A relatively quiet summer hiking season in the High Peaks wrapped up with a zany holiday weekend that, according to Town of Keene officials, included jammed trailheads, full shuttles, lost children, a dog bite and, why not, a group that wanted to parachute from a helicopter onto Marcy Field (they were told this might not be the best weekend for it).
It features a little jewel of a trout pond and, if you know where to look, a brilliant view up upper Keene Valley, an overlook reached by a quick, hundred-yard bushwhack. I can go entire summers and see no one on this trail — yet on Tuesday I encountered four friends and neighbors, all of whom had the same idea as I did: It’s safe to come out now.
No matter where you live, late fall is an excellent time to hike, paddle and bike. It is also time to listen to sober and earnest discussions about the timing and quality of the fall colors. My wife Beth insists there are Parisian sommeliers who are not as studious in their art as those Adirondackers who parse the occult set of conditions and processes necessary to produce that perfectly hued leaf.
Depending on who you listen to, the best leaves are produced by summers that are really wet. Or really dry, one of the two. They are more vivid after a summer that has been unseasonably hot. Or maybe unseasonably cool. Frost either enhances the colors, or is the ruin of them. Same with a light rain. Color can be affected by cloud cover that hides the angle of the sun. Unless it can’t.
After hearing all sides, you can’t help but think there is nothing in nature as moody and capricious as an Adirondack leaf. But looks can make up for a lot of character flaws, which makes this, to many eyes, the best of the Adirondack seasons.
Clements Pond photo by Tim Rowland
Editor’s note: This first appeared in Adirondack Explorer’s weekly “Explore More” newsletter. Click here to sign up.