Wednesday, July 28, 2010

White Mountains Part One: The Hills Themselves

Last week I was camping in the White Mountains. Despite some rainy (and downright stormy) weather we managed to get some pretty stellar hiking in. I learned a couple things in my attempts to turn some of my experience into posts for the Network. First, I am terrible at shooting mountains. I'm sure I can learn but my familiarity with the very small and my lack of experience shooting them made it a somewhat fruitless attempt. The shot above represents the best of probably about 20 shots and still it doesn't capture the experience of being there in the mountains.

Another thing is that I know almost nothing about geology. I'm pretty good with biology and have at least a cursory knowledge of other sciences but I'm just darn confused when it comes to rocks. So I wanted to write a little about how the mountains were formed but found it nearly impossible to find any credible resources on the interwebs. So maybe I'll have to do some research and get myself a good geology 101 textbook. If anyone has any suggestions, please leave a comment.

What I do know now is this: there are several ways mountain chains can form. The formation of the White Mountains is actually fairly complex but if you're more interested than me here's a blog post by a White Mountain Naturalist that I didn't even have the patience to read myself because apparently I just don't get geology:

In short, one of the ways mountains form is when two or more continental plates push together. This process causes one plate to sink under the other and push the surface sediment up, forming mountains. I also know that you can generally tell something about the age of a mountain chain by how tall and pointy the mountains are. The taller and pointier (like the rockies and the alps) the younger the mountains are. I believe (do not quote me on this) that I read somewhere that the alps are actually still on their way up.

That would probably (probably) make the Whites an older range. They are fairly low elevation and have smoother, more rounded peaks rather than the sharper tops of mountains in the the Rockies or Himalayas.

So please, send us all your mountain knowledge. Where is a geologist when you need one?

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