Special thanks to Otto Munchow for providing the photographs. Otto, a photojournalist from Norway, travels the world to capture moments. I encourage readers to visit Otto at In Flow with Creativity, plus you can find him on Instagram (ottovonmunchow). Please tell him I sent you and feel free to comment on his images here. All photos are copyrighted by Otto Munchow.
Click the video above for 2 minutes of background waves while reading.
I like to walk on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet
The northern gulf coast region is relatively flat. But as I walk today, my memory is of a beach in Italy. Its sand is nowhere near as fine or as packed as here. Walking was difficult; however, the mountains were nearby.
The city of Carrara is in those mountains. Yes – the place of the famed Carrara marble. Marble of the mountains is evident on the beach as large boulders embedded in the sand – as small stones – and as streaks appearing as veins in other stones. But my thoughts shift to the mountains.
Mountains – those massive landforms rising above the surrounding land. Have you ever wondered how much earthen material is in a mountain? How much land would a mountain cover at the depth of a hand if we flattened the mountain?
Mountains have stood for a long time. Formed by upward tectonic forces or volcanic activity, yet they have also been slowly weathering. All mountains are not the same age. The tops of older mountains are more rounded than the young projecting sharp peaks toward the heavens.
Mountains are large masses of rocks with tempestuous cliffs and even snow-capped for at least part of the year. Some mountains are often shrouded by clouds, but others are frequent visual feasts. Mountains cause us to think about elevation, volume, relief, steepness, and slope. The last two are the same but no matter the mountain, they are natural, majestic giants.
Where we find mountains, we also find valleys – valleys carved by moving water over time. Valleys serve as homes to rivers and towns found beneath the shadows of their towering neighbors.
As we go higher up the mountain, we find changing climates, conditions, plants, animals, and types of life – all working together to form layers of ecosystems that seem to stack upon each other. Sometimes, we see the timberline where trees are absent upward, but other lines may divide wet and dry.
I think of a few major mountains as Fuji, Olympus, Kilimanjaro, Denali, Everest, Blanc, Vesuvius, Etna, and the Matterhorn. Some are sacred places because the mountain is the home to gods, but others stand as iconic landmarks. For other people, the mountain top is the home of their zen.
The mountain top is where philosophers sit to ponder why we are here – where scientists climb to solve problems – where monks retreat for study, focus, and solitude – where athletes push themselves to reach the peak of victory – where astronomers gather to study the stars – and where humanity goes to stand in awe at the wonders of the world. For me, no matter if it’s a mountain or a hill, the view from the top looking down into a valley or across a plain is a special moment.
Mountains seem wild and inaccessible, so they serve to challenge the daring. Therefore, mountains are a metaphor for the challenges all of us meet in life – the challenges where we doubt ourselves and face our fears.
Mountains call us to come – to climb – to accept the challenge. Mountains expect us to take risks and face our fears of heights, failing, falling, and even death. The work won’t be easy, but we can do it. Such an effort is not for the lazy and the unprepared because the mountain has many secrets.
Like life, success on the mountain requires having a goal with a plan, implementing the plan, and making good decisions that are in sync with the goal. Climbing the mountain requires preparation, patience, and diligence while reading the terrain. Only then can one reach the summit to view the horizons – possibly seeing that there are other mountains to climb.
Mountains are also like learning. The more one knows, the mountain seems to grow as the learning journey seems never-ending. But learning is a fabulous journey.
Compared to the Rockies, Alps, Andes, and the Himalayas, many other mountains are mere foothills – but to the one looking up, all are real and vivid. I grew up in the Appalachian foothills, but they are hills, not mountains. I think of my hometown as a shoestring squeezed between hills and a river – hills of sandstone that erosion break away to accumulate as a faraway beach.
In many cases, as one approaches a mountain range, they first encounter foothills – those gradual increases in elevation. Then again, foothills gradually decrease when traveling away from the mountains. I chuckle at the thought that foothills can be mountains, such as the Piedmont Mountains, which are one of the Appalachian foothills. Yet, the Piedmont region of Italy is the foothills to the Alps.
I can’t forget the mountains of the region of my paternal grandparents. Traveling into that narrow valley warms my heart. Then to drive up the mountain to a small village near the top. I love to look into the distance while standing on the road of my ancestors.
Mountains are a great chair sitting above the plain, sea, or valley. I think of the long journey across the flat Great Plains of the central USA, and then to see in the distance a string of majestic peaks suddenly rising above the plains as if they were chairs for gods. Let us not forget that the mountain is also home to treasures such as caves, minerals, and gems.
As towering beauties high above us, mountains are natural monuments. Let us not forget that tall mountains also exist below the water surface in the depths of the oceans – and some rising above the water to form an island. I think the oceans are older than mountains, but I am not sure. But I confidently say that I like walking on the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
See what other bloggers have posted about Mountains
- Hiking Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak (essay and photos)
- Mountain Place (photo essay)
- This Mountain (essay and photos)
- The Mountain Inside You (poem)
- Rainbow Moutain Peru (photo)
- Landscapes by the Water and in the Mountains (paintings and essay)
Next Post: Reflection – Saturday 27 November @ 1 AM (Eastern US)