For years the Southern Leopard Frog (Rana utricularia) was commonly seen along the banks of the Banister River in the White Oak Mountain Wildlife Management Area. The lower end of the Hiawatha Trail traces along the edge of the river, and the Leopard Frog swiftly vaulted into the river when approached by a nearby hiker. I recollect a sudden squeaking sound as the frog became airborne.
This experience was an unexpected pleasure, especially after my having been traveling along as a lone hiker. As with some hunters, there comes a time when one feels as though he is a member of the forest community; there is no longer any feeling of loneliness — it is one of those rare miracles brought about by the genuine love of nature.
Although this picture was displayed on Mr. Hathaway's Virtual Trail, I have upgraded its color and am proud to place it on PittPaths. This photo dates back to 1973.
On several recent hikes on the Hiawatha Trail, I discovered that my inspirational little amphibian seems to have fallen victim to a population catastrophe.
(Also see this photograph in larger format.)
Copyright © 2007 William T. Hathaway.