I awoke up to falling temperatures 33 with wind chill of 22 fell to 29 with a wind chill of 19 by the time I headed out the door at 9:30 am. This is one of my favorites times of the year, being from Oregon the cold never stops me from hiking. See some my ice and snow blog entries from early 2010. The park wildlife senses there are less people and dogs in the park and they begin to reveal themselves more often as I move along the trails. I am finally able to see the lovely creatures whose songs I had heard all throughout the spring and summer. Hidden in the Forest now revealed sweet song birds and woodpeckers on bare branches. Sunny and cold I hike for the beauty, this morning I also hike to stay warm.
As I reach the top of the Tufa Terrace Trail ramp I am greeted by a Male Cardinal basking in the early morning sunlight. He peeks out from behind a small tree, a spectacular sight glowing as the sun rises behind him. Many of the male Cardinals in this area are vermilion rather than red and I wonder if this is the color of the juveniles or a genetic anomaly. Perhaps with maturity comes the deeper red we associate with male Cardinals in art and photographs. I have so much to learn.
On the Dead Chief trail I have discovered a lovely place where tiny birds regularly gather to search for food. Today I am blessed o final get a clear view of a yellow rumped warbler, it stays although i know it sees me. A White Throated Sparrow hops among the now bare vines to my right, ahead a green warbler pecks in the leaves along the trail. A familiar pipping sound leads my eyes to a Brown Creeper hopping up a Tree searching for breakfast.
On the Short Cut Trail an industrious male Downy Woodpecker is working a branch. Each peck of his beak creates a cloud of wood fibers flying int o the air. I Love the industrious nature of these tiny beauties.
When I reach the top of Hot Springs Mountain I spot a Tree in a glorious late autumn display. It is a rich display of red, coral and orange leaves dancing in the frigid Forest breezes. As I stand below this glorious Tree, it feels wonderful to be bathed in its radiant glow. I am rejuvenated by the healing spirit of Manataka.
Each moment in Nature is a precious gift.
PS To the young woman who called me a Bitch for commenting she did not have control of her dogs… If you are hiking up the mountain and your dogs are jumping on me plus following me down the mountain… you do not have control of your dogs. Just because you have them on a leash does not mean you are in control of their behavior. They are sweet but strong dogs that were all over the trail because you did not give them the most basic leash training. A child or elderly person could easily have been hurt by their boisterous uncontrolled activity.