I sit inside today watching lightning strikes, pea size hail and heavy rain. The darkening sky mimics night as a series of storms blow through for a forecast of five hours.
When my husband and I took a quick hike yesterday the sky was a brilliant blue with a spectacular winter sun warming the Rocks and Forest floor. Beautiful patches of Bluets, Chickweed and Dog Violets dotted the park trail and road edges. A familiar scurrying sound was ever present as we interrupt lizard sunbathing on the trail edges. A big male Prairie Lizard flashes his bright blue belly scales from on top of a cluster of Rocks. It had not rained for 5 days but the soil was saturated and seeping on several trails. It appears as if the drought has lifted in time to create a spectacular spring for 2013.
Love to ALL!
I am never lost in the mountains, it is where I found myself. ~ Lee Hiller
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!
Dear John Muir,
I come humbled by your message and sadly late to the congregation. Although your body has passed your spirit still delivers passionate sermons among the Trees. Once heard in Natures voice your message to mankind became part of my heart forever.
In the Forest I hear a choir so sweet it often brings tears and I wonder if its song is a whisper to my Soul from the Universe. There is not a Rock or Flower that does not hold my Heart as I pause to learn its secrets. How is it I could have reached fifty plus years before knowing the intimate beauty of Nature? I am thankful my life will from this point forward move in unison with the natural world.
Thank you for being there to guide me as I hike within Natures sacred spaces.
I did not think I would be hiking for five hours when I stepped out the door. A big storm is coming so I wanted to photograph all the lovely Wildflowers and Flowering Trees prior to the arrival of the high winds, rain and lightning. It never occurred to me there would be so many spring blooms along the trails. I kept hiking taking photographs following Wildflowers and lovely song birds.
As I leaned in to take a photograph of a Birds-Foot Violet on the Goat Rock Trail I found myself eye to eye with a Northern Green Anole. Now brown and blending into the Tree to my side it was a wonderful surprise. It was a joy to find both pink Oxalis and Pussy Toes sprinkled along the tail edge between patches of Violets. When I arrive at the Hot Springs Mountain Trail head there is a lovely field of Springs Beauty. They are a spectacular display of small white with pink stripe Wildflowers.
Along the Hot Springs Mountain Road rich purple wild Violets have sprung up within the dark green foliage. Wonderful blossoming Trees are glowing in the morning light along the road leading to the top of the mountain. Nature has brought a glorious early spring to Hot Springs and the National Park.
Please enjoy part one of my photographic spring journey before the winter storm this weekend.
Love to ALL! Dance across the Mountains and Forests with me.
This was the first day I blogged about a hike in Hot Springs National Park. I saw the puppy above on the Hot Springs Mountain Road and after failing to catch it I thought posting a photograph might let the owner know it was still alive. The blog got the attention of my Twitter and facebook friends so I decided to continue posting my adventures. I backed dated and added images and information from my notes to create posts going back to first day I hiked in Hot Springs National Park in November 2009. Over the past year I have posted 8,665 images, made 251 blog entries and begun making videos as well. I am thankful to have been able to upgrade from using a compact camera to a DSLR this past November.
To those who have read my blog this past year I am grateful for your company as I hike You kind thoughts and comments are a treasure beyond words.
February 2010 – The Lovely Creatures of the Forest on the Hot Springs Trails
April 2010 – Snakes, Lizards and a Turtle Happy Earth Day!
June 2010 – Bunnies, Baby Birds and a Sweet Chipmunk
July 2010 – Baby Birds on Soul Day
August 2010 – The Glorious Wings of Summer
September 2010 – Winging My Way Through the Park and Twilight Snakes
October 2010 – Testing new camera among the Autumn Leaves
December 2010 – A Mixed Flock Of Little Birds and a Near Miss
Field Notes: Turkey Vultures
Field Notes: Wild About Mockingbirds
Field Notes: Ice Ribbons and Frost Flowers
Field Notes: Damselfly Dragonfly its in the Wings and Eyes
Field Notes: Mixed-Species Foraging Flock Robins and Waxwings
Field Notes: Woodpeckers Of Hot Springs National Park
Whether you are Democrat, Green, Independent, Republican or non affiliated please thank President Obama… why? He increased funding for national parks and forests by 10%! No matter your political leaning don’t let you government representatives overturn this as they wrestle to control the budget. It is a VERY VERY VERY SMALL piece of the budget pie, but is so important to preserving our environment.
