Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Posts tagged “Dog Violet

Wildflowers and Birds among the Tree Sculptures

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Each hike reveals an ever changing open space art gallery.  The winter Forest of Hot Springs National Park is filled with beautiful Tree sculptures.  You can see a struggle for life in each trunk curve and branch bend.  Pushed by storms, twisted by high winds, battered by ice and snow each Tree has a story to share.   Colorful Rocks are a canvas for the lichen, mold and fungi to paint their glorious abstracts.  Awakening wildflowers push through the leaves, twigs and seeds reaching for sunlight.  Their late winter petal pallet of purple and violet dot the landscape.   Lovely Birds are beginning to build homes in the branches that will soon be sheltered by new leaves.  They sing sweet songs to visitors about the promise of spring.  A living art gallery near you is waiting for you to visit… get out and play!

Love to ALL!
Lee

PS A storm is on the way so I took a detour after my hike to see the Cherry Blossoms :)


Wildflowers create tiny flourishes of color in the Winter Forest

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Before winter comes to an end and the leaves begin to create a canopy of green lovely Wildflowers delicately paint the Forest floor.  The first Wildflowers to appear this year are Violets and Bluets.  Their varying shades of purple with accents of yellow, pink and white are spectacular against the dried rust colored autumn Leaves along the Hot Springs Mountain Trail.  The tiny blooms created a treasure hunt as I sought their delicate petals along the trail edges.   At the top of the mountain a flash of red lead my eye to a Male Cardinal that landed on a branch above a newly revealed egg shaped rock. The rock reminded me of the eggs in the film Alien.  It was another lovely winter hike with my husband.

Love to ALL!
Lee


Lake Catherine State Park Arkansas Falls Branch Trail

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Lake Catherine State Park’s Falls Branch Trail provides a lovely hike with varied terrain, bridges and water features.  Although it is shorter than the other park trails it offers hikers of all levels a wonderful Nature experience.  There are three wood benches and several rocks along the journey for those wishing to take a leisurely pace. This trail like all others within the park is well marked and makes a loop leading you back to the trail head. Free parking is available for day hikers.

The trail begins with a series of bridges crossing over a narrow winding creek. These well maintained wooden structures add variety to the hike along this mostly flat section of the trail.  Lovely wildflowers add color on the banks of the slow moving water. Purple violets, pink oxalis and yellow goldenrod create a beautiful spring bouquet.  Old stone steps lead upward from the final bridge to a winding path traveling through a mixed tree forest and rock accented landscape.  Bird songs echo softly from the increasing spring canopy.  Beautiful white blossoming Dogwoods glow among the illuminated green Leaves.

Soon after a moderate climb the trail leads downward to a wider creek that separates Horseshoe and Dam Mountains.  The collecting pools of water created by the rocky creek bed reflect the bright new green of spring opening above them.  Waterfalls increase in size as you hike further down the trail. Each plateau is reached by traversing a cluster of stone steps built early in the 1900s.

When you reach the top of the main waterfall the trail head of the Dam Mountain Trail located on the other side of the creek is visible.  The main waterfall cascades into a clear pool below that is a popular spot for hikers to rest and cool their feet.  Several families arrived after a hike on the Dam Mountain Trail and were enjoying a chance to wade in the water.

Further down the trail I spotted a Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin) swimming in the Lake Catherine. I watched as it floated, dove and swam at the shoreline.  As I finished taking a few photographs I heard screaming up at the falls.  The only word I could make out was “SNAKE” followed by frantic splashing and additional yelling.  Please note if you are hiking for the first time in the south the Cottonmouth is a venomous Snake that loves the water.  Although snake bites are rare in the park take care when you wade or swim as they are territorial and will strike if you don’t move away. (“Once threatened, a Cottonmouth may gape open its mouth to present a cottony-white warning. This is a warning that needs to be heeded because Cottonmouth will not hesitate to strike.  There is a common wives-tail about Cottonmouth not being about to bite underwater. This is completely untrue. They can, in fact, bite underwater, on top of the water, and out of the water.” http://www.herpsofarkansas.com/Snake/AgkistrodonPiscivorus).

The final leg of my hike along the Falls Branch Trail is along the edge of Lake Catherine.  The murky blue green water sparkles in the sunlight and is still easily viewed through the early spring foliage.  Butterflies and dragonflies weave in and out of the flowering bushes feeding on nectar in afternoon sun.  As you pass the lake shore campground you will cross the last creek on a suspension bridge.  Several minutes later I reach the trail head, it has been a glorious time in the park.

Love to ALL!
Lee

LCSP Falls Branch Trail Map


Turtles, Fish and Wildflowers at Fordyce Ricks Pond

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As our planet Earth gently spins tragedy and turmoil seem to be on the rise. The people of the Middle East struggle for freedoms we take for granted, risking their lives daily. In Japan an unthinkable triple blow of destruction (Earthquakes, Tsunami and Nuclear Leaks) has taken lives and leaves an uncertain future for an entire nation. I was thankful to learn Mercy Corps have a longstanding partnership with Japanese charity Peace Winds. Donations are getting to those on the ground in Japan rapidly without having to wait to be cleared through government channels. Dame Elizabeth Taylor passed away this week, had she not lived I would never have met my Beloved Husband Rick. We met on Twitter when I was asked to help with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Campaign to honor her work to find a cure for those afflicted with HIV/AIDS via AMFAR.

Please pause for a moment and take a stroll around the Fordyce Ricks pond and find peace in its beauty, gather strength from its calming waters.

Much Love to All,
Lee



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