My Favorite Mountains
April 23, 2018
Yesterday I flew back from Iceland, with a connection in Seattle. Shortly before landing, I thought I'd look out the window and try to see Mt. Rainier. Sure enough, it was huge, looming in the distance, towering over all the other mountains. It was really cool. By the time our flight back to Salt Lake City took off, it was almost sunset. I hoped to get another glimpse of Mt Rainier in the distance again. Luckily enough for me, it wasn't in the distance very long--we flew right over it! It was incredible. The sky was clear so we had a perfect view. Normally, I think taking pictures out of a plane window is stupid, but I had to try to get a close up shot of Mt. Rainier from above.
Mt. Rainier from my plane
It's amazing how tall the mountain is. It is like a super mountain, towering high above the peaks below. We actually flew around the peak, I don't know if it's because our plane couldn't get high enough fast enough, or if the pilots were just being kind and giving us a great sunset view around the mountain. It inspired me to write this page, as I forgot how cool mountains could be. When my family moved to Idaho from Texas I was extremely excited for mountains. I quickly got used to them, and am not usually very excited to see them anymore. But the massive volcanoes of the Cascades are always impressive as they loom in the distance, high above everything else. Mt. Rainier is definitely one of my favorites.
Chinese Peak AKA Chinks Peak
Chinks Peak or Chinese Peak, looms over my hometown, Pocatello. According to the USGS, it was named for a Chinese person who died on the summit. My parents' house in Pocatello has the best view of the mountain in the city. We've seen it on fire multiple times, and it changes color with the seasons. I started mountain biking at the base of the mountain and have paintballed around it too. It's a long but easy climb to the top, or you can drive to the top. But be careful...rattlesnakes are common on Chinks Peak! It's a good looking mountain and a cool one to have one right next to the city.
Image by Bark Eater on SummitPost
If you already read my Moscow Mountain Review, you'll know it's my favorite place in the world. So it had to be on this list. The bike trails are unforgettable. The mountain itself is cool too, it is a big green mountain surrounded by wheat fields. It looks cool in the distance from Moscow. There are moose, elk, bears, mountain lions, deer, and frogs on the mountain. I've heard some college students diss it as not being a mountain, but those people are either snobs or haven't really been there, because it is a really cool oasis of mountain among the wheat fields, and one of my favorites.
Mt Fuji in Mist by Shotei Takahashei
I've always thought Mt. Fuji looked cool, so I made sure to set up a tour to go see it when I visted Japan. The tour started off badly, on a big bus with a bunch of badly behaved Chinese tourists. Seeing the mountain as we got closer was pretty cool, but this was not a hike up the mountain, it was a tour with idiots, so the highest we went was to a Mt. Fuji gift shop partway up the mountain. I was starting to think that it was pretty lame, but I opted for the Aokigahara forest tour as well. I've found that any sort of physical activity will deter Chinese tourists, so thankfully, me and my brother got dropped off away from the other tourists. Our new guide was part of Country Lake Systems and it was night and day different from the original Fuji tour.
He took us to Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees or the Suicide Forest. The forest is on the base of the mountain, and the ground of the forest is all lava-rock. We got great views of Mt. Fuji on the way. Sadly, Aokigahara is a popular place for Japanese people to commit suicide, giving it one of its nicknames. There was also a horror movie made about it, which I haven't seen. However, the forest itself was very peaceful, and not scary at all. We eventually explored an ice-cave in the forest. Our guide was great and I highly recommend Country Lake Systems for some fun stuff around Mt. Fuji. They are so much better than a large tour bus on the mountain. Of course, it would be awesome to climb Mt. Fuji too.
Image from Live, Travel, Teach
Baegundae Peak is a huge mountain outside Seoul, South Korea in Bukhansan National Park. Exploring Seoul with my brother, we were wandering around the city, and stumbled across the national park. We saw people on a hiking trail and decided to go for a hike. Way off in the distance was the rocky Baegundae Peak, we had no idea that our trail went to the summit. We kept going, and eventually realized that we were heading to the mountain. I had no intention on actually climbing it, it looked huge, but my brother talked me into it. Towards the top, there are some cool walls of a fort, along with a convenient store for stocking up on water, and the hillariously named Pocari Sweat sports drink.
At the very top, it gets rocky and steep, and there are ropes to hold on to as you reach the summit. The view from the top is awesome. You can see the tall buildings of Seoul way beneath you. You also get a great view of how huge the city is. We climbed the mountain in May, and were sweating a lot by the end of the day. We took the Seoul Metro back to our hotel when we were done, and we smelled so bad that we had an entire metro car to ourselves! Nobody wanted to be near us, it was kind of embarassing, but also hillarious and we were too tired to care.
Image from Along came an elephant.com
I'm not sure Angels Landing is really considered a mountain, it is a "rock formation". But it is close-enough, and easily the best hike I've done in my life. A steep hike up with 1000 feet cliffs right next to you will get your adrenaline pumping. A wrong step could send you off the cliff, and many people have died on this hike. However, if you have sure footing and some decent reflexes, it isn't too difficult, it is more fun. I thought the climb seemed like a fun rocky tree-climbing session. Kind of like a real-life 3D platformer game. The scenery is great too, especially at the summit, you get an amazing view of Zion National Park below.
Big Southern Butte
Image from Summit Post
A massive volcanic dome towering above the high Idaho desert, Big Southern Butte is one of my favorite mountains. It is truly in the middle of nowhere, in the Arco desert. There are no foothills around it, just the mountain towering 2,500 feet above. The view from the top is amazing. You can see forever. To the east you can see the Tetons, and the Sawtooths to Sun Valley. A very cool mountain.