I hiked over to the Goat Rock Trail and finally saw a very elusive color changing lizard. Surprisingly the Northern Green Anole allowed me see it moved slowly among the leaves. I was so excited to this little beauty and feel blessed to share these photographs with you. A delicate creature moving with grace.
The Autumn Leaves on the Upper Dogwood were spectacular, color was bursting forth all along the trail. I felt like I was in the movie “What Dreams May Come” a surreal world of changing color filled with bird song. I hope in some small way you can feel the beauty of Forest path via my images.
Purple Aster are decorating almost every trail in the Forest. They vary in size and intensity of color throughout the park. These tiny wildflowers are sprouting in single blossoms and in clusters on long stalks. A beautiful but rare sight are multiple clusters and patches of these purple flowers. It is amazing how their delicate petals have held up against the rain and blowing winds. The contrast of the purple petals and yellow centers are irresistible.
On the Hot Springs Mountain Trail I was excited to see the return of a favorite winter friend, a female Dark-Eyed Junco. In January to April 2010 they were constant companions during the harshest winter days when I hiked on Hot Springs Mountain. Mid way down the Gulpha Gorge Trail I saw Male Prairie Lizard sunning it self on the side of the path. You can see a glimmer of bright blue just below his chin.
At the Hot Spring water cascade I stood on the Tufa Terrace watching a Northern Mockingbird and Male Cardinal. Both stood in the therapeutic water as if they were visiting a spa and drank the mineral elixir pouring over the tufa rocks to the pool below. This is a spot I will have to spend more time as the weather cools off as it attracts those that winter in the park.
Thank You for venturing into the Forest with me.
Much Love to ALL
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.
Sometimes Nature comes to your front door and I was on my way out when I spotted a lovely green beetle. Special thanks to @Squirrelbasket on Twitter for identifying it as Cetonia Aurata (Rose Chafer). On my way up the Tufa Terrace I am greeted by a Chipmunk standing as sentinel in the Park. It is a beautiful way to begin my morning hike. As another person approaches it moves to the Tufa Rock to my side. As I connect with the Peak Trail I watch a Spider Wasp fly up the trail ahead of me.
When I reach the Carriage Road and see an Eastern Cottontail heading up the hill. I love how it’s ears glow in the sunlight. At the end of the Carriage Road there is a new patch of beautiful blue Asiatic Dayflowers. I head up Dead Chief and hear a Male Cardinal singing high above me in the green leaves. The heat is building and it is so quiet as I hike up the Short Cut Trail to the top of Hot Springs Mountain.
You appreciate the wonderful taste of water when you sweating like I am as I stand in the picnic area. I hike along the Hot Springs Mountain Trail and I see flashes of red and green above me. Further along I spot a Juvenile Male Summer Tanager transitioning between green and red. It is a spectacular sight. Nearing the Trail Head I hear a loud rustling in the leaves. My first thought is Chipmunk, often they move leaves for nesting in their burrows. I finally locate the source, it is a Five-Lined Skink with a giant Moth in it’s little mouth. The Skink hauls the Moth up to a log and I can see it’s bright blue tail as it weaves it’s way through the leaves.
I hike from the Hot Springs Mountain Trail to the Upper Dogwood Trail, down the Lower Dogwood and Floral Trails. I stop at the cold spring water station to fill my stainless steel water bottle. When I arrive a pretty red spotted purple Butterfly and a bright yellow Moth. They rarely land fluttering frantically around the water spigots.
As I am walking home I notice leaves are falling as if it is autumn. The park need more rain desperately.
Never miss an opportunity to seek the wisdom of Nature.
The storms of the past three days both tussled and fed the park and it’s residents. It was a mixed blessing, I missed my hikes but it was lovely to stay home, cuddle up with my fiance’ Rick and enjoy the storms from a distance.
