Exploring a Winter Hardwood Forest
When the temperature is near freezing, and a cold rain has been falling all night, it might not seem the best time to venture deep into an Appalachian hardwood forest at sunrise, but that assumption would be wrong. Autumn leaves remain on many of the trees as a source of water and nutrients all winter, and the rain’s wetness makes their colors almost as vibrant as October. The small stream above had so many colors and textures going on, and leaves were still falling when the breeze blew.
The sound of the falling water was so peaceful in the cold air. Moving up the mountain slope from the stream, the thickness of the trees revealed a magical combination of color and remoteness (below).
American Beech, Red Oak, and Shuggard Oak, hold onto their fall folliage in spite of winter’s worst conditions. This forest can be found five miles north of Lake Lure along the infamous Rutherford Trace, where the Cherokee were driven from their homes early in the American Revolution, but that’s a story for another post.