Some days are meant to be dark so we can see the beauty
often lost to our sight in the bright sunlight.~ Lee Hiller
Field Notes: January 24 2011
A light mist is falling as I arrive at the Ricks Pond dam in Hot Springs National Park. Before I can even grab my camera a Blue Heron flies up in the air and quickly vanishes on the opposite side of the pond. Note to self have gear ready for action before you arrive at the park, don’t exit the van before you are prepared for the first shot. I had imagined there would be more water spilling over the dam in the winter and that the pond would be higher up the banks. The next time we have heavy rain or snowfall I will return to see if the water level changes.
The last time I was here it was bright and sunny, I believe the pond looks its best wrapped in gray. Today the reflection in the pond is not obscured by the reflection of the sun. Winter beauty is reflected in rust, moss and gray. Elegant bare Trees rising high into the sky and dipping deep into the still water. A Rorschach test for the Heart and Soul.
I decide to hike along the Sunset Trail and see where it leads within the old Fordyce Estate. We pause here for a much needed update, I recently learned there are actually seven Mountains that make up Hot Springs National Park; Hot Springs, North, West, Music, Sugarloaf, Indian and Fordyce Mountains. None of the Trail maps mentioned Fordyce Mountain as being the location of the third leg of the Sunset Trail. I am happy to say today I climbed to the top of Fordyce Mountain. The trail is varied smooth, steep, flat, wide, rocky and narrow. The fallen Trees are covered in a glorious variety of colorful Turkey Tail Fungus and False Turkey Tail Fungus; winters wildflowers. Colors range from bright yellow to deep burgundy, these amazing variations are created by genetics of the organism and its environment.
When I reach the bottom of the trail near Ricks Pond I am blessed to see a sweet juvenile Nuthatch peeking and me from the side on a Short Leaf Pine. On a nearby Tree an adult Red-Breasted Nuthatch is searching for an afternoon meal. I take a last stroll over the stone bridge and I can hear an elusive water Bird. No matter how I try the Belted King Fisher will not let me get close enough to take a clear photograph. We did the same dance as last time, I moved it moved always keeping me just out of clear focusing range. If anyone has tips from sneaking up on a Belted Kingfisher and or Blue Heron in a very open setting I would love to hear from you.