…and given the latest “storm of the century,” it was pretty nearly the last leaves of autumn!
Only a few folks ventured out with us last Sunday, October 28, for the SGPA’s Fall Foliage Hike. While rain was forecast, I suspect that many more people were preparing for Sandy.
Still, six hikers and seven leaders met at 1:30 to learn a bit about leaf color and how and why we get such varied and vibrant hues – something about sugars, photosynthesis, and conserving the trees energy; I promise to listen better next year!
We took the road around the pine grove/picnic area and headed up the Orange Trail before turning onto the Red Hex – the change in trail colors in keeping with the season. The golden beech leaves, burnished bright, shone from amongst the browns and tans, brightening the way as we turned onto the White Trail and made for the Chest. Here, while you can’t see forever, you can see to Long Island, and all that lies between.
Even though most of the leaves with the deepest or most vibrant colors had already fallen, there was a still a surprising array of hues, shades, and textures to be enjoyed - less obvious and more subtle, perhaps, but a treat nonetheless.
Despite the fact that the rises were not at all steep, the going was quite slippery as we left the White Trail for the Green. I find the trails in autumn, with leaves thick under foot, far chancier than in the ice or snow of winter – especially in those years in which the trees produce a plethora of acorns. Walking along the trails then can be like trying to walk on marbles: pretty tricky!
No worries for us, as we turned onto the Red Triangle from Green and then to the Tower Trail. Did you know that there is a bush that blooms in the fall? A member of the Hamanelidacease family (I couldn’t resist the name; it is quite a tongue twister), the Witch-hazel, puts on its show with such appropriate timing … all ready for Halloween! It was bursting into buds, small yellow explosions, where we turned onto the Tower Path. By then we were pushing our luck. The sky had darkened perceptibly and the wind was building. Discretion being the better part of valor, we opted to head back rather than chance the time it would take to get to the Tower.
Despite the gloomy weather forecast, it was a pleasant hike with a lovely congenial group; we didn’t mind at all that the most vibrantly colored leaves had already fallen; we focused on the remaining visual treat and enjoyed the time outdoors.
The next hike is the Fall Hikers’ Hike, 11:00 a.m., on November 18th. It’s a longish, strenuous hike over rough terrain – recommended for experienced hikers and always a good workout. For updates on Park happenings, visit the Association’s website sgpa.org and follow us on Facebook.