For the first time in three days the sky is free of clouds as I draw back the curtains in the living room. The Mountain is calling to me and I get ready quickly for my morning hike. As I enter the park I quickly notice how the rain has accelerated the foliage growth in the park. Everywhere is lush greenery and decorated with new blossoms.
As I reach the Dead Chief Trail the sun is rising and I am in awe of the gorgeous display of light on the Trail. A ball of light peers through the Tree tops and as it becomes brighter creates a circular rainbow. Hiking up the trail I freeze at the glorious sight of rays of light piercing the canopy and shining down on the Trail before me. I feel blessed to be standing at this place as Nature displays her artistry.
I am hooked on the fungi in the forest and check on one of my favorite new growths as I reach the Short Cut Trail. A tiny silvery gray slug is gliding over the surfaces of one of the lower spires. Along the Trail the old Autumn leaves have become translucent with the saturating rains and and orange glow of the sun shining through them is spectacular.
Reaching the Top of Hot Springs Mountain I can see a sweet Squirrel having a breakfast feast. When I reach the Hot Springs Mountain Trail below the Pagoda there is a wonderful patch of pink clover flowers on the trail edge. Entering the forest path that crosses the Mountain I can hear the soft murmur of insects as a Blue Jay calls out to it’s flock. I spot a small five stripe skink peeking out from the leaves and branches to my side. It is a glorious hike over to the Gulpha Gorge Trail.
On the Gulpha Gorge Trail beautiful yellow Lance- Leaf Coreopsis are decorating the trail edges. A movement to my side reveals a wonderful Prairie Racer Lizard moving through the leaves toward a nearby Tree. On the Goat Rock Trail the yellow wildflower display is continued and is joined by delicate Southern Sundrops. A broad-headed skink races up the slope to my left and rests by an old piece of wood. The male lizard has a beautiful orange-red head and a glossy body.
Further up the trail I notice mauve flowers booming on a bush, they are so lovely. As I am photographing them a moth lands on the leaf next to me laying flat against it’s surface. It leaves as a Black Swallowtail Butterfly lands on a leaf below the bush with the new flowers. I turn to move down the path and see fox sitting watching me, as I raise my camera it leaps graceful out of sight it’s tail vanishing into the forest. Only last Sunday I was was blessed to see a Gray Wolf on the trail before I went to the hospital to be with Rick. I look forward to seeing the black bear that NPS has confirmed is in park.
I decide to hike along the Upper Dogwood Trail and I notice a leaf with a cluster of yellow eggs, it is the second of this type I have seen in the park today. I wonder what new life these golden eggs will reveal. I hear a Hawk’s high above me in the forest, I turn and take a random distant shot. A Hawk is perched at the op of a dead tree watching for prey it is a lucky capture.
As I reach the Lower Dogwood Trail I spot a talkative Blue Jay on a branch high above me sheltered by the new green leaves. Further along the trail a female Hairy Woodpecker lands in a Tree to survey the Forest before flying off. On the Floral Trail I see another Fungus growth, a pretty little button shaped mushroom. When I reach the park entrance I notice two Magnolia buds have opened. I take photographs for my fiance’ Rick who has been telling me of the beauty of the Magnolia Trees from the first day I arrived in Hot Springs..
Let Nature heal you, get out and play.
Love to You ALL!
As I walk up the Fountain Street sidewalk inside Hot Springs National Park, suddenly nut shells begin to rain down around me. I look up and see a Squirrel chewing on the sweet tender meat of a newly shelled nut. It makes me smile to see them on this glorious Earth Day in the Park. I head toward the Floral Trail and spot a sweet Chipmunk foraging on the hillside next to me. I am blessed to be here.
I hike up the Floral Trail to the Lower Dogwood Trail and I am surprised by a movement to the side of me. I look down and see a snake coiled up on the edge of the trail. The big North American Racer lifts it’s head as I step back to take a photo, flicks it’s tongue and heads up the embankment away from me. A perfect Earth Day gift from Nature.
