We've returned from a field studies expedition to the eastern Sierra Nevada, and I can report that fall has arrived! We've had a very warm summer, and the heat waves continued into September, but then we had a sudden cold snap, and even some snow. Tioga and Sonora Passes briefly closed, but opened again in time for our trip. The aspens and cottonwoods have responded to the sudden cold conditions.
Our route took us over Sonora Pass, where fresh snow still lingered on the high slopes. It's a sight I'm not used to. We spent a lot of time in the Bodie area and in the White Mountains where there aren't many deciduous trees, but late in the weekend we moved into the canyons below the Sierra Crest.
One of the special places is Convict Lake, which is dammed by a moraine of the Tioga glaciation that ended about 13,000 years ago. Aspens and cottonwoods crowd the shoreline, providing vivid color.
On our last day, we took the June Lake Loop, and stopped to explore Silver Lake. The canyon of Reversed Creek and Rush Creek is a spectacular glacial valley with high peaks above, and a string of beautiful lakes.
As we wandered among the trees, we heard a rockfall on the slopes high above. It wasn't all that big, leaving little dust in the air, but it was exciting to listen to geology in action.
It's been a long summer, but the drought finally broke, and the forest was looking healthy. Our mountains might not have the color range of the eastern hardwood forests, but then again, those forests don't have the mountain backdrop of our beloved Sierra Nevada.