February 04 2011: Something in my Heart always begins dancing when I look out the window and see snow. Beautiful swirling filling the sky with wintry fairies floating in all directions, Mother Nature’s confetti. An inch and a half of snow is on the ground as I head into the park, a glorious blanket casting a glow throughout the park. Half way up the Dead Chief Trail a loud growling meow rings out, and I scan the area around me for the source. On the other side of the fence is the feral cat I saw in the park yesterday is now huddled under a bush near one of the older out buildings on the hospital grounds. I wonder how many cats are living there and is someone is feeding them? They all seem to tentatively seek out human company. If they were totally feral I don’t imagine they would converse with me and instead would run away.
The snow is steadily increasing as I make my way to the top of Hot springs Mountain. I have not seen any birds since I began my hike, not the best weather to be flying or foraging. Another half an inch is on the ground as I reach the picnic area on top of Hot Springs Mountain. Mine are the first foot prints along the trails, I am surprised there are no other hikers enjoying the beauty in the park. The Pagoda is the perfect spot to clear the snow from my jacket, camera bag and the brim of my hat. Snow fall is increasing and the view of the valley is obscured by the heavy snow fall and darkening sky.
The snow continues falling along the east side of the Hots Springs Mountain Trail and I stop several times to revel in the silence. As I stand scanning the trail the soft layers of falling snowflakes are changing the texture of the landscape. Once brown exposed roots of a fallen Tree now looks like a giant hand reaching up through the earth. Nearing the trail head I am thankful to see the rest hut my batteries are running low and this is a perfect place to safely change them out.
Back on the trail I notice the snow is changing to ice pellets so I pick up my hiking pace to get down the mountain. Not wanting to be caught out in the same frozen mess as last year, I decide to finish my hike on the Hot Springs Mountain Road. The Road is closed and I am able to make good time even though the ice pellets are making the snowy surface a bit slick.
When I reach the entrance I can see Cardinals taking advantage of the warmth of the hot water cascade. Amidst the snow and ice a flow of steam rises creating an outdoor spa for the birds and small mammals in the park. Today beautiful Cardinals are utilizing the mineral water of Hot Springs National Park. It looks wonderful and I am tempted to jump in the hot pools at the base of the cascade. Alas I head home to a warm cup of tea instead.
Love You ALL,