CA – Autumn Jaunting, Shasta/Trinity County Style (Oct-Dec 2021)

After spending a month in Washington followed by a couple of weeks in Oregon, including an epic conclusion in snow at Crater Lake (post link), I returned home to summer temperatures. There was only one thing to do, grab the paddleboard and head for Whiskeytown Lake.

Although we received record rain fall over about a month (14″) the leaves stuck around providing weeks of entertainment.

The dogwoods were showing off their pastel colors along the PCT in Castle Crags State Park.

I asked the leaf whether it was frightened because it was autumn and the other leaves were falling. The leaf told me, “No. During the whole spring and summer I was completely alive. I worked hard to help nourish the tree, and now much of me is in the tree. I am not limited by this form. I am also the whole tree, and when I go back to the soil, I will continue to nourish the tree. So I don’t worry at all. As I leave this branch and float to the ground, I will wave to the tree and tell her, ‘I will see you again very soon’. “That day there was a wind blowing and, after a while, I saw the leaf leave the branch and float down to the soil, dancing joyfully, because as it floated it saw itself already there in the tree. It was so happy. I bowed my head, knowing that I have a lot to learn from the leaf.

Thich Nhat Hanh

I found new growth in an area burned by the 2018 Carr Fire.

This is my favorite Madrone tree in the Trinity Alps Wilderness, she’s a buxom beauty.

After all the rain, I couldn’t resist visiting Crystal Creek Falls at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.

Whiskeytown Falls

Fungi seemed to be happy with all the rain.

Earth stars, a type of fungi. I thought it was the bottom of a pinecone.

When you look closely you might even find a stowaway.

This is a story of good, evil and humanity. The 2018 Carr fire burned this tree. I visited in spring 2020 when I took a photo of this wreath on the remains. When I processed the photo I found a surprise inside. This heavy chainsaw carved bear was a welcome gift representing hope at appropriately named Black Bear Pass. Sadly it was kidnapped in winter 2020. When I returned this fall I was thrilled to find a new bear hiding in the stump. Yes there is goodness in this world!

Lichen and moss seemed to enjoy the extra moisture as well.

And what would a jaunt be without a few blooms?

Although many were ready to spread their seeds.

Soon enough it’ll be time to welcome back the orchid blooms.

But until then I’ll welcome winter. The time for renewal.

I love being able to see Mt Shasta, from 100 miles distant.

One thing nice about having a home base at low elevation (500′) is nearby winter hiking options.

Nature offers up a holiday bouquet.

I wish my friends and followers a wonderful 2022, at least one filled with more peace, unity, kindness, caring, forgiveness, collaboration and love.

Photos are from hikes and walks in the following areas.

Shasta County:

  • Castle Crags State Park
    • PCT/Crags Trail
  • Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
    • Davis Gulch Trail
    • Whiskeytown Falls Trail
    • Crystal Creek Falls Trail
  • Redding area trails
    • Blue Gravel Trail
    • Cloverdale/Piety Hill Trails
    • FB Trail
    • Flanagan/Chamise/Upper Ditch Trails
    • French Fry Trail
    • Hornbeck/Lower Ditch Trails
    • Princess Ditch Trail
    • Mary Lake Trail
    • McConnell Ranch Trails
    • Mule Mountain Trail
    • Sacramento River Trails
    • Salt Creek Trails
    • Trail 58
    • Westside Trails

Trinity County:

  • Trinity Alps Wilderness
    • Stuart Fork Trail
    • Canyon Creek Trail

WA – Mount Rainier National Park, Chinook Pass (Oct 2021)

I knew I was pushing my luck finding peak autumn colors. But the hikes at Chinook Pass were on my POI list and since there was a nearby fire when I was in the area in early August, I took the detour on my southward journey.

When I got started in the morning I was feeling disappointed in myself. Why? Well first when I arrived at the trailhead the previous afternoon the light was optimal and I should have hiked the very popular Naches Peak Loop Trail but the hundreds of cars removed all motivation for that option. Second I missed a spectacular sunrise by arriving about 15 minutes late the next morning. Would it be a 3-strike trip? I certainly felt more optimistic when I turned around and found this view of Mount Rainier and Yakima Peak shortly after starting my hike.

