by Will Harmon
It was a cool, quiet spring morning when I crept outside, as I have done many mornings. The fog was slowly lifting like a rolling wave from the water. The sun was just beginning to peek over the trees in its bright splendor and glory. The first of the birds had just started to chirp in the cool morning air. It was once again going to be a beautiful day on the lake. This is Lake Murray, where I have lived all my life. One of my favorite things to do in the wee morning hours is to grab a camera, and oftentimes a rod and reel, and head for the dock. I spend a while watching the sun come up and enjoy the morning. I cannot imagine life indoors when there is so much to see, do and explore outdoors!
Since I was a young boy growing up on Lake Murray, I have always had a great appreciation for nature and have always been thankful for my relationship with the outdoors. I think that South Carolina has some of the best, most beautiful wildlife that this great nation has to offer. When saying this I am speaking of how you can hop in a car and drive a couple of hours and be in the mountains or drive a couple of hours and be sitting on the beach. My personal favorite of the two is unanimously the mountains! Simply because I do love the outdoors, and the mountains have a majestic beauty and brings nature closer to my heart. I enjoy being able to sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty of a cool mountain stream. It is just something about walking in the woods that seems to wash all your worries away. Just hearing the birds chirp and the animals and being surrounded by the lush green of all the trees. There is a certain feeling of protection and an inner peace.
Then, there is my favorite thing in the world: WATERFALLS! There is nothing more rewarding than to walk for several miles and suddenly walk into a clearing to see a great body of water gushing from the hillside. Let me repeat, I love the outdoors and the adventures that always await. I often dream of going on long adventurous hikes through the South Carolina wilderness.
As a young boy, I spent much of my time with my granddad and grandmother who live in a wooded area. My granddad and I would go on long walks through the woods and make observations about the beautiful land around us. Now my granddad and I travel all over this state and others. However, you won’t find me in a city. I will be in the nearest woods or on a hike that is sure to promise an adventure no matter how big or small. Recently my granddad, who is 79, and I hiked a portion of the Palmetto Trail. We have also been to other places such as Botany Bay in Edisto, South Carolina, where I get my woods, trails, wildlife and the beach. In fact, at Botany Bay I guess you could say you get woods on the beach with all the driftwood trees. If you have never been there, I really do suggest you go.
I am sixteen and love being outdoors more than ever. I am always ready to look ahead and plan my next excursion into the outdoors whether it be in my own backyard or a place far away where new discoveries are yet to be made.
I am very lucky and blessed to live at the lake. Lake Murray offers some of South Carolina’s greatest assets, from fishing to boating or just simply enjoying paddling around the edge in a kayak. I will never forget the one time when I was paddling around the edge not far from my house and a snake came toward me. As much as I love the outdoors, I can say I am not a fan of snakes. This is just a small drawback of endless possibilities in the great outdoors of South Carolina.
I have found that one of the best ways I can not only capture the beautiful moments that nature offers but also share them with others is through photography. Several years ago, I began taking pictures in hopes of capturing the glory of nature. Luck or skill I do not know, but I have gotten several great pictures that show the beauty and majesty of the outdoors. Everywhere I go, my camera is usually not far away, and I try to snap a quick picture of some little flower or bird, and often these are the photos that turn out the best.
Part of experiencing the natural world is conserving it. While pictures help to preserve the memory, no group does a better job at conserving our state’s wildlife and resources than the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). My thanks go out to these fine men and women. All of them in some way help to conserve South Carolina’s natural resources so it will be here for generations to come. Without the natural resources that this state has to offer, we would have nothing. The animals and plants in our state have been here at least as long as mankind, and we owe it to them to protect and nourish so others can enjoy nature in the future. Without the laws and governing of a Natural Resource Department, many plants and animals would be in jeopardy. This is where SCDNR officers put their lives on the line day in and day out to protect them. I am counting the days until I can get a job as a law enforcement officer with DNR. This has been my dream since I was five years old. I would see them on the lake and in the woods and quickly gained an understanding of what they do and the importance of it. I don’t only want to be able to help the people of this great state, but also help preserve the wildlife that live in the great outdoors.
South Carolina has some of the best, most diverse wildlife that this nation has to offer. Much of today’s generation spends too much time indoors staring at their phones and computers when there is so much to be seen outdoors. Whether you are at the beach or mountains, South Carolina has an outdoors adventure to offer young and old alike. It is our job as the people who inhabit this state to preserve and protect wildlife. If we take care of wildlife, it will take care of us in return. Just take one day to get out and enjoy the beauty of nature and you too will be hooked for life!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on South Carolina Wild are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect official policies, positions, or endorsements of activity or products by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.