Photography and text by Bill Edwards
My more distant photo trips into the expansive mountains of Washington’s Cascades provide ample opportunity to capture rugged alpine landscapes with dramatic views, while the local woodland trails are all about the little views. I affectionately call them “Intimate Landscapes.”
Between the rains, I hike the lonely paths through a sanctuary of glistening wet woods. I experience a “Shinrin-yoku” and right brain drifting, my journey into the mystic, a restorative spiritual experience. I observe the changing textures of the season and wistfully recall the striking colors of fallen leaves on a magic November day not long ago. My mind is calm, like still water, and inspired to compose a forest haiku. In these moments, I notice the sheer beauty of the arcing sword ferns, ubiquitous mosses, and the delicate peeling bark of the Pacific Madrone. I often hear the gurgling waters of a trailside stream and the distant calls of unseen birds. And then, I discover a special place that compels me to stop. I take out my tripod.
Below, you can enjoy six panoramas from each of the trails. You can see all 18 images that make up ‘Intimate Landscapes of Newcastle Area Trails’ in this set of panoramas.
· Terrace Trail, November 1, 2019
Newcastle Trails, Boulder Grove, Newcastle, WA State
Boulder Grove surrounds a weathered wooden bench at a switchback on the Terrace Trail. Today, the first of November, the fallen leaves of the nearby maples combine with the soft afternoon light to create golden hues that transform the grove into an enchanted place.
· CrossTown Trail, March 7, 2023
Madrone Grove, CrossTown Trail, Newcastle, WA
Early on the seventh day of March, the rising sun filters through the tangle of various trees on the East CrossTown Trail. The stars of this grove are the Pacific madrone, Arbutus menziesii, a broadleaf evergreen that often leans out from the south facing coastal slopes in search of light. Its gnarly twisted trunks and distinctive orange-red flaking bark are unique to the species
· East May Creek Trail, January 14, 2023
Mossy Kingdom, May Creek Trail, Newcastle, WA
The noonday winter sun filters through the trees and across the trailside canyon illuminating the mossy trees with an ethereal light. May Creek Trail meanders side to side and up and down along the creek drainage. The twisting nature of the trail provides continuously changing views, creating an enticing and charming experience for hikers.
· Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park Trails, March 22, 2023: Indian Trail, Far Country, Shy Bear and Deceiver Trail
Headwaters, Far Country Falls, Cougar Mountain, WA
This view from the top of Far Country Falls could well be in Rivendell, the sanctuary of a magic Elvish otherworld. The falling water is intermittently shrouded by sword ferns and mossy fallen tree branches as it meanders down through a garden of moss-covered boulders to drop into the woodland gorge. The falling water creates an intriguing and intimate landscape in the woods, a place that invites closer observation of the wonders of the natural world.
· Coal Creek Trail, March 17, 2023
Creekside Vista, Coal Creek Trail, Bellevue, WA
Moss hangs heavy on a fallen tree just off a short interpretive loop, accessed by two small wooden bridges. The trail features sturdy signs that recount the history of a turn of the century coal mining industry here from 1864 to 1963. Now reclaimed as Bellevue’s Coal Creek Natural Area the trails provide an opportunity to hike along a gurgling creek and appreciate a mossy woodland in mid-March.
· Primrose Trail, March 27, 2023: Coal Creek and Primrose Trails
Big Timber Truss Bridge, Primrose Trail, Bellevue, WA
Hikers in the Coal Creek Natural Area that travel the Primrose Trail loop will cross this large timber truss bridge that spans Coal Creek under a canopy of conifers and Big Leaf Maple trees. The gaps between the trusses provide windows to an enchanted place, a mystical forest where one can stop and ponder nature.