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"Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons."
Gone are most of the hues a teenager would go for: the neon chartreuses, vivid oranges, and reds. In this week are the more lustrous earth tones like brown-gold, golden-green, rusty brown, and burnt oranges. Think of it this way: instead of new starlets – those bright dazzlers that strike us as fresh and bright and unexpected – you’re going to see some old, classic favorites that are equally lovely, and in some cases even more lovely, because they’re classic, elegant, sophisticated, and aged. There is one hillside in the south district, at Rocky Top Overlook, that last week was glowing with vivid jewel tones of ruby red, citrine, topaz, and garnet. This week that same hillside is cinnamon, pumpkin, and Dijon mustard ochre. There is a hillside in the northeast portion of the central district that grabs you as you come around the curve heading north on Skyline Drive: it looks like a stand of nothing but different varieties of pears – the yellow-greens of unripe Bartletts, yellow-browns of Boscs, subdued golden-greens of Anjous. These are tuliptrees, hickories, oaks, a few beeches. And they’re absolutely gorgeous. It’s almost as if someone flipped a switch around mile 36: If you’re driving north on Skyline Drive from the southern end of the scenic highway to the north, you’ll notice in the area of mile 36 that where you were seeing hillsides of these buffed, patina’d, more elderly colors – even quite a few trees who have already shed their leaves and stand naked and spare against their brothers’ and sisters’ still-clothed branches – almost suddenly you start noticing that some trees and hillsides are still the colors of a produce stand – apples, peaches, mangoes, and apricots. Oaks tend to change from the brighter, more youthful colors within the same tree and cling to their leaves longer, whereas some trees’ and shrubs’ leaves – maples, sumacs, sassafras – like to burn brightly and then simply blow off, like flower petals, onto the ground. Many of the views from overlooks into hollows, onto mountainsides, and into the Shenandoah Valley and the Piedmont are still breathtaking! Like faux hills and banks in a miniature train scene, quite a few of the outlying hills and hollows of Shenandoah National Park, as seen from overlooks along Skyline Drive, are still astonishing – splashy, even psychedelic. If you come to the park any time in the next few days, you’ll be able to experience these last color shows of fall here. So come, if you can, and see it for yourself. This fall color report will be updated on Friday, October 31, 2014, so check back then to see what’s happening color-wise in Shenandoah National Park.
*Shenandoah staff will post a weekly fall color update each Friday through October. Reports are based on the writer's observations during the preceding week. Please keep in mind that the park is more than 100 miles long and spans a wide elevation range. Fall color conditions can vary dramatically from area to area. Weather affects the color from day to day and even hour to hour. It is impossible to predict a peak. We will do our best to give accurate reports, but please remember that many variables contribute to conditions.
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