This top photo (which is NOT mine, for full disclosure) is what I expected for the “Tunnel of Trees” when we started planning our fall color photo trip, and this was going to be a focal point (no pun intended) of our trip. In fact, by going in the middle of October I feared that we might be too late. I feared that most of the fall color would be sparse, if not already gone. I guess one just never knows what will pan out in reality. It might be something completely different than what you expect. Colors were at their peak in the Upper Peninsula, as I will touch on in future posts.
The second photo is what we saw at the “Tunnel of Trees”. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a beautiful scene. The greens are indeed lovely in their own right, but I will be honest and say that I was still somewhat disappointed by the lack of fall color. That was why we went when we did.
Turns out that it has been an unusually warm autumn this year, and warm weather does not prompt the leaves to turn color and fall. Also, as I was told by locals, colors always turn inland before they turn near the lake coast.
The lake coast has a more stable temperature for both day and night, while the inland areas get colder at night, so they turn sooner. This would explain why we saw much more vivid colors as near as ten miles inland than we saw on the coast. This third and last photo shows much better colors, taken the same day, just 10 or so miles inland. Quite a difference, isn’t it?
In spite of my disappointment, I want to go back. I would even be open to going in late spring when everything is fresh, but I’d like to catch the turning color, too. There are also several small towns that are worthy of investigation, such as Charlevoix, Petosky, Harbor Springs, and so on. We might plan a trip for a week sometime in the future and focus on just the northwest tip of the lower peninsula.