Hope Valley & Luther Pass: more Autumn colors (Day 2)

October 19, 2011

Meyers, CA

Please avert your eyes if you don’t like yellows, oranges, reds, greens, blues and earth tones. Day two of last week’s Lake Tahoe/Hope Valley/Mt. Tallac Autumn Color Photo Safari started with my alarm going off at 6 a.m. Out the door soon after and a trip across the street to grab some coffee at Starbucks (the closest Peets I know of is in Fairfield). It’s too early to argue about the names of their sizes (tall = small, and other nonsense), so I just pay for the coffee and banana chocolate chip coffee cake. I head west on highway 50, turn left on Pioneer Trail and drive towards Hope Valley with the morning sky just starting to lighten above the mountains.

After a stop for gas at the Chevron in Meyers, I turn left on highway 89 and head south towards Luther Pass. In the still greyish purple light, I can see the aspens and the landscape still ghostly and colorless, but I know that in another hour the trees will be ablaze in colors too vivid to believe. From the pass, I descend into Hope Valley, and past the junction of 89 and hwy 88, I turn left towards Sorensen’s Resort. I’m still in scouting mode, trying to decide where I want to be when the sun peeks over the mountains. I pull over, sip some coffee and step into the crisp air with my Nikon.

Highway 88 before sunrise

Aspens & Pines above Sorensens

With the sun finally above the ridge to my right, I walk along the west fork of the Carson River towards a grove of aspens and as it always seems to, it astounds me to witness the brilliance of the foliage in the morning light.

I continue upstream, the sun ascends and as I approach the river bed, I see an aspen lit like a torch, growing through a fissure between boulders.

Carson River, West Fork

I drive back towards the junction of hwys 88 and 89, park near the river bridge and walk along the north bank, making my way quietly, looking for trout in the stream. I spot three, swimming against the current in an eddy. I watch them in silence, not wanting my footsteps to disturb them.

Carson River, West Fork

On the way back along Luther Pass, I stop one last time at a beautifully backlit copse of trees overlooking the meadow.

 Luther Pass

I end my morning photo safari by celebrating with Swedish pancakes and lingonberries at the IHOP in South Lake Tahoe, followed by a short nap back in my room. I meet an old high school friend (Santa Clara High School, Class of ’78) for coffee in the early afternoon.

In the late afternoon, with recharged camera batteries I again drive along highway 50, this time in the direction of Nevada. I continue past the turn-off for Kingsbury Grade and drive along the east shore of Lake Tahoe. I stop at Safeway to stock up on supplies for tomorrow’s planned hike of Mt. Tallac. On the way back, I spot a grove of multi-hued aspens at Zephyr Cove and pull into the recreation area’s parking lot.

Aspens at Zephyr Cove

Zephyr Cove


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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