It was one of those chaotic days in the park dark skies, big equipment and signs of fires being set. The big equipment included a dump truck, a tractor and a trail buggy. This silenced much of forest and sent it’s inhabitants deeper into the trees. Some of the peace I hoped for was lost, but I understand the important work involved in maintaining the trails.
It was a turbulent morning in the Park, many of the creatures were beautiful silhouettes as I strolled along the Tufa Terrace. A male Cardinal was just above me pecking at berries, while a female moved on to a bare limb as the sun tried to peek out. A sweet Squirrel lept onto a rock in front of me, paused and quickly ran up a tree. I watched as they jumped from Tree to Tree in the highest limbs available. As I head toward the Dead Chief Trail a Turkey Vulture does a fly by.
On the Dead Chief Trail the Blue Jays, four of them were making an odd murmuring noise. It’s the second day I have heard them display this unusual sound. The Crows are back on the South side of Hot Springs Mountain today and As I climb higher the forest is becoming so quiet. As I hike up the Trail I see bark and many rocks beautifully decked out in Lichen, it is Nature’s beautiful art work.
The sky from the Pagoda it’s a lovely mix of blue and pinkish yellow, it appears to be getting darker again. I wonder if it might rain and decide I had better move down to the Hot Springs Mountain Trail. I love this trail and always feel serene as I journey along it’s many bends and slopes. I often stop and shoot down into the forest hoping I will capture and unexpected treasure. Until today it had always been forest trees. My shot revealed a woman way off the trails with two black dogs off leash. Who knows how much habitat they were destroying.
At the trail head I ran into Tony Caver of the National Park Service, he was driving a tractor moving soil and gravel to repair the storm damaged trails. I want to tell him it’s a loosing battle, Nature always wins. After a quick visit and a promise more employees will be sending me photos I head off to the second section of the trail. From the Hot Springs Mountain Trail I connect to the Upper then the Lower Dogwood Trail. Slowly the sections of the park that had remain cold longer were seeing increasing numbers of birds and small mammals.
I made a disturbing discovery when I reached the junction of the Lover Dogwood and Arlington Trails. Someone had built a large fire in the middle of the path, chard branches were spread out on the forest floor. On the second section of the loop I discover a large log that was burnt all along the underside. I suspected people were hiking up the trail from the city below and connecting with the Lower Dogwood. When I reported the burns to the NPS, there seemed to be little concern about the fires being set and the bigger issue for them was why the maintenance crews had not cleaned up the mess. Personally I would want to find a way to get those starting the fires so they don’t burn down the forest.
Saddened by the NPS attitude I made my way over to the Floral Trail and hiked down off North Mountain. I hoped I would not see North Mountain on fire because no one thought it was important to investigate. I Love My Park.
Thank You for hiking with me today.