Journeys Around Seattle, #49: Mercer Slough

December 16, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Mercer Slough Nature Park is a large area of wetlands on the eastern shore of Lake Washington, in Bellevue. It's crisscrossed by various nature trails, with more than a few boardwalks and bridges over the water. The best way to see it may actually be by canoe (and there are canoe and kayak rentals available nearby), but for today, given that it was a chilly, misty Sunday morning, and we'd never been here before, we settled for going for a walk. (Plus, being on foot tends to be better for picture taking... not to mention safer for the cameras.)

We parked in the south corner, south of the huge Bellevue Park & Ride that sits on the Western edge of the area, and followed the nearest trail head into the wetlands. There are blueberry farms in the slough, and we passed a large field of them (out-of-season, of course) before really getting into the wetlands themselves.

Fog had clung to the area, all morning although it was starting to lift by the time we got to walking around 10 am. As it lifted, though, it made a nice veil in front of the Sun's disc, and pointing our cameras at the partially-obscured Sun, we were actually able to see sunspots on the surface of the Sun! Kind of a cool effect-- I'd taken pictures of sunspots before, but only with the aid of a neutral density filter and 1/8000 shutter speed. Here I had no filter and standard settings.

Soon after, though, the clouds burned off and we found enjoying a sunny winter day. We walked along boardwalks and muddy trails, eventually making our way to the main creek that runs through the middle of the slough.

Here, the late lifting of the fog had resulted in what was almost like a second dawn, as the ducks and other waterfowl seemed to just now be waking up, searching for food, and preening their feathers in the creek, sending up big sprays of water droplets in the process. Far to the north, over the trees, we frequently caught glimpses of downtown Bellevue, just a couple of miles away. But it was easy to forget about the surrounding area as we followed the loop trail to the other slough, then wound our way back through and around over the course of a couple of miles.

Among the more interesting sights were the occasional stand of tall white birch trees, standing out amidst the otherwise squat brown vegetation of the wetlands. The underbrush was also full of small spider webs, which were still covered with dew from earlier that morning, and sparkled in the Sun like strands of iridescent jewels. In fact, all through the walk we had interesting lighting effects, where the Sun caught the water droplets clinging to the trees in interesting ways. Sometimes the photos worked out and sometimes they didn't, but it made for an interesting challenge.

Overall, this may be one of my favorite natural areas that we've visited this year. I will definitely have to come back when the weather is warmer and the area has once again turned green-- maybe next time we'll even be brave and take a boat.

 


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