I wanted to see the flowering bushes on the Tufa Terrace so I entered the park at the main entrance. It’s amusing to me that I have walked past these bushes for several weeks never noticing one side was bursting forth with beautiful flowers. Following a squirrel yesterday I discovered the secret, so I had to go back a look again.
I left the Tufa Terrace and headed down the promenade to Fountain Street, a sweet squirrel was sitting in a tree having a fine feast on a nut. It’s a joy to watch the park wake up each morning. The journey to the Floral Trail is peaceful, the sun slowly rising in the sky and twinkles between the Trees on Hot Springs Mountain. As I hike up the trail I Love watching the sunlight drawing closer as I climb higher on North Mountain.
From the Floral Trail I head to the Lower Dogwood and decide to go to the west end on the trail to hike to the Upper Dogwood. I stopped to photograph a rock, as I was focusing I could hear growling and barking. I look to my side to see a big dog coming toward me, it’s owners are far behind. I yell out “excuse me your dog needs to be on a leash”. When they catch up and grab their dog “Lucky” they tell me they did not think it mattered as they are alone on the trail. I ask them again to put their dog on a leash, I advise them “Lucky” is a predator and should not consider the park his territory.
My Hike from the Lower Dogwood to the Upper Dogwood was quiet, the forest was unusually silent where the big dog passed through. Sunlight streamed in illuminating the trail highlighting the delicate new growth on bushes and trees. Bird song was distant and the only bird I saw on the Upper Dogwood was a lovely Junco sitting on a branch surrounded by Birch seeds.
From the Upper Dogwood I hike to the Goat Rock Trail where I am greeted by a Black-Throated Green Warbler. It is the perfect start to one of my favorite trails. As I am hiking I can hear, but not see lizards scrambling under the leaves. I have noticed the Chipmunks do not like the lizards. It appears there is a surprise factor of not seeing them and suddenly finding them under their paws. I had not heard a Chipmunk scream until I saw one moving across the leaves and landing on top of a well hidden lizard. It is a horrible sound of surprise.
Further down the trail I begin to see wildflowers popping up on both sides of the path. There is a wide variety of Bird’s-Foot Violets and Bluets covering the slopes between the lichen covered rocks. Among the purples and pinks is a lone patch of bright sunny Yellow Star Grass. As I am leaning in to see a wildflower I notice a leaf looking back at me. It make me smile to see it is a Male Prairie Lizard flashing his blue throat and belly.
From Goat Rock I hike up the Gulpha Gorge Trail and notice on the last bend a bench has been pulled out of the ground. I wonder if it has been removed by NPS or by vandals. When I reach the top of the Trail I decide to look for Wildflowers around the Rest Hut and I discover two surprises. Growing along the stone wall is a patch of pretty Chickweeds and on the far side of the hut is the park bench missing from the Gulpha Gorge.
I head home via the the Hot Springs Mountain Trail, the Honeysuckle and out on to Fountain Street. It’s been another wonderful day in the park.
Thank you for coming on my hike each day, it is a blessing to be able to share my journey in Nature each day.
PS: CONGRATULATIONS! My fiance’ Rick London’s “Londons Times Cartoons” turned 13 years old today… I Love You Baby!