Autumn in New England

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 10, 2008

By Wayne Hinshaw
We’re enjoying the beautiful colors of autumn here in Rowan County now, but wife Sammie and I became “leaf peepers” this fall in New England.
More than 30 years ago, we took a two-week trip to New England, the first of June, traveling all the way into Canada.
On our most recent trip, we knew it was the right time of year for fall color ó but we didn’t know exactly where it was.
Each year, the color starts in Maine and makes its way southward. We thought we’d just head north ’til we hit color.
In Albany, N.Y., we started seeing some good color. From Albany, we went east into Vermont. The town of Bennington is in southern Vermont. By the time we got there there was lots of color ó it was probably at its peak in Bennington.
Highway 7 out of Bennington was the recommended route for “leaf peepers.” So we did that. We got about halfway up the state of Vermont and we noticed the color was not as good. So we got on Highway 4 and drove along the border of the Green Mountain National Forest. In Vermont, the bigger and more rugged mountains are north. We didn’t get that far, because the leaves were already gone. We were far enough north that we saw ski slopes which would be in operation soon.
One of the New England travel books Sammie had said that this time of year, the sky ó particularly in Vermont ó would be a much darker blue, contrasting against the brightness of the leaves.
And it was.
One day, we saw some fabulous color, and the trees were brilliant!
We also saw the Quechee Gorge, formed by the Ottauquechee River. The gorge is 165 feet deep and a mile long. It was a pretty place even though it was cloudy when we were there.
According to a leaf guide we picked up along the way, maple trees are numerous ó providing bright reds, yellows and oranges ó along with yellows in the yellow birch, basswood, American beech and aspens. The Northern Red Oak has leaves that turn a rich, dark brown.
We also traveled in New Hampshire. It was nice, but it was a rainy, drizzly, foggy, nasty day when we visited.
We drove down into Connecticut, and the next day, the sun was back out again.
We kind of lost a day in the rain, but I got a really nice picture of the river, the colors muted by the grayness around them.
I’ve been to our own North Carolina mountains several times over the years during peak color season. Hugh Morton always used to call us and say, “Come on now! It’s the peak!”
But I never felt like I’ve seen it at the peak.
In New England, the mountains are higher than our own Smoky Mountains, so I think that made the color seem more dramatic.
Our mountains are a little bit tricky. You just get up there and go one way or the other until you hit color. Kind of like what we did on this trip.
One thing’s for sure, though ó we don’t get that dark blue sky here. We found it really was blue like that.
The guide book was right.