As Icelandic writer Olaf Olafsson says in his 2019 novel The Sacrament, “For mountains to stand out there must be plains”. Plains can be rather dull for travelers to cross. Remember central Illinois and eastern Nebraska? I recall a real sense of enduring these plains because I knew there were mountains at their end. Mountains appeal to travelers, even those who don’t ski. Earlier this week, I wrote a blog called “Mountains Matter” about some of the high elevation places that have meant something to me. Travelers like me love to go to mountains.
Mountains have been historically important too. Elephants from North Africa crossed mountains to attack the Roman Empire. Lewis and Clark’s adventures while exploring the newly bought Louisiana Territory for President Jefferson involved crossing and conquering many mountains. In fact, when they reached the end of this Purchase they finally had to abandon their winter retreat in the weather-exposed north coastal mountains just beyond the Astoria-Megler Bridge pictured at the top to spend the winter on the South Coast at slightly inland Fort Clatsop. I love crossing the Megler Bridge!
Other mountains that have personal meaning for me are in Idaho, British Columbia, and Colorado. We went to northern Idaho to see spectacular Priest Lake because a friend of Ruth’s spent childhood summers there. That’s Idaho but not Priest Lake just above. The Uncle of the man we stayed with at the Vatican made a career out of painting all of the Colorado mountains more than 14,000 feet tall. That’s Independence Pass mentioned in “Mountains Matter” pictured above the old-fashioned train above, and the source of the Columbia River in the mountains of eastern British Columbia just below.
If you want to see some of the most gorgeous mountains in the world go to the Kootenay region of this Canadian Province and explore outstanding mountain majesty. Don’t miss the towns of Fernie and Nelson, and go west to Whistler.