Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Archive for August, 2010

Along the Sunset Trail to Music Mountain

West Mountain Sunset

Music Mountain Sunset Trail

Music Mountain Sunset Trail

West Mountain Top Trail

Today I decided to head back up West Mountain in the overcast dark of the morning. Up the Canyon Trail to the Oak Trail, Up the Oak Trail to the West Mountain Trail. When I reach the mountain top I realize to see any wildlife on West Mountain I will need to wait for cooler weather. I need to hike up when the sun is higher in the sky.

When I reach the top I notice a Trail that heads higher onto the Mountain.  At trails end I find another Mountain overlook and best of all a map of the first section of the Sunset Trail.  It is great to see I can reach Music Mountain from the Sunset Trail.   I stay for a quick look at the view of the airport and the racetrack, I make a mental note to comeback on a clear day to watch and photograph jets/airplanes landing or taking off.

I head out along the Sunset Trail and I quickly notice it is not highly groomed.  It is an up hill climb through changing scenery then downhill, more uphill and down again. My favorite point in the hike is when I reach a trail sign on Music Mountain. It says Sunset Trail <——–>, the trail on the left side is barely visible to the right more visible.  Another mental note to bring gloves on the next hike so I can safely push the Poison Oak/Ivy aside as I hike.  I travel on the right trail and into a dense forest of  Conifers and Deciduous Trees. After a mile I decide to head back  as I realize I will need more water and a snack before I try to tackle the full 10 miles of the Sunset Trail.  Actually 13 if  including the hike up to reach the Trail head.

When I reach the West Mountain Top Trail I continue my journey on the west side to the Canyon Trail.  The Canyon Trail down to Central Avenue and home.  I Love exploring new places in the park!!!

Thank You for hiking with me!
Much Love,
Lee


Across Hot Springs and North Mountains

Arlington Lawn Future Magnolia

Hot Springs Mountain Trail Tufted Titmouse

Upper Dogwood Trail

Floral Trail Red Spotted Purple Butterfly

Take a hike with me across two Mountains in Hot Springs National Park.  This morning a cool breeze is traveling across my skin as I enter the park.  I am greeted by a tiny sparrow dusting itself in the dry soil below a Magnolia Tree. No longer in bloom the elegant Magnolia seeds sleep in a velvet cocoon high in the dark leaves.

On the Carriage Road I look up to see a beautiful moon rise over West Mountain.  As a Cancer child moon rises always make me feel happy. When I reach the Dead Chief Trail I see a beautiful large blue rock perched next to the stairs.  Early morning light often reveals beautiful details.

When I reach the top of Hot Springs Mountain the clods are clearing and the sun is shining brightly.  On the Hot Springs Mountain Trail I can hear the song of a Tufted Titmouse.  I Look up to see it hopping from branch to branch in the tree above me. It is beautiful to see it’s beautiful wings as it flies across the the higher branches.  Moving along the trail I reveal in the green that will soon give way to the colors of Autumn.  Nearing the trail head I spot a sweet vireo peeking out of the leave of a tree far below me.

I Love the hike down the Gulpha Gorge Trail and onto the Goat Rock Trail.  It rough rocking pine strewn landscape always reminds me of central Oregon. All along the Goat Rock Trail I can hear the rapid scurrying of lizards.  As Goat Rock I finally spot a Five Line Skink and further up a Prairie Lizard. The last remaining wildflowers decorating the trail are Oxeye Daisies in white and lavender.  Now the trail is painted with lichen covered rock and the violet berries of Callicarpa Bush.

My hike across North Mountain via the Upper Dogwood and Lower Dogwood Trails is peaceful and meditative.  I listen to the distant songs of warblers and finches, it is the perfect song for this lovely summer morning.  When I reach the bottom of the Floral Trail a Red Spotted Purple Butterfly lands on the Rock before me.  It gracefully turns and flexes it’s wings as the breeze pushes against it.  Thank You for traveling through the Forest with me this morning.

