I’ve spent quite a bit of time at Mohican State Park near my home in north central Ohio, making photographs, recording natural sound, taking it all in. Before moving out West and visiting parks with substantially more scenic grandeur, Mohican was, for me, the place to be one with nature. I took my parents there years ago and snapped a quick photograph of them with the park’s covered bridge behind them. I’ve stood on that same ground many times since, and now that they are both gone, standing there reminds me of that day.
To get to the covered bridge, which spans the Clearfork Mohican River, one has to snake down a series of switchbacks, dropping some 300 feet in elevation in the process. I am used to each twist and turn now. Even so, driving this in the winter can be a bit nerve rattling, as it is easy to get distracted by the scenery below. As you take that final turn into the gorge, the wooden covered bridge is there at the bottom to greet you.
I generally walk right past the bridge before sunrise, not giving it a thought, in order to hop onto trails that lead to the waterfalls. This was the case one time last fall, when I heard a new sound, like someone throwing rocks at the bridge. Acorns, not rocks, it turns out, falling from trees that hang over the end of the bridge. In a rush to capture the dawn chorus (which is not great in the fall anyway), I ignored this “distracting” sound, thinking I needed to record waterfalls, again. Only after walking 50 or so yards down trail did I realize the sound was fleeting, a once-a-year thing. I turned around, because, just as in photography, it is never a good idea to set out with a head full of preconceived ideas. The sound of acorns falling from their branches, hitting the bridge’s metal roof, then tumbling to the concrete pad and occasionally even further to the streambed below, made a fantastic sound. Had I kept walking with my mind focused on something I hadn’t even heard yet, I would have never captured it.
I drove once again to the bridge last week, this time on a photography hunt. Fall colors were not yet at their prime. Morning steam coming off the river saved me a little, but it was time for plan B. I took out a small recorder and captured the sound of my footsteps as I walked across the bridge, built from hardwood harvested in the forest (so says a plaque fixed to the bridge). What you hear in the mix below are those footsteps, followed by the sound of tumbling acorns.
Recording note: Footsteps are recorded with a Sony PCM D100 – its mics on wide mode – holding the recorder down toward my feet. You can hear the sound of the river rapids intensify as I approach the middle of the bridge. For the acorns, I used a pair of Audio Technica 3032 mics in a DIY baffled omni mount. As always, wearing a nice pair of headphones will help here.
See a park map here: http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/Portals/parks/PDFs/parks/Maps/Mohican/mohicantrailmap.pdf