The storms of the past three days both tussled and fed the park and it’s residents. It was a mixed blessing, I missed my hikes but it was lovely to stay home, cuddle up with my fiance’ Rick and enjoy the storms from a distance.
For the first time in three days the sky is free of clouds as I draw back the curtains in the living room. The Mountain is calling to me and I get ready quickly for my morning hike. As I enter the park I quickly notice how the rain has accelerated the foliage growth in the park. Everywhere is lush greenery and decorated with new blossoms.
As I reach the Dead Chief Trail the sun is rising and I am in awe of the gorgeous display of light on the Trail. A ball of light peers through the Tree tops and as it becomes brighter creates a circular rainbow. Hiking up the trail I freeze at the glorious sight of rays of light piercing the canopy and shining down on the Trail before me. I feel blessed to be standing at this place as Nature displays her artistry.
I am hooked on the fungi in the forest and check on one of my favorite new growths as I reach the Short Cut Trail. A tiny silvery gray slug is gliding over the surfaces of one of the lower spires. Along the Trail the old Autumn leaves have become translucent with the saturating rains and and orange glow of the sun shining through them is spectacular.
Reaching the Top of Hot Springs Mountain I can see a sweet Squirrel having a breakfast feast. When I reach the Hot Springs Mountain Trail below the Pagoda there is a wonderful patch of pink clover flowers on the trail edge. Entering the forest path that crosses the Mountain I can hear the soft murmur of insects as a Blue Jay calls out to it’s flock. I spot a small five stripe skink peeking out from the leaves and branches to my side. It is a glorious hike over to the Gulpha Gorge Trail.
On the Gulpha Gorge Trail beautiful yellow Lance- Leaf Coreopsis are decorating the trail edges. A movement to my side reveals a wonderful Prairie Racer Lizard moving through the leaves toward a nearby Tree. On the Goat Rock Trail the yellow wildflower display is continued and is joined by delicate Southern Sundrops. A broad-headed skink races up the slope to my left and rests by an old piece of wood. The male lizard has a beautiful orange-red head and a glossy body.
Further up the trail I notice mauve flowers booming on a bush, they are so lovely. As I am photographing them a moth lands on the leaf next to me laying flat against it’s surface. It leaves as a Black Swallowtail Butterfly lands on a leaf below the bush with the new flowers. I turn to move down the path and see fox sitting watching me, as I raise my camera it leaps graceful out of sight it’s tail vanishing into the forest. Only last Sunday I was was blessed to see a Gray Wolf on the trail before I went to the hospital to be with Rick. I look forward to seeing the black bear that NPS has confirmed is in park.
I decide to hike along the Upper Dogwood Trail and I notice a leaf with a cluster of yellow eggs, it is the second of this type I have seen in the park today. I wonder what new life these golden eggs will reveal. I hear a Hawk’s high above me in the forest, I turn and take a random distant shot. A Hawk is perched at the op of a dead tree watching for prey it is a lucky capture.
As I reach the Lower Dogwood Trail I spot a talkative Blue Jay on a branch high above me sheltered by the new green leaves. Further along the trail a female Hairy Woodpecker lands in a Tree to survey the Forest before flying off. On the Floral Trail I see another Fungus growth, a pretty little button shaped mushroom. When I reach the park entrance I notice two Magnolia buds have opened. I take photographs for my fiance’ Rick who has been telling me of the beauty of the Magnolia Trees from the first day I arrived in Hot Springs..
Let Nature heal you, get out and play.
Love to You ALL!