September 16, 2016
This year, fall in the northern hemisphere is officially between September 22 and December 20. This solar-based definition lumps everywhere together from an inch north of the Equator to the North Pole, and everywhere in between. If we think of the fall being the time when it is cold but not really cold yet, then fall usually ends a little before this along the shores of Lake Superior. Still, during the official fall many things are falling.
“One of the things that we are known for here are our maples and our oaks inland,” said Tettegouche State Park Naturalist Kurt Mead. “This is kind of in the north end of the park. As far as fall colors go, people like to see the bright colors of the oaks and the maples.”
So, the leaves are the most obvious thing that falls in the fall and Tettegouche Park is a great place to enjoy their colorful last stand on the trees. Tettegouche is just a little further from Grand Superior Lodge than the better known Gooseberry Falls, which has similar scenery. Kurt says they normally predict the color peak to be on the 3rd Saturday in September, though that can vary. Part of this variation has to do with the amount of rainfall in the spring and summer, which have helped this year.
“If everything holds, it should be a good fall color year,” said Kurt.
These same conditions have helped with the waterfalls, which are normally slow in the fall.
“We have a lot of water in the falls and the falls are flowing great,” said Kurt.
Along the shoreline is another type of water falling, or rather water crashing. These can be as popular as the waterfalls inland.
“It is kind of rugged and beautiful,” said Kurt. “It is rugged with lots of rock and lots of cliff. So, there are a lot of people who come here as much for the waterfalls as for the shoreline that we have here.”
You may have heard of “The Gales of November.” This is the period of turbulent weather that can bring large winds and waves to the shoreline, especially if the wind is coming from the right direction.
“If we get easterly winds we get huge waves and waves crashing over cliffs, and photographers like that sort of thing,” said Kurt. “If there are strong east or north easterly winds predicted, you can pretty much guarantee pretty good action here.”
This fall period is also a time when the number of bugs declines and then drops off completely. This disappearance of insects, especially mosquitoes, is always a great feature of fall.
Usually, well within the official definition of fall, the north shore receives at least some snowfall. For Kurt these first snowfalls are special.
“By then, there are no leaves on the trees,” said Kurt. “When the leaves fall off, your sightline gets longer. You get to see things farther and with a little snow on the ground, you can see animal tracks in the snow. When there is a fresh layer of snow that is a good time to go tracking.”
You can find out more about animal tracking, in Tettegouche State Park’s visitor center. They can give you advice and some materials to help you follow the animals’ trails. This is another part of the extended fall season when the sun falls earlier in the day, the snow falls, and it is easier to see evidence of the fall of animals’ feet.