Till The Last Leaf Falls

Frosty red aspen leaf, Kaibab National Forest.

Frosty fallen red quaking aspen leaf, Kaibab National Forest.

And the last aspen leaf has fallen up on the Kaibab Plateau near the North Rim of Grand Canyon. No, I’m not claiming this one was the very last one. But they were all down last week, except for a few isolated late colors. Another autumn over with, up that high (8,000 to 9,000 feet in elevation).

Aspen Colors, Kaibab National Forest

Autumn continues its slow but gradual progression up on the Kaibab Plateau on the northern Arizona Strip. Warm, shortening days along with cool nights still free of frost or an early snow are doing the job. Those conditions tell the aspen trees that there is no hurry to drop leaves. A gradual lessening of the green chlorophyll in their leaves reveals the other colors, especially yellow and gold, sometimes orange and red.

I was slowly cruising through the Kaibab National Forest between Jacob Lake and the North Rim of Grand Canyon, looking for the earliest colors. In the morning light I was able to get close to some lower branches with outstanding colors. The Still green foliage of the other trees behind it served as a rich background to contrast with, along with the clear blue sky.

Autumn gold, blue skies, warm sunlight, chilly nights. The best time of year.

Aspen leaves in morning sun, northern Arizona.


Aspen leaves in morning sun, northern Arizona.

Fall Colors Have Begun: Kaibab Plateau

September on the Kaibab Plateau. The second best month of the year, because it’s autumn now. The best month? October, of course.

This time I’m getting to watch the entire unfolding of the fall colors, from start to finish. Every day. Day by day. Last week I sought out the very earliest of the aspen colors. A few clones of trees turned already. Some gold on the ground.

Photo Location: Kaibab National Forest, North Kaibab District, outside Grand Canyon National Park North Rim, Arizona.

Fallen Quaking aspen leaf

Fallen Quaking aspen leaf, Kaibab National Forest

North Rim Double Rainbow

Double rainbow, Roaring Springs Canyon, Grand Canyon North Rim.

Double rainbow, Roaring Springs Canyon, Grand Canyon North Rim.

Monsoon season scattered thundershowers continue around Grand Canyon this week. For the patient photographer, it provides a lot of variety in clouds and sunrise and sunset colors.

And of course: rainbows, especially in the late afternoons.

Photo location: Roaring Springs Canyon and Walhalla Plateau, North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

Marble Canyon Viewpoint, Kaibab Plateau

Edge of the Kaibab Plateau from Marble View.

[Photo: Edge of the Kaibab Plateau from Marble View. Click on image for larger version. © Stephen J. Krieg]

Is it the end of this year’s monsoon rain season? I couldn’t help thinking that yesterday as I walked out on the spine of limestone below Marble View on the Kaibab National Forest a few miles outside the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

No clouds today. None. Nothing. And calm. Well, at least the air was about as clear as it gets anymore. The light was lovely: bright and crisp. I savored my perch from the northeast edge of the Kaibab Plateau, gazing down onto the Marble Platform from which the same layers I was standing on had been raised several thousand feet above the rest. To the north are the Vermilion Cliffs, to the upper right where Lees Ferry is located.

Photo Location: Marble View, Kaibab National Forest, north of North Rim, Arizona.

Edge of the Kaibab Plateau: The Cockscomb and Marble Platform

Cockscomb from Dog Point, Kaibab National Forest, Arizoan.

Cockscomb and Marble Platform, Kaibab Plateau, Arizona Strip

This is where it began. Where the Kaibab Plateau was raised up some 4,000 feet above the surrounding Marble Platform to the north. At the upper end of Grand Canyon. The Colorado River continued to downcut through the rising layers, and the exposed sides of the inner gorge eroded back, back, widening the Canyon network, which it continues to do today. We merely happen to be present at this point in time, in the ongoing process. This place is literally falling apart!

This view is on the Kaibab National Forest, north of the entrance gate to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Looking down from near Dog Point. Far below you can actually see the same upper layers of rock that were titled from horizontal as the land rose. The Cockscomb of tilted Coconino Sandstone looks like a picket line, at the edge of the Saddle Mountain Wilderness.

In the far distance you can make out the Vermilion Cliffs, and Echo Cliffs at Marble Canyon and Lees Ferry, Arizona.