Leaf Peeping

October 29, 2001

This last weekend we rented a car and headed north into Connecticut for some late season camping. Fall is rapidly fading and we wanted to get into the trees to see the colors before it's all gone for the year. We were not disappointed. This is Alex's first Fall on the East Coast, and pictures in a book have done nothing to prepare him for the brilliance of the colors. Although Tiffany spent years out here in High School, she never really appreciated the true beauty of the changing leaves, youth wasted on the youth as it is.

We drove out of Manhattan late Saturday morning, through the spaghetti of toll roads in the tangle north of the city. Before long we were speeding along open roads flanked by foliage. Alex didn't have the words to describe any of it. He could just exclaim. Each turn in the road brought new explosions of brightness that we didn't think were possible. It looked like someone had spilled paint over the landscape. We were driving into a watercolor painting. The local Indians used to tell stories of the great celestial hunter spilling the blood of a giant bear over the trees. It's easy to image. The rolling hills were a blanket of color for as far as we could see.

We drove North towards Tiffany's old school, the Gunnery near Washington Depot. On our way, we circled Lake Waramug where some brave souls in rowing eights practiced on the choppy waters. The colors reflected in the lake were pretty unbelievable. After a quick bowl of soup at a local restaurant to warm our souls, we headed up to the school. The Saturday football game was in its third quarter. Unfortunately, the home team was getting spanked pretty hard by a team of visiting giants. But it's football as it's supposed to be - in the bone chilling cold with parents with video cameras cheering on their kids. After the game we joined some of Tiffany's old teachers in the school dining hall for dinner. Of course they all remembered her fondly, and were excited to hear stories from her life after high school. They all agreed we were crazy to be camping in October, but gave us directions anyway. We said goodbye, and headed out into the night.

The campsite was a few miles north on the banks of the Housatonic River. We set up the tent in the dark and got settled in. We popped stovetop popcorn over the fire and had hot chocolate to hold the chill away. Through the branches and high clouds the stars blazed overhead. Orion climbed into the sky, with Jupiter and Saturn along for the ride.

The night was, as expected, icy but the morning was brilliant. We could now see that we were on the banks of a wide shallow river, with bright red and orange leaves falling all around us. We packed up camp and drove over a covered bridge into West Cornwall to find some blueberry pancakes.

After breakfast we found a two and a half-mile hiking trail that provided views of the entire river valley. The colors were slightly past peak, but breath-taking none the less. We've never seen colors like these, yellow and brilliant red, even splashes of purple. The trail joined the Appalachian Trail for a bit, so it was a treat to hike a piece of history for a while. We wound through tunnels of orange, beside a small stream before returning to the car.

We began our reluctant drive south again, slowly winding our way back home towards Manhattan. For us the back roads were the best way to travel. We stopped by a farm selling pumpkins and apple cider, and stocked up on both.

Back in the city, our camping gear is now strewn out all over the apartment. We're slowly getting warm again with cider on the stove, but the cold is a small price to pay to fill our souls with the colors of a New England Fall.


See some photos from our leaf peeping weekend!


Return to tales page