John Muir rightly said “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
Never did I venture out alone during my 3 yrs stay in the US. I was always accompanied by someone in my evening or morning walks. It’s not because I was scared or something but it just happened to be so. Earlier, when we lived in Chicago, 2 years back, I happened to meet a lady with whom I became friends and together we used to plan our outings after hubby left for work. Then, when we moved to Minnesota, for a while I had stopped my exercises due to my back pain and soon became sickly. Hubby decided to motivate me to walk again and joined me in my evening hikes. He would drive me to different lakes near our home (after all Minnesota is a land of 10,000 lakes) and then after parking the car we would walk round the lake. But that didn’t last long as he often had to come late from office. So my walks stopped again.
But after many a distressful shopping blunders, the realization daunted on me that I need to do something of my ever growing potbelly. So, I decided to take advantage of the good weather and start my morning walks after hubby left for work. So, bidding him adieu, the other day and armed with a water bottle and my Samsung galaxy, I stepped out of my cozy den. I could feel the fresh air against my face after being inside the warm heated apartment. A cool breeze was blowing and I was glad I wore the thicker sweatshirt. You don’t know the outside temperature unless you step out and very often I had suffered because of my miscalculations.
I felt confident and happy to have taken the decision and with a hidden smile on my face I took the familiar path round the lake just behind my apartment. There is a small wood at the very entrance of the path where I often went with hubby to click photos.
But today was slightly different as I was alone. I was expecting more people to be running and jogging but perhaps I was one of those few who stayed at home while others rushed to work at that hour. However, I started my walk speeding up my pace and slowing down in between not to get tired. As I reached the densest part of the wood, some creepy feelings disturbed me thanks to the horror movies and thriller serials that I was addicted to. As I approached a fork, I heard voices and saw two men approaching. All the weird and crazy images from the Criminal minds serial came into my mind and I even had visions of my battered lifeless body lying amidst a huge pile of fallen autumn leaves. I held tight to my phone and water bottle in case I needed them. Unaware of my thoughts, the two men walked past me as they chatted away with each other. I caught my normal breath only when the men disappeared in the opposite direction.
From then on I relaxed and decided not to listen to my thoughts and enjoy the scene along the way. I realized that Fall was not yet over and there were colorful trees all around. I took out my Samsung and started clicking photos. Seeing me do that, a cyclist stopped to comment on the view. This time fortunately my mind was cleared off of all the thriller scenes and happily responded to him. I even clicked a photo of him riding away which made a great picture.
I continued my solitary walk and was just halfway through when I heard a gagling noise overhead. Through the leaves of the trees, I saw a flight of migratory birds in a skein. I was so mystified and fascinated by this aerial spectacle that I forgot to click and by the time I could, they were out of range. I was almost depressed when suddenly I could hear them again and this time I didn’t want to let go the chance and quickly got a few pictures. I felt as if they heard my sadness and returned to make me happy. I felt so thankful to them.
Happy at my accomplishment I continued my journey enjoying everything I saw.
A man was cleaning away the fallen leaves.
The bushes along the roadside seemed to fire up.
I was tempted to rest for a while on the bench when I saw the following sign. It seemed to indicate that if you want that size then go ahead and sit. I felt a kind of sarcasm on whoever had made that drawing but also felt thankful and my desire to rest vanished immediately.
It was a 3 ½ miles walk round the lake and at first I was doubtful of completing it. But I didn’t realize how time flew as I was busy clicking pictures all through my hike.It seemed even nature around me was inspiring me to go on.
‘The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy. The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose.’ Charles Dickens
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
– Albert Camus
Yes, autumn is here and am already in the mood for it. I can see the leaves changing into bright yellow and gold just outside my window. Living in autumn’s paradise ‘Minnesota’ as people say, I had the opportunity to see the best fall colors ever when we visited the north shore region which is absolutely gorgeous during this time of the year.
Depending on the weather and varieties of trees, the fall foliage colors tend to peak around the last week of September. The early season starts with the maple trees in September to early October. The fall colors wrap up with the poplar trees through late October.
We took to the roads on the evening of 1st Oct.2011 along highway 35 to Duluth. We spent the night there and started the next morning along Scenic route 61 enjoying the colorful scenes on the way.
As usual we had another adventure in this trip too. Our car suddenly showed maintenance required and we had to rush it off to a nearby repair center in two harbor area where it took almost an hr. After that we moved on towards forest road 166.
Everyone was busy clicking photos and I clicked them…
Temperature, moisture and elevation play significant role in this change of color in the leaves. Hence along this trail we could see the variation in colors of the leaves. It’s a great experience to be travelling through scenic roads especially during the autumn season. We were overwhelmed by the stunning colors of the leaves. The spectacular visions of yellow, orange and red colors almost blinded us.
