Give it a week or two and it should be gorgeous. Our first stop was the medieval inspired Vista House. I should know this by now but there should be a warning sign: "Here Be Wind". I chose to believe it was ice cold Dragon's Breath.
Onward to Shepherd's Dell.
While it looks like the perfect place for a dragon to hang out, we didn't find one here. Next stop, Bridal Veil Falls.
But still no dragons, or fall color. At the next stop, Oneonta Gorge, I could tell we were getting a little close. First clue was the sulferic growth on the basalt cliffs.
Actually, I think it's technically some kind of algae - probably one of the unique varieties that made the Park Service designate the Oneonta Gorge a special botanical area, and set aside the steep narrow canyon. For the adventurous, there is a spectacular falls up the gorge. Unlike any other falls in the Gorge, however this one is *secret* (shh....). There's no trail to it. Instead, the creek itself IS the trail. To get to the falls you have to climb over slippery boulders and a logjam and wade up to your chest about a half mile. We didn't make the attempt this trip. It's a hike/swim that's best undertaken on a hot August day when the water level is lowest, and not with very small kids. Though when I did make it once upon a Sunday there was an entire family of tourists who were trying it, too - with an 80 yr old Gramma in tow wearing her Sunday best dress, sensible pumps and vericose vein socks. If she could do it, then anyone can.
Actually, Oneonta is one of my favorite hidden gems of the Gorge.
And of course no weekend adventure is complete without finding a new slimy/fuzzy friend. This is what is called a "paterpiller" in Monkey-speak.