Mountains as Water Sources - Appalachian Expedition Part 1

Mountain waterfall. Photo: USDAMountain waterfall. Photo: USDAYou wake up to the sound of a mountain stream flowing next to your campsite. When you climb out of your tent, the sun is shining. How beautiful! Late spring or early summer is the best time to be hiking in the mountains of West Virginia. The temperature at night (60°F) is perfect for sleeping and during the day (75°F), perfect for hiking. The weather during the winter is less favorable for expeditions. Moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and polar winds from the northwest bring abundant snowfall and freezing temperatures to these mountains. This is what mountains do, though. They act as weather barriers, extracting large amounts of water from the atmosphere. This is one of the ways mountains are able to supply the streams, rivers, and lakes people depend on for water.

Fishing in the Appalachians. Photo: National Park ServiceFishing in the Appalachians. Photo: National Park ServiceThinking back to the Pigeonroost Branch of Spruce Fork River that you crossed on your way to Blair, you recall that 80 percent of the water that humans use comes from mountains. Without mountains, people all over the world would not be able to drink, clean themselves, generate electricity, or water their crops. People benefit from mountain rivers in many other ways, too. You recall the people you saw fishing on the Pigeonroost when you drove by. They depend on the river for fresh fish and the fish depend on it for food and shelter.

Where does this water go when it leaves Blair? Ask the team Geographer to pull out the map of the United States. Once you've located the southern Appalachian Mountains, try to determine where the water that falls on either side of Blair Mountain ends up ultimately.

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