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Indian summer in Bieszczady Mountains

Bieszczady Mountains greet Fall colors in mid September. The peak of foliage can range from late September through the end of October. Fall colors are as short-lived as they are glorious. What makes them so remarkable?

Indian summer occurs at the beginning of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere (temperate climate), when the temperatures suddenly rise for a short time after a first frost. During this time green leaves turn into various shades of red, orange, gold, yellow, sometimes even purple, pink, blue or black. Countryside looks really beautiful. It’s also relatively warm, so people spend more time out in the open. Many of them head out to the forests to see the changing colors of this so called „fifth season”. There’s even an American term for this activity – „a leaf peeping” 🙂 Of course  Japanese have a term for this too – it’s „momijigari” (hunting for red leaves / maple tree).

Bieszczady Indian summer

It’s hard to predict when the fall foliage will peak. Depending on the weather conditions it may start from late September through the end of October. Every year it’s different. Truly wonderful transformation of seasons 🙂

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As the summer ends, the green pigments in leaves deteriorate, giving other colors a chance to appear. Carotenoids, the pigment that makes carrots orange and leaves yellow, are exposed as the green fades.

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Reds & purples come from anthocyanins, a pigment that is formed when sugars in leaves break down in bright autumn sunlight. The brilliant red of the maples and beeches depends on how much sugar is produced in the leaves and trapped in the chill of an autumn night. The more sugar that accumulates, the brighter red the leaves turn. And how vivid the colors will be depends of factors, such as how much the leaves were exposed to the sun and rain.

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Bieszczady is definitely my favorite mountain range of all Polish mountains. The name of the mountains consist of two parts referring to the local folklore: „biesy” is the name of evil powers, wild devils and „czady” – referring to good, wild supernatural creatures.

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This mountain range runs from the extreme south-east of Poland through Ukraine and Slovakia, and it’s a part of Outer Eastern Carpathians. The characteristic feature of this mountains is a typical meadow on the mountain’s top. Bieszczady takes very specific place in my heart. I was raised  in that mountains and I’ll always think of them as my home ♥

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Bieszczady Mountains are heavily visited during all seasons, especially summertime, but for the locals it’s the Fall what makes them feel really close to the nature. Personally I always choose to visit my parents’ home in the mountains in the early Fall. It always brings to my mind the memories of happy childhood, wilderness and freedom; collecting chestnuts on my way from school, picking berries and hazelnuts in the forest, crunching fallen leaves under my feet, my mom’s home-made pie with berries & apples, the smell of campfire wood, clear and chilly nights, morning sun, which makes the dew drops look like a thousands of pearls on a spider’s webs… real Indian summer 🙂

Bieszczady home made pie

The Bieszczady area was once a lively centre of agriculture and commerce. For many centuries the towns and villages were home to a Polish, Ukrainian and Jewish. People lived in relative peace and modest prosperity until the II World War. Following the deaths caused by the war ethnic displacement &  forced resettlement left the region poor, underdeveloped and… wild. While wilderness areas elsewhere in the world have become populated over the last 100 years, the Bieszczady was emptied on purpose. Now, when the remains of abandoned homes has long gone, fruit trees are the only evidence that people once lived nearby.

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Another beautiful Polish mountains worth visiting at this time of the year are Tatra Mountains, located a little bit to the West from Bieszczady.

Tatra Mountains

Vividly colored fall leaves may grab your attention, but don’t overlook the other pros of this season – there are more edible mushrooms in autumn than any other time a the year. If you’re planning to go for some mushroom hunting don’t forget to obey to this 5 easy to remember rules. Good luck 🙂

Mushrooming basket

Izabela Fall

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