I’m just a kid from the Southwest. I’ve spent my entire life watching the water level in Lake Mead (in Nevada) decline, seeing more and more of the surrounding rocks with the telltale white line from mineral deposits over the years. My idea of a river sometimes looks like a dried out patch of dirt, and even when it has water is only about calf deep. Muddy puddles and dammed off rivers make up what I think of as ponds and lakes. I’m a water person, choosing to spend my time paddle boarding or kayaking in natural and not-so-natural waterways. So when I saw the amount of water in Idaho and Wyoming on my road trip this summer, I was in shock…and awe. Even just the streams, ponds and reservoirs near our campsites each night were amazing to me.
Our first stop after heading north from Phoenix was Moab, Utah, where we camped right along the Colorado River – the first time of the trip I was amazed by the water (but not by the mosquitoes). My experience with rivers does not include wide swaths of water that are moving too quickly to swim across and deeper that I could probably stand in at some areas. The next day, we made it to Malad City, Idaho, where, again, there was water by our campsite – a reservoir filled with cool, blue water with families fishing and boating. We stayed a little longer than planned that morning, to enjoy breakfast and coffee by the clear water and soak in the atmosphere just a little bit more.
From there, we made it to Grand Teton National Park for a couple days, where I got to bask in the mountains, the fresh air and the “beaches” of Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake. I was ready to jump right in from the first moment we arrived. The water was so clear! And so cold! In Arizona, the water is never too cold to get in, but even in July, I was hesitant to fully submerge myself in the lakes. Wading in the water and lounging on the shore, though – those activities were more my speed.
Then on to Yellowstone National Park, where there were waterfalls, lakes and rivers. “This is the most water I’ve ever seen in my life.” I distinctly remember saying this, out loud, with a ton of strangers nearby. But it’s true. We were standing on an overlook near Yellowstone Lake. The water, especially in that lake, seemed to go on forever. And this water, unlike the muddy streams I’m used to, was blue and clear and cool. It was surrounded by lush, green trees. It was running through forests and valleys. It was reflecting the tree lines, the snow-capped peaks and the ranger stations lining the shore.
All that water was inviting. I felt called by the water, even to just sit in silence while I looked out at the reflections of nature and people surrounding the lakes. Nature is peaceful to so many people, and lakes are especially peaceful to me. The sound of the water lapping at the shore is soothing. The breeze coming off the water is refreshing, even if it sometimes pulls me from my thoughts. The cool, clean air that often accompanies the water is revitalizing, especially when most of my time is spent in cities.
Even though we had limited time at each National Park and each lake, I spent as much time as I could by the lakes and rivers, staring out into the sometimes never-ending vastness of the blue water. I had never seen so much water before, and it’s something I won’t soon forget.
Bio: Jennifer Klemmetson is a writer and content marketer based in Phoenix, Ariz. She loves spending her weekends with a good book and a cup of tea.
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