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Mountain Higher Than Everest

December 15, 2015

You won’t believe what you don’t know about the mountains right in your backyard. If you close your eyes and imagine a majestic, soaring mountain range, you’re probably thinking of the Himalayas, the Alps or even the Rockies. But did you know there's a mountain higher than Everest? At least, there used to be.


The Appalachian Mountains were once taller than the Himalayas!



Photo Credit: Dave Allen

The Appalachian Mountains, which range from Canada down through the southeastern United States, started forming about 480 million years ago. In fact, some scientists believe the Appalachians are the oldest mountains in the world. The birth of the Appalachian Range marks the first of several mountain-building collisions that resulted in the formation of the supercontinent Pangaea. (Is this bringing back social studies vibes?) Because North America and Africa were once connected, the Appalachians originally formed part of the same mountain chain as the Little Atlas in Morocco.

Are we blowing your mind yet?



Photo Credit: Cartographer's Guild

We can still see fragments of the supercontinent in various places along the Appalachian Range, including Blowing Rock in North Carolina and Red Top Mountain in north Georgia. Flash forward about 200 million years, and Pangea began to break up. As the supercontinent rifted apart, the forces that created the Appalachian Mountains were stilled. Weathering and erosion prevailed, and the mountains began to wear away. Jump ahead another 200 million years, and you can visit the modern day Appalachian Mountains. Today, the highest peaks are only about a third of the size of Everest. But if you close your eyes and take a deep breath of that fresh mountain air, you can imagine yourself soaring above the world on the planet's highest peak.

Next time you’re hiking the Appalachians, remember to pay respect to your elder.



Photo Credit: BucketTripper.com


So if you're wondering which mountains are higher the Rockies or the Appalachians, the answer really depends on when you ask.

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