Freezing Rain and Cardinals on Ice
Hot Springs Facts: Hot Springs National Park is America’s Oldest Park in the NPS System
Going to the Park for my morning hike was a tough decision. I went out on our patio and could see trees covered in ice, but when I looked below at the street everything appeared to be moving. It dawned on me the Hot Springs kept the ground warm so the ice was likely, only on the plants. I threw on winter gear and was out the door before 9:00 am.
Yes, the park was still except for myself, some Cardinals, a Green Warbler and Robins. It looked so beautiful, but I could see the strain the ice was putting on many of the plants. The silence was broken by cracking sounds in the distance as limbs were giving way to the weight of the frozen moisture. As I turned a Cardinal landed in an ice layered tree and I imagined it was not comfortable to be clinging to a frozen branch. I strolled along the Tufa terrace and over to the Peak Trail. Once I heard bird calls up the carriage road I headed out that direction.
I had not planned to hike to the top but once I was half way up the Dead Chief Trail there was not turning back. I had to see what was on the short Cut and the view from the Pagoda. Up top the birds were all trying to shelter around the NSP restrooms and I felt guilty walking past as it caused them to take flight. Still no sign of human life and when I reached the Pagoda the view of the valley had a silvery eerie cast. Leaving the Pagoda I heard a loud crack and turned to see a large branch swing upside down. The branch made me realize it would be safer to take the peak Trail down as it had less over hanging branches.
The Peak Trail was transformed from the day before. Where once sleeping leafless trees stood, now was a silvery forest. Shimmering glazed trees lined the path as I made my way back down in silence. It was a peaceful hike back down the mountain. The last section of the path was now completely covered with bent trees and I had to carefully step around them. I did not want to accidentally break any plants on my way out.
As I headed out of the park I noticed a male and female Cardinal warming themselves at the edge of the hot spring water as it cascaded into the pool below. Above them a male Cardinal sat perched in a tree above the steam content to be in a temperate zone created by the rising vapor. It’s seems everyone in the park loves, the hot springs.
Thank You for joining me on today’s Adventure.