Happy autumnal equinox to all. Fall has arrived. The days are getting shorter and the nights, longer. What was so recently a summer breeze is now transforming into a fall chill. If you have been outside recently, you will have noticed the distinct change the Adirondacks is going through; a change that attracts thousands of people to our little nook of the park. The vast numbers of deciduous trees surrounding us provide a palette ranging from reds and yellows to scarlets and purples.
During the spring and summer, trees produce their own source of food in cells containing chlorophyll. Chlorophyll gives the leaves their green color, while carotenes and xanthophyll pigments exhibit an orange color. These other pigments already exist within the leaf, it is only when the chlorophyll breaks down that the colors appear. Because of the change in temperature and length in daylight that happens in the fall, trees are no longer able to make their own food. The chlorophyll then breaks down and the leaves show their other colors. As there are various amounts of chlorophyll residue and other pigments within different leaves, the chemical changes of this process result in various colors like the vibrant orange of sugar maples, the bronze-brown of beeches, and the reddish-orange of the bigtooth aspens (my favorite). SUNY ESF published a guide to the fall colors in Upstate New York if you are interested in specific trees or areas. Our area of the park is predominantly composed of deciduous trees and shrubs, all of which are changing at this time of year. If you prefer to enjoy the outdoors with other people, there are many opportunities for you available from campus.
Outing Program is a recreational-based, student-run program geared towards getting students off campus to enjoy the multitude of activities the Park has to offer. Specifically in the fall, the Outing Program offers foliage hikes, not only in the high peaks but also in our more local mountains. Last year, our apple picking trip was a huge success. Two of the program’s leaders took a school van to Rulfs Apple Orchard in Peru, New York. Students were given the opportunity to pick their own apples and pumpkins (for a fee), amuse the livestock from the petting zoo, and go for a hayride through the orchard. This fall, in addition to the hikes and apple picking, Outing Program would like to take students out canoeing and to the Tucker Farms Corn Maze. I must stress that these programs are targeted to more than just those who enjoy strenuous physical activity. Outing Program leaders encourage anyone and everyone who wants a break from campus to explore the park, and in good company. Every so often there are participant limits but if you’re interested, don’t hesitate to sign up! The Outing Program is on facebook and the school email. We will post upcoming trips and dates to both databases in hopes of reaching as many students as possible. If you have any questions or trip proposals contact Matt Dougherty, our new Recreation and Intramural Coordinator!
There is so much to do during every season in the Park. How fortunate we are to live in the middle of such richly varied opportunity. Here’s a link to Visit Adirondacks’ official fall foliage page which provides links to recommended fall hikes, drives, getaways, and themed events. The Adirondack Rural Skills and Homestead Festival will take place on October 1st at the VIC. You don’t need to travel far to participate in the season’s activities. Whether you’re out on your own or travelling with friends, make sure to watch the land around us light up with color.
Isabella, widely known as Izzy, is a second semester senior majoring in Recreation. She lives in Saranac Lake with her cockatiel, Besito. Besides writing, Izzy loves to paddle, travel, and play lots of music.