I’ve been determined this year to show you what our fall foliage looks like from up above the treetops. My first try on Hewe’s Hill in Swanzey wasn’t entirely successful because of the limited viewing range and the bright sunshine that day, so last week I decided to try Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard. There are 360 degree views from the top of this mountain, so I reasoned that it would be possible to take photos without the sun shining directly at the camera.
It was partly cloudy and windy that day and most of the trees seemed to still have plenty of leaves on them.
This young maple was certainly colorful.
About halfway up the trail you come to a large meadow where long horned and long haired Scottish Highland cattle are kept. At least some of the time, anyway; I’ve climbed this mountain many times now and have never seen an animal in this meadow.
A little more climbing brings you to the old ranger cabin. The fire tower on this mountain is manned when the fire danger is high, but I don’t think the ranger station is used any longer.
It’s hard to miss the fire tower. In April of 1940 27,000 acres of forest burned, including all of the trees on this summit and the old wooden fire tower that once stood here. It was the most destructive fire in the region’s history and burned the summit right down to the bare granite. The tower seen in this photo replaced the original that was built here in 1915.
It’s a good thing that the tower is well anchored. The wind felt like it was blowing at gale force up here on this day, and I had to use it as a wind break.
Large colonies of common gold speck lichen (Candelariella vitellina) cover the exposed granite. They were fruiting so they must be very happy up here.
Pitcher Mountain is famous for its native high bush blueberry bushes which cover many acres, and people come from all over to pick them. They are also one of our most colorful native shrubs.
Mount Monadnock’s outline was barely visible off to the south due to the weather conditions, but by fiddling around with the camera’s controls I was able to get a shot of it. I’m not sure why the meadow and trees in the foreground look so dimly lit, but I kind of like it.
Almost every time I’ve climbed Pitcher Mountain it has been sunny when I started out and then clouds rolled in as soon as I reached the summit. This day was no different, but a little patience paid off and every time the sun broke through I snapped a photo. It was so beautiful, I didn’t mind waiting.
As I sat waiting for the clouds to part I watched this crow struggling to not be blown out of the sky. The wind was fierce and I too struggled with keeping the camera steady on its monopod.
I sat on the side of the fire tower away from the wind and waited for some sunshine to illuminate this, the nearest hill. I had to laugh at my luck because once or twice all of the surrounding landscape in any direction was in full sunshine except this hill and the mountain I sat on. When the sun finally illuminated the hill, it was beautiful as I knew it would be. I was surprised that so many trees were bare though.
There were some nice colors up close, too. I think we’re seeing the red of oak, orange maple, and yellow beech in this shot.
This was taken when the sun was shining just about everywhere except the mountain I sat on. It’s a good example of how the light, and lack of it, can impact foliage colors. I’m not sure why the few evergreens in the foreground appear so dark.
Though the photos don’t really do them justice the colors seen from the mountaintop and the way the light played on the distant hills were breathtakingly beautiful, and at times I felt like I was inside a painting by Monet or Renoir. There is simply nothing that compares with being on a mountaintop, especially at this time of year.
Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve; they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion. ~Anatoli Boukreev
Thanks for stopping in.