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Finding the Elusive Peak: Does it really matter? (From the Foliage Forum)

Today I was thinking about all my years of foliage travel in Vermont and trying to recall whether or not I had found the “peak” and in what year. First and foremost, it is Mother Nature’s call, but truly a personal and subjective experience as well.

From a flatlander’s point of view, yes, I would say it is very important to me and a highlight of my trip. There is a considerable amount of planning and quite an expense in orchestrating a Vermont fall color tour and I for one, don’t like to be disappointed. I’ll admit it. (Even though I have the advantage of chasing the color all the way down to the Connecticut shore if necessary). Frankly, who doesn’t want to experience nature’s ultimate grand color show? Isn’t that part of what we all hope for when we arrive in Vermont for foliage season? A true Vermont foliage extravaganza? I’ll be the first to acknowledge it’s at the top of my list!

I have found peak in some years. Some years I have not. I have found peak in some parts of the state while not in other sections, all in the same season. Crazy as it may seem, I have even found peak scattered about within the same town or village or in different parts of a single mountain range! Sometimes I hit it and sometimes I don’t!

When I see peak color, my eyes often fill with tears. Pure heart- stopping, breath-taking, jaw-dropping, speechless moments frozen in time. Brilliant dazzling reds, oranges and golds dancing before me as if a kaleidoscope of color has stolen my field of vision.

I have come to the conclusion that, if you do find peak, real or subjective, consider it to be your icing on the cake. After all, you are in Vermont! And what a place to be in the fall!

Some may disagree with my statement, “After all, you are in Vermont”. Many travelers come from afar (even out of the country) and plan months ahead of time to see great fall color in Vermont. This is often their primary focus. Although I am close enough to the state to return at will, I do empathize with folks who come across a “not so great” foliage year or who miss the timing on a “perfectly fabulous” one. It’s happened to me many times and I live right here in New England. I know it can be discouraging. There’s always next year. For those of you Vermonters who have the blessed opportunity to be there when and where it happens, I ENVY YOU!!!

So, what do you do for a backup scenario? Plan ahead! Make an itinerary! Find things to do and don’t obsess over finding the peak! You will lose some of the pleasure of being in the great state of Vermont during the most beautiful season of all!

Hike, bike, horseback ride, visit a country store, take a gondola, tram ride or train excursion, kayak, take a cruise on Lake Champlain, go to a fall foliage festival, stay overnight at a working farm and join in the chores, stop at a farm stand or farmer’s market. The list is endless! And, if you get your “icing on the cake” so to speak, then you have arrived! After all, it’s the big picture that counts!

Enjoy your time in Vermont this fall, and make the best of it! The leaves are waiting for you!

What are your thoughts on finding the elusive peak? How would you describe your “peak foliage” in terms of color?
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