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

Sunrise 139: Ault Park (Ice Storm, Deer Skull, Frozen Cherries)

An icy, foggy Ault Park lawn

Tree of Heaven silhouette… with ice

Ice branches in the forest

Winter’s Bone

The ’77 Fuji S-10S in an icy, foggy Ault Park

A misty view of Ault Park Pavilion.

Did you know that cherries shrivel up like a rose when they’re engulfed in a globe of ice? Me neither. Or perhaps they were already shriveled before being frozen. Either way, it adds a bit of color to this otherwise grey-scale set.

This post is coming a day late! The weather has been downright crazy in the past few days and so it’s funny to see that by the time this is posted, all the ice is gone and it almost feels like t-shirt weather!

Late Friday night an ice storm rolled into the tri-state. Saturday was marked with careful maneuvering over exposed sidewalks. It rained heavily in the early morning, and then the temperature dropped out and froze everything. The trees glistened all around, covered in a half inch of clear ice. Sometime late Saturday afternoon I realized that I really wanted to get a picture of my “Tree of Heaven” silhouette while it was still covered with ice. I headed up to the park early Sunday morning for “sunrise” and found that the park was an icy wonderland. This is particularly interesting because all the ice was melted away by Sunday afternoon and today’s high was 63F. 63F! In January! We had an ice storm followed by t-shirt weather within 36 hours. Insanity!

I saw this on /r/columbus today and thought it was appropriate. A hat tip to the show Whose Line Is It Anyway?

The park this morning was particularly solemn. On one hand, it was a Sunday. This meant that the commute up to the park was quiet with little car traffic. However, normally a Sunday means that there is more people in the park on their day off. This morning, while there were certainly some dog walkers hanging by the sidewalks, I found no patrons who ventured much beyond the ice-covered streets.

There was a lot of moisture in the air which made a light layer of fog that hung in the backdrop, blocking the view of the valley through the forest. It also had that quality that I love about fog – the muffled air effect. Far off sounds, like an airplane landing at Lunken Airfield, become drowned out as the fidelity is lost. Other sounds in the foreground, such as bird calls and branches straining under the cold, bring themselves more to the front of attention.

I found that the streets were mostly clear of ice, so I had no problem climbing the hill to the park. Upon entering the park, however, I was greeted with a Road Closed sign. Having wiped out several times over the past year on my bike, but curiously enough none in the past 10 months (I am a slow learner, but when I finally learn I’m not quick to forget!), becoming intimate with the asphalt was not something I was hoping to accomplish this morning. Apparently the city trucks do not service the roads through Ault Park (or at least not as a high priority) because beyond the park entrance the road was covered with a thick layer of ice. I had to walk my bike to the overlook, a task which made me appreciate the mobility that a bike offers oneself.

I quickly found that walking through the grass was much more safe than trying to walk over the sidewalk. I did slip a couple of times, and I was being careful! It was quite hazardous, but also quite beautiful. One thing that struck out to me was the distant calling of a murder of crows. It occurred to me that I only notice them in the fog. Or is it that they’re only noisy in the fog? I made up an armchair theory that they use their loud “cawing” to communicate the flock’s location in the low visibility of the forest fog. Last time I saw over 100 crows, so it takes some serious logistics to organize a murder of that size 🙂

There was no sunrise this morning due to the valley fog. My little “Tree of Heaven” silhouette worked out nicely against the gray backdrop.

Please click to continue if you’re on the front page! 40+ icy pictures from this morning’s “sunrise”.

Early “Twilight” in Mt. Lookout. Ice… lots, and lots of ice.

Heading up to the park I took note of how quiet it was. Quiet, cold, and slick.

Upon entering the park, I find a “ROAD CLOSED” sign welcoming my arrival. I hopped off the bike, thankfully, and walked the rest of the way through the crunch grass.

Look at that ice!

Entering the park with ice and fog. I had this strange white balance setting, so I adjusted it on my computer. Turned out a bit more dramatic than I expected…

Ault Park with ice and fog, heading to the overlook (carefully… carefully)

This young maple tree appears to have been upright when the ice froze (hence the horizontal ice-cycles). Now it’s stretching out, getting ready for the coming winter. I wonder how quickly it will recover?

Here we are, looking out into the fog. Heekin Overlook is to the right.

Heekin Overlook, dark and icy.

Sunrise 139! Haha.

