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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Joys of Fall

I love fall!  It is a feast of color and scent.  We were lucky to be in New England in early October and were treated to some brilliant displays of color, first under crisp cerulean skies then in mist and rain and fog.

Into the woods at Northfield Mount Hermon
We took advantage of the girls' long weekend to make a trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire for some hiking.  We chose the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail with hopes of reaching the summit of Mt. Washington. By the time we emerged from the protection of trees we were all soaked with sweat and so ducked into the emergency shelter at the Lakes of the Clouds hut to change out of our wet clothes and get fully suited up in our rain gear.  Though we were not in an emergency situation at that point, we would have been had we not changed our clothing.  The bad weather for which these mountains are so famous was in full force:  powerful winds, heavy rain, dropping temperatures and very limited visibility.

Steve and Isabel preparing to brave the weather
Once back on the trail I was really glad to have on dry clothes - and a new rain jacket.  I kept thinking that I could hear jets flying overhead, but no, it was just the wind screaming past the summit. I was blown right off of the trail a couple of times and sometimes had to use all fours to make any forward progress.  This photo gives an idea of how soupy it was.  You can just see Steve and the girls at the trail junction discussing whether to make the final push to the summit or to head back down. We played it safe and headed back down, thankful for the the cairns marking the trail.

Three tenths of a mile from the summit
Compared to the rocky upper elevations, the valley is remarkably lush and mossy and made me think of Hobbits. And the rich scent of pine was heavenly.

Along the Jewell Trail
When I came home I made a couple of pine sachets to remind me of our walk.

Bitten by the bug of fall colors, I took a day to drive around the Texas hill country west of Austin. Texas has its share of color, though it is more subtle than in New England, with the colors generally much deeper.  Bald cypress turn a lovely rusty brown, cedar elms a muted yellow and red oaks become a rich burgundy.  I don't have any photos of red oaks, though, because they won't be at their peak until the end of November or early December.  How lucky am I to experience such an extended fall?!
Bald cypress along the Blanco River
Bald cypress along the Guadalupe River
Sisterdale barn

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