Much Love,
Lee


A Tribute to Fatherhood: Male Cardinals

Promenade Male Cardinal

Meet some fantastic Fathers, the Male Cardinals of Hot Springs National Park.  On many occasions I have spotted Male Cardinals feeding Chicks, teaching flight school and taking the juveniles on field trips.  They are loving patient and attentive even when multiple chicks are all vying for their attention.

As you will see in the images below Male Cardinals work very hard to be good parents.  This is not to say the females don’t help as well, they stay with the young chicks as they learn to exit the nest.  The males fetch food for the Chicks and as you can see in the last image keep a close eye on visitors in their neighborhood.

Nature is a wonderful teacher!
Much Love to ALL,
Lee

Male Cardinal Feeding Chicks At Nest

Male Cardinal Feeding Chicks At Nest

Arlington Lawn Male Cardinal Caring For Babies

Arlington Lawn Male Cardinal Caring For Babies

Arlington Lawn Male Cardinal Caring For Babies

Arlington Lawn Male Cardinal Caring For Babies

Arlington Lawn Male Cardinal Caring For Babies

Lower Dogwood Female Cardinal And Chick

Lower Dogwood Female Cardinal And Chick


The Glorious Wings of Summer

Promenade Butterfly Weed Common Buckeye

Promenade Butterfly Weed Painted Lady Butterfly

Promenade Male Cardinal

Floral Trail Red Spotted Purple Butterflies

Promenade Racing Pigeons

Promenade Common Buckeye Butterfly

I write this still wrestling with the grief of loosing my Mother.  Today as I was hiking both in the morning and later in the evening with my Beloved Husband Rick I imagined Mom soaring with the birds or gliding on the gentle breezes with the Butterflies and Moths.  Nature has been gently healing my heart each day as I hike through her Forests.

Please enjoy a pictorial hike in the park with me and remember as always you can click on any photo to enlarge it and enjoy it in greater detail.  Thank You all for staying with me and my blog as I mourn my Mother passing away.

Love to You ALL!
Lee


In Memory Of My Mother: Welcome to West Mountain

 


My Moms Obituary

In Memory of my Mother

Today was my Mother’s funeral in Oregon.  When I woke up I decided to climb a new (for me) Mountain in the park and reflect on her beautiful soul.  West Mountain turned out to be up, more up and then more up.  While I enjoyed the scenery and the challenge it was my Mother’s Love for life that filled my heart.

She was one of the brave WWII war brides that traveled to America to marry US Servicemen.  Boarding a Ship in New Zealand  she began the long journey to New York City. I tried to imagine the excitement and fear she experienced.

What was it like to raise three daughters in her new home?  How did she become an American while recovering from the challenges of post WWII. I was always happy she had her British group of ladies that would meet each month.  A group of ladies from New Zealand, Australia and Great Britain all sharing the bond of WWII and marrying an American.

She was strong and fragile all at once.  Her heart was beautiful and forgiving.  No matter how much I screwed up she was always there to Love me.

She was the best Mother… and I will always miss her,  her LOVE will flow through me like river forever

 

 

 

 

 

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In Memory of My Mother: A Morning in the Forest Day 2

 

My Mom Yvette

 

In Loving Memory

As you look through my photos today please remember my Mother via my memories of her.

My favorite birthday cake was the one my Mom made using a Barbie Doll. She made a half circle cake and stuck a Cinderella Barbie Doll in the center.  She used icing to create and dress Barbie in a ball gown… all my friends wanted one for their birthday too :o)

When I was a small child I got chicken pox, my Mother put mittens on my hands so I would not scratch and a scarf over the lamp shade to to protect my eyes from the light. She tucked me into her bed so she could care for me throughout the night. I miss my Mom

Love,
Lee

 

 

 

 

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In Memory of My Mother: A Morning in the Forest

Tufa Terrace Trail Rose Hips Hummingbird

My Mother Yvette

 

In Memory of My Mother

My Mother passed away yesterday so I hope you will forgive the lack of words to go with my Nature photographs for the next couple of days.

Hiking and taking the photographs has been therapeutic and today I imagined my Mother was the lovely little Hummingbird that appeared as I was photographing the Rose Hips beside the path.

