I am starting my blog with last nights hike with my Husband Rick. We are greeted as we head to the Floral Trail by a lovely little Squirrel on the Arlington Lawn. Up the Floral to the Lower Dogwood Trails and we had to tread carefully to keep from stepping on a tiny charcoal gray vole. We hiked over to the Upper Dogwood Trail and then down the Hot Springs Mountain Road as darkness fell. As we reached the end of the road a large Beaver lumbered out of the Forest and down into a culvert. We were so excited to see it, but what happened next was spectacular. Following the Beaver was a feral White Cat, it was as if the Cat thought the Beaver was it’s mother. Nature is full of surprises!
It is a beautiful morning, a light breeze is moving through the park as I begin my hike. A bush at the beginning of the Tufa Terrace has lovely new pale pink blossoms. Near the top of the Tufa Terrace Trail I see an Eastern Cottontail in the bushes. Further along another Rabbit is moving in the grass foraging for breakfast. I am happy to know the Eastern Cottontail pair are still together, it been over a week since I had seen them at the same time.
I can hear a Male Cardinal and in the Tree ahead of me I see him. This is the molting Male Cardinal I have seen on many occasions in this area of the park. The poor baby looks a little ragged and uncomfortable. As I connect with the Peak Trail I notice an odd sight occurring on a near by Tree. Moths and Yellow Jackets are jostling each other for a particular position on the Tree. I want to get closer but am not keen to get stung by the Yellow Jackets. At one point I counted 20 moths on the Tree with 6 on top of the spot the Yellow Jackets are trying to control.
I hike up the Dead Chief and Short Cut Trails to the top of Hot Springs Mountain. On the drinking fountain I discover a lovely Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar on the drinking fountain. It is a gorgeous morning surprise. I Continue on the Hot Springs Mountain Trail and connect with the Honeysuckle Trail. From the Honeysuckle I hike down the Floral Trail down to the Hot Springs Mountain Road.
When I reach Fountain Street a wonderful surprise is waiting for me, the wounded Mom Squirrel is back. A bit leaner and with several new wounds she sits on the wall waiting for me. A huffing jogger runs past, startled she runs up a Tree. When I look up into the leaves to find her she waves at me (see the first large picture). I am so happy to see her getting a belly full of berries. It is a blessing to see her after nearly a month of searching.
I finish my hike by taking the Promenade to the Tufa Terrace trail. On the Promenade I see an unusual dark brown Moth that has an odd wing configuration and appeared to hop like a Grasshopper. As I hike down the Tufa Terrace Trail a sweet Chipmunk cuts across the path, a perfect end to my hike.
Let Nature Love You!