I knew the only way I’d be able to enjoy this hike was to get an early morning start.

There was no doubt I was a couple weeks past peak colors and with the overcast skies I wasn’t going to get great reflections either. But look, no people! I had the pond to myself.

The northern section of the Naches Peak Loop Trail is shared with the PCT until it continues south dropping to Dewey Lake.

As I turned west, I found an obvious well used viewpoint and was happy to have the clouds part just enough for a little peek of these mountains.

As I stood there, I thought I saw more in the background. Is that snow? If so that must be Mount Rainer.

I watched the clouds drift in and out for a good 30 minutes, playing peek-a-boo with Mount Rainier.

Taking time to watch nature’s magic was exactly what I needed on this day.

As I continued the loop I was gifted this view of Naches Peak.

By the time I reached Tipsoo Lakes, the crowds were arriving and it started feeling like Disneyland.

I took a little break at my car before continuing my hike north on the PCT. My first stop was very popular Sheep Lake. I met a ton of people coming down from an overnight at the lake. Can you imagine sharing with 20-50 people? That’s what you get without permits and quotas and a lake 2 miles from a paved trailhead. My destination was Sourdough Gap at the top of the ridge.

This section of trail was much less busy.

Looking down at Sheep Lake as I climbed toward Sourdough Gap.

Sourdough Gap provided views of Three Way Peak. I thought I’d be able to see Mount Rainer as I’d gotten a glimpse as I climbed up to the pass.

The PCT continues north through Sourdough Gap, but after a short traverse it drops to the right below Three Peaks. The trail that stays high is Crystal Lakes Trail and the visible pass invited further exploration.

Success! That was the view I was hoping to find. Upper Crystal Lake is another popular overnight and day hike destination. It’s important to note these lakes are in the National Park. I don’t know permitting requirements but signs clearly indicated dogs prohibited. Sad to say I witnessed many who don’t believe rules apply to them.

Overall I’d call this day a win although I wouldn’t say it was in my top 10 and it’s unlikely I’d repeat except for hiking this full section of the PCT, which I’m still missing on my quest to complete Washington.

Do you know this tree? There were several along this section of the trail and they didn’t seem to belong but they sure were pretty.

I’m so pleased with my continued knee rehab progress.

ADVENTURE DATE(S): October 3-4, 2021



WA – North Cascades, Maple Pass Trail (Sept 2021)

I’d always wanted to see the tapestry of autumn colors found in the Northern Cascades.

I was a little early for the larch show but the overcast skies made the other colors pop. That’s Lake Ann hiding below the still green larch trees. “Larch is any of the coniferous trees belonging to the genus Larix categorized under the family Pinaceae. Although these are classified as conifers, larches turn yellow and lose their needles in the autumn or fall just like deciduous trees. These are medium-sized trees with the typical pyramidal canopy of conifers. They are found in places with cold climates and plenty of moisture.” Source: Coniferous Forest

As I gained elevation I found a few larch showing off their golden hue.

I hiked the trail counterclockwise, stopping at Lake Ann first, then taking a break at Heather Pass before climbing up to the first Maple Pass then traversing the ridge to reach the second Maple Pass. This little tarn and snowfield were visible when I began my descent. Rainy Lake is further down the drainage.

THIS is the tapestry I came to see.

I shared the trail with a grouse family.

I loved this hike so much I couldn’t resist returning a week later. As much as I hoped for brilliant blue skies showcasing the golden larch, Mother Nature had other plans. It was a damp brisk 33F when I started my hike around 8am. There was fresh snow on the nearby peaks.

As I gained elevation I found snow level. The tapestry of color was dulled by a thin veil of white.

I believe this is Wing Lake (or Lewis Lake) which I’d planned to visit after reaching my highpoint turnaround. On this date I didn’t plan to hike the loop, instead just going to Maple Pass before returning to Heather Pass where could spend a few hours exploring this side trail and these lakes.

Another bucket list item was seeing larch IN the snow, maybe not while it was snowing.

The cloud ceiling dropped and not long after I reached the first Maple Pass, I found myself in a whiteout.

