Fall on a river in the Adirondacks: NPR

Brian Mann of NPR sends us an audio postcard of a canoe trip down a wild river in New York City, in search of fall colors.


Let’s take a moment now to go out in the fall. Yes, it’s officially fall, so NPR’s Brian Mann took a break from his usual reporting to canoe down a wild river in New York’s Adirondack Mountains in search of some amazing fall colors, why not. ? And he shared this audio postcard with us.

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: It’s the kind of trip you take for deep loneliness. The river is difficult to reach. I walked miles of dirt roads to a place in the forest …


MANN: … where I slide my ultralight little canoe into the water.


MANN: I went on the Quebec stream, this small meandering river in one of the wildest corners of the Northeast.


MANN: It’s a bit difficult to navigate, which means people don’t come here a lot. Soon I’m entangled in a winding swamp maze, scaling large beaver dams blocking the path.


MANN: I’m pulling the boat now, perched a bit on top of that big pile of twigs and branches. I’m paddling barefoot today just to make it easier for Huck Finn to get in and out of this canoe. Fortunately, the water still retains some of its summer heat.

The reward for all this work is complete silence. I am alone. There is not another soul, no motors, no cell signal to tempt me to my phone. And there is the color. I cross small hidden ponds surrounded by golden grass. Bright red winter berries shine on the shore. And the bay leaves have taken on the color of plums.


MANN: To get deeper into nature, I make my way through a chain of rocky rapids.

It’s impossible to really paddle the canoe here, so I line the boat, wade in the river, tow it behind me.

As I wade, I see a single crimson maple leaf pressed against a rock by the current. Shortly after, there is a stretch of rapids that are too rocky to pass, so I have to carry my little canoe on my shoulders. I walk on an overgrown portage trail, through a dark forest.

I walk through deep moss beds, fern beds that have started to rust.


MANN: After that the river opens again. As I paddle the sun comes out. There is a hot wind and the song of the cicadas.


MANN: On this fall day, I feel for a moment that I have found one last summer pool. Brian Mann, NPR News in the Adirondack Mountains of New York City.


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