She used to call everyday, often while I was hiking and I would share with her what I could see and hear in the Forest.   It was always wonderful to talk to her no matter what I was doing.  I miss her and I have tears to shed, memories to cherish.

I am blessed she always believed in me even when I didn’t.  Her prayers always kept my heart safe and I know she is looking after me from above.  I Love You Mom!

Love to You ALL,
Lee

 

 

 

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Traveling on a New Trail into the Past

Tufa Terrace Trail Chipmunk

Tufa Terrace Trail Eastern Cottontail

Hot Springs National Park, AR Sunset Trail

Hot Springs National Park, AR Gulpha Creek

Carriage Road Asiatic Dayflower

Dead Chief Trail Leaves

This morning is perfection, 70s with a light breeze. It is wonderful hiking weather. The leaves gracefully wave above me as I head into the park. As I reach the of the Tufa Terrace ramp a sweet Chipmunk is sitting upright eating breakfast. A couple with a dog approaches so it dashes into the tall grass by the Tufa rocks. Further up the trail the male Eastern Cottontail is grazing in the grass. An insect causes him to dash around the grassy knoll. Once free of the annoying insect he settles back into his breakfast routine.

At the end of the Carriage Road the Asiatic Dayflowers are blooming again. Their beautiful blue blooms are always a wonderful sight. As I head up the Dead Chief Trail the rising sun shines through a gap in the canopy. The illumination of the leaves is radiant in the half light of the new morning. A glowing chandelier of green above the trail. When I reach the top of Hot Springs Mountain light is shining on a stump near the rocks. On closer inspection I notice a rock with blue and amber pattern. I am always excited when Nature reveals something new.

I hike along the Hot Spring Mountain Trail and decide to go on a mini expedition. I take the Gulpha Gorge Trail down to the camp ground and go to the creek. I hike along the banks on both sides and am sad that the beautiful sun fish are nowhere to be seen. I hope the campers have not been taking them from the creek. On a leaf I see a pale green insect with big iridescent wings. I would appreciate help with identification and am happy to credit the identifier.

My mini expedition grows as I decide to see where the Sunset Trail leads on this end. I am happy to see it is not over groomed meaning I am likely to have it all to myself. The terrain is mixed as is the landscape. Not far up the trail I see a set of stone stairs from the 1914 trail enhancements. I wonder who might have climbed them in the nearly one hundred years since they were installed. The trail from this point is rough with exposed roots and loose rocks, the terrain reminds me of the lower portion of the Goat Rock Trail.

The trail narrows and is like a goat track along the hill side with loose rock continuing. A dip in the trail entails making your way down a rock on inspection I see clear foot rests worn down by fellow hikers. I am careful as there is plenty of loose rock. Continuing along the trail I am faced with another set of much steeper and narrower stone stairs. This section of the trail runs along and drop off so I pay close attention to my footing.

The surprise is how the trail changes as you leave the stairs, it transforms into a woodland path. You find yourself enclosed in a canopy of mixed forest leaves and needles. Slightly overgrown with a few downed trees it is my kind of trail. I love its wild beauty. I discover an old stone wall and wonder its original purpose. It might have been a view spot long before the trees grew tall and thick.

I complete the North Mountain section and make a return trip. I will need to pack extra water and food the next time so I can travel over to Sugarloaf Mountain. When I reach the Gulpha Gorge Creek a couple is standing in the middle arguing and looking for something in the water. They are standing in front of a slice of paradise so I shoot the two and then the woman looking toward the lagoon. Each tells a very different story. I call them “Paradise Lost” it’s a shame they are forgetting to let Nature help them.

When I finish the climb up from the gorge I decide to take the Dead Chief Trail home. The heat has increased and I realize I will have to carefully ration my remaining water. It is definitely a 2 container trip when I venture past the gorge. As I near home I am excited to plan new adventures onto Sugarloaf Mountain and to see what is further along the Sunset Trail.

