The morning weather is turbulent, the clouds are building with intermittent breaks for sunlight to beam through. I enter the park at the main entrance and head over to the Tufa Terrace and then the Carriage Road. A loud rustling is coming from the leaves to my left and I see a Brown Thrasher looking for it’s breakfast. It is the only bird I have seen since I entered the park this morning. As I head to the next trail I can see everything is on the verge of bursting forth into Blossoms and Spring Leaves. In a few weeks the trails will be transformed.
It is a quiet hike up the Dead Chief and Short Cut Trails. The storm clouds are building and the song birds have gone silent. The only birds visible in the air are crows, they seem to be in all areas of the park lately. They are overhead or perched in the highest trees along every trail.
The mountain top is changing as blossoms come into view on trees and along the trails. Beautiful Cherry Blossoms are appearing along the Hot Springs Mountain Trail in the picnic area. Above me I spot a little Male Downy Woodpecker hopping up a Tree looking for insects. On the slope below the Pagoda Spiderwort in pink, blue and purple are appearing in the greenery. A lovely Male Cardinal lands on the trail as I am photographing the wildflowers. It is the first one I have seen at the Pagoda for many weeks. The top of the mountain is amazing today, it is paradise.
I decide to continue my adventure on the Hot Springs Mountain Trail. Unfortunately the previously mentioned large 85 lb. boxer is not on a leash when he and his owner pass me on the trail. The Boxer stops to dig next to me damaging the plants along the side of the path. Why do people see this place as a Dog Park instead of a protected National Park?
Nearly half a mile along the trail I stop to watch a Chipmunk in what appears to be construction mode. It is popping up like a jack-in-the-box tossing leaves and branches. There is a momentary diversion to chase another Chipmunk out of it’s territory and then it returns to the building project. The little Chipmunk leaves me with a big smile as I continue my hike
When I reach the rest hut on the Hot Springs Mountain Road I see a family trying to figure out how to loop back to the Gulpha Gorge. I show them on a map an alternative route via the Hot Springs Mountain and Dead Chief Trails. I am about to continue my hike when a group of young woman arrive looking for another area to run. I help them plot a course on trails they have yet to traverse.
I continue on the Hot Springs Mountain Trail, connect to the Honeysuckle and then Floral Trail. It’s a lovely hike down the multiple inclines as many trees are now beginning to bloom. Near the bottom I see my first Floral Trail squirrel, it is wonderful sighting.
As I leave the park a Northern Mockingbird lands on the bush next to me. It poses as if it arrived for a professional photo shoot, before flying off. It has been a wonderful day in the Park.
Get Out and Play!