I connect with the Upper Dogwood then take the Hot Springs Mountain Trail to the Gulpha Gorge. From the Gulpha Gorge Trail I head over to the Goat Rock trail. Along the Trail I hear rustling in the leaves and wonder if its Snakes or Lizards moving about. Another gift from Nature a Prairie Racer, the first I have spotted. It’s brown racing stripes and changing color tail are so beautiful. Further up the trail a plump, perhaps pregnant Prairie Lizard it sitting on a log flicking it’s tongue at passing insects.
I am escorted along the upper part of the Goat Rock Trail by a Mourning Dove. No matter how close I get the funny bird just keeps strolling along ahead of me. It made me joyous to have this special guide through the Forest. Continuing onto the Upper Dogwood Trail I can hear a light rustling sound and I look down to see a wonderful Male Box Turtle. It is the first Turtle I have seen in the park.
As I near the top of the Trail I spot a lovely couple from New Jersey I had spoken with earlier. They are staring at something and as I approach they point out a large (5 ft plus) Texas Rat Snake. The snake is stretched out on the Forest floor, several bulges in his body are an indication he is resting after a big feast. Nature has blessed me again with the sight of this glorious snake.
I hike from the Upper Dogwood to the Lower Dogwood and off North Mountain via the Floral Trail. Special thanks to the engineer of the cute rock sculpture I discovered along the trail today. It has been a perfect Earth Day in the Park, thank you for sharing it with me.
Love You All,
(Continued from April 03 2010) Heading down the Hot Springs Mountain Trail I am in awe of the beauty of the Red Bud Trees. They are glorious splashes of bright pink in the new spring green along the road side. It is the first time the hike down to the road is relaxing, the air is sweet with blossoms and the glow of green touches everything. I look down to see a lovely patch of Spring Beauty and a large shadow passed over. I look up just in time to see a large Turkey Vulture flying over.
When I reached the Hot Springs Mountain Trail I spot a patch of lovely Wood Spurge. The delicate green and yellow blossoms are a lovely addition to the Forest Path. On the Upper Dogwood Trail I can see beautiful Birds-Foot Violets, drops of last nights rain glisten on it’s petal.
I connected with the Lower Dogwood and I am mesmerized by the exquisite path laid out before me. A single Dogwood Tree is blossoming amongst the texture of the glossy green leaves. I hear a screech in the distance but cannot make out what bird is making the sound. A few minutes later I hear the same sound getting closer followed by the cry of a Hawk. I Look up and see a Hawk chasing a Crow across the sky, this is something I had never before witnessed.
As I reach the junction with the Arlington Trail I can see someone has returned to set another bonfire in the middle of the Lower Dogwood. The NPS needs to investigate before someone sets the park on fire and perhaps sends the fire down the Trail to the Arlington Hotel.
I hike over to the Floral Trail and I keep hearing the light rustling of leaves. A quick glance to my side and I finally see a Ground Skink racing in and out of the leaves. The next time I hear the sound I am able to better track the Skink to get a photo. I love their glossy tan coloring with a brown stripe down each side. After I reach the bottom of the Trail I begin my hike home along Fountain Street. It’s been another wonderful morning in the park.
Get out and play, Nature is waiting for you.
Love to You All,
I am not starting from the beginning but from a side trip I took in the Hot Springs National Park. I discovered an unmarked trail that leads to a viewing area that does not appear to be on any current guides. I surmise the lack of use as there was no litter or vandalism. When I need a quite moment it will be a place of sanctuary. I tried to spot the area from all the nearby trails and it is totally hidden.
I begin today’s hike with 10 sneezes LOL it appears something bloomed over night that my body is trying to expel. Fortunately after that the sneezing ceased so my hike continued as planned. I headed up the Dead Chief where a sweet squirrel was breaking open a nut. The pounding on a log was what drew me to it’s location. Every squirrel is a strong survivor from our winter storms.
On the Short Cut I was nearly knocked over by an 85 lb. Boxer who was off leash. Although there was nothing vicious in the actions of the dog it could have easily hurt a child or elderly individual. The woman hiking behind me left the trail and headed up the Hot Springs Mountain Road clearly not wanting to have the same contact with the dog. No one should have to leave the trail because of a dog. This large playful dog was also freely digging and roaming in the protected (using this term loosely) habitat of many small mammals. This is another reason I am an advocate for banning dogs from the Hot Springs National Park. (see on going reports)
I had a feeling I would not see much life on the short cut trail as I hiked to the top and I was correct. From there I connected to the Hot Springs Mountain trail. This trail too was very quiet and I wondered if the big dog had traveled this trail to. I bit later a couple passed me with a small dog on a leash and was relieved the bigger dog was no where near.