Enjoying the view along the road we moved on towards country road 4 towards Lutsen Mountains. As we approached the area the hue of red, yellow and orange increased at a larger scale.
Brilliant maple reds, golden aspen yellows, and the rust shades of tamarack provide a fall color palette unique to the Lutsen area.
We took the two-mile Gondola ride up the Moose Mountain and enjoyed some phenomenal views of Lake Superior and the inland forest from the top. At the top was a deli and viewing platform.
It was near to dusk when we returned and enjoyed the spectacular sunset from atop the ride. The journey was memorable. From there we headed to Grand Marais for the night.
Next day was even more exciting. We drove towards the famous Gunflint trail. It is one of the most beautiful areas to see fall colors. Here the views were breathtaking.
Words and photos cannot do justice to the real beauty of this area. I couldn’t stop myself from clicking pictures continuously.
From here we drove to Cascade river state park. We took the two mile hike to the top of the lookout point from where we could see miles and miles down below. The mountain seemed to be burning with the leaves of the trees mostly red and orange.
We witnessed a fantastic sunset from the lookout point.
The trees in this area consist of mainly sugar maple, aspen [aka poplars], paper birch, ash, silver maple, tamarack (a deciduous coniferous tree) and some black cherry and oaks. There are also balsam firs, white spruce, white pine, red pine, jack pine, and white cedar. The crisp, cool air and warm weather added a bonus to the trip. Seeing such splendor in the air I can surely say that autumn is the crowning glory of the year.
No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face. ~John Donne
I very much agree with the above lines by John Donne. Summer is almost over and autumn is approaching which is evident from the color changes in the foliage around us. I love Fall not just for it being cooler than summer but also for the vibrant changes of color which perpetuates all around. It seems all the green of the earth purges in the great furnace of nature and burst into a vivid radiance.
At this point I recall my first Fall experience in the US. Never before was I exposed to such explosion of red and orange and gold and yellow. It was an aesthetic experience for me to see this spectacular display of color in the Great Smoky Mountains national park.
The Smokey Mountains, an International Biosphere Reserve that straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, is heaven for the nature lover and for people who just appreciate scenic drives, history and great views.
On 28th Oct 2010 we started for the Smoky Mountains national park from Chicago…a long 10 hrs drive. Though late for the season (fall starts from mid Sep), we started at around 5pm and drove for about 4 hrs. We halted in Indianapolis for the night at hotel Holiday inn. Next morning we started early and after a 7 1/2 hrs drive reached the famous Foothills parkway at almost 5 pm.
We drove through the breathtakingly beautiful Foothills Parkway scenic road located in the mountainous foothills of the Tennessee Valley, below and parallel to the Great Smoky Mountains. The experience through this mountain drive is one that I’ll cherish forever. The setting sun was playing along the rugged slopes displaying light and shadow all around. There are more than 100 types of trees in the park, mostly deciduous, that contribute to the splendor of tones and shades.
We were so lost in the scenic view that we went off our trail and got lost in the wilderness. The park is pretty large to say and to make matters worse, our gps too lost satellite connection. We wandered amidst the colorful trees feasting our eyes though a little tensed as it was getting dark. Fortunately a gentleman came along in his van and guided us out of the wilderness.
From there we drove to Gatlinburg, a mountain resort city in Sevier County, Tennessee, where we spent the night at Fairfield hotel. Nestled in the foothill of the Appalachian Mountains it provides the perfect setting for fall vacations. It boasts countless lodging, dining and entertainment options. Next day we went around this antic town and visited the various unique antic shops. We enjoyed the fabulous brush strokes of color by Mother Nature as we drove through the trails.
From here we drove through the Cades cove, a breathtakingly beautiful 11-mile loop road. It has a lot of history, old churches and old homestead’s and grist mill. We drove through the big circle and stopped at the pull offs to enjoy the glorious views of the mountains that surround the valley. This is the busiest part of the park and we had to follow the long trail of cars moving at snail’s pace.
Our next stop was at Clingmans Dome located on the border between Tennessee & North Carolina (near Newfound Gap . At 6,643 feet, Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Parking the car, we had to hike through a paved path for about a mile.The hike was slightly strenuous and I had to stop in between to catch my breath. There were benches for people like me to rest in between. I utilized my time to enjoy the view and taking some pictures.
From there we moved on to Pigeon forge and spent the night there. We passed through Dollywood but couldn’t view fall there due to lack of time.
My pictures do not do justice for I could not capture the awe inspiring beauty of the mountains. driving through the trails or hiking or biking are some of the ways to enjoy the fall foliage in the Smokies. Besides, there are innumerable activities for people of all ages to enjoy in this area. I wouldn’t miss another chance to visit the mounatins, specially during Fall.