Yankee Meadows is another place Tom had mentioned, an area with green meadows and streams that both feed and drain the blue waters of Yankee Reservoir. In the spring I’m told it is covered in yellow and purple wildflowers. Nestled in a hollow at near 9,000 feet, the lake and surrounding meadows are contained by spruce- and aspen-covered hills that reveal their fractured red sandstone bones on the backside.
I approached Yankee Meadows from the northwest, passing the Vermilion Castle before ascending another 2,500 feet to enter the lush pocket between the Sidney Peaks to the south and the trailing Cedar Mountains to the east and west. Abby and I spent the afternoon cruising around the meadows off First Left Hand Canyon Road and then followed the stream uphill to the reservoir. Just the additional few hundred feet in elevation gain made quite the difference in leaf color between the lower meadows and the aspens lakeside; there had obviously been a frost at the level of the reservoir before the one below the campground. Still, many of the aspens were just getting started on their journey to yellow and there were plenty of green leaves to match the jade-colored grasses.
We set off to circumnavigate the lake but as we rounded the south end of the water we changed routes to walk down the forest road for a bit. Here, just a few hundred yards from the green and blue the vegetation abruptly changed to dry ponderosa pine forest; climbing the nearest hill we found ourselves looking at patches of sandstone and limestone poking through the tree cover in the forest beyond. It never fails to amaze me how different micro climates exist in such close quarters in these mountains. Walking up the ridge we circled back a couple hundred feet above the reservoir level, finally returning to the meadows at the north end.