The skies are dark this morning as I head up into the Forest. Beautiful orange and rust Leaves decorate the Trail before me on my way up Hot springs Mountain. When I reach the Short Cut Trail I can hear but not see the squirrels that are busy foraging for the acorns that have fallen throughout the Forest. Each step forward elicits a rice crispy crunch as I move higher up the Mountain. I decide to try and tip toe up the last part of the Short Cut Trail, a little Chipmunk dashes across at lightning speed. It appears I am not a quiet as I wished to be.
More rustling of leaves above me in the area I call the grave yard. The old stumps of trees are now squared off and look like tombstones among the rocks in the soon to be leafless landscape. I take a couple of shots of the Trees in hopes of capturing a Squirrel instead I discover I am being watched. The crunching on the rise above me was not squirrels, I had attracted another creature with my delicate tip toeing through the Autumn Leaves. Peeking at me first from behind a Tree then looking at me from out in the open is a young White Tail Buck. Set between his huge ears are the button nubs of antlers that will soon grow. Dark eyes stare intently as he looks straight on with glossy black nose pointing at me. He is not afraid and is clearly curious about my light touch upon the leaves on the Trail. I hope this is a mimicking of a deer moving along the trail as I might have other opportunities to see Deer this Autumn.
Along the Hot Springs Mountain Trail a breeze causes leaves to twirl downward onto the path before me. They look like little helicopters whirling about me, I Love Autumn. It is not long before I reach the rest hut on the Honeysuckle Trail that was a wedding Chapel for my beloved husband and I this summer. From the Honeysuckle Trail I connect with the Peak Trail and as I near the bottom a flash of brown flies across the trail. It turns out the flash is a beautiful little Chipmunk, it has changed into to it’s Autumn coloring. Now I understand why they have been so difficult to see these past few weeks.
As I leave the park via the Tufa Terrace I am treated to a beautiful display of red Leaves. Nature has been a gracious host and friend on my hike today.