Before my hike I read an article in the Washington Post “Federal government to lift restrictions on guns in national parks”. Both Rick and I have started a petition to ask the Obama administration to reverse their decision to lift the ban on loaded weapons in our National Parks. This is not a gun debate, as we respect of people to responsibly posses firearm as many of our friends and neighbors do. This is first and foremost a safety in the workplace issue.
A petition has created in memory of the first National Park Ranger killed. James Alexander Cary – 31, shot by bootleggers Hot Springs National Park. March 12, 1927. The Park Service told me “It will depend on individual state gun laws, visitors will be able to carry concealed and loaded guns into parks.” Hot Springs National Park has posted a notice regarding guns on their site.
The National Park Service Mission is to “…to promote and regulate the use of the…national parks…which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” National Park Service Organic Act, 16 U.S.C.1.
I hike and blog from Hot Springs National Park nearly every day and am saddened the sanctuary for nature will be broken by the lifting of the ban on guns in our National Parks. My fiance’ Rick and I hope that the Obama administration will reinstate the Ban on Guns in National Parks.
Lee Hiller and Rick London
It was with a heavy heart I headed into the park today. Only three days were left before the ban on loaded guns in National Parks would expire. It was especially not easy to imagine that it was President Obama who signed the bill that lifted the ban. It’s hard to feel sad when the first thing you see is a lovely squirrel searching for breakfast. Nature’s park greeter lifted my soul as I ventured further into the park.
Turkey Vultures from West Mountain were cruising in the breezy blue sky, moving ever closer to Hot Springs Mountain. This sent a ripple of chaotic bird calls all trying to sound the warning. The only one moving about was a squirrel up on the Dead Chief Trail heading home with breakfast. He/She was leaping from branch to branch and tree to tree.
On the Short Cut Trail ‘Kaw, Kaw Kaw” rang out and I saw three large Crows in a far off tree. Three small birds flew into to the tree next to me, a Black Throated Green Warbler, Carolina Chickadee and a Tufted Titmouse. A sweet mini flock taking cover at the sound of the Crows now cruising in the sky above me.
Up top the park was quiet as I took the trail to the Pagoda, no bird song and no squirrel chatter. Usually at least the squirrels come out to tell me off for not asking their permission to hike in their territory. Just moment safter taking my first photo in the Pagoda I looked up to see a large bird heading my way. The Turkey vulture came right up to the Pagoda and pulled up and over the top. I now understood why the the birds and squirrels were so quiet.
From the Pagoda I took the Hot Springs Mountain Trail to the Gulpha Gorge Trail where I met Kevin Carr and Tony Caver of the National Park Service. They were working to clear the trails of fallen trees from the last round of storms. This was wonderful news as I had been climbing over, ducking under and going around the many fallen trees. Kevin and Tony care about the park and we can all appreciate their efforts to keep it a safe place to hike.
From the Gulpha Gorge Trail I connected with the Goat Rock Trail in search of wildflowers. As I walked slowly scanning the edge of the trail a flash of orange caught my eye. A glorious Angel Wing Butterfly appeared and kindly landed so I could take a photo. The wildflower I found was a graceful winged beauty.
From the Goat Rock Trail I took the Upper Dogwood to head over to the Hot Springs Mountain Trail. I heard atapping sound and looked up to see a tiny little bird that at first thought to be a Tufted Titmouse. As it darted about the tree I frantically snapped photos try to get at least one. As it darted off to far away tree I saw the sun glint off it’s black and white feathers. The tiny bird was a Downy Woodpecker, I never knew they were so small.
When I reached the Hot Springs Mountain Trail I could hear new bird songs. As I found the tree they were all flitting about I took many photographs trying to keep up with their speedy flight. My lens captured one female Cardinal and three mystery birds I hope one day someone will help me identify (hint hint).
I took the Peak Trail down the mountain and was thankful for another joyous day in the park.
Dance a little each day and play with your friends.