Even though 40 tree-generations have passed since the glaciers, equilibrium has yet to be established, according to Forests & Trees of the Adirondack High Peaks Region by Edwin H. Ketchledge. Species still compete for territory, he writes, in an ebb and ﬂow of ﬁre, climate, insect and fungal attacks, land use and logging.
Ketchledge’s book, ﬁrst published by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1967, is a pocket-size ﬁeld guide as well as a key to understanding the landscape. Ketch, a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division’s Italy campaign, has dedicated his life to Adirondack conservation, botany and teaching. Only poets have written so fondly about trees. Today he is retired from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, living in the Adirondack town of Peru with his wife, Jean.
“Fall is the best time to stand on a high summit and visually scour the high country landscape,” he writes. “[The colors] will reveal to you which forest areas have a story to tell.” Fall is also the best time to pick up some luminous leaves from the trail. They too have a story to tell.