We are one with Nature.
Much Love,
Lee


Turtle, Rabbit and a Couple of Birds

Lower Dogwood Trail Male Box Turtle

Tufa Terrace Eastern Cottontail

Hot Springs Mountain Trail Male Downy Woodpecker

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas Morning Sky

Goat Rock Trail Oxeye Daisy

It is a glorious morning, a little cooler and a light breeze tugs at the edges of my hair.   The Sun is kissing the top of the cloud sending rays across the blue sky.  I head up the Tufa Terrace and am greeted by a lovely male Eastern Cottontail.  He begins to dig in the dirt, rolls around and then lays flat against the earth.  I have never witnessed a Rabbit rolling in the dirt and wonder if this is a normal activity.

I head up the Mountain via the Dead Chief and Short Cut Trails reaching the top in record time.  A quick drink then I head over to the Hot Spring Mountain Trail, a juvenile Cardinal awaits me as I step onto the path.  I love how its new voice joins the forest choir.  Further along the trail I hear a lovely tapping sound far off in the green.  I follow the sound and spot a sweet male Downy Woodpecker.  I love how it beeps and hops then stops and taps on the wood.  It is tiny and delicate with a mighty beak.

When I reach the trail head I decide to enjoy the cool breeze and hike down the Gulpha Gorge Trail.  Next I head over to  the Goat Rock Trail for an extra workout while it is a relatively lower in temperature.  I enjoy the quiet beauty as I hike along the trail.  The Goat Rock Trail is empty and I wonder if the joggers and hikers are still waiting for a colder day.  Hidden in the heated rocks I find Wildflowers still struggling to survive.  Beautiful Oxeye Daisies look glorious, they are some of the last flowers still blooming in the park.

From the Goat Rock Trail I connect with the Upper Dogwood Trail.  My hike is quiet and peaceful, a wondrous breeze is delicately moving through the leaves.  The Forest appears to be sparkling as the sun twinkles between the leaves. I see a lovely little Vireo staring down at me.  When I reach the Lower Dogwood Trail I literally skid to a halt.  In the middle of the trail is a male Box Turtle.  He has a glorious red head and large yellow spots on his front legs.  This it the first time I have clearly seen the sharp nails on the front feet and the large claws on the back feet.   I move down the trail and watch to make sure he safely makes it to the side.  I want to make sure he does not get run over by a jogger.

I hike down the Floral Trail and over to the park fountain to fill my water container.  A lovely brown moth keeps landing on me and I am trying not to bump it as I get some water.  I put a little water on the wall in hopes anything needing a drink can get a little water.  It as been a glorious morning in the park.

Find a moment of peace in Nature.
Much Love,
Lee


The Best Of: Trails and Paths 2010

We have been in the grip of a heat wave in the South and I thought we could all use a cool stroll through the Forest. Please enjoy the beauty and escape of traveling down a secluded path in the Forest. Revel in the wonder of not knowing what you may see on your journey among the Trees. Loose yourself in the beauty of the Hot Springs National Park. There are many trails on which you can travel.

Much Love to All!
Lee

Hot Springs National Park Dead Chief Trail Sunrise

Hot Springs Mountain Trail Clearing Fog

Hot Springs National Park – Short Cut Trail – Foggy Wonderland

Hot Springs National Park Trails Goat RockTrail

Hot Springs National Park Trails Goat RockTrail

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas Peak Trail

Honeysuckle Trail Wedding Chapel

Floral Trail

Hot Springs National Park Hot Springs Mountain Trail

Hot Springs National Park Hot Springs Mountain Trail

Lower Dogwood Trail

Hot Springs National Park, AR Upper Dogwood Trail

Gulpha Gorge Trail

Hot Springs National Park, Peak Trail – Late Autumn


Wings, Paws and Spores

HS National Park Fountain Red Spotted Purple Butterfly

Tufa Terrace Trail Carolina Wren

Tufa Terrace Trail Squirrel

Honeysuckle Trail Coprinus Lagopus Mushrooms

It is nearly 100 degrees as I head into the park, I know its too hot when my sunglasses fog up.  The haze from the humidity is like a film over my eyes and I miss the clear air of spring.  Even the heat cannot keep me away from the beauty in the park. As I reach the top of the Tufa Terrace I am surrounded by sweet bird song of first morning light. I watch a juvenile Brown Thrasher stalking insects in the grass, it is a glorious way to start my morning hike.

