Spring blossoms paint the Arlington Lawn at the base of Hot Springs Mountain. Glorious Purple blossoms cascade from a large Foxglove Tree next to the white petals of Dogwood Blossoms. Bright and pale pink Azaleas are covered in the life giving rain drops from a brief shower. Spiderwort caught in the the rain glisten in purple and fuchsia as the first morning light pierces the surrounding Trees.
As I reach the top of the Tufa Terrace Trail ramp a sweet Squirrel has stopped on a branch to watch a group of people up ahead. When they move the Squirrel and I proceed,we each peek over the Tufa Rock to see if the path is clear. We sneak a quick glance at one and other before heading our separate ways.
At the Peak Trail a lesson in territory is taking place. A pair of Squirrels are enjoying breakfast on opposite sides of the trail. The small one crosses to dig for food, then is promptly chased to the other side and up a Tree. The winner puts on an elaborate victory display at the base of the Tree before crossing back to her territory.
On the Dead Chief Trail the Dogwood Blossoms are beginning fade, they fall in the breeze blanketing the path in white petals. Yellow Oxalis glow within the new spring greenery. Bird song fills the air and I see several White Throated Sparrows pecking the and turning leaves on the trail edges. Suddenly tails fan and wings arch as two sparrows scuffle over pecking rights. To my side a brown Moth sits calmly with wings spread over dried autumn Leaves warming itself in the sunlight.
Glowing at the Hot Springs Mountain Trail head atop the Mountain is a Blackberry Blossom. Soon it will turn to sweet food for both wildlife and hikers. Heading toward the Honeysuckle Trail Bird Foot Violets and pink Oxalis cradle the edges of the path. When I reach my Wedding Chapel (the NPS rest hut in which my Husband Rick and I spoke our vows last June) I see lovely white Oxalis. Today I have been blessed to white and yellow Oxalis in the park, a first for me. I realize it has been many months since I have traveled on this section of the trail, the sight of a lovely squirrel make me smile. It is good to visit forgotten places.
On the Peak Trail a splash of yellow and pink decorates the greenery as I near the Carriage Road. Oxalis and Everlasting Peas are intertwined in flowing artistry of curves and color. Reconnecting with the Tufa Terrace Trail I am immersed in a field of wildflowers, for a moment times stops as my eyes scan the beauty. When I reach the promenade I follow a flash of Orange gliding on the spring breeze traveling through the park. Dancing along the tops of Purple Deadnettle is a delicate Monarch Butterfly. It perches gracefully on the tiny fluted blossoms.
When I reach a bush favored by the Hot Springs Mountain Mockingbirds I am treated to an unusual sight. A pair of Mockingbirds are sitting on top singing to one and other. Not unlike Painter they allow me to walk up and take their photograph. As a couple with a dog approaches the bird with the hook beak flies up into a tall Tree followed by the smaller Northern Mockingbird. I am drawn to these lovely social songbirds, I am both surprised and exhilarated by their trust in letting me come so close on multiple occasions.
As I head toward home along the Promenade I hear a familiar song. While seeking the source I find a colorful display of Spiderwort covering the bank below. Multiple patches in various shades on pink and purple in a glorious display. As if to remind me how I found this beautiful place the vibrant birdsong resumes. I look up and on the branch before me is a juvenile Male Cardinal watching me photograph the wildflowers. He does not fly away as I raise my lens, instead he allows me to takes his photograph. As I speak my message of thanks for drawing me to this beautiful place he cocks his head and stares into my lens. After I lower my camera several seconds pass as he takes one more look at me before flying off to a distant Tree. It has been joyous day traveling through the springs Forest, I feel blessed by the sights and sounds Nature has revealed.
In the afternoon I was blessed to have a second hike with my beloved husband Rick. As we head up the Floral Trail Rick spots a Nest in a Tree above us, a sweet Tufted Titmouse is flying back and forth adding twigs to the edges. We stop for a few minutes to savor this special sight. Along the Hot Springs Mountain Trail Rick notices different type of Nest, this one is made with silky threads. On closer inspection we see lovely orange hairy Caterpillars are moving inside and out to create this amazing structure. We wonder what type of Moths or Butterflies will be hatched and fly through our Forest.
Further along the trail a lovely Dragonfly lands gracefully on the tip of a branch as we head toward the Hot Springs Mountain Road. On the way down the Mountain a pretty Black and White Warbler dances on the branch of a Tree while singing to the fading light. It’s sweet song follows us on a cooling spring breeze. A final farewell is given by a Robin feeding on the Fountain Trail lawn. It has been a glorious afternoon hiking along the trails of North Mountain with my Husband.
Much Love to ALL!