He sat in bed, wondering whether he should investigate the odd sounds coming from outside. The noise had left him frozen with terror, and with good reason. He lived near the wilderness, so the risk of running into a wild animal was pretty high. He braced himself as he went to check out the source of the noise. He did his best to be stealth. Then he discovered what was making the noises, and it was certainly not what he was expecting.
Tim Newton was born and raised in Alaska, so he wasn’t exactly a stranger to the wild. In fact, he had learned to live in peaceful co-existence with the wildlife in the area, especially the ones that could put his well-being at risk. But there isn’t a thing he would change about his life, and it’s one of the reasons he became a photographer. However, nature is often unforeseeable, which was something Newton had recently realized.
“I am a lifelong Alaskan, forever in love with Alaska and its unique natural beauty,” he said. It’s why he and his wife, Cathy, moved to Anchorage, on the outskirts of Chugach State Park in 1989. But thanks to photography, Newton has traveled around the globe. But when he thinks of home, it’s always Alaska. Regardless, the last three decades of his life have been one incredible adventure.
Cathy isn’t from Alaska, but she does love nature and animals. So, life with Tim in Alaska felt like a natural fit. “Raising three children here, the wilderness and beauty of Alaska has been a great source of joy, serenity, and wonder!” explained Tim. But although Alaska offers plenty of wonders, it’s difficult to deny the fact that this state also contains risks that can freeze people’s souls.
Moose and mountain goats are among the various wildlife that reside in Chugach State Park. But grizzly, brown, and black bears tend to roam around throughout the park too. Encounters with these creatures are rare. However, in 2017, a teenager did run into a black bear, at Bird Ridge, while participating in a trail race. So, it’s safe to say that Newton is well aware of the risk of a potential encounter in the forest.
It was fall, and Newton heard some unusual footsteps on his back deck. But he knew it wasn’t a person. For one thing, his home was in a remote area, so the odds of someone finding it was rare. Also, the sun was rising, and most intruders break and enter at night. So, he assumed it was a wild animal, and he suspected what it was too. But it wasn’t the kind of wildlife anyone wanted to run into.
Bears are strong and stubborn. But his windows and doors were locked and reinforced, so there was no way that a bear could break in. However, it didn’t change the fact that something was out there. “I’ve been woken up by bears on the deck, so I thought I would check,” said Tim. So, he grabbed his bathrobe, and went to the back of the house to investigate. But he wasn’t expecting what he found.
“I pulled open the curtain just a bit to see, because I didn’t want them to run off, and I looked down and saw what struck me as a cat,” said Tim. His neighbors weren’t close, but he did have them. He thought that it was one of his neighbor’s cats. It wouldn’t have surprised him if a cat was roaming around, despite the fact that Alaskan wildlife put them at risk. Tim was willing to allow the cat to come inside. But there was more to this situation than he initially assumed.
Newton stopped in his tracks mere moments after he set one foot on the deck. As he studied the creature carefully, it dawned on him that it was certainly not a cat. “I took a second look and realized it wasn’t a full-grown cat but a baby lynx. They’re about the same size at this age,” he explained. Tim was stunned. Then he decided to shut the door close and run inside his home.
Tim grabbed his camera and then ran outside. But then he saw that the baby lynx had company. Its siblings had joined him and they were looking for a good time. “They’re running back and forth across the deck, chasing each other, hiding, jumping. They’ve turned the deck into a romper room, having a heck of a time,” said Tim. And he took advantage of this precious moment.
Tim snapped photos through every window of his back deck and every angle. This was a rare opportunity. Most lynx made sure humans never saw them. But one kitten was curious. He had spotted Newton, and decided to approach him. “He came over to check out the ‘big-clicking-tree-thing,'” he shared. But the rare encounter was cut short.
“He got closer and I got a couple of shots, so I moved my face from behind the camera, but as soon as he saw my eyes — the look of horror — his eyes got wide and he took off,” said Newton. Then he noticed something moving in the tall grass, and this gave him cause for concern. “I saw through the screen door that the grass was moving. It was like Jurassic Park with the velociraptors,” he shared. Then something more surprising occurred.
“I heard the mother calling to the kittens,” explained Newton. The kittens scampered away, but then the mother lynx joined the kittens on the deck. Newton managed to snap photos of the mother and the seven lynx kittens. This went on for about 40 minutes. Then, they decided to leave, but they didn’t stay away for very long.
A couple of months had passed. Then, the mother lynx and her children returned to Newtons’ deck right smack in the middle of winter. Cathy was the one who heard them, and she wasn’t sure where the noise was coming from. “I thought it might be an owl who had taken up residence on our roof. The next morning, I heard the noise again. It sounded like a woodpecker,” she said. So, she went to take a look and saw that they had returned.
Cathy grabbed her phone and started recording them. “They were so busy, and running everywhere,” she said. “Out to the lawn, back on the deck.” In the video, you only see their mother and five kittens going back and forth between yard and the deck. The lynx family returned to pay the Newtons a couple of more times, and they’re okay with that. “There are no words possible for how beautiful they are,” said Cathy.