It was a pleasant afternoon for a photo-hike at the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm of Summit Metro Parks in Akron, Ohio. We chose to take a 1.6-mile earthen trail that traverses woodlands and gullies. I shot a good many photos but not many good photos this time — I really must take a tripod when I do these things! If, however, the journey is the destination, we accomplished what we really came for — a time in nature, paying attention to the world around us. It was time well spent.
On a whim we decided to explore the Royalview Trail section of the Cleveland Metroparks’ Mill Stream Run Reservation. Upon arrival we discovered that the park is a haven for local mountain bikers! Single-track, packed-earth trail ranges in difficulty from moderate to advanced and travels through the reservation’s beautiful hilly woodlands. Small streams are crossed, ravines traced and traveled, and narrow wooden boardwalks bridge the park’s softest and most sensitive soil.
Cyclists, trail runners, and walkers were friendly and even helpful. Why not? Surrounded by beautiful natural settings on a warm and beautiful day –one of the summer’s finest– it was hard not to relax and be happy. Cyclists enjoyed the physical and mental challenge of the trails but there was plenty for slower-paced visitors to discover, things missed at a faster pace. At one point I left the trail to photograph the beautiful light reflecting red on a fallen tree’s now-bare trunk. On my way to the tree I looked down at another fallen log and discovered a tiny creature, about an inch in length, standing ever-so-still on the moist surface. It was an Eastern Red-spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) in its Red Eft phase! I’d never seen one in nature and shot a good many photos of it. Owing to the deep woods and shade, photography was difficult and only one image turned out at all well.
Later in our walk, She Who Must Be Obeyed said, “Look at that!” On the ground, just off the trail, lay three “brains,” or what looked like brains, in the leaf litter. I’ve seen many woodland fungi in the region but never one like that. Looking closely at the growth to photograph it, I noticed it was very popular with the local slug population! I don’t know what they found so appealing but the slugs seemed to like the “brains” very much. We identified this one as Sparassis crispa — the Eastern Cauliflower Mushroom.
It was a splendid and enjoyable time and I’m sure we’ll visit again, perhaps this fall when the colors are likely to be amazing. Perhaps sooner!
We expected a hot, muggy, stormy day. What we got was warm and humid day that was quite tolerable, even pleasant, with no storms at all! So we passed the morning quietly at home and, after lunch, headed out to Great Northern shopping center for a quick walk-around and a visit to the nearby Half-Price Books. At the book store we both found treasures we could not (or would not) pass by: she in cookery, I in astronomy of course. We both regretted not being a bit more active out-of-doors but did enjoy a quiet, lazy day and a little exploration along the way. Even at that, we spotted some beauty both indoors and out!