Monday, September 24, 2012

Welcome Indian Summer

Daniels Summit, Wasatch County, Utah
With the advent of the Autumnal Equinox we have the beginning of "Indian Summer" or the first part of Autumn late September and October.

This is the time when temperatures are relatively comfortable in Zones 5-7. The leaves change in the mountains of the Northern Hemisphere(March, April in the Southern Hemisphere). Of particular interest are the Rocky Mountains, Alps, Himalayas, and Appalachians among others.

The Rocky Mountains are surrounded on all sides by desert or semi-desert  areas. The mountains of the Great Basin, high Mojave, Sonaran and Chihuahua Deserts in the United States all have "islands in the sky" of color. This is especially true when the colors peak in October. This year the colors will peak earlier it appears than other years. Leaves around my area were well changed before summer ended.

Alpine Loop, Mount Timpanogos, Utah.

If you hit the high country before the snow flies you can catch more than scrub oak, maples, aspen, and cotton wood changing. Ferns also provide a large ocean of color. Especially on the eastern or southern slopes where rain gets dumped  before hitting the rain shadows of the desert. These ferns are beautiful and deserve a look. Though short in life sometimes not coming out until June, they provide a great backdrop to the trees and surrounding countryside.

Many foothills of these mountains are also covered in Opuntia (prickly pear) in the drier locations. The Rocky Mountain Prickly Pear can withstand temperatures far below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The surrounding desert areas have sagebrush, yucca, Mormon Tea, and mesquite depending on the desert ecosystem below the high elevations.

The Grand Canyon is a great example of this. At the North Rim it is 8,000 feet above sea level with Aspen, and pine. At the bottom the Canyon resembles the Mojave Desert and can reach summertime temperatures well over 100 degrees.

So if you get a chance to get out and drive, especially is less green areas to the mountains to get some pictures of color before it all goes gray and brown and the snow settles in for the lifeless winter.


Cactus Ring

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