Winter is coming to the Sierra Nevada’s enchanting Mokelumne Wilderness

I mentioned the other day that I’d be posting a story about the autumn-blazed aspens I had looked forward to experiencing. The weather had made a distinctive turn during the week, and Summer had suddenly and finally become Fall.

The Quaking Aspen waits patiently for Winter.

The Quaking Aspen, Populus tremuloides, waits patiently for Winter.

At 7800 feet, the nights around Caples Lake in the Sierra Nevada’s Mokelumne Wilderness, near Carson Pass, had begun to drop below freezing. The quaking aspen responded by metamorphosing to gold and orange and red, especially in the groves near the Lake, where the air temperatures remained cooler.

We just missed the wet weather in camp, having spent three days in progressively cooler sunshine. On the drive home down Highway 88, however, right about the time we hit Waterloo, the water hit us.

Meanwhile, we had enjoyed two good hikes. I always enjoy taking people up to Emigrant Lake from the trailhead at Caples Lake Dam, where fisherpeople abound. With four uphill miles to Emigrant Lake, however, you don’t see any fishin’ folk at all. It’s not that they’re soft, I’m sure. They probably don’t undertake this hike because their fish will spoil on the hike out.

We discovered a new trail, too, to Margaret Lake – one I’d been meaning to explore for years. The trailhead is just west of Kirkwood Inn, and the hike is a 5-mile out-and-back – just perfect distance on a drive-home day.

A cool October morning on Caples Lake.

A cool October morning on Caples Lake.

It’s currently pouring cats, dogs, and cows here in the Bay Area this early afternoon. In retrospect, I’m sure glad I’d scheduled last week’s camp-out when I did. Putting it off one more week would have changed everything.

Snow is falling intermittently in the high passes of the Sierra today, and Winter waits with mild impatience.