I decided to enter the park from North Mountain instead of the traditional entrance, what a great idea it turned out to be. The sun was shining and the light was illuminating the Forest, I was happy to be hiking up into the mountain. All the little details were popping out from everywhere, if you look closely you will see Nature has created many hearts today. Beautiful blue and amber sap bleeding down a log, deeply rutted bark and a glorious yellow and taupe rock. As I hike further up I connected with the Lower Dogwood Trail and could in the distance a crew working on the Arlington Trail.
On the North side of the Lower Dogwood Trail I discovered a really cool clay pipe and then found a pretty rusting painted metal pipe. They had go un-noticed until I hiked the trails in reverse. I discovered I have been hiking in mostly a counter clockwise direction, so my perspective of some trails was skewed.
When I reached the Goat Rock Trail I discovered the most amazing tree. I had never noticed it before because it was hidden when hiking up from Goat Rock. This Tree has bent twice during a storm and was on an unusual angle and still it stands tall in the Forest (see Pictures below).
Farther down the trail I discover a few Bird-Foot Violets, they look so lovely. The Bird-Foot Violet Viola pedata (Birdsfoot violet, Bird’s-foot violet) is an ornamental plant in the Violaceae family. Bird-foot Violet grows in dry fields, clearings in woods, and roadsides. These plants spread by rhizomes, underground stems that grow sideways. Rhizomes can send up new stems to make new plants. These lovely violets attract Butterflies, Birds and Small Mammals so I am grateful to know where they are on the trail.
Along the Goat Rock I see many wonderful rock formations painted with beautiful Molds and Lichen. I am strolling through Nature’s beautiful art gallery. A small flutter to my right and I am blessed to see a Male White-Breasted Nuthatch. He boldly hangs on to the side of the tree and looks straight at me, it’s a blessing as they always seem to be moving.
On the Gulpha Gorge Trail I am barely a few feet up when a lovely Carolina Chickadee caught my eye. It pecked into a branch making a hole, as the Chickadee worked on the hole it dove in occasionally to test the fit. I watched for a few minutes before moving along, I didn’t want to disrupt their home building.
Up the top of the Gulpha I connect with the Hot Springs Mountain Trail. I hear the lovely songs of many of my favorite warblers but am unable to spot any low enough to photograph. As I approach the second crossing of Hot Springs Mountain Road I hear an odd wheel sound, I look up in time to see a skateboarder whizzing past. I hope no one hits him on one the blind bends.
I switch over to the Honeysuckle trail and on the last incline look down to see a root in the shape of a whales tale, fluke. It makes me smile to think how many times I missed it hiking up this trail. I finish my decent on the Peak Trail and am treated to the site of a sweet Brown Creeper searching the bark for insects. Growing a the bottom of the steps are spectacular pale blue wildflowers. So sweet and tiny dotting the edge of the Carriage Road.
It has been a lovely day in the park, thank you for coming with me.