EASTERN SIERRAS IN THE FALL #4 – Fall Color near Bishop
EASTERN SIERRAS IN THE FALL #4 – Fall Color near Bishop
The next day we headed up into the eastern side of the Sierra Mountains outside of Bishop, CA in search of fall color. The two locations we headed for were South Lake and North Lake. South Lake is a half hour drive from Bishop without stops, but as the whole purpose was to photograph along the way, it took us much longer to get there. We stopped at several locations where there was color and which also had a place to pull off the road and park.
The road to South Lake, at an elevation of around 8500 ft., was ripe with fall color – mostly the yellows of Aspen and Birch but also red’s and orange’s of other trees. Once you turn off of CA-168 you start heading up a valley along the South Fork of Bishop Creek as it tumbles down from South Lake. Along the way there are several Forest Service camp grounds, a resort or two and many, many fishermen waist deep in the creek and ponds.
We stopped at several spots to take in the color and eventually made it up to South Lake where he had a picnic lunch. After we had lunch and a little hike on the hill above the lake the light had changed quite a bit so of course we had to stop again at many of the same places on the way down as we stopped at on the way up. The ultimate goal though was to make our way over to North Lake for sunset but is the afternoon was young we had time to stop a 3 or 4 different spots, each offering a different perspective on the fall color.
Fly fishing seems to be king along the South Fork of Bishop Creek as it cascades down from South Lake. Wherever we stopped it seemed there were people fishing which added a nice human element to the photos. Most of the anglers wade into the water to do their casting. I don’t know if they were catching anything, but it was interesting watching them. At other places the water ran a bit faster and tumbled over rocks and down small cascades with trees hugging the banks on both sides – many times arching all the over the stream like a rainbow of orange in front of green evergreens.
Hillside on South Lake Rd. near Table Mountain Group Campground
Fisherman, South Fork Bishop Creek near Willows Campground
Yellow Aspen, South Lake Rd. near Willows Campground
South Fork Bishop Creek near Willows Campground
Orange Arch over South Fork Bishop Creek near Willows Campground
Swath of Yellow, South Lake Rd. near Willows Campground
From South Lake Rd., near Willows Campground
After retracing our steps back down to the CA-168 junction we headed up a bit higher in to the mountains and took the cutoff to North Lake. North Lake is about 12 miles from South Lake, but the last 2 miles is a very winding dirt road with some steep sections so the going is much slower.
North Lake also swarms with fishermen and fisherwomen however here most of them seem to stick to the shore rather than wading in. There were one or two out in lake floating around in an inner-tube sort of thing but most lined the shore along the eastern and northeastern corner of the lake. As the sun was getting low in the west it bathed these anglers in lovely warm light on the narrow strip of rocks between the water's edge and a strip of forest blazing in yellow, red and orange.
This lake is positioned so that the late afternoon sun also bathes a colorful hillside on the north side of the lake with golden light - perfect for photographing with the lake in the foreground and the mostly yellow hill in the background. The folks on our trip (Palo Alto Camera Club field trip) arrived and hung out on the south shore of the lake. The idea was to shoot that large grove of trees in full fall colors on the hillside across the lake. This is one of the classic shots in the area and deservedly so. But, as we were waiting for the peak light, I decided to head over to the north side of the lake to see what the view was from that side. As it turned out I got a wonderful shot of the mountains reflected in the lake and I was still able to return to the south shore and get the classic shots from that side as well.
North Lake fishermen (& fisherwomen) lining the shore
North Lake reflection. From north side of lake looking south
Classic shot of color on North side of North Lake
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I hope you are enjoying reading the Fall in the Eastern Sierra’s travel log. The next installment will be for the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
- Images of this trip can be found on my website at.
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Thanks for reading – Comments Appreciated -- Dan
Keywords: Alpine Lake, Bishop Area, Bishop Creek, Bishop Railroad Museum, Blog, CA, California, Dan Hartford Photo, DanTravelBlog, DanTravelBlogEastSierra, Eastern Sierra Mountains, Esatern Sierra's, Fall, Fall Color, Fly Fishing, Mountain Reflection, North Lake, Sierra Mountains, South Fork Bishop Creek, South Lake
Thanks so much for sharing your photos and the very interesting historical information.
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