Saturday, October 23, 2021

Adirondack gold

fall foliage

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).

Being fortunate enough to live here year ’round, I got out on a couple of trails this week after the crowds had gone, feeling a bit like a cockroach coming out after the lights have been turned out for the night. A favorite of mine is Clements Pond, a slip of a trail scarcely 15 minutes from the popular Cascade but worlds away in terms of use.

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.

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Tim Rowland

Tim Rowland is a humor columnist for Herald-Mail Media in Hagerstown, Md., and a New York Times bestselling author. His books include High Peaks; A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene and Strange and Unusual Stories of New York City. He has climbed the 46 high peaks, is an avid bicyclist, and trout tremble with fear when they see his approaching shadow. He and his wife Beth are residents of Jay, N.Y.




3 Responses

  1. MITCHELL EDELSTEIN says:

    “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.”

    So very true.

  2. Ed Burke says:

    The Adirondacker, “There are no reds”
    The Parisian sommelier, “How many bottles do you want?”
    Moi, “The colors are beautiful”

  3. Ed Ackenback says:

    Love the story,use to camp,hunt and back pack in the adirondacks.live in FL.miss those days.

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