It turns out that, in terms of fall foliage, the color of too dry is officially known as “blah.” This would undoubtedly be the least popular color selection if it was included in a jumbo pack of Crayolas. Basically, it is a jumble of faded hues with a mottled brown patina throughout. This year’s dry summer could mean that “blah” may feature prominently in Mother Nature’s fall hardwood forest palette.
Why would a prolonged lack of moisture affect autumn color? Let’s look at what makes leaves colorful in the first place. Among the things we learned — and probably forgot right away — in Junior High Biology is that leaves are green because of chlorophyll, the amazing molecule that converts light, water and carbon dioxide into sugar and oxygen. Its intense green tends to mask colors such as orange and yellow that are present in leaves in lower concentrations. When chlorophyll dies off in the fall, those “weaker” colors are revealed. » Continue Reading.
There are still signs of fall in the lower elevations of the Adirondacks. On Sunday I explored Peaked Mountain and Peaked Mountain Pond in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness. The trail starts from the shores of Thirteenth Lake and branches off to follow a beautiful stream towards Peaked Mountain. The hike is about six miles round trip. I’ve been there twice and have yet to see more than a few people on the trail.
Fall foliage will be at or near peak this weekend in the Lake Placid area. John Warren’s Outdoor Conditions Report, which is issued each week, calls for near peak conditions through this weekend in the High Peaks Region. Couple that with favorable weather and it should be a great time to get out to enjoy the fall colors.
There are all sorts of festivals this time of year but as much as I love a good get-together, sometimes it’s the simple things my family appreciates the most. When we get bogged down with school openings and away games, we have to stop and take a moment to look around us.
My daughter’s favorite autumn color is pink. You may think that the trees don’t really become pink, but if you look at the blending of some of the yellows, oranges and brilliant red, the leaves do indeed have a pinkish cast to them. » Continue Reading.
The foliage around Heart Lake was showing about 25% color change this past weekend. The bright reds aren’t showing quite yet but spots of color are showing here and there. The next two weeks should be great for viewing fall colors. Early mornings after cold nights are a good time to see the contrast between frosted peaks and fall colors in the valleys below.
As a very young lad I was told that the summer sun bleached pigment from clothes hung on the line, and saved up the colors to paint on autumn leaves. It occurs to me that solar dryers (a.k.a. laundry lines) and fall leaf colors are similar in that they operate free of charge, but their performance depends on the weather. The same clear-sky conditions that produce dry, good-smelling (and a teensy bit faded) laundry also make for the best leaf color. While the former process is well-understood, the latter is a story fraught with murder and intrigue, and requires some explanation.
Chlorophyll, the green molecule at the center of the photosynthesis miracle, is what makes the world go ‘round. Some say money is, but without chlorophyll the sole life on Earth would be bacteria, whereas without money we’d only have to barter. (Given that both items are green, it’s easy to understand the mistake.) Green gives way to fall colors, though, when trees start killing their own chlorophyll, revealing yellow xanthophylls and orange carotenenoids that were in the leaves all along.
The northeastern United States is one of the few locations in the world that develops intense fall color (along with northern areas of China, Korea and Japan) and our region is just hitting its stride.
With all the variations in colors and tree species, it can be difficult to determine when an area is truly at peak color. I’d encourage you to enjoy all the transitions as they occur and look for the spots of color and beauty throughout the fall months around the region.
There are many factors that influence fall color. The yellow and orange pigments are always present in the leaves; they are just masked by the green chlorophyll until fall. As the leaves begin to get ready to drop the green fades away, revealing the yellows and oranges. » Continue Reading.
The fire is crackling, the dew is settling and the full moon is so bright that I can clearly see the two does quietly munching on fallen apples in the lower field. They don’t seem to mind that Pico and I are outside, and quite frankly, I’m happy that they don’t.
Fall is here. About half of the hardwoods around have either lost all their leaves or are changing color as we speak. I think it’ll be a poor year for fall colors. Too many trees have already changed, and there are still plenty that are solid green. The colors are changing too slowly for there to be any real “peak” this year.
