Purple Mountain Majesty

I’m really a water person.  I’m drawn to lakes, rivers, oceans, and even the little stream in my back yard. But there’s something majestic and awe-inspiring in the mountains as well. I grew up in Pennsylvania, where the rolling Appalachians and Poconos offered the nearest mountain views. I remember driving down the highways looking at the blasting tracks in the rocks, and driving through tunnels in the mountains. The valleys always contained little villages or farms.

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Great Wall of China at Badaling outside Beijing

The “saddle” between Mauna                               Loa (left) and Maune Kea

As I traveled, I realized that, although the mountains of home seemed impressive, they were certainly not the grandest in the world. Now I’ve seen the Rockies, the Cascades, the Alps (we walked the glacier at Mont Blanc), Fujiyama, the Chinese mountains, and the volcanic peaks of Hawai’i.

The big island of Hawai’i passes over a magma vent as the tectonic plates move, creating massive peaks.

Mauna Loa from the air on a rainy day

Mauna Loa  on a rainy day

The observation station on Mauna Kea

Observation station on Mauna Kea

The entire island chain was created by volcanoes. The largest are Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two enormous “shield volcanoes.”

Mauna Loa (“long mountain”) is the world’s largest mountain in area, and although its base is deep in the ocean, its height above sea level is a respectable 13,679 feet.

Mauna Loa is actually still an active volcano, and to its west, Kilauea and other vents are still building the island with periodic lava flows. To its south, a vent underwater has begun building yet another peak, which won’t break the surface of the Pacific for many, many years.

Mauna Kea is actually the highest mountain in the world – about 33,000 feet from its sea floor base to its top. The height above sea level is a mere 13,803 feet.

On the other hand, big isn’t the only measure of a mountain. There is great romance in the mountains of the Scottish highlands, even though the tallest mountain in the British Isles (Ben Nevis in Scotland’s “Great Glen”) is only about 4,400 feet high.

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Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis

These mountains are host to the stories my grandparents told me in my childhood – of Rob Roy MacGregor, of the Campbells and MacDonalds, and of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s failed attempt to reclaim the Scottish crown.

To me, these mountains will always be larger than life.


This post is in response to a weekly travel theme challenge by Ailsa of WheresMyBackpack, on the subject of Mountains.  To see other bloggers’ responses and get more info on her challenge, click here.  

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28 Responses to Purple Mountain Majesty

  1. sued51 says:

    So true! I used to think the mountains in NH were big until I saw others. It is all relative…
    BTW, I love the photos of the Scottish Highlands! The reflections in the water are so perfect!


  2. Although all the favorite places I’ve lived in had a river run through them, I am, at the heart of me, a mountain girl. Great to see this–I haven’t been to Hawaii yet. This year will change that.


  3. Rain or shine, majestic. 🙂


  4. starryiskies says:

    Scotland looks absolutely stunning – the mountains and water look beautiful!


  5. Ammmmazing photos, especially the ones of the Scottish highlands!


  6. Stunning pictures…I’m also a water person and love mountains


  7. stunning photos … your summits are amazing!


  8. All your mountains are stunning. I’ve been to the Great Wall and the Big Island, but I love your Scottish Highland pictures most of all. 🙂


  9. Amy says:

    How wonderful to see the majestic mountains of China, Hawaii, and Scotland! Great post.


  10. friendlytm says:

    These are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!


  11. Pingback: Climb — and Photograph — Any Mountain (Travel Theme: Mountains) | Four Deer Oak

  12. dadirri7 says:

    i loved learning about the mountains of hawaii, and the scottish peaks are so full of history for many australians too, they lurk in our hearts waiting to to proclaim themselves “home” …thanks for a lovely post 🙂


  13. lexiesnana says:

    These are beautiful.I have only seen the moutains in Tennesse and I was in awe.I have never seen the ocean and I love that you show these things to me.Thank you.


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