If you’re one of those people that chase foliage from afar, I feel for you! As a veteran of attempting to predict, photograph, and schedule the best hikes around the changing of the leaves in New England, I can tell you that this is about the toughest gig in town. This year, even worse. Those loaded tour buses were likely long gone when the trees really started to pop with color in Massachusetts.
I did okay, but peak foliage in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, traditionally one of the hottest tickets in foliage town, and peak in Western Massachusetts, where I live, were a full three weeks apart, which is very uncommon. In fact, I had given up on the colors popping in my local area and then, BOOM! There it was! Crazy stuff!
Though I am merely an amateur photographer and don’t much aspire to be a professional, I still have thoughts about taking a good picture. In my humble (or not so humble?) opinion, fall foliage is the hardest thing to get a great shot of. Those calendar pages with fire engine reds and neon yellows are the work of Photoshop, not a great professional. Or, as I have come to say, “Nature doesn’t do that.” I think it’s quite unfortunate that we live in a world that alters reality to the point that when we see something naturally amazing, we aren’t amazed. How did this happen?
As someone who spends a lot of time outdoors in nature, I have learned to accept the natural world as it is, even if I don’t always capture it in its finest form. I do my best, and let memory take care of the rest. Autumn 2021 sure seemed like it was going to lack foliage memories, but it really turned out okay in the end!
The White Mountains were loaded with visitors, so busy that I had to forfeit a hike or two because of parking issues. Truth: There were so many leaf peepers around, I couldn’t even out hike them! Mind you, I’ve had the Grand Canyon and other national parks to myself by doing unpublicized trails with huge secret views. I thought I had outsmarted the general public a couple of times in old New Hampshire, but voices nearby soon proved me wrong. I’ve done the Whites two year in a row. Next year, I’ll head to some other nearby hills instead.
Know what the worst thing about foliage is? What follows it. Once the leaves are off the trees, I lose interest in the forests of New England. There isn’t anything too great about a naked maple and a frigid breeze slapping you in the face. Even snow is better than that! But what’s better than everything is the hope of spring. My sights are set on it.