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Color Riot

Squires Lake, Whatcom/Skagit County. Washington State.

Fall! Memories of raking, jumping and skipping through leaves. Crisp mornings as school gets back into session. Your child’s first visit to the pumpkin patch. Tuning your skis, cinnamon, apple cider and apple pies, and enjoying some of the last warm days of the season. And each year, nature’s final light show and color riot as larch and deciduous trees turn brilliant and beautiful.

Evening at Marine Park. Bellingham, Washington.

Vibrant larch, shimmering aspen, and that combination of reds, yellows, burnt orange, and dark umber. Those are the colors that make fall so special to me.

Fall Drive Along Chuckanut Drive. Washington State.

Early October hikes for my wife Stephanie’s birthday, digging out our puff jackets, hats, and gloves, the first light dusting of snow at elevation. Memories of our life and friends back in Maryland with warm stew and molasses bread at the Olney Ale House.

East of Glacier National Park, Flathead National Forest. Montana.

Recollections of fall boating in West Virginia are always with me, fall colors and the last warm water are memories that I hope will never leave me. As my daughter grew up, each year we would host a Halloween bash for all her (and our) friends. This year, we expected to spend Halloween back on the east coast, a trip that got cancelled, and so this is the first time in years that I didn’t carve a herd of pumpkins. It is impossible for me to separate Halloween and Fall in my thoughts and feelings.

Small in the Fall! Pika in Bella Coola Valley. British Columbia.

And Fall is a shoulder season, and so, like spring, my favorite times to grab my camera and head to our national parks. Places that with nice weather are far too crowded for my preference. And, since I don’t mind rain and cold all that much, why would I go when there are so many others at the same place?

Fall Color 1. Washington State.

For me, fall is also the harbinger of my favorite season, winter. Fall brings the cooler weather, the rain. And in my mind, that always leaps forward to snow, ice, and soft light. It also means much shorter days, and while that is difficult to deal with, it does mean I don’t need to be up and out as early for sunup and sundown images. Everything has an upside – even if you need to look really hard.

Fall Color 2. Washington State.

The one problem as Fall moves forward is getting around. Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, and my first job out of college in Johnstown (the ice-box of PA), I have never had an issue with driving in ice and snow. That is changing as I grow older and now definitely impacts my travel plans. Late fall a few years ago, I decided to shoot snow images in and around Mt. Rainier National Park. I found myself up high on solid ice in my (almost new) truck. I learned two things: one, I needed better snow tires, and two, I am no longer as comfortable driving on ice in the mountains. Another time, in Iceland in winter, I found the solution in asking my son-in-law to do the driving. Not that I couldn’t have done it, but it takes a long time if you’re driving at 20 mph.

Chuckanut Drive 2. Washington State.

My last blog on fall colors was in 2021 after my trip to Alaska. This year, I spent fall much closer to home and was able to enjoy some favorite local places but in their full glory of subtle shades and dynamic hues. Photos of pikas, Sullivan Lake in eastern Washington and Squires Lake here in Whatcom County, and East Glacier in Montana are all photos from years past, while those close to home were photographed in the last few weeks.

I hope my images evoke your own memories of fall. And prepare you (and me) for the wonderful winter wonderland quickly approaching.

Bow Edison Birdlife. Skagit County, Washington.


· Wikipedia has some really easy to find information on how Fall colors occur.

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