AUTUMN ON THE WAY: Call it a sign of a possible El Niño, call it evidence of a quirky tree gone rogue, call it a beautiful and strange sight to see in summer, but a couple of liquidambars around Southern California are already going a bit red in the leaf department. This isn't necessarily a prediction that all trees will turn color ahead of schedule -- trees can be as individual as people in what they do -- but it is a reminder that fall isn't far-off. Look to the tourism people of Mono County and their general enthusiasm for foliage-seeking, an enthusiasm expressed via social media in July. Is July too early to start thinking about cooler temperatures and those bright gold cottonwood and aspen leaves seen around the Eastern Sierra? Probably not, since there as a surprise snowfall in the area on July 8 and 9, at the Tioga Pass. Getting autumn-excited is perfectly acceptable around the time kids start getting their school schedules and classroom assignments and fall fans start thinking that it might be nifty to see a mess of mountainside leaves in their full October glory.
"ONLY TWO MONTHS AWAY!" The Mono County Tourism page recently trumpeted the fact that autumn aficionados can start dreaming of crisp days around June Lake or Silver Lake or Convict Lake or any of the little pockets up and around Bishop that get especially bold in the hue department come October. To help Golden Staters plan their trek into "one of America's Best Foliage Forests!" the Mono County crew has provided a link to the Fall Color Guide & Map, a pdf that also covers the trees and vistas of Inyo County. September and October annual events are included, too, so you can plan your Sierra-close jaunt to include doings like Ghosts of the Sagebrush Tour in Lee Vining and the Lone Pine Film Festival in Lone Pine. If you've had it with the heat and look forward to brisk mornings and aspens decked out in their golden coats, here's your guide, autumnists.