“Everything is significant, if we move in delicate wonder the Universe reveals itself to us.” ~ Lee Hiller
Nature revealed herself at every turn today, on wings, little paws, the strength of trees and beauty of rocks. Each Step, each breath, all appeared as I hiked. On the Carriage Road a lovely squirrel peered out at me from a leafy tree branch. After a few minutes climbed down the tree and bounded across the path in front of me.
On the Dead Chief Trail a Blue Jay landed in the high branches of a tree with a twig in it’s mouth. Another arrived and it appeared they were preparing to build a nest. A little further ahead my frequent companion the Red-Bellied Woodpecker greeted me with his familiar call. It felt like the forest was celebrating and I was being included in the festivities.
As I made my way up the Short Cut Trail to the top of Hot Springs Mountain I could not helping smiling. The forest had changed from the day before, life was busting from every corner of the park. Up top in the picnic area White-Throated Sparrows welcomed my arrival. In the tree above them I spotted a Male Downy Woodpecker and was surprised when a Red-Bellied Woodpecker arrived too. It appeared I was being followed by a red head.
At the Pagoda I saw my favorite resident of the area a Northern Mockingbird. It appeared to be pacing about int gravel the in front of the Pagoda stairs. The view was lovely from the pagoda, scattered clouds framed the sun perfectly I picked my way down the slope to the Hot Springs Mountain Trail and the Northern Mockingbird landed on the same bush above my shoulder for the third day in a row. He/She waited for me to take a photo and then headed into the bushes.
Hiking softly along the trail I saw a flicker of wings and turned to see a tiny Hutton’s Vireo in the vines to my right. One blink and I would have missed this little sweetie. As I continued the call of a familiar friend echoed before me and I saw a red head in a tall tree. It made me giggle, I had the best shadow in the forest.
Not far up the trail a movement on the left caught my eye, a sweet Chipmunk was on the move. Ii was the first time I had witnessed a high dive off a rock into the leaves. They popped up looked at me and began cleaning their little battle scared face. A few minutes of cleaning then another dive under the leaves.
As I reached the trail head I decided to travel down the Gulpha Gorge trail to the Goat Rock Trail. One first incline I could hear Blue Jays chattering all around me, I want so much to know what they were talking about. On the third incline a beautiful Blue Jay kept flying from tree to tree escorting me to the Goat Rock Trail. Along the way we were join by a red head. Could it be the same one or was the park filled with them today?
The Rocks along the Goat Rock Trail were spectacular, each a work of art. Lichen and mold painted each one, accenting the already natural beauty. Again the red head appeared watching my every step, calling loudly to ensure I would look up to see them. As I climbed higher I was treated to the site of several tiny wildflowers hidden in the storm debris. A tiny flash of black and white landed above me, it was a female Downy Woodpecker. I hoped she would eventually meet up with the male I had seen earlier in the day. Half way up the trail and again my shadow cried out see me, I am still with you.
Reaching the last part of the Goat Rock Trail I was delighted to hear/see a Black-Throated Green Warbler. It was all alone on the path and not joined by the usually visible Carolina Chickadee that lived on this section of the Trail. To say I was surprised would be an understatement, when I turned toward the path I could see a certain red head in the tree above me. It was a blessing to have his companionship.
I connected with the Upper Dogwood trail and yes I still had my shadow. The sleeping forest was waiting for the spring blossoms to appear but winter had decorated in her own fashion. Lichen on the bark of many tree gave the forest a ghostly glow and was accented by fungus in Large fan and tiny oyster shell shapes in a variety of colors.
The east section of the Hot springs Mountain Trail was very quite and only an occasional pip could be heard. As I glanced skyward I could see why, three large crows were circling above. The only movement near me was a Golden-Crowned Kinglet heading to a new tree.
On the Honeysuckle Trail the bird song returned as I headed toward the Fountain Trail to leave the park. A loud call rang out and I looked up to see a red head. This time I knew it could not be the same one, I was blessed to see my first female Red-Bellied Woodpecker. It was the perfect end to a wonder-filled day in the park.
Thank You for joining me on my hike, remember to go out side and play.