More Fall Color

The Autumn CabinThe day started out sunny, perfect for enjoying the rich colors of autumn. As the morning progressed, clouds blocked the sun, making the fall colors a bit muted and muddy, but the extra vivid colors still came through. A small log cabin on the edge of the woods is a welcome site after a long hike. Lighting a fire in the fire pit in front of the cabin, or in a fireplace inside would make this the perfect retreat for a cool autumn day. Little Calumet RiverJust a few yards away from the cabin is the Little Calumet River. This lazy river cuts through the old, wooded dunes of the area, and is a great place to watch for waterbirds and aquatic life. For years the kids have enjoyed walking out over the water on the downed trees fishing or just enjoying their surroundings. I'm sure by now the leaves are gone, and the area has been dusted by more than a couple of snowfalls. In another couple of weeks, the river itself will begin to freeze, creating an entirely new look to this area.

The Beginning of the Ice Season

The Ice Begins A short side trip to the St. Joseph, Michigan lighthouse on a cold, windy morning revealed a tiny bit of ice beginning to form on the lighthouse and the catwalk. Not dramatic yet, if this weather continues for a few days, the entire lighthouse could be covered in ice. Generally the ice begins to form in mid to late December, right before Christmas, but this year it's starting early. The weather probably won't be cold or windy enough yet to produce anything nearly as dramatic as past winters, but one never knows- two years ago, the ice formed a week before Thanksgiving. Breaking Waves Along with the cold and wind came the gloomy overcast sky, making the images rather blue and cold. As we headed over the dunes toward the lake, we encountered two men in a makeshift shelter. Probably birdwatchers or photographers, the shelter blocked much of the wind keeping them a bit warmer than us. In addition, the shelter could have acted as a blind, making them invisible to the migrating birds. Each year I've visited this lighthouse a week before Christmas to gauge the ice forming, and every year without fail, I've run into Tim, a birdwatcher set up on the pier. He keeps track of the species of birds migrating through the area, and we talk a bit about the lake, lighthouse, and natural parks in the area. I'm sure in a few weeks when I head back, I'll run into Tim once again, making this the 7th or 8th year in a row we've run into each other on the lighthouse pier on a brisk, winter morning.

Autumn in the Golden Woods of Indiana

Beneath the Golden Maples Hiking through the woods during peak fall color is something one can only experience once a year. High winds or rain often strip the trees of their leaves before anyone can enjoy them. The winds and rain came the very next day, but even during our hike, clouds blocked the sun, eliminating many of the colors that pop when the sun is shining. This particular section of woods is filled with maple trees, once used by the Chellberg Farm as a source of sweet maple sugar. Each March, the National Lakeshore opens the area for tours and demonstrations of the process of making maple sugar. Seeing these woods in spring, summer, winter, and fall completes the tours and demonstrations for me; things change so much from month to month. Autumn Landscape The land here is mostly flat, until we reach the area known as the sugarbush - the woods with the trees used for maple sugar. As we enter these woods, the land turns hilly, with a few creeks running through. It's difficult to determine if the land is hilly due to the glaciers or sand dunes, or if the creek cut the gullies over time; it's probably a combination of the two. Either way, the rolling landscape makes for an interesting hike especially in the autumn during peak color.

HIke Through the Golden Sugarbush

Fall in the Sugarbush We generally visit the sugarbush during Maple Sugar times in March, when sap is collected to produce maple sugar. At that time in the spring, the trees don't yet have leaves. Autumn is a great time to visit the woods of the Chellberg Farm, where the maple sugarbush is located. The leaves of the maple trees are a bright yellow color, turning the woods gold in the morning sunlight. Golden Woods In addition to the color in the trees, the leaves littering the ground turn the forest floor into a colorful carpet. While sometimes a bit slippery, the carpet of leaves blurs the line between the ground and the trees. This year's fall color seems to be a bit later than usual, but in places such as the Indiana Dunes National Park, the show was well worth the wait.