The other very noticeable change is the amount of daylight we are having. It’s starting to get dark around seven-thirty, as opposed to the nine or nine-fifteen of a few months ago. It’s more tolerable now, with the solar panel powering a couple of nice LED lights. But still, winter is coming and it won’t be all that long. » Continue Reading.
If you’ve never heard of Bizarro World, then you didn’t read Superman comics as a kid. Well I didn’t either, but I learned about it in an episode of Seinfeld. I am in my own personal Bizarro World right now, flying about thirty thousand feet on my way to South Carolina via Chicago. And I can’t think of any place that could be farther from my simple lifestyle. This is as far from simple as you can get.
The guy sitting next to me has commandeered the armrest, which I guess is alright since we’re in an exit row. You have to take the good with the bad. I’m also pretty sure he is reading what I write. It’s OK for you to keep the armrest; I have the aisle, and that’s a fair trade.
It has been simple out at the cabin. The leaves are gorgeous and in the Northern Adirondacks peak leaf season is just about over. The red carpet of leaves on the trails is so bright it almost hurts your eyes, and the yellows, oranges and golds overhead create the appearance of a nice bright day even when it’s overcast and rainy. But those random shafts of light that penetrate the trees bring out so much color it’s a wonder to behold. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Region offers a longer foliage season than anywhere in the East, and more land to explore than the whole state of Vermont. This year’s Adirondack fall foliage is expected to be brilliant and lasting with an array of Adirondack events on tap. For an updated foliage report see the state tourism site’s Foliage Report.
VisitAdirondacks.com is the official tourism website of the Adirondack Region. Visitors can resource a diverse line-up of Adirondack fall festivals taking place throughout the region showcasing the colorful wilderness landscape. They include: Adirondack Harvest Festival Oct. 9 in Blue Mountain Lake offers a step back in time with wagon rides, cider pressing, music, pumpkin painting and so much more at the Adirondack Museum’s extensive grounds.
Harvest Festival Oct. 9 in Long Lake is a craft show with jewelry, soaps and scents, candles, quilts, table runners, furniture items, syrup, balsam products, and items knitted, crocheted, woven and sewn.
Flaming Leaves Festival Oct. 9-10 in Lake Placid is a popular fall event with live music, beer, bbq and a ski-jumping competition. Craft vendors are on site for kids, or take an elevator to the top of the 120-meter ski jump for a panoramic view of Lake Placid’s fall foliage.
Here is our list of the Adirondack Almanack‘s ten most popular stories of 2009, in descending order.
History of Adirondack Airplane Crashes This year’s tragic death of two in the crash of a Piper Cherokee 140 single engine aircraft en route from Saratoga to Malone spawned this look at the some 30 major plane crashes that have happened in the Adirondacks since 1912. Adirondack danger and disaster stories have always been an Adirondack Almanack reader favorite. I’ve covered thin ice, earthquakes, drownings, bridge collapses, mining, boating, and of course, our 10 Deadliest Accidents in The Adirondack Mountain Region. New Study: Coy-Wolves Evolved To Hunt Local Deer A new study by scientists from the New York State Museum showed how local coyotes have evolved to be bigger and stronger over the last 90 years, both expanding their geographic range and becoming the top predator in the Northeast – by interbreeding with wolves. 2009 was also notable at the Almanack for our addition new natural history contributor Ellen Rathbone. Ellen’s regular looks at our natural world have included how feral cats impact wildlife, the joys of macro wildlife photography, local unique trees like the Black Tupelo; she has stuck up for skunks, pondered porcupines, and even gave three cheers for carrion beetles (“nature’s sanitary engineers”).