At the trail head I decided to hike up to the North Mountain Overlook and drop down to the Goat Rock Trail. The lizard sightings from yesterday made me want to see more. The Goat Rock Trail has three of my favorite things to photograph Wildflowers, Rocks and Lizards. There has been a lizard population explosion on the trail, the little beauties are everywhere. There are more Bird-Foot Violets and glorious colorful rocks waiting for me as well. A large winged grasshopper landed near me and I noticed the Yin Yang symbol on it leg joints.
I look at my watch and realize I have been out three hours and need to head back as it will take about an hour to return home. Up the Gulpha Gorge to the Hot Springs Mountain Trail, then connected to the Honeysuckle Trail. I looked up the slope and saw a couple off trail digging in a location between the Hot Springs Mountain and Honeysuckle Trails. When they were finished they hiked up to HSMT and danced around. I can’t begin to imagine what they were stealing from the park. If you recognize them please contact the Hot Springs National Park Service. The Parks belong to all of us.
I hiked down the Floral Trail and out onto Fountain Road for my walk home. Sometimes a hike in the park can have both wonderful and sad experiences. It is a part of caring for the park and it’s inhabitants.
Live, Love, Laugh and Play!
Sunny skies welcomed me as I entered the park and the bird song was spectacular. I was greeted on the Carriage Road by a Robin who had a now healed chest wound. He sang a beautiful tune as he foraged for berries. He was reminder of how tough it can be living in the wild.
I decided to go up the Dead Chief Trail and was treated to the sighting of a lovely little squirrel watching another squirrel climb up a tree. Eventually they ended up in the up too near each other and a lively chase ensued. As I connected with the short cut trail I was treated to a beautiful display of colorful rocks. The earth pushed up the perfect canvas for lichen and mold to paint, the hike up to the top was like an art gallery.
Next I traveled along to the Hot Springs Mountain Trail at the top and was treated to a beautiful chorus of songbirds. Not far into my hike on the eastern part of the trail loop a tiny head popped up next to me in the leaves. I froze and a few minutes later the sweetest little chipmunk stood up looked around and headed out in search of food.
When I reached the halfway point I was happy to get a phone call from my new friend Deb Dobson (Twitter @DebDobson). She kindly chose me for her next blog, it is a cool series called “Meet a Tweep” and it a great place to check out people to follow. I thought it would fun for her to interview me while I was hiking. Deb was having a hike with me and it was really fun to have someone along form the journey.
Part way up Hot Springs Mountain Road on my way to the overlook Deb and I parted company, I continued my hike. I dropped down to the Goat Rock Trail and was treated to one of many delightful surprises. I heard a noise and looked down just in time to a Pretty Ground Skink. I think Lizards cool, I realize I have have another subject to read up on. Further along I spotted several new Bird-Footed Violets along the sides of the path. I found another violet and as I leaned over to look, another lizard appeared. I tiny little thing I could not believe I spotted it. It was little female Prairie Lizard. The Goat Rock Trail was a feast for the eyes Painted rocks, tiny lizards and wildflowers.
Next I took the Gulpha Gorge Trail and was happy to see a black-capped chickadee working on it’s new home. It appeared to be the same on I had seen a few days before. A few yards from the top I spotted a larger lizard darting up a tree. It was a mature male Prairie Lizard with beautiful Blue and Turquoise scales on his belly. What an amazing adventure I was having meeting so many wonderful creatures of the forest.
I connected again with the Hot Springs Mountain Trail, then to the Honeysuckle and over to the Floral Trail. As I was leaving the park a Northern Mockingbird with an unusual beak landed on the bush next to me. It turned, looked me straight in the eye then performed and a series poses. It was an impressive disiplay to end my day in the park.
Love to You ALL! Get out and play everyday!