An Autumnal Rite of Passage

Each autumn, my part of the country is besieged by leaf watchers. Those hearty souls who plan an annual trip up into the mountains in order to witness how the changing fall colors have painted the mountain landscapes.

Typically, the best time for seeing this transformation, and for enduring gridlock on the Blue Ridge Parkway, is in early October .

A couple of months ago, a professor at one of the local universities predicted that this year would be particularly colorful and appear early due to the amount of rain that had fallen during the summer.

Such prognostications are almost always in error and this one proved to be no exception.

A particularly dry period in late August and early September seems to have thrown the proverbial monkey wrench into the works. By the second week of October there had been very little color change among the hard woods on the slopes of the Blue Ridge mountains.

During that period, I’m confident that local hotels and inns were filled with disgruntled patrons who had booked their reservations a year ago hoping to be greeted with mountain vistas of flaming reds, bright yellows, and oranges; only to find a palate of mostly green.

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The Falls at Graveyard Fields – October 19th

All is not lost however. A few days of rain and nighttime temperatures which have dropped into the low 40s seems to have done the trick.

Within the last week, the awaited transformation has begun in earnest.

Those who were wise enough to book their reservations for late October or even early November appear to have won this year’s leaf watchers lottery.

The color changes will continue to increase at the higher elevations and slowly progress down into the lowlands over the next few weeks.

Better late than never.

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