Why I Love the Outdoors: Waterways

Why I Love the Outdoors: Waterways

From lakes, to rivers, to oceans, water is an essential part of any ecosystem on earth. As all life on our planet relies on water to exist, it's no surprise that water is an important part of any ecosystem. Where lush greens exist, so too does larger deposits of naturally occurring water. Also essential to our own survival, humans require water more consistently than food if we're to survive, and it's this connection of necessity that I wanted to explore today. While some of us, myself included, may be intimidated by larger bodies of water, there is a natural calling that draws us closer to the sounds of running water. It is most likely our biological need that brings us in, as civilizations sprung up close to naturally occurring sources of water. This is not exclusive to humans, as all life on Earth is reliant on a source of water. You can bet that where water exists, life will follow.

Starting off with the fact that the Earth is roughly 70% water, that means that there's more water on our planet than there isn't. While ocean water is generally salty and not potable, the ebb and flow of the currents create some of our favorite outdoor past times - the beach. While the ocean is full of creatures, some of which are only recently being discovered, these massive bodies of water push and pull sediment from the shores they touch. This leads to a variety of environments created from water erosion - everything from beaches to seaside cliffs are only there because of the never ending cycle of the ocean currents. In many parts of the country, the beach is a commonly accessible past time. Nearly everyone can find a way to enjoy themselves at a beach, whether that be sun-tanning, sand sculpting, or dipping your toes in the ocean water to cool off from the hot sun. From activities like wakeboarding, volleyball, and so much more, you'll never find a shortage of things to do at the beach.

For more land-locked states, we turn to lakes, which can create a sandy beach with a large enough body of water. Where they don't, you still have an environment for swimming, fishing, and boat activities such as kayaking or boating. A lake will also be a source of water for the wildlife nearby, meaning you'll have plenty of opportunities to see a passing animal stop for a quick drink before continuing on. Many lakes are also full of aquatic life, and if you're the type to enjoy diving or snorkeling adventures, lakes offer plenty of opportunities to do so. While some may be accessible directly by roads, many lakes are nestled in hiking trails and mountains, making a lakeside destination hike a personal favorite past time. Similar to lakes, we also have large reservoirs which are used as water supplies for larger population areas. While some of these may be small, there are many larger reservoirs further out, allowing such a large body of water to exist undisturbed. 

If you've ever had the pleasure of making camp next to a flowing river, you'll already have an idea of the comforts that provides. Especially on a hot summer day, having a natural stream to dip your feet in to cool off is not only pleasant, but extremely relaxing on an emotional level. The sounds of the current wash over your campsite, noticeable at first, but eventually falling into the background noise of the environment that you become accustomed to. Depending on the depth of the river, as well as the ecosystem, you'll have a variety of aquatic life to observe. For larger riverways, larger fish such as Bass or Salmon can be seen, while more shallow riverways may only contain smaller creatures such as minnows. There's nothing quite like feeling the current washing over your ankles, providing a cooling effect while the sun washes over the rest of your body - and something that you should add to your bucket list of experiences if you haven't already. 

Even in urban and suburban areas, you can likely find small rivers, ponds, or lakes in public parks, or used for some municipal purposes. You may not have to go far out into the wilderness to find tranquility, as many of your local waterways can provide just that. Whether it's the movement of the current, the sounds of the bubbling brook, or the aquatic life within, water has a way of calming us in a way that's directly tied to our need for it. Knowing it's there in plentiful amounts brings a primordial calm, allowing you to focus less on the hustle and bustle, and instead on your own self.


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