Autumn Portal

I am back home and chasing fall. October is the peak of color somewhere every day in the southern Appalachian mountains, and part of the fun is looking for it. Some years it is like hide and seek, with only single fiery trees in hidden forests. Other years there is a predictable progression, with colors moving steadily down in elevation week by week, coloring entire mountainsides.

This year has been somewhere in the middle. The month began with torrential rains, which blew and knocked off many leaves. I thought maybe the official prediction of better than average color was wrong. But as the month has gone on, the intermittent cold nights and warm summery days have triggered the remaining leaves to increasingly spectacular shades.
I went to Roan Mountain, less than an hour from my home in Tennessee, since there is a lot of elevation to explore. I was especially struck by this natural tunnel of autumn leaves and pulled off to photograph it. On one level it looked like a gorgeous fall scene, a winding road beckoning me on. But on another level it was just slightly creepy, glowing leaves ending in a dark leafy tunnel to somewhere unknown. I felt it was a portal at least to autumn, if not another world. Still, after taking this photo I drove on, and it was decidedly wonderful being enveloped in an arching world of fall color.