My patience is always tested at the beginning of October. I fidget at work. I nervously look around as I drive the girls to school or soccer practice. Will I be too early? Too late? Will I miss it altogether?
The cause of this anxiety may seem silly. I get worked up over the fall foliage reports. Every autumn the Forestry Department of each state submits an estimate on when the trees will be at their peak color in each region. And in early October the dates are vague.
I plan a camping trip every autumn. I use it to reset myself in the fresh air, watching the leaves fall along with my stress levels. My girls are INCREDIBLY generous in giving me this time, and I can’t tell them enough how much I appreciate it. Unfortunately, work and family schedules do not allow me to take off on a whim, so I must plan ahead and hope I hit a good week for fall color. So begins my nervous watching of the foliage reports every October.
A few years ago my autumn trip to North Carolina’s Highlands coincided perfectly with Nature’s schedule. The summer weather patterns worked perfectly to set up my glorious week in the mountains. The waterfalls gushed with fresh stormwater and the leaves wore a gorgeous mix of reds, oranges and golden yellows. I filled 3 memory cards with photographs, keeping me busy developing all winter!
The Highlands region of North Carolina is stunning. The roads twist devilishly through the rugged mountains, leading to trailheads and great views. Hundreds of waterfalls spill through the area, beautifully easing the pain of the vertical hikes to reach them. Want proof?
Whitewater Falls is a towering waterfall near the borders of North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina. Split into 2 large drops, the Upper Falls plummets 411 feet in North Carolina and the Lower Falls drops another 400 feet downstream in South Carolina. It is common for folks to quibble here – some consider it to be one waterfall and others call it two separate falls. I call it beautiful.
“Autumn at Whitewater Falls” is a photograph taken at the Upper Falls in the late afternoon. I walked down the 100+ steps to the small viewing platform. As I waited for a few folks to finish their selfies I took in the powerful scene. The waterfall is narrow and steep, with a dense hardwood forest clinging to the cliffs on either side. Two Sugar Maple trees above the falls were in brilliant fall color, echoed by a smaller one below. These brightly colored trees framed the initial plunge of the falls perfectly, along with a group of large boulders on the right. The shadowy canyon allowed a 1 second exposure to smooth out the charging flow of water.
This image means a lot to me because it captures a balance of three strong elements that rely on one another. The forest, the stone canyon and the water have all shaped one another over the centuries to create this one perfect moment in the fall. And my schedule fell in line perfectly to see it!
Do you like what you see? Great! Please let me know! Share this with your friends and stay tuned next week for another photograph & story. In the meantime, please visit my website to buy Autumn at Whitewater Falls at a 25% discount!! No coupon code is required – discount is applied automatically until October 14th!