Sunday, Marcy and I headed over to Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary after roadside flashes of sourwood red and dogwood peach suggested the fall color show was just getting underway. Roadside trees — stressed by the heat of automotive exhaust — are often the first to show their chromatic hand. When they start to go, we grab the camera and head for woods.
All signs were pointing to a lackluster display of fall color in the Piedmont this year: An exceptionally hot and dry summer stressing out the trees; a wet early fall, which in the leaf peeping world is akin to throwing water on a sparkling fire; a first freeze that came late, that freeze often being the light switch that turns on the fall show.
OK, with fall peaking around us, you aren’t the only one thinking about taking a hike. People who in their entire lives have never thought about taking a hike are likely looking at the forecast — sunny and cool — and thinking, “Hmm, I should think about taking a hike.” And that means the usual suspects — the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Mountains, Shining Rock — will be crawling with occasional hikers.