Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Archive for April, 2010

Spring Rain and Unexpected Acolades

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas Short Cut Trail Fungi

April showers have hit Hot Springs, with a dash flash flood threats. My beloved Rick is still healing please pray for his recovery. A weather alert this evening indicates the flash flood warning will continue until Sunday morning.  I know the rain is greatly needed in the Forest!

While Rick was in the hospital this past week I would run up the Mountain and back down each morning before heading to the Hospital be by his side.   I hope you will enjoy the beauty in the Forest.

Love to You All,

PS: In February this year I joined a site called RedBubble an Art Gallery and Community site. It appeared to be the perfect location for me to receive peer feedback of my photography. This morning a group Wildflowers of North America made me a “Forever Feature Member” and put many of my photographs up on their wall. It was thanks this group a passion for Wildflowers was born, thank you Vickie and Blair.


February Goat Rock Trail Birds-Foot Violet

Returning to the Forest

Hot Springs National Park, AR Park Entrance Squirrel

My sweet friend above is a reminder that hiking in the forest can mean contact with ticks.

A perfect sunrise greet Rick and I on our patio, a beautiful way to celebrate his surviving his heart attack.

Hot Springs Sunrise From Our Patio

As I entered the park I am greeted by a sweet squirrel peering at me from a tree. After I am deemed a non-threat it hops down and forages for breakfast.  It is always a perfect way to start my morning hike.  Heading up the Floral Trail I am amazed at the amount of new growth throughout the forest. Each day the trail seems new as more plants appear, climbing higher they form a dense canopy above me.

I connect with the Lower Dogwood Trail and a spot chalice shaped fungus growing from an old log.  Below the larger growth are lovely smaller button shaped Fungi, I Love Nature’s beautiful artistry.  On the Upper Dogwood Trail I glance into the curve at the base of an old tree and another Fungi display.  They are fantastic in their texture color and design, I am joyous to find each new fungus.

From the Upper Dogwood Trail I connect to The Hot Springs Mountain Trail and hike up to the North Mountain Overlook.  From there down to the upper portion of the Goat Rock Trail to see the flowering Wild Plum Trees.  The white blossoms look glorious against the vibrant blue sky as I peer up into the Tree.  As I head toward the Upper Dogwood Trail I spot several Brown Moths flitting between the path and the Wildflowers along the edges. They appear to dance upon the wind as they circle around me.

My hike in the forest is a taste of serenity, in the glow of  green bathing the path before me. I stop to watch a lovely spider weaving a web between two plant stems.  It has a yellow, white and black body, it appears to sparkle as the sun shines on it’s web.

Along the Lower Dogwood Trail I can hear the rustling of leaves and cannot quite see the small creatures moving through the forest. It makes me smile to know I am never alone as I hike in the Mountain.  I reach the Floral Trail and begin my hike out of the park.  On a log I see a Robin’s Egg cracked and emptied of it’s life.  It reminds me Spring is also a fight for survival by many of the Park’s future inhabitants.

As I reach the bottom of the Trail a wonderful Brown Swallowtail Butterfly lands in front of me. It flies from leaf to leaf along the Trail edges. It is a beautiful sight as it catches the breeze and travels deeper into the Forest. A Lovely Bicknell’s Thrush sings me a sweet song as I begin my walk home.  It has been a wonderful morning hike in the park.

Let Nature fill your Heart!
Love to You All,

PS: My Rick is doing much better today! Thank You for the Love and Prayers you have sent our way.

Thank You!

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas Promenade Iris

Thank You ALL dear readers/friends for the kind messages and prayers for Rick.  The two stent procedures were successful and he is home recovering.

Lee and Rick

Sunrise in the Park for my Beloved Rick

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas Sunrise In The Park

My beloved Fiance’ Rick is having a heart stent procedure today… please pray for him.  Thank You for the beautiful messages and prayers it means the world to us both.

Love to You ALL,

Lee and Rick

Seeing Red before the Storm

Carriage Road Male Cardinal

The forecast is for Rain accented with Thunder and Lightning, the dark sky is an indication this is likely correct.  I decide a quick up and back hike on Hot Springs Mountain would be the safest idea.  The park mammals are not visible and appear to have taken cover for the impending storm.  The birds however are all singing their best rain songs from the Trees in the lower park trails.

On the Carriage Road two male Cardinals are fighting for position to sing in a sheltered Tree.  The loser moves to an evergreen and begins to broadcast his message concerning the changing weather. His red feathers look glorious against the green Tree and gray cloudy sky.  A large group arrives with portable music to take family photographs, so it’s onward and upward for me.

I begin my hike up the Dead Chief Trail but change my mind quickly.  As I reach the the top of the first incline I hear the music coming closer and look back to see ten people coming up the Mountain.  I head down the Hot Springs Mountain Road and cut over to the Peak Trail.

The hike up the Peak Trail is a song fest as the birds of the Forest all announce the impending storm.  The air is heavy with humidity and the insects are a bit pesky as I head to the top.  The melody in the air is sweet so I can forgive a few annoying insects.  The sky is getting darker and I am wondering if I will get back before the rain arrives.