To say I was giddy is an understatement. So much WOW in that little storm. It completely changed the landscape providing lots of photographic opportunities, although I was wishing for my winter gloves.

I was still a bit early for peak larch season but I was beyond thrilled with this experience. I’m guessing once the slope above Lake Ann is covered in yellow larch, the reds and oranges of the other foliage will be gone thus making my timing spot on.

I think this pika was smiling at me.

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to nature’s quilt.

ADVENTURE DATE(S): September 22 and 29, 2021


  • This can be a super busy trail. There is room for about 50 cars in the main parking area and signs indicating overflow parking on the highway. When I arrived in the late afternoon the day before my first hike there were at least 100 cars on the highway. It was on a heavy overcast day. I started early and only saw about a dozen people. There wasn’t anyone in overflow when I finished my hike. On my return trip, it was damp, cold and mostly overcast again. It was a much busier day even though both trips were on Wednesdays under cloudy skies and had early starts. When I finished on that second day, there was a mile or two of cars parked along the highway.
  • This hike is outside North Cascades National Park, but just on the boundary.
  • The Heather Pass/Maple Pass trail is a loop and can be hiked in either direction. After reading reviews I decided on counter clockwise. The benefit is a more gradual climb and more controlled descent. If you go clockwise, you’ll face a steeper ascent and a less controlled descent on the sections between the first and second Maple Passes. If you don’t want to deal with the steep sections, I highly recommend going counterclockwise to the first Maple Pass and then turning around. You can see the differences on this profile pictured below.



WA – North Cascades, Blue Lake and Cutthroat Pass (Sept 2021)

Larch Madness! I’d caught the fever and couldn’t get enough as I continued my search for peak conditions.

My larch march began and ended at Ingalls Pass in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness (blog link). In between I spent time along Highway 20 in the North Cascades, with two trips to Maple Pass (blog link) bookending trips to Blue Lake and on the PCT from Rainy Pass to Cutthroat Pass.

Blue Lake

I needed a recovery day so had planned this easier hike. As I was completing preparations for my hike, a large van arrived with a group of at least a dozen teenagers disembarking. Oh no, so much for my peaceful day. I was motivated to stay ahead of them. I decided to explore the junction leading to the Early Winter Spires. The sign at the trailhead indicated this was a climbers route but I figured there would be a reasonably graded hiking trail I could explore while gaining a little elevation. That was not be the case and instead I turned around when the trail became cairn route and rock scramble.

The kids were taking a break at the junction when I returned to the main trail and thus was once again motivated to reach Blue Lake before the masses. I learned later this group was part of a partnership between local schools and the Outward Bound program. I heard several hikers complaining about kids hiking instead of being in school. My thought was how wonderful to expose kids to something besides sports and activities more typically found in PE departments. They were well behaved, respectful and even separated later in the day for individual projects.

I had stopped at Washington Pass earlier in the morning and captured this photo of the other side of Liberty Bell Mountain.

The Tarn Loop Trail offers this view of possibly Cutthroat Peak and/or Whistler Mountain.

I wandered around the far side of the lake for lunch. The kids were gathered on a large rock near the trail junction. This lake offers very little privacy. I wanted to swim so bad. I waited and waited for them to leave but even when they separated for their projects there was just too much exposure. I always think of that saying, “what the eyes can’t unsee.” I wasn’t ready to strip to my underwear in front of these youngsters so instead I watched the fish and the larch reflections.

Rainy Pass to Cutthroat Pass on the PCT

I was reminded that the autumn season is short here in the far north and although it’s still September, days are short. At 9am the shadows were still more prevalent than the sun.

At 11am I was still climbing and in search of sun.

I finally found sun around 11:45am as I neared the pass.

When I reached the top I found distant snowy peaks.

Looking over the pass I was tempted to continue onward to Granite Pass, but since I was already pushing my limits at a 10+ mile day, I knew it was in my best interest to say no. Besides I have bad memories from my PCT attempt at that pass (WA – PCT Section L . . . as in Lame ) so it was definitely better to save it for another year.

In the photo above where the person and horses are standing is a junction. The PCT continues straight where the trail to the right drops to Cutthroat Lake as shown in below photo. You can access the lake from another trailhead off of Highway 20. Unlike the PCT, the Cutthroat Lake trail is bike friendly and I saw several on this day.

