Trip reports

Chehalis River Discovery Trail

From black-and-white to color, the Chehalis River along the Discovery Trail.

Previous commitments kept Mr. Adventure and me close to home last weekend, but gorgeous weather beckoned. Luckily, there are plenty of lowland trails nearby that offer great midwinter hiking. We headed to the Chehalis River Discovery Trail, a 3.6-mile ramble along the river just below its confluence with the Skookumchuck River. The trail is adjacent to a working farm, and the Chehalis River Basin Land Trust has partnered with Lewis County and local schools to restore the river’s riparian habitat. It’s a favorite of birders, who’ve spotted more than 150 species spotted along the trail.

Hiking in grayscale

Earlier that morning, I’d read a New York Times article about how setting one’s iPhone to grayscale may make it less tempting to check it every few minutes. I liked this idea because I often feel tethered to my phone in a less-than-healthy way, so I followed Lifehacker’s instructions and presto, my phone display was black and white. On the trail, when I pulled out my phone to take a few pictures, the viewfinder display was also black and white. The wide, flat fields next to the trails, paired with captivating cloud formations overhead, created an interesting opportunity to try black-and-white photography.

When I got home, I realized the pictures weren’t saved as black-and-white; they uploaded as color. But I made a copy of each one in monochrome, and I think it’s cool to see the photos side by side. I mostly like the black-and-white pictures better.

Composing photos using a black-and-white display made me look at the landscape differently. I saw contrasts and shading that I wouldn’t have noticed in color. I’ll definitely try this again on future hikes.

Hunter and hunted, close up

On the way back to the car, Mr. Adventure and I watched one of the pair of bald eagles that nests in a tree overlooking the river. It flew low across the rainwater ponds where seagulls and ducks paddled around, startling flocks of birds into flight. We gazed openmouthed as the eagle chased one bird that got separated from its flock, then swerved to chase another straggler. We could hear the murmur of the birds’ wings flapping overhead as the drama played out in the sky. The eagle didn’t catch its dinner that time, but I’m sure wintering waterfowl make up a fair share of its diet. Perhaps someday we’ll be lucky enough to see a successful hunt.


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About Lauren Danner

When I’m not out hiking on our public lands, I'm either buried in a book or writing about Pacific Northwest and environmental history, outdoor recreation, and public lands policy from my home near Puget Sound.
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2 thoughts on “Chehalis River Discovery Trail

  1. What a great post! Though I think the New World of Monochrome might keep you tethered to your phone so you can capture more clouds, which evoke such different moods without the blue-sky background or distracting foreground.

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