As I reach the top of the trail I am greeted by another male Cardinal.  He sits in the Tree across from me, he looks down and then cocks his head to peer up through the leaves at the sky.  Does he know something I don’t?  I decide to start my decent on the Hot Springs Mountain Trail. A sweet little Sparrow appears to see me on my way.

As the sky darkens I pick up my pace and decide as much as I Love Nature and Her beauty getting off the Mountain should be my first priority.  I connect with the Honeysuckle and then the Floral Trail to the Hot Springs Mountain Road.  It is now darker than when I began my hike over an hour ago and I am happy to see home n the distance.  Fifteen minutes after I arrive home the Rain begins, followed by Thunder and Lightning. Nature can be fierce, I respect Her power.

Love to you ALL!

Snakes, Lizards and a Turtle Happy Earth Day!

Upper Dogwood Trail Texas Rat Snake

As I walk up the  Fountain Street sidewalk inside Hot Springs National Park, suddenly nut shells begin to rain down around me.  I look up and see a Squirrel chewing on the sweet tender meat of a newly shelled nut.  It makes me smile to see them on this glorious Earth Day in the Park.  I head toward the Floral Trail and spot a sweet Chipmunk foraging on the hillside next to me. I am blessed to be here.

I hike up the Floral Trail to the Lower Dogwood Trail and I am surprised by a movement to the side of me. I look down and see a snake coiled up on the edge of the trail. The big North American Racer lifts it’s head as I step back to take a photo, flicks it’s tongue and heads up the embankment away from me. A perfect Earth Day gift from Nature.

I connect with the Upper Dogwood then take the Hot Springs Mountain Trail to the Gulpha Gorge. From the Gulpha Gorge Trail I head over to the Goat Rock trail.  Along the Trail I hear rustling in the leaves and wonder if its Snakes or Lizards moving about.  Another gift from Nature a Prairie Racer, the first I have spotted.  It’s brown racing stripes and changing color tail are so beautiful.  Further up the trail a plump, perhaps pregnant Prairie Lizard it sitting on a log flicking  it’s tongue at passing insects.

I am escorted along the upper part of the Goat Rock Trail by a Mourning Dove.  No matter how close I get the funny bird just keeps strolling along ahead of me.  It made me joyous to have this special guide through the Forest.  Continuing onto the Upper Dogwood Trail I can hear a light rustling sound and I look down to see a wonderful Male Box Turtle.  It is the first Turtle I have seen in the park.

As I near the top of the Trail I spot a lovely couple from New Jersey I had spoken with earlier.  They are staring at something and as I approach they point out a large (5 ft plus) Texas Rat Snake. The snake is stretched out on the Forest floor, several bulges in his body are an indication he is resting after a big feast.  Nature has blessed me again with the sight of this glorious snake.

I hike from the Upper Dogwood to the Lower Dogwood and off North Mountain via the Floral Trail. Special thanks to the engineer of the cute rock sculpture I discovered along the trail today.  It has been a perfect Earth Day in the Park, thank you for sharing it with me.

Love You All,

Butterflies, Chipmunks, Squirrels, Wildflowers and Magnolias

Hot Springs National Park Arlington Lawn Yellow Butterfly

I left a bit later this morning and the Lower Park at the Arlington Lawn was empty of people but is alive with Nature.  A beautiful Yellow Swallowtail Butterfly dances gracefully over the Fuchsia Azaleas.  Occasionally is dips into the bell of a bloom seeking out the sweet nectar in the center.  A lovely Squirrel is searching the lawn for a well deserved breakfast, I Love joy with which it relishes its prize.

I head up to the promenade on my way to the Peak Trail and spot a sweet Chipmunk filling it’s cheeks with tender seeds.  A black and blue Butterfly brushes past me and lands near the Hot Spring Cascade.  As I lean over for a closer look I see a lovely Chipmunk sitting on a Rock above the steam. Nature is glorious and her beauty is flowing all around me in the park this morning.

From the Promenade I connect to the Tufa Terrace and then the Peak Trail. The Forest embraces all who enter now, its canopy spreading out over the many trails.  As I hike up the Peak Trail I spot a lovely Chipmunk staring at me from the top of an old stump. The morning sun is shining gentle illuminating it from behind. When I reach the top of the Peak Trail I notice the Shooting Star Wildflowers are now tiny fluffy seed balls. Their beauty was fleeting and I am so happy I was able to see their short lived blossoms.

I connect with the Hot Springs Mountain Trail then hike over to the Upper Dogwood and Lower Dogwood Trails to reach the Floral Trail. Phlox appears in many beautiful colors all along the trails as I head to the park entrance.  A melodic Northern Mockingbird serenades me as I complete the last bend on the Floral Trail.

When I reach Arlington Lawn I look up and see the birth of a Magnolia Blossom in one of the large Trees that line both Fountain Street and Central Avenue with in the park.  It is a long awaited event as the Magnolia perfume will fill the Historic District.  The morning has been a blessing of life in the park.

Love to You ALL!


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