So many beauties are appearing in the Bushes and Trees.  House Sparrows are swirling around,  flying ahead and behind me as I near a bush with a California Wren singing to the day.  To my side a Sweet Rabbit (Eastern Cottontail) is eating the new blades of grass and a  juvenile Squirrel is peeking at me from the side of a Tree.  As I move forward I can hear the sweet call of a Black-Capped Chickadee hiding among the green leaves.  When I reach the end of the Carriage Road I can see another juvenile Brown Thrasher moving up the Dead Chief Trail searching for breakfast.

The heat is intense as I hike up the Dead Chief and Short Cut Trails.  When I reach the top of Hot Springs Mountain I am drenched from the humidity and sweating.  As I stop to take a drink break  I notice there are no vehicles and no hikers for a second day in a row.  On the Hot Springs Mountain Trail a Sweet Chipmunk in traveling across the rocks to it’s burrow.  It is the only sign of life I have seen since I reached the top of the Mountain.   Then for a brief moment I catch sight of a female Cardinal, a very brief moment.

The heat is intense as I reach the junction of the Hot Springs Mountain and Honeysuckle Trails.  In the wood pulp laid down on the trail to stop erosion Coprinus Lagopus Mushrooms have sprouted all across the trail.  I am extremely careful not step on any of these beautiful fragile fungi.  I hike down the Floral Trail and over to the park Spring Water Station to fill my water container.  When I arrive beautiful Red Spotted Purple Butterflies are partaking of the water and pollen that sticks to it.  They are a glorious sight as I getting my water, a perfect end to my morning hike.

Nature is a gracious host, always thank her.
Love,
Lee


Beautiful Birds, Sweet Mammals and the Need for Rain

Promenade Juvenile Female Cardinal

Tufa Terrace Female House Sparrow

Tufa Terrace Eastern Cottontail

Arlington Beautiful Peony

Its already 90 degrees as I am heading out this morning at 7:50 a.m., the humidity is a visible haze.  I washed my sunglasses in warm water before I left so they are not foggy over as I head into the park.  As I reach the Arlington Lawn the girls a group of female House Sparrows are lined up looking at me from a bench back.   A beautiful Peony catches my eye glowing in the low light of the early morning.  A sweet little sparrow lands in the Tree next to me.  I look back to the bench to see a Male Cardinal has scared all the sparrows into nearby Trees.

I head up the Tufa Terrace Trail to the Promenade to see a lovely juvenile female Cardinal in a Tree catching the first light of morning.  She is singing a sweet tune as I head further up the Trail. I almost miss the male Eastern Cottontail in the earth and brush to my side. He is always a welcome sight, I wonder where is the female.  As I move ahead a juvenile black bird lands in a Tree above me, this young bird is about the size of a large adult Robin.  If you know what it is I would appreciate your help.

When I reach the Peak Trail Tufa Terrace junction a Small Sparrow lands near me on a branch.  As I finish taking a photograph, a Squirrel peeks out at me high in the leaves above. Near the end of the Carriage Road I spot two Chipmunks chasing each other across the Tufa Rocks.  I hope they will find a cool resting place for the day.  The heat is rising so I sip some water before I head up the Mountain.  Looking down at the steps leading to the Dead Chief Trail and notice it is crawling with striped garden Caterpillars.  I step carefully so as not to crush any of them.

When I reach the top of the first incline on the Dead Chief Trail I can hear a male Cardinal singing to the morning sun.  I turn to see a bright red male Cardinal sitting on a high branch.  He is spectacular is the early morning light.  The heat is climbing as I reach the Short Cut Trail and I sweat my way to the top of Hot Springs Mountain.  When I reach the picnic area there are no hikers, bikers or vehicles, I don’t blame them the humidity is draining.  I drink a lot of water before I continue my hike.