This is looking up at Cutthroat Peak. From the Pass you can see a trail used to climb the peak or ridge. If I hadn’t used up my miles, I might have explored the ridge.

This is a view of Cutthroat Peak from my hike to Blue Lake.

On this day I enjoyed the company of a 70+ year old group of guys. One of the guys, about to celebrate his 75th birthday, was in phenomenal condition. I aspire to being more like him now and into the future!

The larch might not have been at peak but I sure enjoyed all the reds.

As I neared the trailhead I ran into some facebook friends I hadn’t met in person. They were headed to Hart’s Pass on the PCT where they found peak larch colors.

PCT grade is perfect for my knee surgery rehab.

When I began this trip it was to escape wildfires and smoke. Back in early August Joan and I had hoped to land at Rainy Pass where she could complete her remaining PCT miles. But these two fires made that impossible and in fact as I drove Highway 20 in September, the Cedar Creek Fire was still smoldering. The Gaia maps now include several layers related to fires and air quality.

I also use the weather layers on Gaia for hike and travel planning. As we rolled from summer into fall, I found myself running from precipitation rather than smoke.

Monument Creek Trail, Pasayten Wilderness

While I was waiting out storms to return to Maple Pass, I found this trail near Mazama and planned to hike to Eureka Creek from the trailhead.

The bridge across Eureka Creek is long gone, making for a treacherous crossing most of the year. As such signage at the trailhead indicated no trail maintenance beyond this creek for over 25 years. I saw a couple heading out with backpacks. I wondered if they found decent options. It’s hunting season so they may have had other plans.

Spokane Gulch Trail, Methow Valley Trails

I met up with this legendary trail angel and first woman to solo hike the PCT, Carolyn aka Ravensong (Link to article in The Trek).

This is looking down at the community of Mazama and shows just how close the Cedar Creek Fire came to wiping out the town.

Susie Stephens Trail, Methow Valley Trails

I spent time wandering trails in the communities of Winthrop and Twisp. On this day I was waiting out the storms AGAIN.

This storm dropped a little snow which added to my Larch Madness!

ADVENTURE DATE(S): September 23-28, 2021



WA – Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Rachel Lake (Sept 2021)

A friend recently shared photos of her hike on this trail so I added it to my list as I headed north in my ongoing attempt to escape wildfire. By the time I arrived smoke had shifted so I continued north and spent a couple weeks in the Leavenworth/Lake Wenatchee area (blog link). Soon enough the winds shifted again and it was time to head south where AQI was looking much better. I first spent some time at Cle Elum Lake where I walked from the waterline to the mapped shoreline, an amazing 2.5 miles.

I enjoyed following the river channel while being entertained by the clouds. The shoreline mountains were colorful and had me looking at my maps to discover more nearby trails.

As I reached the far end of the lake’s boundary I wondered how long ago it was last full. The nearby campground would provide a convenient opportunity to watch wildlife at dawn and dusk.

The green line represents the 2.5 miles I walked on what was once the lake.

It was a brisk 34F when I arrived at the trailhead to begin my hike to Rachel Lake. It’s a 4-mile hike to the lake. On the ridge is Rampart Lakes which was my intended destination or beyond to Lila Lake.

I was a little early for best fall colors but there were teases like here on the shoulders of Hibox Mountain.

And some nice color along the trail with views into the canyon and I believe Box Ridge in the distance.

As much as I was motivated to get to the Rampart Lakes and beyond, this trail zapped my joy. The first 3 miles were nicely graded but the last mile to Rachel Lake was steep roots and rocks with hardly any dirt or flat areas in between. This section needs to be rebuilt as this is a very high use trail. If they are going to keep the same path it needs steps or stairs but it seems much better to build on a contour with switchbacks. I should have turned around when I reached this hell because it wasn’t even close to being knee rehab friendly.

Good thing there were a few water features for distractions.

I even found some late season penstemon.

The profile gives you can idea of the steep rooty rocky section. This was well outside my league and turned my smile upside down. I should have done my own research instead of just being giddy from my friend’s photos. There are a couple of other entry trails that might provide better options to access the higher trails.

