Autumn can be a magical time of the year. The trees start looking like little balls of candy against the mountain sides; everything becomes pumpkin spice flavored and the weather will mess with your sinuses more than you want.

Fall officially kicked off on Friday, Sept. 22 with the astronomical equinox.

Higher elevations have already started to show spotty color changes, and lower elevations will continue to change even after most of the leaves have fallen off of the trees on the tippy-top of the expansive Tennessee mountains.

One of my favorite fall activities is driving through the mountains and looking out over the rolling hills of crimson and amber crushing the green remnants of summer while sipping a cinnamon or pumpkin flavored caffeine drink.

Sure, the easy, affordable and healthy thing to do would be to just hike Buffalo Mountain and drink some water, but I’m not trying to torture myself with exercise; I’m trying to pretend the far-away trees look like lollipops planted in the earth.

If you prefer my lazy way of viewing the changing landscape, avoid the busy weekend roads and make your way to the hills during the week.

The best time of day for nature photography is during the early mornings or late in the afternoon. If you go during the harsh light of midday, the colors will look overly saturated, like the photos on your Facebook from when you were in the eighth grade…or was that just me?

Another important thing to remember during this vibrant season is that the weather will be sketchy, like that guy who never saves phone numbers.
The early mornings and late evenings will leave your teeth chattering while the blistering heat during the day could be perfect tanning weather. There will be no way of telling which way the weather will decide to go with unless you step foot outside. Seriously, your weather app might even get it wrong sometimes.

The best way to be prepared for whatever the weather has to offer is to keep an umbrella and sweater handy at all times. These two items could really save you from a super sour mood and are lightweight enough to keep in your backpack without weighing you down too much.

Either way, fall might be the last time you can comfortably go outside. In just a few short months, it will be cuddly-movie-under-the-covers-weather again, so take advantage of being able to comfortably enjoying nature while it lasts.