The Murdock Fountain with a gray backdrop…

I tried to recreate this angle from Sunrise 135, but I couldn’t figure it out. Oh well!

An icy background on the geology of the Little Miami River. While reading this, all I could think of after discovering the amazing human history of this area, was “And also there were millenia of human civilizations, rising and falling, and the evidence is all around us!”

I also thought “And the vineyards! They were here! And the Woodland People, and the Hopewell People, and the Ft. Ancient People…”.

But really? Why only a geologist’s perspective on the history of this area? It seems a bit lacking. Considering that the little miami river valley has been a hotbed of human activity for over 6,000 years, I’d like to see at least one sentence alluding to the complex history of this region. I’m also surprised there is no mention of the vineyard that sat on this very hill 111 years ago.

A non-whitebalanced “Tree of Heaven” silhouette. This was the reason I came to the park this morning, and I’m glad that it worked out.

The kudzu runners, curled up and braced for winter with their tough bark.

A gnarled and tangly mess of kudzu and bush, fading out into the fog at the lower overlook.

Another shot of the “Tree of Heaven”, this time with vertical action.

Tree of Heaven (vertical)… this time with white balance.

Another shot looking out towards the valley from the overlook.

I decided to head down the trail for a bit to see what the forest was up to. With thoughts of the ancient peoples of this area on my mind, I wondered if any non-natural geological formations would pop out at me? Probably not, but it kept my mind busy while I poked around through the thickets and clearings of the baron forest.

A small creek starts right by the overlook and runs down the hill into the valley. Here we can that it has frozen over in a thin layer of ice.

Reminds me of a topology map.

A hole in the ice reveals some warm mud under the surface.

The ice had all kinds of strange formations…

OK so here I am, poking around through the forest. I’m thinking about the people who lived here 500, 1000, 5000 years ago. It’s recently rained, which means lots of soil displacement. Then, suddenly, I come across an upturned skull. I’m guessing it was recently upturned with the rain, but who knows?

Those strange protrusions from the base of the skull really make my teeth hurt. Judging by the brown line across the teeth, which I’m assuming were the gum line, those strange jagged pieces of tooth must have been under the surface.

Say Cheese!

I had to make sure that this was in fact a wild animal. I flipped it over and was reassured to discover it’s likely the skull of a deer. Moving on.

You’ve probably figured it out by now, but one of my favorite things to do on a quiet morning with nothing to do is just explore the hillside. There are all kinds of neat things to find. The terrain is such that there are many series of ridge lines and hidden coves, which makes the small hillside feel like it has lots of unexplored places. In reality I have come across many signs of human activity, including a secret party room that I have alluded to once or twice in this blog. It was littered with decades-old pulltab beer cans, old thick glass beer bottles, and other remnants of human party animals. I recently tried to find that party room again, but I lost my way after failing to find one of the “beer bottle” clues that hang from the bare forest branches. Maybe some day I’ll find it again. It was in a cozy thicket, in a small clearing under an old tree with a fallen branch that acted as a comfortable bench.

Here we get an idea of the ice layer that covered the local forest.
By this point my feet were starting to freeze so I climbed back up the trail to the overlook.

I found that the underside of the park grill was home to a legion of small ice cycles.

Ice cycles under the grill surface.

Fog and Ice. These tall oaks provide a canopy for this little hillside picnic area. I’m thankful for the thoughtful arborators who planted these trees ~90 years ago. At that link you can find the rings for an old oak tree that recently gave up the ghost. Maybe you can count it better than I can?

Foggy Forest! I’m surprised the bike didn’t slip down the hill.

Some tall “What-like” grass in the park, covered in ice.

Ault Park’s Lawn

Ault Park Pavilion; Zoomed.

Ault Park Pavilion; Full View. I like this version, but the white-balanced one (at the top of the page) is just so much more clear I’m going to have to say that I favor that one more, I think. It’s one of those things where you don’t notice the difference until they’re side by side, and then the difference is drastic.

An ice-covered cherry.

Look at those ruffles! Reminds you of a rose, no?

3 responses

  1. Pingback: Sunrise 140: Ault Park (Humid, Clear, & Subtle Winter Sunrise) « Ault Park Sunrise

  2. Pingback: Sunrise 141: Ault Park (January Crocus, Guest Sunrise #5) « Ault Park Sunrise

  3. Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all folks you
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