Back at Cle Elum Lake I found more fall colors to help me return to my happy spot.

After that very challenging day at Rachel Lake I needed a recovery option and found this rail trail to be perfect.

It seems rainy season caught up with me. No complaints since we need rain to clean the air and drown the wildfires. I waited out this storm at a dispersed campsite near Cle Elum Lake.

ADVENTURE DATE(S): September 14-18, 2021



CA – Eastern Sierra, McGee Creek Trail . . . fall colors be perfect

I’d pretty much decided that I’d outlasted the best of fall foliage. The cold mornings in the teens were not very motivating. On this day I got a late start after hanging at a coffee shop in Mammoth Lakes waiting for temps to warm. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do the planned miles but decided oh well I’d at least be outside and getting some exercise. Ha, the joke was on me. I found the best yet display of color complimented by my kind of amazing geology.

Approaching the trailhead provided this tease of the WOW to follow.

Each step I took offered more color and optimism. You may recall an earlier post where I described how leaf peeping is rated. Well this was definitely a GO NOW status.

I would have been excited by the shapes, colors and textures of the mountains with the colors, but I was happy to feast my eyes upon both.

Horsetail Falls

These cold nights were quickly turning waterways to ice.

This was a fun bridge to cross. Yes I tested for possible slipper wood first since it was at a serious downhill slant.

Looking back from where I’d come you can see where the wind had ripped the leaves from many of the aspen trees.

I loved seeing the hillsides painted in color.

The colors popped among the granite.

It was hard to focus on making forward progress with so much visual stimulation.

The tapestry of what once was . . .

Nature’s stencil

Seasons be a changing

This was by far my biggest WOW fall colors hike this season. It may have taken 11 hikes over 14 days to catch peak color, but success was golden and I felt like I’d struck it rich.

Adventure Date(s):

  • October 16, 2019

Hike Details:Tips:

  • Mammoth Lakes is a great place to catch up on chores, eat some good grub, etc. Starbucks had better WiFi than Looney Beans. WiFi in general seemed to be harder to find at restaurants etc. Mammoth Mountain RV Park was a good option for a shower.
  • Adding stickers to your computer can make for an easy conversation starter. I met a cool guy at the Mammoth Lakes Starbucks sporting a PA’LANTE sticker which led me to ask him about it since I know one of the creators. Small world, yep they hiked the PCT.
  • Since I was taking a day off, I took time to explore around Mammoth Lakes eventually enjoying lunch at Lake George.
  • Nearby in Owens Valley is Hot Creek Geologic Site with these off-limit hot springs, but there are others nearby as well as plenty of dispersed camping options.
  • Convict Lake is another nearby POI worthy of a stop. One of these days my timing will be right to explore those canyons.
  • You can pick up a fall colors map and guide at many visitor centers and ranger stations along Highway 395. There are also several online sites offering current conditions; this is one I used and recommend (link).



CA – Eastern Sierra, North Lake Piute Pass Trail . . . it’s an autumnal palette

My trip the previous day from South Lake to Bishop Pass exceeded expectations in terms of fall foliage, geology and views. Will North Lake to Piute Pass be another winner? First impressions at North Lake were that color had peaked.

It was 29F degrees when I arrived at the trailhead. So while I was adding layers and trying to find my hiking mojo, I watched these packers head out. I later met a couple of hunters who’d hired this crew to carry gear and supplies to and from their camp.

Sun was out, it was time to go.

It wasn’t long before I was smiling.

This is the view looking back toward the trailhead. There’s a popular backpacking loop using North and South Lakes as beginning and ending points. After hiking both, I’d choose to start at South Lake where the climb to Bishop Pass is much more gradual than going from North Lake to Piute Pass.

Loch Leven

This view made my heart go pitter patter.

Piute Lake

Stairs to more sierra goodness.

First views of Piute Pass.

Nice little tarn.

I’ve come to expect a lot of false summits in the sierra. Will this be the top of the pass?

Nope, not quite.

And then there I was looking down on Summit Lake (not the same one near Green Creek Trail). As has become custom on this series of day trips, I’d dream of someday visiting Humphrey’s Basin.

