into a creek access road, and hike back along the highway and creek.

From Highway 50, I turn onto Pioneer Trail and drive into town. I check into my room at Park Tahoe, and since my body is being fueled by nothing but coffee, scones and muffins, I run across the street for a much needed Baja Fresh shrimp burrito. I spend early and mid-afternoon relaxing by the pool, reading in my room and even indulging in a short nap. In the gorgeous light of late afternoon, I drive towards the west shore of the lake and visit Taylor Creek. I walk along the Rainbow Trail and view the Kokanee salmon battling upstream to spawn. I was here 3 weeks ago during an earlier part of the spawning season and saw a family of bears along the creek. (picture below is from my trip in early October)

Bear near Taylor Creek (early October)

I didn’t spot any bears on my recent trip, but as expected, the aspen trees were ablaze in their fall colors. This has become my favorite time of year in the mountains.

Rainbow Trail near Taylor Creek

Aspen leaves

After wandering the trails near Taylor Creek, I waited on a viewing platform for the sun to set below the ridge to the west. From here I saw the last rays of the sun illuminate the land and cast a sliver of light on aspen and pines in the distance

Landscape north of Taylor Creek

Back at my motel, as I stepped out on the balcony on my way to dinner, I dashed back inside to grab my camera for one last photo.

Clouds and Sky above Heavenly Valley


About victorvolta

I am a freelance photographer/writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in the very suburban city of Santa Clara. Education: San Jose State University (class of '84) BA degree in Journalism with concentrations in Photojournalism and English. Favorite Foods: Ribeye steaks and Stan's Doughnuts (separate plates, usually). Favorite Drinks: Strong gourmet coffee and Trader Joe's Blood Orange Italian Soda (separate cups).
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3 Responses to Aspens, Waterfalls and Streams: Fall color in the Sierras (Day 1)

  1. Chris Styles says:

    Love this! Did you talk all of these photos?
    Keep up the good work and ill keep visiting your blog πŸ™‚

    -Chris Styles

  2. wolke205 says:

    I would have been so scared to see a bear so close! The 3rd & 4th pic are my fav. Wonderful! πŸ™‚

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