Hot Springs Facts: The springs are all grouped about the base of the Hot Springs Mountain, with a flow well over a half million gallons a day.
A winter storm is approaching and I want to get into the park early. I love snow but some are predicting freezing rain others a winter mix. The skies are dark this morning, but it does not feel ready to rain. I am out by 9:00 am and quickly head to the park. The drop in temperatures and impending storm seems to have cleared the park of Cedar Waxwings. I have great admiration now for the birds that stay here year round, though rain, snow and high winds. For all their beauty the Waxwings are a bunch of wimps, even the tiny green warbler was here in the snow.
At the park entrance I hear “Hi Lee” I turn to see Derrick one of the the park’s staff members, I give him the URL for the blog and I am on my way up into the Park.
Birds and squirrels are under the bushes and hiding in the leaves foraging for food. As I walk into the park the there is only a rustling sound, I miss the bird song. In the distance I see movement on a rock and it’s chipmunk popping in and out of it’s burrow. So Far away and so fast I wonder if I manged to get anything with my camera. In the park they are like little red bullets shooting across paths, so fast you wonder if you really even saw one.
As I head down the carriage road I hear a bird singing and I walk silently, as silently as anyone can on gravel and dead leaves toward a nearby tree. The song halts and as I turn my head I can see a bird in the tree next to me, an Eastern Phoebe is staring at me and not flying away. It graciously allows me to take 2 photos and I am on my way.
The top of the Mountain is quiet again and the view from the Pagoda is less than promising. The beautiful sunny sky from the day before has bee replaced with dark purple & blue clouds. The temperature is beginning to drop so I head out on the Hot Springs Mountain Trail to make my way round the mountain. The trail is empty and I have not seen anyone since I began my hike.
At the trail head is a green NPS (National Park Service) tractor prepping the trail for the impending storm. As I cross Hot Springs Mountain Road I see a car with the friendliest blond in the back wagging her tail. Charles Meade lowers his window to let me know that’s his girlfriend, she is perfect because she doesn’t shop. I laughed at his criteria for the perfect girlfriend. He said he had seen me hiking and when they were out on the trails next time I could add them to my blog. I continued my hike but had to moved over to the side and let a jogger pass me.
I spotted another heart shaped moss and this one held a clue as to how they are formed. It appears when two clusters form near each other they merge into a sort of heart shape. These are all found in the same area as little ice ornaments I discovered when the temperatures dropped in December of 2009. This section of the Valley between Hot Springs and North Mountain has artistic talent. The temperature is falling and as I pull on my gloves the jogger passes me again. I am definitely seeing the park in the slow lane.
I continue till I reach the path junction and switch over to the Honeysuckle Trail, my personal favorite. Want to know why? See Wrong Path Best Adventure and look at the photos the clue is there. I love the hike home on this trail it has wonderful scenery, beautiful (treacherous) loose rocks on the trail and second hike up to exit the park. When I reach the junction with the Peak Trail I decide to hike back to the top to see if any large birds are perched along the way. I see a Red Bellied Woodpecker and what I think might be a Falcon. If you look at the images and can identify my mystery bird I would appreciate info in the comment box. Yes the two photos are cryptic at best.
I hiked back down the Peak to the Tufa Trail across the Promenade and out the park’s main entrance and back home.
Thank You for joining me on this adventure.
Much Love, Lee
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