Visiting colorful Eastern Sierra an annual ritual

It began as a walk in the autumn woods, where the fiery hues of changing aspen leaves created an amber glow. It became one of my more interesting sit and see adventures.

The brilliance of fall was everywhere as I hiked from Silver Lake to Grant Lake in the Eastern High Sierra.

Woodpeckers were working feverishly, deer were feeding, trout biting, leaves changing, and campers bundling up as the crisp air of fall slammed the door on departing summer. The beauty was overwhelming, almost to the point of distraction as my eyes darted from scene to scene. It was hard to believe it could get better.

My fall trips to the Eastern Sierra are an annual ritual. I’ll be there again in a few weeks as the chiseled canyons of the rugged “Eastside” begin to look like lava flows as the aspen groves ignite with brilliant colors.

The hike from Silver Lake to Grant Lake is in the June Lake Loop. It’s a beautiful area of aspen groves, rugged geology and Rush Creek that tumbles through sage flats and dense stands of trees. It’s not a long hike, but it rates near the top of the scenic scale.

As Rush Creek nears the back end of Grant Lake, it courses through thick stands of aspens. Here the trail meanders beside the creek and then pops out into the flats where it enters the lake.

This was my turn-around point, and a good place to drop my pack, enjoy a light lunch and beautiful scenery before heading back the nearly 3 miles to my truck.

It was also a good place for one of my sit and see adventures, where I spend at least an hour in one place and simply observe the natural world around me.

Movement in the distance caught my attention, and I realized it was the slow arc of a fly-fishing line moving through the air. A fisherman stepped from behind a bush as he slowly walked and presented a fly in hopes of connecting with a hungry trout. He had the creek all to himself.

At the tip of a dead tree an osprey looked out over the distant lake. I could see nothing, but his trained eye could spot the ripples of water created by a trout close to the surface. He pushed off, and effortlessly climbed slowly, then accelerated downward, talons extended.

As the osprey approached his prey, he thrust his talons forward, snatching a trout from the lake, then climbed back into the air.

A simple trail lunch seems like a gourmet meal in a place like this, but you won’t find atmosphere like this at any five-star eatery.

Speaking of lunch, I heard a noise and turned around to find a curious — or hungry — marmot eyeing my daypack. He seemed totally unconcerned that I was right there as he stuck his head into my pack and rummaged around. Love these little guys.

About then a small group of eared grebes came floating by in the slow current of Rush Creek. One, then another, and another would pop beneath the water as they drifted along, feeding in the shallow water.

A gentle breeze caused the aspen leaves to quake as afternoon shadows began to grow longer. The whisper of the chilly fall wind was suddenly broken by the chatter from a flock of migrating yellow-rumped warblers, heading south before winter storms arrived.

As I packed up, added a jacket and prepared to leave, I spotted a deer watching me on the other side of the creek. From the thickets, another doe emerged, followed by a fawn.

As if announcing my departure, a noisy Clark’s nuthatch told the world between jabs at a pine cone as he looked for tasty seeds.

My sit and see adventure would last another hour or so and I walked and observed, surrounded by such beauty.

Senior anglers

Guests are welcome at the Oct. 13 meeting of the Senior Anglers of Escondido where guest speaker Geoff Hunt, owner of LP Fishing and Lobster Port Trap Co. in Oceanside will talk about lobster fishing.

Hunt’s company is the largest manufacturer of lobster and crab traps on the West Coast, and he will talk about the differences between flat drop nets, hoop float nets, bait cages and new regulations affecting the season that is now open.

The club meets at 9:30 a.m. at the Park Avenue Community Center, 210 Park Ave., in Escondido.

Email [email protected] or visit erniesoutdoors.blogspot.com.

Source : http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/north-county/sd-no-cowan-column-1007-story.html

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