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The very top of the bright yellow aspens rustling in the warm autumn air caught my eye off in the distance. There was no trail in sight so it meant traipsing though waist high wild rose bushes down towards the creek which lays at the bottom of a deep canyon without knowing what I would see. The further I went, the darker the forest became and I began to wonder if it had been a mistake to leave my tripod back at the car now quite some distance behind me. I could hear the water as I approached the creek and the air became much cooler. Down one last muddy bank and I could finally see the brilliant colors of the aspens reflecting in the creek at my feet. The intense contrast was almost blinding. On one side a small pine leaned over the creek as if trying to capture some of the intense light being reflected off the aspens. I set the camera to compensate for the brightest part of the image and just hoped the deep green created by the dense evergreen forest would show up.

If you have ever driven down Tioga pass and wondered what is at the bottom of that 3000 foot cliff that hangs below you, I recommend taking the time to check it out. This is just one of the many examples of the scenery you will see. I must have driven up and down the pass nearly a hundred times and never turned on the road that goes up the bottom of the canyon but each time I had driven by I had wondered. As it turns out, it really is stunning down with a beautiful creek filled with waterfalls, aspen and tall evergreen pines. There are a number of amazing campgrounds that rival those in Yosemite National Park just 11 miles on up the road. In fact these may be nicer than the ones up at Tuolumne. I was surprised that most of the campgrounds were closed for the season though the weather was still quite nice and well worthy of camping. In some cases it was quite a walk to the creek but often just leaving the road a few yards took you in to pristine forest lined with gold and yellow aspens hidden cascades and fallen logs that pass over the creek making natural bridges perfect for hiking. This is a great place for fall scenery and an even better place to camp when it's open.

© Darvin Atkeson

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