More Fall Color!

I took a look at the east coast fall foliage live map today just for fun. I left New England three weeks ago, so it doesn’t do me any good for this year, but it’s interesting to see that while most of the color is done, there are still a number of areas that are experiencing peak color, at least according to reports. I could have arrived a month later than I did and still found areas to photograph, it appears.

Well, you live and learn. Or not. There’s no guarantee that the peak will be this late next year, and the uncertainly is what gives the locals an advantage over the travelers. But traveling is half the fun, so it’s all good.

Last week I introduced some of my fall foliage images from my trip to New England last month in my article Fall Color is Finally Here!. This week I’ll continue by including a few more images from that trip – and, of course, a story. Oh look, a train full of tourists!

Conway Scenic Railroad, Crawford Notch, New Hampshire

The Conway Scenic Railroad comes around a bend at Crawford Notch, New Hampshire.

Anyway, early in my trip, before I had seen any significant fall color, I was poking around Vermont and decided to spend the night at a Green Mountains National Forest campground called Grout Pond. I was interested in this area because it had a pond that I could use to reflect trees along the shore, and being a bit higher in elevation than the surrounding areas I thought the color might be more developed here. It was, but not by much.

The site is pretty remote by Vermont standards, located off of a dirt road between two small towns on either side of the mountains. My camping guidebook described it as having a “backcountry feel”, and it certainly did, especially the walk-in sites located around the pond (more of a lake, really). I saw one other tent located about half-way around the pond, and no humans. But I decided to camp close to my car, mainly for the security of my camera gear, and this turned out to be a good choice.

Bear Brook, Errol, New Hampshire

The shoreline around Bear Brook is showing signs of autumn, near Errol, New Hampshire.

As I was finishing my dinner, it began to rain. This was not a surprise, as I always check weather reports when camping. I finished up quickly and dove into my comfy North Face tent before it started coming down too hard. But it wasn’t long before it was pouring!

As I was getting settled in, I noticed that moisture was starting to collect on the inside of the tent, to the point that it was starting to run down and collect on the tent floor. This was not a good sign – I would need to keep an eye on this problem. So occasionally throughout the night I would stick my finger on the floor of the tent like a dipstick and check for water. For the first couple of hours it wasn’t bad – mainly I was getting periodic drips on my face, which was not at all conducive to sound sleep. Then the level starting coming up. I was still mostly high and dry on my Therm-a-Rest® sleeping pad, but it was only about an inch thick, and the water was starting to get that deep in areas. And the rain continued to come down in buckets, with no end in sight.

Eventually I had to bail out and run to the car. Fortunately, as I said, I had chosen a site I could drive to and not one of the isolated walk-in sites.

MKT: Grafton, in Grafton, Vermont

The next morning, the rain was still at it, so I drained the tent and threw the entire wet mess of camping gear in the car. I had no interest in cooking oatmeal under the tailgate of the Forester after that, so I took off in the direction of civilization. That also was a good decision, because I ended up at this great little cafe with a strange name, “MKT: Grafton”, in Grafton, Vermont. It was one of those family owned, local organic everything cafes that pays attention to detail, and I had the best french toast and bacon that morning! And they had WiFi, which was critical to help me to find a place to dry everything out – I would not be camping for a couple of nights. And fortunately, I came in at an odd time and had the place to myself before the lunch crowd arrived, since I had now missed two days of showers and was quite ripe!

Columbia Bridge, Lemington, Vermont

The Columbia Bridge is the most northerly Connecticut River bridge connecting Vermont and New Hampshire.

As a result of the rain mishap, I booked a room at a chain motel for the next two nights in Burlington, near where I would need to be for the Darkroom Gallery Artists’ Reception that I would be attending the next night. But I decided to treat myself to a third night in Stowe, Vermont, a touristy but pretty area east of Burlington. showed me a B&B that had a rating that was too good to be true, but the reviews looked really interesting. One reviewer said it was “Like staying with your favorite aunt”. It’s called the Hobble Inn, a great name, I think, and as of today has a 9.7 rating, which is unheard of. And the price was fair. This could be a nice break from camping and chain motels, so I booked it.

New Hampshire Barn, Errol, New Hampshire

A barn painted autumn red is now nearly matched by a nearby tree, in Errol, New Hampshire.

Mary, the host, turned out to be exactly as described, a gracious host and wonderful cook. She had grown up in this house and after losing her husband decided to open it up as B&B, and absolutely loves what she does. We stayed up until 1:30 in the morning chatting about everything, and it was one of the high points of my trip. Check out the Hobble Inn if you’re ever looking for a place to crash in the Mt. Mansfield area of Vermont.

So my gear did eventually dry out and I got back to camping, except for that one night in Bar Harbor, Maine, when the rain came back with a vengeance. I stayed high and dry in my motel room that night!

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