Saturday, October 7, 2023

Shooting fall foliage, visiting Buttermilk Falls with grandson Nathan

Butter Milk Falls-Raquette River

If anyone came to the Adirondacks this weekend, they wouldn’t be disappointed in seeing the fall color (unless they had their eyes closed) as it was spectacular. My grandson, Nathan, and I got out for an afternoon of shooting some of the hot spots in the area, and there were shutter bugs at all of them taking in the view and getting shots of their own. We started out at [the] Limekiln Campsite boat launch, where there is a super red maple in full color and the shoreline across the lake was in full color. One of the pairs of Loons came by to say hello, with a few fall hoots. Then we went to the Seventh Lake Lookout which was full of [folks with] cameras in hand shooting across the lake and the nearby shoreline.

We looked at [a] couple roadside spots, but didn’t stop and traveled to Death Brook Falls which wasn’t much more than a trickle, but made for some nice photos with the leaves overhanging. Someone there [asked if there are] any places in the area with more water flowing. I said, “Buttermilk Falls on the Raquette River off North Point Road near Long Lake.” That was our next stop, the parking lot was full, and the water was rushing over the falls. Cameras and cell phones were clicking, hopefully taking in the splendor there. There was something going on up on the Blue Mountain Tower trail as two ambulances, a police car, and [a] fire truck were parked at the road that goes up to the top of the mountain when we went by.


One of the hikers must have twisted or broken something, and had to be hauled off the mountain. We made one more stop by the dry hydrant between Inlet and Eagle Bay to see how the fringed gentians were doing this year. There were so many in bloom, you could see the blue colors from the shoulder [of the] road. There were many first-year plants, with just one bloom, but there were [also many] plants that had several blooms. [I] took a few shots and picked some roadside litter that comes with our visitors. Nathan and I did go out the night before to get some full moon shots, but there were too many clouds still in the east and it never [appeared.] I got up during the night and saw it was showing now and then through the clouds, so I got up before daylight and went down to the Fourth Lake Boat Launch.


It was very thick fog as I traveled down to the launch site, but as I got out of the car there was the full moon just above the fog. I set up my tripod quickly and got five shots before the fog covered the full moon, never to be seen again. A couple golfers stopped by as they couldn’t get on the local course because the fog was so thick, they would get lost on the course and never see their balls after they hit them. During the week, I went out one day to fish in a remote pond. There were vehicles parked at the trailhead and I hoped they went to the other pond…and not the one I was going to. I found fresh moose tracks as I was walking into the pond (first on an old road, then bushwacking for a mile.)


As I turned off that road, so did the moose and I followed it through the woods nearly to the pond. The guys from the parked vehicles were there using [a] canoe, so I had lunch and waited until they came in. I could see
they were catching some fish, so I thought my chances were good at getting some myself. We had a short chat about the trout, and they showed me a picture of one nice one they caught and released. I was more exploring than fishing, as I have never fished there before. I caught one small one and had a couple other hits in the hour I was on the pond. I never did find the deep water that showed on my map, so I think someone goofed making that map. So, it was just a nice walk through the woods that day.

Full Harvest Moon

Full Harvest Moon by Gary Lee.

On Sunday, [October 1] I was the volunteer steward up on Stillwater Fire Tower, and it was a super day. I got up there for sunrise and didn’t have any human visitors until about 9:30 a.m. A few flocks of geese flew by just after daylight. I could [also] hear some young Loons trying out their voices on Stillwater Reservoir, [and] a family of coyotes got a chorus going a few times just north of the tower. Some Black-Capped Chickadees and Golden-Crowed Kinglets were getting breakfast in the red spruces around the tower and a Pileated Woodpecker called out over my disturbance in his woods. As the sun melted the fog that was in every valley, the true fall colors of the trees took over the landscape.


I even got to see some smoke come up from the forest down in the valley to the east [of] Hitchcock Lake. It must have come from someone starting their woodstove at one of the lease camps in that area. It only lasted about five minutes and then disappeared. Then the visitors started arriving and they were still coming up the trail as I went down at 3 p.m. I tallied over 80 visitors, most of whom climbed the tower (even several who were afraid of heights.) They hung on to the map table as they took shots of the beautiful landscape out the open window with their cell phones. Most had never been up to this tower before, and some were doing the tower challenges in the Adirondacks, and they were doing two or three towers that day.


They picked the right day, as the colors were certainly at peak. Visibility wasn’t the best, looking toward the High Peaks as smoke from the fires in Canada and haze covered them most of the day. Many visitors had never been up in a fire tower or seen a fire tower map. They had a lesson that day. It was nice to see so many families getting out in the woods and making the trip up to the tower.


Many hunting seasons are open, but that’s another story. See ya.


Photo at top: Buttermilk Falls-Raquette River. Photo by Nathan Lee.

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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."

One Response

  1. Joyce Dousharm says:

    Love seeing Gary’s articles again. Just recently discovered his articles in the
    Adirondack. Have missed him since Old Forge paper closed

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