Our trip to the Adirondacks and northernmost Vermont
Included at the end of this article are videos
demonstrating what we’d seen in our travels.
We drove up to the Adirondacks this past week with leaf peeping on our minds. It’s a trip we’ve taken repeatedly over the past 14 years; usually for a few days at the beginning of October. What’d we find? Well, let’s just say we were a bit underwhelmed.
Our initial route of travel along Interstate 87 included a pit-stop on October 4 at the town of Lake George. There, the colors appeared as if they’d already peaked. Normally, we’d catch sight of some really vivid colors; unfortunately not this time.
From there it was on to Essex County, a name I’m only now acknowledging or learning of for the sake of this very write-up. All these years I’ve been used to individually referencing the towns of Wilmington, Lake Placid, Jay, Schroon and the Keene Valley region. What can I say? We only visit 2-3 times a year.
Heading north from NYC we’re accustomed to having the autumn-welcome-mat laid out for us, yet the drive up I-87 itself was nothing to brag about. The leaves at some points appeared patchy, as if they’d already passed peak in some areas and were fully green in yet others. I mean, we’re aware of how patching things can get, but not like this. ‘Past peak’ appeared to be the dominating force from what we could see, especially the view from the base of Whiteface Mountain (in Wilmington, NY). I like to think of that as a suitable gauge considering how often we’ve passed that spot at this time of year; not to mention how you can see clear up the side of the mountain and observe all the varying levels of color change. Those burgundy tones with unremarkable brilliance were unmistakable here. We were certain that at this particular spot we were either too late or the colors had gone straight to bland.
On the second day of our trip we took the ferry across Lake Champlain into Vermont. Interestingly, the colors along the way were in greater abundance but patchy all the same.
We would head to the Jay Peak Resort, a name I’ll mention merely for the sake of having a reference point. We go there only for the tram which takes us to the top of Jay Peak. Keep in mind how we’d only discovered this locale last year. This would be our third time taking the cable car ride, and not so coincidentally, our first time took place exactly one year prior on October 5, 2016.
The views from the base, during our ascent and descent as well as from the top were much more aesthetically pleasing than what we’d discovered in the Adirondacks. Although, I couldn’t say for sure if we’d arrived just in time, a tad late or a bit early. Regardless, stumbling upon vivid colors here and there beats encountering none.
Coming back down on the cable car I’d had a chat with the operator (the same gentleman with whom I’d spoken months earlier and, I believe, last year as well) and what he had to say was revealing. He too felt that it’d been an unusual year and season; after all, the preceding seasons’ got plenty to do with how the fall foliage will turn out. We both agreed upon the extraordinary difference between this year’s show and last year’s.
The next day we would head back down I-87 to Lake George. Crazily enough, the colors appeared to have just been hitting peak along some stretches, whereas the town itself was just as mediocre as when we’d passed through, two days earlier.
One disheartening thing about the autumn season is the assorted lot of predictions in the media. Some, as early as August and September, were predicting the very best season of color. One very recent report touts the change as being late this year.
If one is to learn anything from this season, and others in the past, it’s that the foliage can be as unpredictable as the wind. What you learn is: Sometimes they get it right, and sometimes they’re just way off; sometimes you’re lucky and you arrive at just the right time, and other times you’re too late; sometimes the colors will seemingly last forever, and other times it’s as if they disappeared in the clutches of a thief in the night.
Here’s a video taken of our ascent up Jay Peak in Vermont. On the next page of this posting you’ll see more related videos.