ASHLAND — It was an early morning late last summer when a group of co-workers from Ashland Bike Company set out for a mountain bike ride in Mohican State Park.
Between 8 or 9 a.m., the group of three riders — Tony Bunt, Quinn Watson and Ashley Hendershot — came around a bend in the trail. The towering trees stood silhouetted by the sun. The morning dew rose like blue mist in the background.
“It was one of those opportunities where everything was perfect,” said Bunt, the shop’s owner. In front of him was Hendershot. Watson rode behind him.
“I recognized right away it was an awesome picture. So I yelled out to her, ‘Stop! I have to take a picture.’
“The first one she just kinda stood there. So I just told her, ‘Do something with your arms,’” Bunt said, chuckling.
To Bunt, it wasn’t just a good photo.
“It captured the essence of mountain biking,” he said. “Just to be outside, see cool, amazing sights — it was just the perfect moment.”
For a while, the photo only lived on Bunt’s phone. Unbeknownst to him, Hendershot submitted it to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ 2022 Ohio State Parks Photo Contest. She called it “Mohican Sunshine.”
On June 7, the results were officially announced: Bunt’s photo won.
The photo contest offered five categories for images taken in an Ohio state park after Jan. 1, 2021: Wildlife in action, recreation in the parks, wondrous water, novice naturalist and explore trails.
All winning entries, except the People’s Choice award, were chosen over three rounds of judging by a panel of ODNR employees.
“We love to see the parks from visitors’ perspectives,” said Chief Glen Cobb of ODNR’s Division of Parks and Watercraft. “These photographs celebrate Ohio’s outdoors and the memories created when family and friends gather in our state parks.”
Hendershot said the photo captures Mohican’s “hidden beauty.”
“This scenery can only be seen if you follow the mountain bike trail and get out and ride,” she said.
The grand prize was a collapsible Oru kayak and a $120 gift card to Ohio State Parks. Bunt said he hopes to use the kayak and the money on a staff trip sometime this summer.
“We love going out on rides together and one of the great things about working here is we’re all close and get along,” Bunt said. “Having them here and working for me is pretty special. So the fact we could all get out and have fun is really special.”
He said he hopes to frame the winning photo in the shop.
Second place went to Michael Cordell of Johnstown, for his photo titled “Kayaking.” It depicts a kayaker in the bay at East Harbor State Park and is taken at the level of the water to include the lily-pads.
Kimberly Jackson of Athens, took third place with her image “Home Away from Home,” which shows a camping set-up on a sunny day at Strouds Run State Park.
To see the other winning photos of ODNR’s contest, click here.
The Life section is supported by Brethren Care Village in Ashland.