My attempt to document 40 sunrises in Eastern Cincinnati. Spring 2011.

Sunrise 157: Alms Park (Misty Hills, Tall Oaks, Spring Blooms)

A unique lighting situation @ Sunrise 157

A hard climb to Alms Park but the view makes it worth it!

Are these magnolias? (Nope. Dogwood!) They’re so small and the other magnolias have lost their blooms so I’m not sure…

Rain-battered yellow blooms race to fill up as much forest floor as possible before their taller brethren block out all the light.

I woke up Sunday morning with a penchant for a sunrise. After last week’s surprisingly beautiful spring sunrise (and subsequently & understandingly the most popular post yet so far of the project), I spent the rest of the week working early and ignoring the rainy & stormy mornings. After all, I didn’t feel it was appropriate to push such a beautiful set of pictures further down the front page unnecessarily! :).

This morning’s sunrise was certainly a unique one. I experienced a strong dose of nostalgia because I haven’t visited Alms Park for over three months! The last post featuring Alms Park was Sunrise 127, featuring the *incredibly lucky* cubic frost crystals. It is probably the most viewed picture I’ve taken for this project due to it’s popularity on the social news site reddit.com where it hit front page and was likely viewed by a couple hundred thousand people, if not more. I’m not sure of the numbers because wordpress doesn’t track individual pictures. Here’s the picture from that fateful day when the day break light was perfect and my camera just so happened to focus on the exact right spot:
(Cubic Ice Crystals on Clover; Sunrise 127)

So it came as no surprise that as I snaked my way down through Mt. Lookout and into the thickly forested residential neighborhood between Delta & Linwood Ave, it felt as if I was meeting an old friend. The route to Alms Park from Mt. Lookout is quiet and full of life (both of the human kind and the natural type). The old residential through-ways were originally designed for high volume so they are wide and smooth. When the Grandin Viaduct was torn down sometime in the past half-century, traffic volume dropped off and now the neighborhood roads are serenely peaceful in the morning before sunrise. The area features one of the oldest planned suburban neighborhoods (dating back to the 1920s or so) and the designers were tactfully mindful of the local forest. At times, the ride to the par almost feels as if you’re traveling through a small tucked away neighborhood in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

The route to Alms Park is also one that displays the challenge of Cincinnati’s terrain quite nicely. The entire route is a slow climb up to the the peak of the mountain from the basin of the valley that Mt. Lookout sits in. Just before the entrance to the park, at which point you’ve already climbed to the peak elevation, the road takes a steep dive down through a patch of old forest where the air is always noticeably humid and cold. At the base of this drop is the entrance to Alms Park, where one must climb another 200ft up a steep hill to the overlook.

I always feel an incredible rush of clarity when I finally reach that peak. It’s a route that’s short but also hard to rush. By the time you reach the top you’re surrounded by the ethos of Alms Park: The Forest. I’ve mentioned it in posts past, but Alms Park and Ault Park have such good balance when viewed side by side. Ault Park is organized, designed, open, symmetric, accessible, full of lawn & gardens, and the epitome of a well planned city park. Alms Park is tucked away, organic & asymmetric, cut out of the forest, filled with huge oak & pine trees with only a small garden by the pavilion. Ault Park has a sunrise shelter, Alms Park has a sunset shelter. The forest is around you in Alms Park, unlike Ault Park where the forest is held back to the boundaries of the park so that the beautiful gardens can take center stage. In Alms Park the forest is around you & above you. In short, Alms Park is the yin to Ault Park’s yang.

When I started off for Alms Park, there were clear skies above me. It seemed, however, that change was in the air.
Looking west up Erie Ave, heading to Alms Park in Mt. Lookout

I made a detour in the neighborhood behind Alms Park. One of the “No Outlets” has a nice cliff view of the eastern sky. At this point the sky is still relatively clear but that will soon change as the sunrise heats up the valley. The mist rises up into Alms Park, flooding the hillside with fresh moisture. I’m still convinced that the fog provides a micro climate on this hillside that isn’t well understood. It’s just… so lush.

Looking down Grandin Ave. Half a century ago there was a bridge at the end of this street. It was torn down at some point, turning this wide residential thruway into a quiet neighborhood street. There’s not a lot of historical documentation on the so-called “Grandin Viaduct”.

I always forget about this beautiful oak tree in the front lawn of St. Ursula Villa school. I wish I had spent a bit more time here over the winter, but I’m glad that I got this picture of the tree as it just begins to plup out in its spring coat.
Here’s one from the late autumn when the yard was frozen over and the dew had turned to crystals:
From Sunrise 122 (A great post, check it out)

Another pic from Sunrise 122:
 Frost & Oak

Apparently I’m really drawn to this tree in the fog… here’s another one:
The same oak but from a different angle… from Sunrise 108 (another foggy alms park ride from the autumn)

A twilight gradient behind the century oak.

If you’re on the front page, please click to continue.

Continuing on to Alms Park…

As I arrive at the park and pull up to the Lunken Airfield overlook, I see that there is a low lying cloud bank that is being pushed in by the impending sunrise. Goodbye clear skies!

