Sunrise 6: Ault Park (Mushrooms, Tulips, Coyotes?)
I almost couldn’t wait for my alarm to go off this morning. After the past two gloomy mornings I was ready for a clear, crisp, beautiful sunrise. We checked the forecast last night and realized that there was supposed to be nothing but clear skies this AM. When the alarm went off at 6:20am, the skies were already starting to lighten up. The birds were in full-on chirping mode, and I was starting to get that familiar nervousness that maybe today the sun would break the laws of physics and come up a half hour early. I was also excited because Amanda said she wanted to come up to the overlook this morning! Before we left the apartment she even commented on how bright the sky was, it seemed like the sun was already coming up a full 20 minutes early. In hindsight, I ended up taking a lot of pictures – way more than I probably should have. I imagine I had some pent up energy after sitting through two rain storms 🙂
I arrived a bit early and caught the ambient atmosphere before the sun crested the hills. I rode my bike and actually beat Amanda, who came by car. It was a chilly morning for sure, we brought hooded sweatshirts and our breathing left thick clouds of moisture hanging in the air. The air was crisp and clear, and down below in the valley you could see a thick patch of fog to the east.
(More after the jump)
About 60 seconds before the sun crested up over the hill, I noticed that there appeared a line of bright hot pink clouds just above the horizon, barely visible. I’m not sure I could even get a clear picture of them, but they added contrast to the otherwise clear sky.
(Official Sunrise Picture of Day 06)
The sunrise put on a good show, that’s for sure. The air warmed up surprisingly quick. After a few minutes Amanda headed back home to get ready for work.
The young japanese maple saplings made for some nice pictures against the morning backdrop.
Heekin Overlook is soaking it up!
The redbuds didn’t mind the rain storms at all.
I love taking pictures of the airplanes as they come into Lunken Airfield.
The sun was reflecting off the little miami river quite nicely.
I was so inspired by this beautiful sunrise that it just didn’t feel right, sitting down on the bench and drinking my coffee. I remembered that at the base of the overlook there is a small trail that loops around through the forest and back up to the pavilion. I imagined that there could be some spots along the mountain side that would provide a great view of the sunrise for future mornings. Last week I peeked in about 50 yards to see where it led, so I also wanted to see how the forest growth was coming along.
The first thing I noticed, or heard I should say, was the quiet babbling of water. This small creek was working along, draining the mountain after the past few rainy days.
After continuing along the trail, which was incredibly muddy, I came across sets of tracks. Normally I would expect to see deer tracks, squirrel tracks, and human tracks. But these were canine tracks… and they were large. I saw them several times on the trail before they eventually disappeared into the forest. The tracks were headed both directions, and were never in the vicinity of human shoe prints. They were fresh, too, probably from sometime in the past 24 hours considering how the rain from yesterday would likely wash away any traces. I’m hoping it is a neighborhood dog, but I have heard coyotes down at Armleder park at dusk when we tried to see a meteor shower last fall (which is a terrible idea by the way… trying to see the stars in a foggy river valley!). I continued on, kind of hesitant but assuming that whatever made these beastly footprints is long gone (or at least watching me from a respectful distance…).
The next thing that caught my eye was a young Buckeye tree (Go Bucks!). At least thats what I think it was. I got this beautiful symmetric shot looking down at the plant.
About 30 feet later I found the mamma tree, and snapped her profile against the sunrise. I found a buckeye on the ground, giving me enough confidence that my original guess about the tree species was correct. The buckeye tree is unique in that it is one of the only trees with the umbrella-style leaf pattern. That pattern is typically seen in bushes and ferns, but not in full grown trees.
This stone wall lies along almost the entire trail. There are trees that seem to be about 50-100 year old growing up against it, implying that the wall is at least as old as the park. Was it built for this trail? Was there a road along here at some point? I have no idea, as usual.
There are several patches of dark green leafage. These fast growing plants take advantage of the lower lighting in the early spring to get a head start on the forest growth. You can tell they are adapted to the shade because of their dark green color, the darker green typically means our eyes see less green light bounced off the leaves, indicating that the plant absorbs more light than a bright vibrant green leaf. Again we see some beautiful flowers. I wonder what the seeds and/or fruit look like?
While carefully watching my footsteps, I came across a patch of moss. Ever since I tried transplanting a patch of moss from my parent’s roof into Mike’s turtle tank, I’ve always held a reverence for how pretty the small leaves are. The small star foliage is almost too small to notice, but up close it looks awesome. But I guess you can say that about most plants…
Continuing on I come across a trickling old water pipe that pours down into an old stone structure. There are a surprising amount of still functional water support structures scattered through the forests around Cincinnati. Most of the large hills used have large water towers that would provide gravity fed water pressure to the lower regions. This particular piece is probably part of the old vineyard or farmland that existed on this hill around 1900 and earlier.
Along the side of the trail there was a family of mushrooms. The hat of the mushrooms were showing signs of battle wounds from the recent storms, but there were many bulbs starting to emerge from the ground.
One thing I noticed is that it appears that small root-like things are emerging from the base of where the flower buds connect to the woody tissue. I see those on my tomato plant too when the stalk is too close to the ground. Plants are awesome.
The pavilion was looking great in the morning light. I couldn’t resist taking this picture.
Here’s some more “unknown ruins”. Perhaps part of the estate prior to the establishment of the park? There are actually several structures like this scattered throughout the Cincinnati Parks – old stone arches that have been blocked with a stone wall. A storage room? Perhaps an old vine cellar like the one in Alms Park? Now that I think about it, this lies pretty close to directly on top of the hill where that water structure is. Maybe they’re connected.
Another shot of Armleder Park. Man they just can’t get a break! It looks like the river actually did tip over the banks this time. I think it would be kind of fun to camp out at the shelter the night before a big storm. It seems to be on high ground, and it’d be a trip watching the water slowly advance up towards you.
On the way out I took advantage of the lighting and tried to find some new flowers. There were several new daffodils, as well as this small purple flower that I hadn’t noticed before. But one thing that stuck out to me was that there were no Tulips. Strange, considering I know there are some among the neighboring homes that I pass on the way to the park.
Most of the tulips I found were still closed up, so these were unique in that they had turned towards the morning sun and opened up almost all the way. Nothing compares to a new tulip, they almost look fake they are so perfect.
I also made a canine friend who wasn’t too comfortable with me hanging around the tulips. I’m not sure what kind of tree this is, but I see them scattered throughout Cincinnati. Very waxy leaves and they keep their leaves year round.
Stats from this morning:
Sunrise: 7:04am EST
Temperature: 38F / 3C, mild breeze
Sky: Clear and vibrant. No clouds in the eastern sky.
Sunrise: Powerful and bright.
Bird Chatter: They were loud and happy
People: A beautiful young woman joined me at the overlook. My first shared sunrise 🙂