Fall 2017: The foliage season of bits and pieces

01st November 2017
News Item: With each blog post this late fall and winter, I will be unveiling the revamping of one of my galleries at a time. In this post check out my updated and revised Fall Foliage Season gallery.

Fall foliage season of 2017 was hyped up by national media outlets as it was supposed to be one of the best ever. However, after that prediction was made in late August, New England experienced unusual heat waves (we had 4 straight days above 90 degrees in a row in the capital of New Hampshire) and a prolonged draught. Looking at my calendar filled with work, family commitments, and out of region (urban!!!) travel on the historical peak foliage weekend, I also feared a similar draught would be experienced in my photography.

Well both draughts did prevent an epic foliage season, but there was to still beauty to be found in bits and pieces in both the region and tiny windows of opportunity in my schedule. Photographers and leaf peeper were frustrated this year trying to pinpoint a "peak season" like in 2016, pictured below:

It simply didn't all come together in one harmonious blaze of glory this year. The reality of life and landscape photography is that you can't control everything and you can't always get what you want; so I offer what I got instead. Even though this seasons shooting did not produce huge winners, I still will share the results of this year's foliage season and convey the story of the isolated stages of the sequence of fall's progression in New Hampshire, which is perhaps the thing this season did best.

The first places to look for fall color are marshy areas, such as the edge of Cherry Pond in Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge (late September):

Berries turning in Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge are another sign of fall's arrival:

Along the Mud Pond Trail

Mt. Major, Belknap Range, Alton, NH Early October

Sometimes the first time you see a colorful leaf is on the ground. Maple leaf on eroded granite in boot print shape.

Along the Greeley Ponds Trail, White Mountain National Forest, NH, Early October:

Usually this location would have peak foliage at the date I visited, but this year it wasn't. This shot told the story of October, many maples turned dull brownish yellow and fell off the trees before the other species of trees turned at all.

Shadows isolate a backlit striped maple

The peaks around Greeley Ponds had more evidence of a dull yellow foliage year:

Backpacking the Appalachian Trail over Smarts and Cube Mountain Mid-October

Normally this would have been stick season in the trees and ice season on the trails of the White Mountains. This year we still had foliage and temps that go no lower than 58 on our night sleeping out!

The best full foliage I saw this year was in the Eastern White Mountain National Forest on a late October hike up Mt. Chocorua:

This is usually a time when all the leaves are down except beech and oak, but that wasn't the case this year as seen from this view on the upper reaches of the Brook Trail.

There were a few interesting details along the trail that day:

And some interesting shots at Chocorua Lake on the drive up that morning

A paddler facing Mt. Chocorua on Chocorua Lake

Paddling Amid Foliage on Chocorua Lake

The final stage of the fall transition is when all the trees are bare except the beech and oak, which the last species to turn color, usually rusty orange.

Mt. Major, Nov 1, 2016

Sometimes winter comes during this stage unexpectedly. That was certainly the case in 2016 late October 2016 on a hike up the Andrew Brook Trail to Lake Solitude and Mt. Sunapee. I never got around until editing these photos until just this week!

The hike that day started looking like the typical late October hike with downed brown leaves along the Andrew Brook

But once I got to the relatively modest elevations of 1500- 2700' there were several inches of wet heavy snow even though the birch leaves were still just turning

You might say I was caught off guard. My two Ziploc freezer bags saved the hike to provide improvised water proofing for my otherwise non-waterproof trail runners!

The final image from that hike was made when I found a late turning maple still shedding its leaves on top of five inches of snow. The transition from fall to winter complete in one shot.

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