Kids Enter Big Tupper Ski Area Fight One of the big stories in the region in 2009 has been the reopening of the Big Tupper Ski Area. Back in March, when reopening the old slopes was still very much tied to a development plan that included 652 high-end home and townhouses, a 60-room hotel, and more, Mary Thill took a look at the movement to enlist kids in the plan to make the development happen. “The project has become a sensitive issue, drawing questions about its scale, financing, tax breaks, new utilities and backcountry building lots,” Mary wrote, “Inside Tupper Lake, there have been shows of political and public support. Some have questioned whether asking kids to wear ski jackets and carry signs shills them into a much larger debate. And to miss a point. Nobody is against skiing.” Indeed, nobody was against skiing, and Tupper Lakers eventually worked diligently, apolitically and successfully to reopen their slopes.
Upper Hudson Rail Trail Planned: North Creek to Tahawus When the Almanack broke the news in October that there were plans afoot to transform the northern end of the Upper Hudson Railroad into a 29-mile multi-use trail from the North Creek Railroad Station to Tahawus, it sparked a great discussion between supporters and critics of the plan the spilled over into a follow-up post by new Almanack contributor Alan Wechsler. “We already have a paved path from North Creek to Newcomb – it’s called State Route 28N,” the first commenter opined. The ensuing debate covered the history of the rail line, the role of the federal government in seizing Forest Preserve land in war time, and the legal questions surrounding its subsequent abandonment.
Adirondack Fall Foliage Seen from Space Sometimes short and simple, fun and interesting, are just the ticket. Our discovery of a NASA satellite photo of the Northern Forest and parts of southeastern Canada taken several years ago at the peak of fall color was hugely popular.
Opinion: Hiking, Drinking and News at Adirondack Papers Mary Thill struck a nerve with local media folks (and even sparked some hate mail) when she questioned the wisdom of two new publications by local newspapers, including the Post-Star‘s leap into the weekly entertainment rag business, what she called a “crayon-font attempt to take ad share away from the excellent but shoestring real community newspaper.” The post inspired a collaboration with the Lake George Mirror‘s publisher and editor Tony Hall. Hall has offered some enlightening insight into the origins of the APA, the question over whether State Senator Ron Stafford was really an environmentalist, and some great expanded coverage of Lake George. The partnership with the Lake George Mirror opened the door for a similar weekly contribution from Adirondack Explorer editor Phil Brown, who has come forward with a return to the Battle of Crane Pond Road, some insight into Clarence Petty, and when it’s alright to call it a day. The jury is still out on the Adirondack Daily Enterprise better-designed hikey new outdoor-recreation publication as a business decision, but the bimonthly, called Embark, is gradually growing a low ad percentage; it appears to be helping keep at least one reporter employed, so we wish it well in 2010.
The Adirondacks: Gateway for Quebec Hydroponic Marijuana Whether a measure of what Adirondackers are really doing behind closed doors, or a testament to our fascination with crime drama, when Mary Thill (clearly the winner of this years “readers’ choice” award!) covered the July story of the largest border drug bust ever, readership went off the charts. “A billion dollars worth of this weed funnels through Clinton, Franklin, and St. Lawrence counties annually, according to Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne,” Mary wrote. “A look at the map is all it takes to see that much of it travels through the Adirondack Park on its way to Albany, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and as far south as Florida.” The news was a fascinating inside look at where some American marijuana comes from, but probably no surprise to those who were following the other big drug story of the year: the discovery of some 800 marijuana plants growing in Essex County.
“When will the colors be at peak?” Every year, starting in early August, we get asked this question countless times. We are tempted to give answers like “September 26th at 4:43 PM,” but in truth, one can never know. Predicting the fall colors is about as reliable as predicting the weather – you can only know for sure when it is happening. Around here, colors start to change in July. Many folks gasp when I tell them this. Isn’t that a bit early? No, not for us. The central Adirondacks have a very short growing season, and as such our springs arrive later and our falls arrive earlier. For those who have a hankering for a spot of color early in the season, the central Adirondacks is the place to be. Want to wait for peak color? Then schedule your trip for late September or early October; if you are lucky, you will catch it in time.
From year to year, the fall color show can be a surprise. Some years the colors are simply stunning – reds and oranges set the hillsides a-glow like so many embers fanned by the wind (this is one of those years). Other years the colors are just “okay.” And then there are the years that are complete duds. Fortunately, the latter are few and far between. We had a dud a couple years ago. The colors were not spectacular, and then the leaves dropped suddenly, all at once. It was a real disappointment for the leaf peepers.
