Seven Reasons October is the Best Month of the Year

7 Reasons Why October is the Best Month EverHere’s the thing: October is the best month, period. You spend all of September impatiently waiting for cooler weather and Instagramming every lone yellowed leaf you come across in anticipation of a proper autumn scene, and then October comes and steps up the game. It’s autumn, folks – for real. The colors are exploding, the heat of summer is finally vanishing, and everything from lattes to beer are flavored with pumpkin.

I could go on for days about how wonderful October is, but here are the seven defining elements that make this month superior to the rest of the year:

Autumn Foliage (and fall road trips)

It’s the most obvious sign that October is here: Every tree in sight is trading in greenery for leaves painted yellow, red, and fiery orange hues. Hikes are impossibly scenic, road trips transform from boring drives to spectacular roadside displays, and the background of every climbing photo becomes more alluring than the actual climb. I adore when the wind stirs trees and causes them to rain leaves down – pure magic.

If there’s ever been a time to hop in your car and drive to North Carolina to cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s now.

Bouldering Season

Bouldering at Three Sisters Park in Colorado - with my favorite fall scarf!With a few notable exceptions (I’m looking at you, Squamish), the summertime renders bouldering nearly impossible – unless you’re into greasy holds, swarms of bugs, and sweltering heat. After obsessively checking the southeastern weather forecasts for weeks, it’s finally here: bouldering season is upon us. The next few months will be prime season for crushing projects, smearing up friction dependent lines, and not having to worry about brushing slimy holds after every attempt. Hang up your harness, and unleash the crash pads!

Pumpkin Flavored Everything

Not everyone jives with the outdoorsy aspects of autumn, but there’s one thing we can all agree on: pumpkin. And even though pumpkin spice lattes have been lurking on the scene since late August, October is when it’s perfectly excusable to add pumpkin to anything edible. Breweries put pumpkin ale on tap, my mom invents crazy things like pumpkin lasagna, and my favorite dessert of all time makes a comeback: pumpkin pie. I even found pumpkin spice flavored marshmallows the other day – and yes, they were delicious.

Craving pumpkin? Check out my homemade pumpkin spice latte recipe!

Campfires

My favorite smell, of all time, is the wafting aroma of burning wood. There is just something so comforting and reminiscent of the south about ‘em – and finally, it’s cool enough in the evenings to set a batch of wood ablaze. The best part about campfires? The way the smell lingers in your jacket for weeks, reminding you of the autumn adventures you just went on. Break out the skewers and bring on the marshmallows!

Niko picking apples in North Carolina.

Apple Picking and Hot Apple Cider

While pumpkin is the reigning circular food of the fall season, apples deserve some love too. Autumn presents the perfect conditions for bundling up in a cozy sweater and toting a basket through charming orchards while loading up on juicy hand-picked fruit. It’s an annual October activity for me, and visits to apple farms always give me an excuse to indulge on fresh apple cider, dried apple rings, and homemade applesauce. Honeycrisps may not be in season anymore, but there’s still a bounty of deliciousness to be reaped from orchards. Many have pumpkin picking too!

Flannels, Scarves, and Cozy Layers

If it’s chilly enough for campfires, you know it’s crisp enough to unearth cold weather clothing from the depths of your closet. I can finally justify the unreasonable collection of knit scarves, oversized beanies, insulated boots, and plaid flannels I’ve kept tucked in the van all year – it’s October, baby! But forget my own appearances, every gal knows the best part of fall fashion is how irresistible a handsome man’s beard looks when it’s bundled up in layers of plaid and cozy jackets.

Onset of the Seasonal Spirit

There is absolutely nothing okay about seeing Christmas decorations starting to go on sale, but October marks the beginning of the holiday season. Folks start decorating their doorsteps (or vans, like my buddy here in Kentucky just did) with haystacks, carved pumpkins, and spooky ghouls for Halloween, then turkeys and stuffed pilgrims come on the scene for Thanksgiving – and before you know it, Santa is coming to town. I’m a huge sucker for the spirit of the holidays, with all the eggnog-induced merriment, family gatherings, and heaps of homemade feasts. I can almost taste my family’s traditional bacon-covered turkey now.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve successfully sparked a need to go munch on some pumpkin marshmallows while wearing my favorite beanie and daydreaming of all my bouldering projects at Rocktown. Carry on, October lovers – this is your month!

 

Picking my own apples at Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard in North Carolina

After a wild evening spent celebrating the marriage of Kirby and Julia Crider, I awoke to my last day in North Carolina with a mean hangover that could only be cured by one thing: apple picking. I was invited to embark on a pick-your-own adventure during a lovely meal of homemade chicken pot pie with two 80-something-year-old women who regaled me all evening with tales of their own cross country adventures in the 1940s – bad ass.

As a Florida gal, I have picked many a things, like strawberries, tomatoes, avocados in my backyard, the works. However, I had never before had the experience of strolling through a sprawling orchard, plucking the prettiest apples I could get my hands on. My host for this adventure was Marie, a charming woman who makes some amazing apple butter from scratch. She drove Dena and I to the Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard on the outskirts of Hendersonville, and I was immediately in heaven.


The property boasts plump bodies of apple trees that sweep across the land for as far as the eye can see. The friendly women who worked at the orchard armed us with a map of the different apple varieties, and pointed us in the direction of the best pickings before setting us lose amongst the trees.

It was hard to control myself from snatching up every apple in sight, but Marie taught me the delicate process behind picking prime produce. Apparently, you should look for a flattened bottom to indicate a good apple – but honestly, I just went for the fruit that called out to me for whatever reason. Some were shiny, some had robust colors that couldn’t be ignored, and some were just too cute not to take home.

I was enchanted by the rows of apple trees, and the slightly rotten scent of fermenting apple flesh that wafted from the hoards of discarded fruit left abandoned beneath each tree. All was not lost though, as further investigation underneath one of the trees revealed that the lumps of fallen apples were being voraciously devoured by swarms of bees.

My woven basket was soon filled with all sorts of apples. My favorites are the little Galas, which can easily be eaten within a few bites if you’re not willing to commit to the idea of a big apple. Then there were the Jonagolds, a few Empires, and then the ultimate apple, my lone Honey Crisp. I had never tasted a Honey Crisp before coming to Hendersonville, but after just one bite into one I was hooked. It is hands down the best apple variety I have ever tasted – but alas, it was too late in the season to pick any, according to the orchard worker. I scoured the barren row of Honey Crisp trees in desperate search of overlooked treasure, and with my luck I was able to snag the final apple from one of the trees.

After satisfactorily loading myself up with a hoard of apples, we returned to the main orchard store to cash in our winnings. What I thought would surely be a fortune’s worth of apples miraculously only cost $5.00 – at a price like that, I could happily pick all my produce. I also stocked up on dehydrated apple rings made on the farm, and a few bottles of homemade cider.

The apples withstood crossing six state lines, a few nights of camping, funky changes in the weather, and a few other mishaps before making their way home to Denver. I offered my basket as a ‘thanks for letting me crash on your couch forever’ gift for the lovely men here in Colorado – and naturally I gave my beloved Honey Crisp to McGoo to try. He was skeptical about my musings at first, but after a few bites he admitted that it was in fact the best apple he has ever tasted.

As my travels in North Carolina come to a close, I have to once again thank everyone in this beautiful state who hosted me, fed me, took me on adventures, and made my trip amazing. I am overwhelmed with gratitude, and can hardly express my love for all of you. What a blessed little vagabond I am.