Many people think that when the leaves are past their peak, there is nothing left to enjoy. I am not one of those people.
I love the late fall, when the weather often gifts us with delightful Indian summer days. It's perfect hiking weather, with the crisp air and bright sunshine. There's even a bonus we won't get again until early spring. The fallen leaves let more light onto the forest floor, brightening up any hike and expanding our photo possibilities.
And there is still plenty of pretty left.
My destination today is Noblewood Park in Willsboro. It is located where the Boquet River empties into Lake Champlain, so there are some unique shoreline shapes and varieties of terrain. This combines into marvelous settings for birding, hiking, and my goal today, beachcombing.
The nature and birding trails are open year round, with off-season admission (by foot) being free from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is easy to follow the signs at the trailhead junctions and quickly reach the beach.
There's still color in the forest, with the golden tints common to late fall. These broad, flat trails are a joy to stroll over. Lowland areas create a contrasting landscape with different trees and shrubs, while one section of the path descends to the edge of a high slope.
I can hear the beach before I see it. While there is always the rustling roar of waves and cries of seagulls on the Lake Champlain shore, this is also the time of year when geese practice their plans for the flight south, using their honks to stay in touch with each other.
It is an amazing sight to see hundreds of geese taking to the air, forming and reforming themselves into that all important V-shape. This is why they practice like pilots flying in formation. Because that is exacty what they are doing.
It conserves their energy because the lead geese handle the most wind resistance, giving the geese behind them an easier ride. Geese take turns for each other, so the whole flock can fly further before needing to stop for rest. This also makes it easy for every bird to communicate and coordinate their movements. The V-formation lets them keep track of what the other geese are doing.
Noblewood Park is a fine place for birding. Find out more about Fall Bird Migration in the Lake Champlain Region.
Oh, the beach
Today's yen for beachcombing is what made me think of Noblewood. It has a large expanse of beach and a stunning setting. The currents bring lots of driftwood to these shores, and I find nature has a real talent for such sculpture.
As much as I like these, it wouldn't be right, or easy, to lug them home. So I look for pocket-sized finds. While this is not a good location for frosted glass, because of the sandbar at the entrance that makes it so good for birds, there are some wild varieties of nature's art in progress.
There are abundant seashells here, helped along by the gulls, but the ones I find today are either clumps that are too large or single ones which are too small. But I am always up for interesting rocks and shore-shaped chunks of wood.
I find some interesting items by looking for wet gleams right at the waterline. This is how I found the interesting layered rocks seen below, with varying levels of smoothness and bright gleams in sunlight. The sandstone round, in the lower corner, is satiny smooth (as rocks go) and a soft gray color.
Art can be found all over the area. See the blog post, Browse our art shops.
Patience makes the pretty
The beautiful beach has added fall color, not something common to most beaches unless they are along the Northern Atlantic, or, as here, on Lake Champlain.
I have enjoyed my walk so much I don't mind that my treasures today are small. The fun is in the finding, after all. I have walked almost all of the shore and was deciding to head back to the forest when my luck turned.
It is polished to a soft finish, half the size of my palm, and perfectly placed to catch my eye.
That's what is so great about beachcombing. Sooner or later, there's something to love.
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