Leaf peeping, as you can probably imagine, is one of the big tourist draws for the Adirondacks, and one of the many things I do is provide Fall Foliage reports for the central Adirondacks. Once a week I send in my report, rating color, guessing percentage of change, and trying to select the best viewing spots. It can be tricky, for it often depends on where you stand. It might be only 50% out my window, but two miles to the east the forest could be 90% changed, while two miles to the west it could be only 30%. Not only that, but what may be 20% when I send in my report might be 70% before the week is out!
How can you tell if it is a good year? I think dark, cloudy days are the best indicators: if on these days the mountains still glow, you know you have a great season on hand.
If you are looking for a good leaf peeping experience, you can’t miss right now if you drive through the central part of the Adirondack Park. Most of the hillsides are very colorful, creating some wonderful reflections in our many lakes and ponds. Once you hit the lower elevations, though, colors are not quite “there” yet. Give them a couple more weeks and they should be pretty good.
I crossed paths with a group of hikers on September 27, 2003 while traversing the High Peaks of the Dix Range near Keene Valley. The cloud ceiling that day was hanging at about 3500’ which put it well below the altitude of the herd paths and the rain was blowing sideways under heavy winds. There were no views, but the enthusiastic hikers were focused on a different goal. They were students from St. Lawrence University and comprised one of many groups scattered throughout the Adirondacks at that time.
Each was playing a role in a collaborative effort to put at least one St. Lawrence student on the summit of all forty-six High Peaks over the course of three days. The annual tradition called Peak Weekend was initiated by the university’s Outing Club in 1982. and coincides closely with autumn’s foliage peak, either the last week of September or the first week of October (though their first effort was attempted in the spring of 1982). An Outing Club meeting held the week prior enables all the participants to choose their objective, meet the group leaders and discuss logistics.
While autumn’s peak foliage hadn’t quite reached its full spectrum, September 25th marked the beginning of this year’s St. Lawrence University Peak Weekend. The weather during the end of last week made for the perfect autumn hiking conditions with most of the adventure taking place on Saturday. Crisp Adirondack blue skies free of summer’s humidity enunciated the splendor of autumn’s colors. Group sizes this year ranged from two to the DEC limit of sixteen, including some staff and faculty. The total participation was roughly 260 including three St. Lawrence athletic teams. Several groups camped Friday night in conditions below freezing while others met early Saturday morning to day-hike their objectives. Routes included both maintained trails and some less traveled routes including Mt. Colden’s Trap Dike which was ascended by a large group of first-year students. The coordinated effort has not always achieved its goal, though according to the Outing Club’s website, 2009 marked success for the fifth consecutive year.
The Upper Hudson River Railroad in North Creek has announced its Fall Schedule which includes foliage rides, a BBQ trip to 1,000 Acres Ranch, and the all-day 40 Miler excursion. Regular trains will run Thursday through Sunday through Columbus Day weekend, on Columbus Day, and on Saturday and Sunday thereafter to October 25th. Regular trains include a round trip from the North Creek Station to Riparius and back including a half-hour layover at the Riverside Station. Reservations are strongly recommended for Columbus Day weekend.
Upcoming special events include: LUNCH AT 1000 ACRES – September 30, 2009. Features BBQ lunch at the 1000 Acres Ranch. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED, 10% early bird discount. Includes a short stop at the Thurman Craft and Farmers’ Market Christmas in September at Thurman Siding.
40 MILER – Saturday October 17, 2009 – RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. The weekend after Columbus Day, features an all day excursion from the restored 90’ turntable in North Creek to the 96’ trestle where the Sacandaga River meets the Hudson.
For additional information call the Upper Hudson River Railroad at 518-251-5334 or visit their website at www.uhrr.com
In the Random Stuff We Like category: NASA has a great satellite photo of the Northern Forest and parts of southeastern Canada taken several years ago at the peak of fall color. You can see the full photo here.
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