When I reach the Hot Springs Mountain Trail below the Pagoda I watch two juvenile Cardinals flitting and walking ahead of me.  I love all these wonderful young birds in the park, they are exuberant and show great joy for life.  They stay with me as I head deeper into the Forest.  I can’t stop thinking about the need for a big rain storm in the park.  On every trail the leaves are turning brown as if Autumn has arrived.

The heat is draining and I decide I better head home before I run out of water.  I leave the park on the Floral Trail where I spot a Grasshopper type insect sitting on a flat leaf.  Again if you know what it is I would appreciate your help with an identification.

Step outside and no matter where you are Nature will find you.

Much Love,
Lee

PS: Late this afternoon the rains came, beautiful Life Giving moisture so desperately needed in the Forest.


The Crooners, Brats and The Happy Couple

Carriage Road Eastern Cottontail

Tufa Terrace Trail Juvenile Blue Jay

Hot Springs Mountain Trail Juvenile Carolina Wren

Arlington Lawn Pink Peonies

It is always beautiful after summer rain, refreshing drops feeding the Forest.  Delicate pink peonies are glowing against the green leaves freshened by showers last evening. A gorgeous morning bouquet as I enter the park.  As I head up the Tufa Terrace a vibrant Male Cardinal is singing to greet the morning.  As he moved among the leaves it shifts the drops of rain on them onto my head.

At the top of the Tufa Terrace I can hear the brats in the Trees ahead of me.  “The Brats” are a flock of Juvenile Blue Jays that have been staying just out of sight for nearly two months.  This morning I am feeling blessed, they decide to bring their Play into the Tree above my head.  Two of the three are mixing it up squawking and preening at one and other. It is so fun to finally have a clear view of them after being taunted by their endless chatter.

When I arrive at the Carriage Road I see the “Happy Couple”, two lovely Eastern Cottontails.  They are grazing on the sweet moist grass in the light peeking through the Trees.  I feel blessed that they allow me to stroll into their world and take photographs.  Even when they hide as other pass by they return to the grass when we are alone. The male is a silvery gray and has heavier fur, the female has 3 nicks in her right ear and reddish fur.  They are a beautiful couple and I hope one day to see their sweet offspring.

I hike up the Dead Chief and Short Cut Trails to reach the top of Hot Springs Mountain.  On the Hot Springs Mountain Trail I am struck by the humidity.  It creates a visible haze and coats my body in a light film of moisture, my sunglasses are steaming up each time I try to take a photograph. It is mildly frustrating.

As I am trying to defog my lenses a Carolina Wren lands in a bush next to me and as I try to take it’s photograph I realize it is not just my sunglasses fogging over, so is the eye piece on my camera.  I am guessing on the location of the Wren and using auto focus in the hopes I can get even one decent shot of this sweet juvenile bird.  It’s like hiking in a bathroom with a hot shower running.

When I reach the west side of the Hot Springs Mountain Trail I connect with the Honeysuckle Trail. Unfortunately I encounter trail repairs in progress and head out of the park on the Floral Trail to  move away from the sound of a tractor engine.  For now I will complain about the noise but be happy they did the work when the trails are still passable after the next rain.

Dance in the rain and delight in the freedom of being outdoors in Nature’s playground.
Love,
Lee


A Forest Full of Friends and a Mini Peacenik

Floral Trail Squirrel

Hot Springs Mountain Trail Dragonfly

Lower Dogwood Trail Blue Headed Vireo

Tufa Terrace Trai lWild Rosehips

Fountain Street Sweet Kid

I had a long  busy day  so I will ask your forgiveness for my lack to text.  Instead please enjoy the beauty of the Hot Springs National Park and its glorious residents.  At the end of my hike I met the lovely lad pictured above, he watched quietly as I was photographing lovely Red-Spotted Purple Butterflies.  He looked at me and gesture as if he were holding a camera and then pointed at himself.  He was overjoyed when I held up my camera to take his picture and flashed the peace sign.  Children are so beautiful and natural, it was a joy to take his photograph.

Much Love to You All,
Lee