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You Don't Have to Choose Between Mountains and the Ocean. Here's Why.

Obviously there are infinite ways in which mountains, oceans, forests and lakes differ wildly, and due to this, one may feel the pull of one in particular. But fundamentally, they all offer the same physical and mental freedom and respite from life in a city.

By: Mollie Carberry + Save to a List

Many people who have an affinity for nature or outdoor activity tend to consider themselves one of the following: a ‘sea person’, a ‘mountain person’, a ‘lake person’ or a ‘forest person’. It’s a bizarre pigeon-holing of the self that most people are guilty of; although you may enjoy all of the above, or a combination of a few, you tend you feel the pull of one more than the others. Sometimes this is down to something as basic as where you happen to live, or whichever of them is most easily accessible.

In the past month, I have spent time in Wisconsin, Florida and Colorado, all of which vary wildly in landscape, climate, flora and fauna (being from England, the fact that I can travel so far yet still be within the same country still baffles me). One thing I drew from spending time in these different states among lakes, forests, mountains and the ocean is that they are really not so different at all.

1. They all satiate the need for wide open space.  

Considering myself a definite ‘sea person’, the idea of living somewhere as land-locked as Colorado was a little daunting, having never really been more than a hundred miles from the coast. But when surrounded by the sprawling enormity of the Rockies or the impossibly green forests and lakes of Wisconsin, I felt that my need for space was satisfied in the same manner that the sea offers. Knowing that something far vaster than humanity is sprawled and rolling in front of you for hundreds of miles is calming, whether that space be filled with rock, water, plants or trees.

2. They all offer a space where human interference is minimal.

Note the word minimal; unfortunately, unless you’re traveling to somewhere far beyond the reaches of civilization, you’re bound to see the impact of humanity anywhere. There’s something quite demoralizing about driving for miles into the middle of nowhere in the Rockies and still seeing a Starbucks. However, the sea, mountains, forests and lakes generally offer some much-needed respite from sprawling cities and suburbs.

5 Things That Made Me Decide to Leave the City and Move to the Mountains | Photo: Annie Rumbles

3. They all offer a space to connect with nature.

Another pull to the sea, forests, lakes and mountains is the invaluable opportunity to interact with nature in a way that is simply impossible in built-up locations. Each offer the chance to see creatures, from minuscule insects and shellfish to different mammals and a whole host of unique birds, living and thriving in their natural habitats. Not only this; the plant life will vary wildly from one place to the next, with different species of tree and flower presenting itself in abundance. Even the sky will appear different depending on the climate; the turbulent cloud formations over the Rockies are a stark contrast to the fluffy cumulus over the Wisconsin lakes, and the impressive storm systems in Florida.

4. They all offer peace, quiet and serenity.

The soundscapes of mountains, lakes, forests and the ocean are drastically different from the constant droning hum of the city, and are subconsciously one of the main irresistible draws to them. Living with a never-ending soundtrack of sirens, traffic, alarms and tinny television voices seems like nothing until you are suddenly faced with the silence offered by nature. The sounds become much more subtle but easy to pick out even at a distance after you become attuned; the scuttling of paws, the rustling of grass, the endless rolling of waves, the flap of wings.

5. They all offer physical challenges.

Arguably one of the main pulls for man to the ocean, the mountains, a forest or a lake is the fact that each one offers a different physical challenge or activity that can’t be accessed in a city. Mountains can be hiked, mountain-biked, scrambled up, rappelled or skied down. Forests can be explored, biked, camped in, hiked, climbed. Seas can be swum, dived, coasteered, surfed, body-boarded. Lakes can be sailed, jet-skied, water-skied, fished. And obviously a whole host of other activities; the list is nearly endless. They allow humans to push themselves physically and connect with nature in a primal way that merely exercising indoors in a gym could never offer.

Obviously there are infinite ways in which mountains, oceans, forests and lakes differ wildly, and due to this, one may feel the pull of one in particular. But fundamentally, they all offer the same physical and mental freedom and respite from life in a city.

Cover photo: Alexander Stickel

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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