We had an interesting wave cloud over and downwind of the San Francisco Peaks on Saturday. I first noticed it as I left the house driving to a trail run on Waterline Road in the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff.
The view from the parking lot and trailhead was partially obscured by trees but I knew that sections of the Waterline Road had a wide-open view. And, so, I found a view that I really liked with the wave cloud, road, and distant cinder cones.
I shot this as a set of five vertical panoramas on my iPhone. I then imported these into Affinity Photo to create a horizontal panorama (a panorama of panoramas!). Finally, I used some warp transformation in AP to fix the horizon (i.e.; make it straight instead of curved) and the corners.
It was a dry summer (driest on record in Flagstaff) and autumn hasn’t been too wet, either. And, yet, the autumn colors have been good. Very good, even, with leaves staying on the trees well into mid- and late October.
In early October, the aspen were changing colors on the north side of the San Francisco Peaks.
A week later, the leaves had already peaked along Waterline Road and were falling from the trees and covering the road.
The aspen have been at their peak color for about a week now. In just a few more days the leaves will fall or be blown away and another fall leaf season will come to an end. We didn’t want to miss the show so we rode our mountain bikes up the Inner Basin Trail to the Waterline Road to enjoy the fabulous colors.
A few years ago the upper portions of the Inner Basin trail underwent some re-routing and the trail now twists and turns through a near surreal stand of aspen as it ascends from Lockett Meadow to the Waterline Road. The landscape has been described as a Monet-like scene when the leaves turn colors in the fall.
Here are a few photos from that day. It just doesn’t get any better than this: beautiful fall colors, mild temperatures, clear skies, and light winds.
Fall is arguably the best season in Flagstaff — although it is often too brief. Winds tend to be light, daytime temperatures are warm, it rarely rains or snows, and the sky is almost always a deep, rich blue. Add to that the changing colors of the leaves of the aspen trees and a mountain bike trip and it becomes a great day.
A few days ago, we biked our favorite section of the Arizona Trail between Forest Road 418 and Snowbowl Road. This is a gradual uphill climb between 8000 and 9000 feet and moves through ponderosa pine, aspen forests, and open meadows. There are even a few bristlecone pines to be found here. Many aspen leaves had already fallen leaving a carpet of color on the forest floor and the trail.
A week earlier we found ourselves biking the Inner Basin Trail that leads up from Lockett Meadows on the east side of the San Francisco Peaks. The aspen along the Waterline Road were already in full color at this elevation. This section of Waterline Road was spared in the Schultz Fire that burned much of the eastern slopes of the San Francisco Peaks in June 2010. Once in the Inner Basin, we stashed the bikes and hiked up the old roads through many aspen groves.