Washington has several types of forests: coastal, lowlands, mountain and eastside forests. Bellevue College is situated in the lowland forest region, the largest region. This region hosts a variety of trees, including douglas-fir, western hemlock, bigleaf maple and western red cedar, which create a beautiful environment to be in.
Within the Bellevue area, there are several nature trails. Different from hikes, they require less elevation and distance. Additionally, nature walks are focused more on your senses and being aware of your surroundings. You can go on nature walks by yourself or with others, but the whole point is to purposefully look at the nature around you. There are animals and plants all around you in the woods. Although nature walks are not as intense as hikes, it is still important to be careful.
From herons on the lake to deer in the woods, there are so many different creatures in Washington. To see animals, the best times are dawn and dusk. Additionally, you can use all of your senses to help you find the creatures by looking for the animals’ signs, like trails, scat and calls. You can learn more about the different species of animals and how to best go about watching them. Some animals are easily recognizable, like deer, but the different types of bird can be harder to recognize. If you want a guide on what to find, you can count down on the checklist. If you get really into bird watching, you can read books that will help guide you.
The woods host numerous types of plants. Some are edible, while others are not. First and foremost, you should familiarize yourself with the poisonous plants in Washington. You can research the list of edible plants and can check on the seasons of these plants. When foraging, you should know to walk lightly, and be careful not to trample any of the plants nearby. Additionally, harvest carefully, and check the local land management agreements and restrictions.
The great outdoors also allows for eco-friendly painting and art. When finding pieces to use in your artwork, you can use bark, dried leaves, seed pods and sticks, although you should be aware of what plants are safe to use. For starters, you can take rocks and grind them into a powder and add different additives for different effects on the consistency and pigment. You can also find different types of flowers, which can be used to create vibrant colors. You can also create your own paintbrushes by tethering dry grass, leaves or smaller twigs to a stick.
Doing yoga in the woods is a completely different vibe from yoga in a studio. It can help you feel more grounded, and the fresh air can feel invigorating. It is even proven to reduce anxiety and boost happiness. Personally, I have found that meditating and doing yoga in the woods is way better than indoors. I would recommend being well versed in at least the basics of yoga before attempting to do it on your own. BC has had drop-in yoga classes every Wednesday that end on June 14 — though they do offer official classes on yoga (PE 105) and mindfulness and meditation (HLTH 212). To start doing yoga or meditation in the woods, first find an area where you can be undisturbed. I would recommend bringing something to stand on like a towel or any other materials you might need. Next, I would encourage doing a body scan where you take in what you feel around yourself and how you feel in the moment.
Remember to get outside this month and throughout the year, because Washington is a beautiful state. Whether you are on the water, in the mountains or in the woods, take a moment to appreciate your surroundings.