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Jonathan Stull | 06.07.2017

For this week’s installment of the #52WeekAdventureChallenge, we come to the humble lake, whose various incarnations give rise to a stunning array of scenic beauty: mountain tarns of the West set high in alpine valleys, long, sinuous reservoirs, and forest ponds that Thoreau likened to eyes, “looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” Just don’t stare at it for too long.

Lakes, whether natural or artificial, are one of a handful of geographical features that can be found across the country, and people from all regions use them as centers of recreation. We gather there throughout the year to relax and play, and the water provides a bounty of opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast—whether fishing from the shore, paddling out into the waters, swimming, hiking, or boating. They are critical to the function of life, serving as freshwater reservoirs for our cities, a refuge for wildlife, and critical layovers for the migratory birds that make it their temporary home.

So strong is the pull of these beautiful places that imminent disaster isn’t enough to keep those who love them away. “Spirit Lake and Mount St. Helens are my life,” said Harry R. Truman, who lived alongside the lake with his 16 cats in May of 1980. “You couldn’t pull me out with a mule team." During the state of emergency before the eruption of the volcano, Truman refused to leave, and he perished on the shores of the lake that he loved.

Love these places, visit them, swim in their waters this summer—whatever you do, celebrate them with us. Here are a few ways for you to jump in.

Washington

Oregon

California

Montana

Colorado

Utah

Lake Superior

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