Fall has always been my favorite season. Back in Philadelphia, fall arrived in late October and brought bright red, orange, yellow, and brown leaves to the hills and valleys. We carved pumpkins before Halloween and put them out on our porches until trick or treating was over. We wore cute little hats and gloves that didn’t actually keep us warm and stylish boots with zero traction on the bottom. We picked apples off trees in apple orchards and pumpkins out of pumpkin patches.
Fall in Alaska is so much different. For starters, fall begins around the end of August and stretches through the first week of October if we’re lucky. It starts with the tundra changing colors high up in the mountains and slowly moves down to sea level where all the trees turn yellow. The uniform color is still a shock to me after all of my years on the east coast.
Fall is also the last frantic push of hiking without snow on the ground. Every time the sun comes out I find myself drawn to the mountains, even if it’s in the middle of a work week and I have to rush to get home before the sun sets. Hikes that are normally boring because they’re all below treeline suddenly become exciting in a forest of gold leaves.
Fall means getting your puffy jacket, thick fleece lined hat, and touchscreen gloves out of storage and keeping them in your hiking pack at all times. It means thinking harder about what you have to pack when you hike and when you camp because it’s so much colder at night and on mountaintops.
Fall means carving a pumpkin way before Halloween because they start to rot too soon if they’re kept inside a heated building but freeze when they’re kept outside. It means waiting for the first snow in October and keeping your snow boots near the door in case you need them. It means finally getting to see the northern lights because it gets dark enough at night.
Fall means the end of the glorious and short summer months and the beginning of a long, dark winter. I can’t help but feel sad when the last of the leaves fall from the trees, even though I think winter in Alaska is gorgeous and full of its own crazy adventures. It’s a feeling that the carefree summer adventures are over and our hibernation is about to begin. But fall is still my favorite season, and I’m hoping to get a few more weeks out of this year’s fall season outside!
What is fall like where you live? What is your favorite thing about fall?