Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Archive for September, 2011

As Summer Heat Fades Signs of Autumn Appear on the Hiking Trails

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The Universe’s Love caresses the earth, its golden embrace fills my Soul in mornings first light.  ~ Lee Hiller-London

Summer heat is fading into cooler days and the Forest has begun its transition to autumn.  Early morning light illuminates the Forest as I head up the Canyon Trail on West Mountain. Beautiful wildflowers abound on the Oak and West Mountain Trails in purple (Southern Blazing Star and Common Dittany), green, pink (Slender Bush-Clover and Small Leaf Tick-Trefoil), yellow (Partridge Pea and Yellow false Foxglove), blue (Asiatic Dayflower) and white (Nodding Ladies’ Tresses, Flowering Spurge and Deerberry).

Colorful False Turkey Fantail Fungi are banded in green, gold, rust, burgundy, grey, purple and white cover fallen Forest giants.  Autumn Leaves have begun to dot the landscape both in the Trees and on the path.  Spectacular leaves of vibrant yellow, rich red and bright pink glow in the rising morning sun.  Baby Lizards are darting back and forth as I reach the top of West Mountain and onto the Sunset Trail.  The view of the valley below stretches far to the Ouachita Mountain Forests past the sparkling blue Lakes of Catherine and Hamilton.

Delicately moving in the distance among the Trees Whitetail Deer scatter at the tiniest sound.  A small Nuthatch hops skyward on a tall Short Leaf Pine as I hold my breath and try to get closer to a young Buck nibbling on leaves.  Cool breezes gently tug at my hair as I stop to watch Common Dittany swaying gracefully along the trail edges. When I step out of the Forest I glace back once more into its beauty before I head home.

Much Love to ALL!

Hints of Spring and Autumn in the Late Summer Forest

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The Forest is magical in the early light as spring and autumn dance together in the late summer sun.  Sweet Carolina Chickadees sing a beautiful song as golden sheets of light falls between the tall Trees. Spectacular Red Spotted Butterflies are glowing on the path and perched high above me on delicate green leaves. Fungi covers many logs with colorful swirls and curls.  Their bands of color glow as light creeps into small spaces in the foliage cradling each fallen Tree.

A spring gurgles forming a small stream and although I can hear the occasional splash I am unable to locate the water acrobat.  I will return to this newly discovered place to see how it changes with each season.  Does this spring feed Ricks Pond? As I am contemplating this I find another small spring one mile from the other.  Discovery is one of the best parts of hiking.

Wildflowers decorated the trail edges in yellow, lavender, pink, purple and blue. A radiant surprise was a single purple Oxalis growing in the middle of the Trail. My favorite new wildflower sighting is a vibrant yellow tiny Pencil Flower illuminated atop thin green leaves.  Hiking this morning is a delicate dance as I  watch for the many (very many) baby Prairie Lizards darting among the dried leaves.  I feel as if the entire park is becoming a Lizard nursery.

I began and completed my morning in the park watching little fish swim and cautious turtles basking on logs in Ricks Pond. Lost to my thoughts as I gaze into peaceful reflections of changing Trees draping over the smooth surface of the water.

Love to You ALL!

Late Summer Hike Among the Rain Drops on Mother Earth

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Let us live gently upon our Earth while we wait to be reborn as stars within the Universe.
~Lee Hiller-London

While I was hiking yesterday I thought about the many cultures that call our planet “Mother Earth”.  This beautiful planet is the womb of creation, a place to live lightly until we are reborn as children of the Universe.  There can be no future unless we protect this moment in time.  I try to be a good resident of our Earth not for myself, my actions are for those who I will never know in a future I will not see.

In these last days of what has been a brutally hot summer the rain fell for two days.  Life giving liquid caressed the plants and soil of Hot Springs National Park. Rain drips from Berries of red yellow and brown as I head up into the Forest. A small Chipmunk appears on the rocks and looks refreshed by the cooler air.  As I hike there is a rhythmic tapping on the dried leaves as gentle breezes dislodge raindrops high in the canopy above me.  Lovely greens and rusts are dotted with wildflowers of blue and yellow on the sides of each trail.

A lovely female Cardinal glances down at me as I turn to reflect on the path I have traversed. She looks spectacular against the green leaves and grey skies. I continued up the trail listening to a scraping sound in the distance. As I near the top the sound grows louder and I am able to locate its source.  Above me is a Squirrel with a big nut moving from Tree to Tree. It acrobatic movements and aerial feats are wonderful to watch.

As I cross the top of Hot Springs Mountain the skies briefly clear and I am treated to the sight of a vibrant blue sky. The green canopy sways in the air that pushed the clouds open.  Each step along the trail reveals the beauty created by the passing storms.  The trunk of each Tree is painted with deep colors and textures changing the depth as I gazing into the Forest ahead of me.  Colorful False Turkey Tail Fungi cover the logs that once stood as giants.

As I head down North Mountain there is comfort in seeing each bend of a familiar trail leading me home. A strong guide showing me the wonders of the Universe in each step along her path.  I stop as in an instant all sound ceases as if Nature is holding her breath, she slowly exhales to a chorus of songbirds.

Sometimes I dance along the trail as I am flooded with the joy of living in this beautiful place, one day someone will catch me.  I know in my heart streets of pavement cannot conquer Nature as she pushes through what man makes to hold her at bay.

Love to ALL!

Early Morning on West Mountain

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Friday wordless hike please enjoy the photographs… Have a joyous weekend!

Love to ALL!

Hopping, Snorting and Munching Among the Wildflowers

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Sometimes when I go out to hike in search of a particular item to photograph Nature has other plans.  Today I wanted to return to the park to get better photographs of Pennsylvania Smartweed.  A Lovely Blue Jay watched me from a Tree above to be sure I was behaving in the Forest.  I moved further along and was bent over the edge of a small gulley when I heard a snort behind me.  I stood up and turned only to be blinded by the bright sunlight.  Unable to see clearly I took a picture and continued with my Wildflower hunt.  A few minutes later another loud snort, turning slowly eyes squinted I spotted a pair of large ears.  A wonderful sighting of a young Whitetail Deer still sporting now fading white spots on tan.  A beautiful gift from Nature.

Heading back to meet up with Rick on the Promenade I stopped to get a drink at the fountain.  As I bent down toward the water it became apparent I was not alone.  Perched on the edge of the stainless steel flow guide sat a Redback Hopping Spider. We both partook of the refreshing fluid.

When I could not find Rick in the park I called him on my cell phone and discovered he was already home.  I looked at my watch and discovered I had been out longer than planned, as usual.   Traveling down the Tufa Terrace Trail I heard munching in the Tree above me. I looked up to see a sweet Squirrel foraging for nuts and leaves to create a feast.  This inspired me to head home for my own vegan lunch.

Love to All!

In the Universe there are journeys written yet to begin within Dreams waiting to be born in the Hearts of mankind. ~ Lee Hiller-London

Insects, Baby Lizards and Wildflowers on the Trails

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Late summer is a feast of beautiful Wildflowers and Insects of Hot Springs National Park.

Field Notes:
The Wildflowers at the base of North Mountain are spectacular and new varieties appear every few days. Today’s discovery was Pennsylvania Smartweed,  I wish I had taken better photographs.  It was not until I started editing at home that I realize what looked like pink wheat were tiny pink hairy blossoms in an elongated cluster.  Beautiful yet to be identified tiny pale pink flower clusters atop a tall thin stem and elongated clusters with tiny purplish lavender flowers rising from large leaf plants.  Another surprise, I did not know Hot Springs National Park had Wild Poinsettias. As few paces up the Floral Trail onto North Mountain reveals lovely Yellow False Foxglove.

The Goat Rock Trail was a Lizard nursery with babies running along the sides of the trails and occasionally allowing us to see them.  They are tiny Prairie Lizards only about 3 inches long including their tails and are nearly invisible as they scramble across the dried leaves.  One peeks at me from the side of a tree with it’s tail arched, a gesture I had not witnessed until today.  Wildflowers are sparse along the Goat Rock Trail and I am surprised to see False Garlic and Oxalis, usually blooms associated with Spring.  A gorgeous Red Spotted Purple Butterfly is perched on a leaf in the bright morning sun. It is the one of the first times I could see the purple hue leading into the darkness of it’s wings.

On the hike down North Mountain I spotted my first Hairy Small-Leaf Tick-Trefoil. They are lovely tiny orchid shaped deep purplish pink blooms with bright green eye details. The contrasting colors are spectacular.  Hoary Mountain Mint Flower clusters were alive with insect activity including Wasps and Butterflies.  I did not realize there were so many different types of Wasps in the Park.  I saw an Orange Antennae Black Spider Wasp, a Great Black Wasp and 2 unidentified species with yellow on black and white on black.

Further down the mountain a young Prairie Racerunner Lizard flashes it’s stripes.  The markings are striking going from bright yellow on brown stripe to bluish green hindquarters and tail.  When a predator grabs Prairie Racerunner’s tail it falls off and they grow a new one.

Surprises abound no matter how many times I trail the same trails…

Have a Glorious Day on the Trails!

Hot Springs National Park Antique Motorcycle Show And Rally

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Most of you know my passion is photographing Nature, but I do appreciate the artistic lines of classic motorcycles.  After hiking across North Mountain along the Forest trails for 3 hours I decided to visit the motorcycle show at the base of Hot Springs Mountain.  I am not adept at taking photos of people, crowds and machines, but the chrome was irresistible.  There were motorcycles for all fan tastes glinting in the morning sunlight. I hope you will enjoy my photo tour of the event.

American Motorcycles: Harley-Davidson, Indian and Excelsior
Japanese Motorcycles: Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki
British Motocycles: BSA, Triumph and Vincent

Personal Favorites:
1947 Harley-Davidson (Knucklehead)
1965 Harley-Davidson FLH (Panhead) Electra Glide
1948 Indian “Rainbow” Chef
1916 BSA Model-K
1968 Honda Super Sport

Get your motor running…
Love to All,