Hot Springs is under a heat advisory until Friday so it is hot as I enter the park at 7:50 am. I am finally getting use to the constant haze caused by the humidity. As I am heading up to the top of the mountain via the Dead Chief and Short Cut Trails I realize I have not seen many Squirrels, Chipmunks and Rabbits for several days. The heat appears to be affecting their normal feeding and movement patterns.
When I reach the top pf the mountain I head around the Mountain on the Hot Springs Mountain Trail. Today I have the trails to myself, the heat is not for the weak. Hiking in the heat is not for everyone and it requires accepting you are going to SWEAT and have to drink a lot of water. It feels lonely today without the Squirrels and Chipmunks chattering at me.
When I reach the trail head a spectacular blue Butterfly appears, I am dazzled by it’s color. It stays only briefly and lands on my shoulder before it flies off into the Forest. It’s wing is soft against my face as it brushes past. When I reach the Upper Dogwood Trail a beautiful orange and brown Moth lands on a leaf next to me. Each time the sun breaks through the clouds in does a delicate ballet moving from leaf to leaf.
When I reach the south side of the Lower Dogwood Trail I have the feeling I am being watched. I look up and see a Male Cardinal staring at me from the bright green of a leafy Tree. Further along I see a sweet Juvenile Cardinal in a Short Leaf Pine. I notice my water is getting low so I head down the Floral Trail toward the Fountain. At the bottom of the Trail a gray blue Moth is balance on the top of a green stalk. As slight breeze caused the stalk to weave back and forth.
When I reach the fountain a brown and tan Moth lands on me and it is impossible to photograph it. It finally moves to the walkway and spreads it’s glorious wings. In case you think I am a magnet for Butterflies and Moths the truth is they are trying to lick the pollen that has accumulated on my clothing while hiking. As I am filling my water container and violet, brown and orange Butterfly lands on the wall next to me. While I am photographing it another lands and then takes off quickly. It has been a delightful hike filled with winged beauties.
Nature’s delicate creatures are always a feast for the eyes, open yours to their beauty.