Like Nowhere Else
ABOVE THE BIG LAKEThe landscape is awash in brilliant color at the height of foliage season. From the summit of Mount Major, Lake Winnipesaukee and the mountains beyond are visible.
I use the word experience purposefully, because you don't just see the foliage. You feel it. It touches your emotions. At least that's what it does to me.
I've lost count of how many New England foliage seasons I've been privileged to see. 30? 35?
I can assure you it never gets old.
The entire region is stunning this time of year but for my money, it's Northern New England that's the real show-stopper. More specifically, New Hampshire. If you've never been in the Granite State for foliage season do yourself a favor and put it on your bucket list: you must see the extravaganza in the White Mountains. It really doesn't get any better.
ADIEUThe last light of the day touches the clouds above Crawford Notch State Park, dotted with October color.
Can you "time" the show? Kind of. Loosely.
Consider what the conditions have been like throughout the course of the year, then factor in how the calendar generally shakes out. After that, roll the dice and see what happens. That's about as much of a guarantee as you're going to get.
New England has experienced more than adequate rainfall over the course of the summer. The trees are in good shape. A cold snap in February killed some of the invasive insects that attack the forests, especially in the north country. As long as it's not muggy and overly rainy in the next few weeks, there's a good chance this autumn's show will be "on schedule" and could be high quality: vibrant and long-lasting.
(Even a "so-so" foliage season in New England is pretty amazing, so there's really no downside.)
Color begins early in Vermont, especially in the Northeast Kingdom. Right about now. Much of the state might be peaking by the end of the month, with the exception of the far southern swath. There you should be able to find color into the first week of October. Maybe a little longer.
New Hampshire's show also beings in mid-September in the Great North Woods, but it lasts longer statewide. The White Mountains region is typically peaking around the first week or so of October. The Lakes and Monadnock regions come next. The Seacoast brings up the rear.
In Maine, the first areas you'll find color are in the far north and western parts of the state (usually late September). Acadia National Park generally peaks right around Columbus Day but good luck with the traffic in and around Bar Harbor. I've photographed Acadia over the holiday weekend; I don't recommend it. It's a zoo. Further down the coast, it's safe to assume the color will be later: middle of October-ish.
I mention Vermont and Maine in an effort to be fair, but let's get down to brass tacks. Once you see the Granite State's autumnal performance I guarantee you'll feel like you've landed just this side of heaven.
So lovely. So transient.
All too soon the magical display will say goodbye. After that, winter won't be far behind.
But not for a while yet.
Between September 1st and 6th, six grizzlies were killed in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In at least three of the cases, food conditioning was blamed for the bears' behavior. This is grizzly country, yet there are constant issues regarding the securing of food.
A fed bear is a dead bear, as they say.
Senator Risch (Idaho) will tell you the states do a better job managing wildlife than the federal government. If trophy hunting and extermination to satisfy financial interests are what it means to be a good custodian of wildlife, he's correct. 399 in particular will be a walking target if Idaho, Wyoming and Montana are successful in their quest to delist grizzlies.
Don't let it happen. Contact your representatives regarding H.R. 1245, H.R. 1419, and S. 2571.
Separately, H.R. 764 seeks to delist gray wolves from protection. Another bad idea.
Follow the link to learn more about the bears and the ongoing effort to sustain a viable population of wild grizzlies.
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