Sunday, June 20, 2010

The View Below

Creek snorkeling is kind of an odd activity. Creek snorkelers spend as much time with their chest and stomach laying on the bottom as they do free floating. I’m sure it looks strange, but the views creek snorkeling provide far outweigh the odd look or two from passersby. Creek snorkeling gives me a completely different perspective on places I thought I knew. Streams I visited weekly for years from the surface, are completely new areas to me under water. Shallow depths seem greater, and what appear to be gentle flows while standing in them become more torrential when they are experienced in a prone position.

The world is different just below the surface. Its quiet, except for the rush of water pouring over rocks in a riffle. Time slows, and often seems to stop. At least the way I perceive time is different. Creek snorkeling puts me into the moment, and I don’t think about anything except what is before me at that particular point in time. I forget about where I am in the stream, and am surprised to see where I’ve wound up when I pull my head from the water. Sometimes what feels like great distances covered are really only a few feet. Creek snorkeling lets me get to know creeks from the perspective of the creek rather than the top side perspective of a human. I certainly feel much more connected to the stream after I snorkel in it than I do even after fishing or swimming in it.

I started this practice out of curiosity, just to see who is living just below the surface. I didn’t expect it to provide such an unexpected view. Every stream I enter is a very otherworldly realm - right there in our backyards. These seem to be places that we have largely ignored. It seems we have been too busy watching the other amazing places on the planet; coral reefs, the Amazon, to recognize that there are amazing places in our neighborhoods too. And I have discovered by snorkeling in streams, that one of those places is the local creek. I haven’t been on a creek snorkeling trip yet where I didn’t say wow at least once.

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