Golden leaves brighten the landscape surrounding the Toe River in Newland. With temperatures fluctuating between warm and cool, fall color has exhibited an irregular pattern this year, with colors stalling during warmer weather and resuming the shift with cooler temperatures. There has also been a surprising amount of premature defoliation, or leaf-dropping, especially in sugar maples, birches and tulip poplars, which experts are attributing to the unusual weather. Nonetheless, leaf-lookers should expect nice color over the coming weekend and the following week. Photo by Skip Sickler | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation