Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Archive for April, 2012

The Bounty of the Spring Forest is a Feast for the Birds

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As we move through the spring Forest we see the obvious new greenery and colorful wildflowers.  Beautiful butterflies soar above us on gentle spring breezes landing only to feed on the pollen dusting the Forest canopy and rock ledges.  The bounty of beauty also provides a feast for the birds migrating throughout the park.  A moveable feast that will provide nutrition to mating pairs and their soon to emerge offspring.  They boldly display to my lens grubs, caterpillars and a variety of winged insects dangled proudly from clenched beaks.  The park birds are beautiful winged hunters searching for their next tasty meal.

Love to ALL!
Lee


The Southern Magnolias are Blossoming in Hot Springs National Park

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My first thought each year when the Southern Magnolias bloom is “Popcorn”.  The beautiful creamy white blossoms on the evergreen foliage are always a dramatic display seeming to pop out from the leaves.  From the beautiful egg shape buds to the curling green tendrils in the heart of each Magnolia it is Nature’s cultural celebration.  As a Northern by birth I must confess that I have succumbed to the fragrance and delicately transforming Southern Magnolia blooms.  Their arrival each each year is a graceful nod to spring flowing toward summer.

Love to ALL!
Lee


West Mountain Spring Hike filled with Wildflowers and Wildlife

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As I stepped out my front door the early light  illuminated the flowers creating a sunrise spring bouquet… Nature weaves her magic everywhere.

This year spring arrived early in Hot Springs National Park.  The leaves were fully unfurled 6 days after the official 1st day of Spring creating a spectacular green canopy in late March.  Prominent Wildflowers from the past two years appeared in smaller numbers and vanished quickly this spring.  The combination of lovely green and warmer temperatures stunted the growth of some wildflowers or caused their quick demise.  The good news is I am seeing lovely shade dwellers like the Partridge Berry, Horsemint and Pink Fire in greater numbers.  Nature is always an amazing teacher… I do miss the Jewelweed which was abundant last year.

A landslide closed part of the Oak Trail and I had to backtrack to head up West Mountain on the Canyon Trail.   This turned out to be a wonderful change of plans.  As I headed higher up the trail I had a feeling I was not hiking alone.  I turned back and looked down the trail to see a lovely Doe watching me.  I took a few photographs and she put her dead down to graze apparently deciding I was not a threat.  Further up the trail I heard a rustling in the leaves, looking up I discovered she was moving parallel below me.  She was peeking at me through the brush to see what I was doing in her Forest.  Maybe I will end up in her version of the park news :)

The lovely morning continued with the sighting of a Brown Thrasher capturing it’s breakfast and discovering new wildflowers to add to my photography collection.  It was wonderful to see a flurry of  airborne Butterflies,tiny busy Prairie Lizards and a sweet Male Box Turtle.  Trails covered in a canopy flickering green provided a peaceful hike across West and Music Mountains.

Thank You for reading my blog and traveling with me in the Forest.
Love to ALL!
Lee


Earth Day 2012 Hiking in Hot Springs National Park

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How did you spend your Earth Day this year? Yes, I would love to hear in the comments section below.

My husband and I hiked across Hot Springs and North Mountains in Host Springs National Park. Each breath that filled our lungs as we climbed higher on the trails was gift of oxygen provided by the surrounding Forest.

Earth Day is celebrated everyday in our home by:
recycling more,
driving less,
walking more often,
bringing reusable bags when we shop,
turning off the water while we brush our teeth,
eating vegan,
cooking less,
using metal water bottles and more.

Do we try to shrink our carbon footprint each year, yes! Do we always get it right… no!  Baby Steps  :)

Happy Earth Day Everyday!
Lee

PS: If you lost a lovely calico cat in Hot Springs Arkansas please see the photographs in this blog.  She needs to be with her people not roaming the park.  The pictures indicate she is likely new to being feral as her coat and eyes are not dull.  She was last seen on the Rocks near the Hot Water Cascade above the Arlington Lawn.


Trails, Campsites, Wildflowers and Wildlife in Cedar Glades Park

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Cedar Glades Park in Arkansas offers a variety of activities and is a perfect destination for kids of all ages.  If you enter from Wildcat Road the park is highly groomed for hiking, biking, rock climbing, Frisbee golf and more. (Wildcat Road Entrance Turbulent Skies and Butterflies in Cedar Glades Park Arkansas & First Hike in Cedar Glades Park Arkansas)  Entering from Cedar Glades Road you find a less groomed Nature escape with playground, wheelchair accessible trail, hiking/biking trails, creeks, steams, ponds and a hike in camping sites.  Both areas are joined by the 1.2 mile green trail loop with ample parking and rest rooms at each entrance.

My husband and I entered the park yesterday from the Cedar Glades Road entrance.  We discovered the North Trail loop that linked us to our destination (the black trail) is wheelchair accessible.  The beautiful trail is totally immersed in the Forest and provides mobility challenged visitors a lovely Nature experience.  A perfect outing location for adults with smaller children in strollers as well.

The Black Trail Loop is the longest trail in the park and the most difficult for hikers, runners and cyclists.  Depending on fitness level visitors can do the entire trail or use the red trail crooked bridge cut through to reduce the distance from 4.64 miles to 2 miles. This trail that has many water features, wildflowers, mixed and Pine Forest, plus it is great workout too.  Speaking of water features, don’t miss my video below.  The featured swimmer will give you an incentive to improve your pond swimming skills.

Another great feature of this park is the hike in camp site.  This would perfect for campers who want to get away from RVs, trailers etc. and prefer a wooded steam setting without having to hike for several hours to reach their destination. This would make a great mini family vacation idea too.  There is also an emergency shelter (wooden gazebo) in case of an unexpected storm.  A lovely stream and open tent pitching among the Trees makes it a great weekend get-a-away or travel stop over. Best of all it is Free!

Love to ALL!
Lee

Cedar Glades Park Arkansas Trail Map


Turbulent Skies and Butterflies in Cedar Glades Park Arkansas

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Am I a photographer who hikes or a hiker that takes photographs? This is a question which often enters my mind whenever I am out on the trail.  I am torn between standing engulfed in the beauty and trying to bring home the essence of what I am witnessing.  My Love for G-ds gift of Nature overflows from my Heart and it is my hope you will feel it whenever you visit my blog.

My husband Rick and I appreciate each opportunity to hike the trails in the beautiful state of Arkansas. We never take for granted how blessed we are to live in this amazing location.  We send a special thanks to the employees of our  city, county, state and national parks throughout the United States of America. Your care for the land and wildlife will preserve these important Eco-systems for future generations.

Love to ALL!
Lee

PS Dear Nature, Thank You for all the lovely trail Valentines waiting for me on the Blue Trail :o)


The Art Of Spring Painted With Wildflowers and Butterflies – Plus Arkansas Hiker Alerts

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Note: Another Great reason to hike in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas… You can hit the trails and relive Baseball spring training history following in the footsteps of Cy Young and Babe Ruth.

Like the beautiful blooms in the spring Forest I am luring you to my blog today with the nectar of Wildflowers and Butterflies.  As always I had a wonderful hike because I prepare before I head into the Forest. Information about weather or being sure to carry water plus a snack are done to ensure I have a safe and happy hike.

Spring is a glorious time to hike, but like any other activity there can be some dangers easily avoided to ensure you have a safe time.  In Arkansas we currently have two warnings due to the lack of cold winter temperatures.  I am sharing this information not frighten or dissuade you from hiking, instead it should be viewed as a travel advisory for hikers.  The warmer winter temperatures throughout the United States may mean the hiker alerts below are applicable in many states.

Hiker Alert: Hikers please be aware the very short winter has caused a rise in rabies cases in Arkansas.  Nocturnal creatures moving about in the daylight hours should be avoided and any strange activity reported.  http://www.4029tv.com/r/30858715/detail.html  In Arkansas there have been 54 confirmed rabies cases, just in the first four months of the year, compared to 60 total cases in 2011. Most have been skunks, bats and one cow. Report Rabies 1-501-262-2091

Hiker Alert: This is why I always recommend wearing boots when you are hiking… Flip Flops and sneakers are not enough protection! Snakes are back in Arkansas; tips for bite victims and more http://www.todaysthv.com/news/article/205488/2/Snakes-are-back-in-Arkansas-tips-for-bite-victims-and-more

Love to ALL!
Lee


Nature Weaves a New Tapestry of Living Artistry

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Some spring days reveal a fantastic transformation as Nature weaves a new tapestry of living artistry before our eyes.  When my Husband Rick and I headed up into Hot Springs National Park it was clear Nature was painting a glorious spring portrait. It began with the “The Chinaberry Butterfly Trees” and continued across the mountain.

Each Tree and Leaf held beauty either of it’s own design or via a delicate visitor.  Butterflies and Hummingbird Moths danced lightly across the green seeking warmth and sustenance.   Tiny birds hid within the new canopy building nests and calling to would be mates and suitors.  Each step along the trail pulled us into a glowing tunnel of new greenery.  Wildflowers became delicate brushstrokes of color on the canvas of the Forest floor.  Spring was creating a magical ever-changing landscape and for a brief moment in time we were a part of its beautiful artistry.

Special thanks to the sweet Mourning Dove that against its instincts did not fly off as planned.  Your graceful wing stretch should have heralded your departure. Instead you chose to stay and even walked back toward me. Your flight up into the Tree when others approached did however seem prudent. I am grateful you trusted me to take your photograph.

Love to ALL!
Lee


The Chinaberry Butterfly Trees

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A mountain hike last Friday with my husband Rick included a surprise from Nature.  As we headed up the Tufa Terrace Trail  I noticed movement above us in a Chinaberry Tree. A colorful variety of Butterflies were feasting on the nectar warming in the sun.  A breeze blew gently as American Lady, Red Admiral and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies soared between the Leaves and Blossoms.   As we moved further up the mountain we looked up to see a cluster of  Chinaberry Trees.  In the canopy of purple, pink and green was another lovely view of dancing and mating Butterflies.  Sometimes the Universe gives us a gift, a moment of grace and beauty.   We are always thankful to witness Nature’s artistry.

I hope you enjoy the photographs and the video below.

Love to ALL!
Lee


Blessings for Passover and Good Friday

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God’s Love for mankind is reflected in the beauty of Nature.  Blessing to all for Passover and Good Friday.
Love,
Lee


Spring Leaves and Wildflowers Graced Our Journey On West Mountain

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A late afternoon hike was cloaked in heavy air so thick you could see it and feel it in your lungs.  Usually we don’t experience this phenomenon until late May or early June.  I forgot how much my lungs despise heavy humidity as we were hiking up West Mountain trails.  No winter, an early spring and now the first signs of summer.  On days like this I keep trying to clean my sunglasses so I can see clearly, but in the end the air wins.

I had a wonderful hike with my husband to celebrate the first day of April.  Please enjoy a first taste of spring on West  Mountain, beautiful new green leaves and wildflowers graced our journey.   A frown cannot survive in the presence of a wildflower :)  Prepare to smile…

Love to ALL!
Lee


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