I am not starting from the beginning but from a side trip I took in the Hot Springs National Park. I discovered an unmarked trail that leads to a viewing area that does not appear to be on any current guides. I surmise the lack of use as there was no litter or vandalism. When I need a quite moment it will be a place of sanctuary. I tried to spot the area from all the nearby trails and it is totally hidden.
I begin today’s hike with 10 sneezes LOL it appears something bloomed over night that my body is trying to expel. Fortunately after that the sneezing ceased so my hike continued as planned. I headed up the Dead Chief where a sweet squirrel was breaking open a nut. The pounding on a log was what drew me to it’s location. Every squirrel is a strong survivor from our winter storms.
On the Short Cut I was nearly knocked over by an 85 lb. Boxer who was off leash. Although there was nothing vicious in the actions of the dog it could have easily hurt a child or elderly individual. The woman hiking behind me left the trail and headed up the Hot Springs Mountain Road clearly not wanting to have the same contact with the dog. No one should have to leave the trail because of a dog. This large playful dog was also freely digging and roaming in the protected (using this term loosely) habitat of many small mammals. This is another reason I am an advocate for banning dogs from the Hot Springs National Park. (see on going reports)
I had a feeling I would not see much life on the short cut trail as I hiked to the top and I was correct. From there I connected to the Hot Springs Mountain trail. This trail too was very quiet and I wondered if the big dog had traveled this trail to. I bit later a couple passed me with a small dog on a leash and was relieved the bigger dog was no where near.
At the trail head I decided to hike up to the North Mountain Overlook and drop down to the Goat Rock Trail. The lizard sightings from yesterday made me want to see more. The Goat Rock Trail has three of my favorite things to photograph Wildflowers, Rocks and Lizards. There has been a lizard population explosion on the trail, the little beauties are everywhere. There are more Bird-Foot Violets and glorious colorful rocks waiting for me as well. A large winged grasshopper landed near me and I noticed the Yin Yang symbol on it leg joints.
I look at my watch and realize I have been out three hours and need to head back as it will take about an hour to return home. Up the Gulpha Gorge to the Hot Springs Mountain Trail, then connected to the Honeysuckle Trail. I looked up the slope and saw a couple off trail digging in a location between the Hot Springs Mountain and Honeysuckle Trails. When they were finished they hiked up to HSMT and danced around. I can’t begin to imagine what they were stealing from the park. If you recognize them please contact the Hot Springs National Park Service. The Parks belong to all of us.
I hiked down the Floral Trail and out onto Fountain Road for my walk home. Sometimes a hike in the park can have both wonderful and sad experiences. It is a part of caring for the park and it’s inhabitants.
Live, Love, Laugh and Play!