There wasn’t a cool sign marking the pass but I did find this benchmark survey marker.

I could only wonder about these signs or markers.

Looking down toward Piute Lake and Loch Leven, flanked by Mount Emererson.

On the way back to the trailhead, the lighting was much better for enjoying the colorful geology.

Talk about perfect fall hiking weather. I couldn’t believe I was gifted another week. I’m not quite sure why I was being a baby about overnighting but whatever, I was just glad to be out and about experiencing such amazing wonders crowd and bug free. Oh where oh where shall I go next? There sure isn’t a shortage of choices.

Adventure Date(s):

  • October 10, 2019

Hike Details:


  • Take extra precautions in selecting your parking site. I’m guessing it’s quite busy in the summer with lots of tickets issued.
  • Bishop is a great place to catch up on chores, eat some good grub, etc. If you need a shower I recommend The Hostel California rather than the one at the laundromat as it was dirty and disgusting. Check online reviews of laundromats. If I remember correctly there are three in town.  You can use your Safeway ID for shopping at Vons; get your gas discount. Looney Bean was my favorite for coffee, eats and WiFi. Astorgia’s is a fab mexican food option.
  • You can pick up a fall colors map and guide at many visitor centers and ranger stations along Highway 395. There are also several online sites offering current conditions; this is one I used and recommend (link).



CA – Eastern Sierra, Big Pine Creek South Fork . . . finding Brainerd Lake

By now you know I prefer to hike more drive less. With two trails at the same trailhead, my choice for the day was easy. Yesterday it was North Fork, today South Fork.

Expectations for fall foliage was low but I was excited none the less to see what I might find in this canyon.

I spied some color along the creek.

That was a crafty bridge.

Favorite kind of trail.

Looking back down toward the trailhead. Soon this canyon will be filled with colorful oranges and yellows.

Now were talking. WOW WOW WOW! I was in heaven.

Choices, choices . . . on this day Brainerd won.

This view of Willow Lake confirmed I’d might the right choice.

Finding snow this late in the season must mean I’m at significant elevation.

Brainerd Lake proved challenging to photograph in mid-day bright sunlight.

Looking down into the Brainerd Lake cirque.

This was a first. Loved this cute little guy, a woolly bear caterpillar. According to Farmers Almanac, this caterpillar “has the reputation of being able to forecast the coming winter weather. The wider the rusty brown sections, the milder the coming winter will be. The more black there is, the more severe the winter.”

Adventure Date(s):

  • October 7, 2019

Hike Details:


  • The old South Fork trailhead that shows on many maps no longer exists.
  • Bishop is a great place to catch up on chores, eat some good grub, etc. If you need a shower go to the hostel. I don’t recommend the one at the laundromat as it was dirty and disgusting. Check online reviews of laundromats. If I remember correctly there are three in town.  You can use your Safeway ID for shopping at Vons; get your gas discount. Looney Bean was my favorite for coffee, eats and WiFi.
  • You can pick up a fall colors map and guide at many visitor centers and ranger stations along Highway 395. There are also several online sites offering current conditions; this is one I used and recommend (link).



CA – Eastern Sierra, Big Pine Creek North Fork . . . fall color or bust?

Since Sabrina Lake basin seemed to be past peak, I decided to go a bit further south. You’d think since color change is affected by colder temperatures, elevation would determine progress but I’ve found that not to be a general rule. I found reports of current conditions a bit like weather forecasts; sometimes right, sometimes wrong. This is the rating system.

0-10% – Just Starting
10-50% – Patchy
50-75% – Near Peak (Go Now!)
75-100% – Peaking (GO NOW!)
Past Peak – (You Missed It)

I hiked a section of this trail in late May, but due to conditions only made it to the waterfalls so was looking forward to seeing some of the lakes.

On this day I’d be hiking the North Fork.

I found the welcome committee.

This tree caught my eye on my initial visit and again on this day.

What a difference a few months makes.

I wouldn’t rate this as near peak foliage, nope. Foiled again! I’m 1 for 4, not such great averages.

I guess you could rate it as patchy color.

Mountain Mahogany

The naming hat must have been worn out by the time it reached this trail. This is First Lake, which is the first in a chain of seven, all named by their number. Temple Crag is the monolith in the background.

