September 23, 2010 – Merritt Lake Trail

Merritt Lake Trail

Merritt Lake Trail

Thursday, September 23, 2010

So, as promised, here’s a shot of some fall color, to officially welcome autumn! Well, it wasn’t really promised per se, it was more sort of vaguely hinted at. But that’s as good as a promise in my book! (Probably explains why I’m habitually disappointed by everyone around me.)

This picture of course comes from my favorite fall-color hike: the Merritt Lake Trail, which is along Highway 2 a little ways east of Stevens Pass. If there are any east-coasters reading this that find themselves stranded here in the Pacific Northwest and missing the colors found in the sea of deciduous trees out there, they should totally check this trail out. At least the first couple miles of it anyway. Most of the forest out here is of course coniferous, which means you don’t get any fall color. But you can find pockets that are spectacular. Specifically, there’s a lot of color in the lowlands, there tends to be a lot of oaks and such along rivers in the mountains, and here and there you’ll find random pockets of color like along this trail. Also, the little bushes and such at higher elevations tend to have some nice color displays, but you have to work a little bit more to get to those.

As far as when to go, that depends on your target. The high country is probably showing some really nice color *right now*, and potentially for the next couple weeks. The mid-country (like this trail) shows some really nice color in early/mid October usually (this picture was taken on October 11 last year, although the year before it wasn’t quite this far along that early), and the lowlands tend to peak around the end of October, maybe into the beginning of November. It’s of course tough to know how things are looking up there until you’re actually out there, so it can be a real bummer if you guess wrong, and aim too high or low. (Yeah, been there, believe me – last year in fact, I thought it was still high-country time, so I did a hike up at Mt. Rainier, but instead of seeing any fall color I ended up just hiking around in 3-6 inches of snow the whole day. Still awesome in its own way, but not quite what I had in mind.) I’m actually super curious to see what’s going on this year. Since the weather’s been so atypical all summer long, I have no clue when all the different colors will come out. They’re predicting about a day and a half of decent weather this weekend though, so I’m hopefully going to find out. My absolute fear is that this nice weather will land too soon, and nothing will be changing yet. We’ll see.

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens. 1/250s, f/5.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 37mm.

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