Let the Leaves Fall!

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” – John Muir

Autumn is my favorite season of the year, without question. Of course, living in Maine has a lot to do with that. Crisp cool mornings, pleasant afternoons, and the brilliant and abundant foliage. And a deluge of pumpkin spice flavored products, of course. What would a change of seasons be without some form of commercialism?

I’m looking forward to this, my first fall season as a hiker, for three reasons: One, amazing scenery bathed in red, orange and yellow; two, a greater chance of seeing wildlife, and three, an opportunity to try and follow a trail covered with leaves in the later stages of autumn.

The first is a no-brainer. This whole state will be awash in brilliant foliage in a few short weeks, and I’m already making plans to hike some of the most scenic spots, from Gulf Hagas to the south approach trail at Cadillac Mountain. Photos mandatory.

The second is simply because I’ve yet to see any wildlife other than birds and one chipmunk during my hikes. As I’ve stated before, I’ve seen more wildlife here in the town where I live than in the deep woods. I even hiked a wildlife refuge and didn’t see any wildlife. So my hope is that, once the leaves began to fall and I can see greater distances off-trail, I might catch a black bear or moose or something hiding among the trees and understory.

The third thing I’m looking forward to is more of a personal challenge. In my short hikes on the Appalachian Trail, I’ve found myself following the well-worn path carved by the countless feet that have come before me, and pretty much ignoring the white blazes. Bury the trail with leaves, and the blazes become important. Of course, I’m still going to have to look at my feet, as the tripping hazards on the trail out of Monson are pretty numerous, especially northbound. So it will be good practice to follow the blazes and stay on my feet at the same time. If I can do that, I might even try a winter hike out there.

So come, autumn. And fall, leaves. I’m ready to enjoy a couple months of perfect hiking.

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