A gloomy & misty Lunken Airfield… we can see Reeve’s golf course to the left.

A brief but unique Sunrise 157

Interestingly enough, the sun made an appearance as it broke through the lower clouds. It hung around for about 3 minutes before plunging up into the cloud bank. This created a unique illumination of valley, especially when the sun rose up behind the upper clouds.

Sunrise over Reeve’s golf course

When the sun finally rose into the clouds, the valley stayed illuminated. It was quite a sight to see for about a minute or so.

An illuminated Lunken Airfield as the sun fades away and the misty fog starts to blow in from the valley

Behind me, the crab apples (?) are in full bloom.

Alms Park through the blossoms.

I tried to adjust the white balance and somehow the camera’s settings got *very* confused. I took this picture because… why not? I have no idea how to reproduce it, heh.

A final blurry shot of the pink blooms.

Looking out across the valley from Alms Park. It’s quite a climb up to Alms, making it great for an occasional sunrise. I couldn’t do it every day.

On the way out of the park, I noticed this young tree flush in a pink bloom. It looks like a magnolia but I’m not sure?

I really love the small blooms. If I were to ever get into bonsai, this would be the tree I’d like to tend. Are the small blooms due to the tree’s youth or the species?

Dogwood Blooms against the white foggy sky

Looking down from the top of Alms Park into the lower “auxiliary” section.

The oaks & pine rise up into the mist as the fog begins to thicken. This right here is why Alms Park rocks.

I felt something crawl up my leg as I was preparing the previous shot. I figured it would be an ant but I was surprised to find this little critter. He’s not a spider, mind you, but a small version of the “Grand Daddy Longlegs”, or Opiliones. These guys love eating small insects and rotting matter. They’re less of a hunter, more of a scavenger.

Some of the magnificent oaks in Alms Park

I ran this picture through my white balance & color enhancement filter (about as crazy as I care to venture) and I was very surprised to see the red crab apples popping against the gray sky. A bit unrealistic, but I like the effect and how it turned out.

This is one of the largest oaks in the park. Here’s a shot from last fall with my Fuji:

(Previous picture is from Sunrise 108)

Heading out of the park I stop to investigate the recent landscaping around the old Alms Park Vineyard wine cellar. The keystone proudly proclaims the construction date of 1869. Why there is no plaque or historical marker I will never know. Maybe I’ll try to make that happen one day…

Outside the entrance to the park the forest is starting to come to life in preparation for spring.

These young blooms on the forest floor are recovering from the recent barrage of rain.

The early birds bloom along the forest floor. Note the dark green leaves, an adaptation for low lighting conditions.

It’s too bad I wasn’t here a few days ago before the rain started. The young yellow blooms are trying to recover.

Thanks for reading!

10 responses

  1. Tara

    This is a great time of year to explore the woods isn’t it? The tree that looks like Magnolia is Dogwood. Beautiful trees. Wish we could put one in our yard but we have too much sun. :\ Love the frost & oak picture!

    March 26, 2012 at 11:18 am

    • Dogwood! That makes perfect sense. Magnolia just didn’t seem right. Thanks for the clarification Tara!

      Blaine

      March 26, 2012 at 11:21 am

  2. Max Reynolds

    Great post and photos. The fog and clouds with the sun are my favorite. Although I am a sucker for fog in the trees too. Thanks for sharing them.

    March 26, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    • not a problem at all. i think i’m beginning to understand just how foggy eastern cincinnati really is, but the fog is often gone by sunrise.

      March 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm

  3. Mel

    There’s a story about the bad karma surrounding Grandin Bridge in Walking the Steps of Cincinnati by Mary Anna DuSablon. A woman was murdered near there and police surmised the intruder escaped via the bridge. Later, someone tossed a cement bench off of it onto Delta below (luckily no one was hurt). Apparently that was the final straw. Down came the bridge, taking a nice alternate route for our neighborhood.

    April 1, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    • Thanks Mel. That’s a great piece of lore. I would loved to have seen this bridge. Blaine

      April 5, 2012 at 8:27 am

  4. Cincinnatus

    This old image of the Grandin Viaduct has been floating around:
    http://www.cincinnativiews.net/images/Delta%20Avenue%20Viaduct.jpg

    April 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    • Thank you Cincinnatus. That’s an awesome picture. I am always looking out for those classic postcards. I found two recently up in Waynesville, and left a third behind for someone else to find.

      The trees all look so little. Half a century later they’re getting pretty huge.

      Blaine

      April 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm

  5. Pingback: Sunrise 159: Ault Park (1-year Anniversary; Sidewalk Chalk Sunrise?) « Ault Park Sunrise

  6. Joe Edmonson

    I grew up in the East End – Mt Lookout area. Me and friends often played on the underside of the Grandin Rd. Viaduct. It was the way to Withrow Highschool and Hyde Park and much more as well. You can find out more by going to the FB site Cincinnati’s East End – Tusculum – Linwood page. There are pictures and history of the Grandin Rd. Viaduct and other area points of interest. You have done a wonderful display! Great photography!

    Joe Edmonson

    February 28, 2013 at 10:04 pm

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