It is a glorious sunny morning, perfect for a hike in the park. I traveled up fountain street to the Hot Springs Mountain Road, as I passed the main entrance a lovely little squirrel was looking at me from a branch. It climbed down as I was getting ready to head to the Floral Trail and sat looking at me. I was surprised as it grabbed some grass and began eating it, I had never seen one eating anything other than nuts. I stood still, it crossed in front of me and dug up a nut continuing with breakfast. Learning something new it the best part of adventures in the park.
I hiked up the Floral Trail to the Lower Dogwood and spotted a Pileated Woodpecker in the distance. It was well out of my camera’s range so I continued on the trail. The trails were quiet and I felt the serenity of the forest as I hiked from the Lower Dogwood to the Upper Dogwood Trail.
When I reached the Goat Rock Trail the sun was rising in the sky and I could smell the smoke from a nearby fire. The NPS was doing a controlled burn near the Sunset Trail. The tiny birds were flying back and forth across the trail frantically as a light haze formed, two joggers blazed past adding to the chaos.
The violets were in bloom on the lower half of the Goat Rock Trail, patches were forming on both sides of the path. The color variations are so beautiful and the petals have a velvet soft texture. As I moved closer to take photographs I can hear lizards scooting away under the leaves.
As I reached the junction of the Goat Rock and Gulpha Gorge Trails I met Glen and Chris who hike hiked up from the Gorge. They had originally been planning to hike on the Sunset Trail, but were unable to as the NPS was performing a controlled burn. They were going to be visiting Hot Springs for several days and I showed them the many Trails on their map they would likely enjoy. They headed over to Goat Rock and I continued on the Gulpha Gorge trail.
I connected to the Hot Springs Mountain trail for my journey home and was happy to see a White-Throated Sparrow in the Tree in front of me. I had not seen a sparrow on North Mountain since the crows had been flying over in larger numbers. It looked beautiful in the new spring leaves.
I hiked to the Upper Dogwood to the Lower Dogwood and down the Floral Trail. As I traveled down the Hot Springs Mountain Road I heard the call of a Pileated Woodpecker. I turned my head to see it in the tree above me. It was exciting as this was the closest I have been to one. I was mesmerized by it’s fantastic markings and the positions it was maneuvering into on the tree. Another perfect day in the park.
Love to You All,
PS: I had another lovely evening hike with my fiance Rick, we walked up Fountain Street to the Floral Trail then connected to the Lower Dogwood Loop Trail. It was a glorious hike , the sun illuminating the new leaves and buds on the branched of the trees. A lovely Carolina Wren followed us along the trail making it’s presence known at regular intervals. I Love my evening hikes with Rick.