It is the end of summer and the Forest is a festival of color as the green begins to fade and Wildflowers are decorated with Butterflies. As we enter the park to hike the bushes and grass along the trail are covered in grey Moths? Butterflies? I am no expert. You could not move without them fluttering up against you, their delicate wings brush against my cheeks and hair. Lovely striped caterpillars are moving among the flurry of winged creatures in the tall grass. Following their flight path I look down and notice beautiful bell shaped blue flowers. Glowing in the early light are Heavenly Blue Morning Glory. These are the first I have seen in the park.
The hike up North Mountain in the rising sun and cool breeze is wonderful. The sky is a glorious blue and looking up into the canopy is the best art gallery in the world as the Trees dance in the wind. Halfway up the Mountain I see high above us the first autumn Leaves glowing red and yellow among the green. It is a beautiful discovery. The hike along the north side of the Upper Dogwood Trail is peaceful, powerful therapy for the mind, spirit and body. Hiking here is always a rejuvenating experience.
Atop the North Mountain Overlook we stand in awe at the end of the Zig Zags looking toward the Ouachita Mountains. My beloved husband lends himself to the landscape as a statue pointing northward. We head down the North Mountain Loop and discover the edges of the road are covered in Wildflowers and Butterflies. A Lovely golden greenish yellow Orange Sulphur (Butterfly) is camouflaged among the Yellow False Foxgloves. Balanced atop Woodland Sunflowers and Leaves are bronze, white and blue Common Checkered Skippers (Butterflies). Commanding attention among the Creeping Bushclover and other wildflowers is a large spectacular Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly.
Our hike back down the mountain is highlighted by numerous Hackberry Emperors fanning gracefully on the side of nearly every tree we pass. One moment they are visible wings fully spread, the next nearly invisible with wings closed. At the base of the Mountain in a dry creek bed is a stunning Tawny Emperor Butterfly, the first I have seen in the park. Another first, a vibrant gold Delaware Skipper (Butterfly) sits delicately poised on a Heavenly Blues Morning Glory. As we near the end of the trail I spot a colorful striped caterpillar as it dangles upside down snacking on the stamen of a tiny Asiatic Dayflower. Nature has treated us to a glorious display of her always changing beauty.
It is always a good day to go hiking!
Love to All,