The Year That Fall Never Arrived – A Photo Essay

Like a child anticipating Christmas, this year has had us waiting… waiting… waiting for the leaf peeping season to begin. Combine a very wet summer with a September where the warmth never ended, and it’s like the year that fall never arrived. This day, October 12, 2018, was the first day all autumn where the overnight temperature dropped into the forties. Unheard of.

The trees don’t know how to react. The hummingbirds and butterflies don’t know whether to migrate. The tourists who regularly come to cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway and explore the Smokies expecting fall’s chromatic display have been perplexed and sorely disappointed. Those of us who live in the Southern Appalachians will likely still see the leaves finally turning eventually, but will it only last for a couple days, and then be gone?

To entertain myself, I thought of the elk at Cataloochee. Even if I couldn’t enjoy orange and yellow hues, the massive creatures that prowl the fields and bottomland in this picturesque valley always put on a show, and are fun to be around. No shortage of hiking trails, combined with a morning listening to the bugle call of the bull elk herding their harem, makes Cataloochee Valley an ideal setting on a beautiful mid-October day.

After spending an hour with the elk before they disappeared into the woods, I took a short stroll on the Rough Fork Trail to Woody House, a restored 19th century homestead. The bright sun was low in the southeastern sky as I danced across footlogs and listened to the babbling stream alongside. The photo gallery below is a summary of my day. If you look really hard, you might even find just a wee bit of this year’s very elusive color.



This post was created by Jeff Clark. Please feel free to use the sharing icons below, or add your thoughts to the comments. Pack it in, pack it out. Preserve the past. Respect other hikers. Let nature prevail. Leave no trace.

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