First Lake as viewed from the opposite shore.

Second Lake

Third Lake

I decided to jump off the lakes trail and head towards Temple Crags on the Glacier Trail.

This is not a maintained trail but it wasn’t difficult to follow. One of the gifts I found along the way was this ice fall.

This cirque would be my end point as I was not interested in doing a solo rock scramble.

I even found a late bloomer.

And another ice fall.

That’s were I would have needed to scramble up to the viewpoint.

I was hoping for better views but this view into I believe Third Lake was about the best I got.

The mesa to the right is Temple Crag View where I would have landed had I attempted the scramble.

Hiking in the fall may be devoid of mosquitoes and black flies, but there are still some critters out and about.

Then it was back down into the foliage with promises of more color to come.

Hardly a better way to end than with my favorite tree.

Adventure Date(s):

  • October 6, 2019

Hike Details:Tips:

  • Bishop is a great place to catch up on chores, eat some good grub, etc. If you need a shower go to the hostel. I don’t recommend the one at the laundromat as it was dirty and disgusting. Check online reviews of laundromats. If I remember correctly there are three in town.  You can use your Safeway ID for shopping at Vons; get your gas discount. Looney Bean was my favorite for coffee, eats and WiFi.
  • You can pick up a fall colors map and guide at many visitor centers and ranger stations along Highway 395. There are also several online sites offering current conditions; this is one I used and recommend (link).



CA – Eastern Sierra, Lake Sabrina to Donkey and Baboon Lakes . . . chasing fall color rumors

Although my plans were to slowly make my way south on 395, visiting each trailhead along the way, my desire to experience the changing colors of aspen had me driving further south. I met a few hikers on my hike in Lundy Canyon who said Sabrina Lake was the place to find color. FYI the correct pronunciation is Sa-BRINE-a.

I got an early morning start, feeling the chill as I hiked along the lake in the early morning shadows.

The area looked much more hiking friendly than it did during my initial visit in late May.

My previous two hikes on this fall tour were in Hoover Wilderness.

The details of the changing colors intrigue me.

Once again I was reminded as to why I was day hiking and not overnight in the backcountry. It’s been plenty cold sleeping in my car at lower elevation.

Once again my peak finder app helps me learn the names of these mountains, this one bordering Sabrina Lake.

Granite staircases are a consistent find in the sierra. Oh how I love the trail builders!

This is Blue Lake, an all too common name. Being a short distance from the trailhead means excessive day and overnight use. I met a few campers and although a little jealous still not ready for those frigid overnight temps.

Looking back at Blue Lake and Mount Emerson.

This junction appears at about the 3-mile mark. On this trip I chose to take the trail toward Donkey Lake.

Donkey Lake

The maintained trail ends at Donkey Lake but if you’re up for some cross country and self navigation, you can create a loop to include Baboon Lakes. Tip: the navigation might be slightly easier going counterclockwise rather than the direction I followed.

Looking back at Donkey and Blue Lakes.

I found a few route cairns along the way.

First peek of Baboon Lakes with Mount Thompson in the background.

I could imagine myself overnight at Baboon Lakes.

It took me quite some time to pick my way around the Baboon Lakes basin.

I found a great Lake Sabrina viewpoint..

On my return trip, the color along Lake Sabrina was popping with much better light for photography.

Adventure Date(s):

  • October 4, 2019

Hike Details:


  • Although tempting to park at the boat launch area which includes restrooms, just don’t! Hiking across the dam is all fine and dandy until you reach the end where it’s a lot of unnecessary scampering. It’s one of those long short cuts you’d never recommend. Trust me.
  • Bishop is a great place to catch up on chores, eat some good grub, etc. If you need a shower go to the hostel. I don’t recommend the one at the laundromat as it was dirty and disgusting. Check online reviews of laundromats. If I remember correctly there are three in town.  You can use your Safeway ID for shopping at Vons; get your gas discount. Looney Bean was my favorite for coffee, eats and WiFi.
  • You can pick up a fall colors map and guide at many visitor centers and ranger stations along Highway 395. There are also several online sites offering current conditions; this is one I used and recommend (link).