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World’s Tallest Mountain

August 19, 2011

Directions on an island are a function of geography, not orientation.

There are but two directions on an island – mountainside and beachside.  One is the opposite of the other.  There are words to this effect in the Polynesian root language, but they escape me.  One is either facing water or mountain – there ‘s literally nothing in between.

The Pheebs and I decided to explore the interior of the island a while back, which means heading to the mountain side – up.

It’s a curious place, for one does not travel far to pick up a moderate amount of elevation change.   How much, you ask?

That depends on how one looks at height.  From sea level, the highest point on Guam is Lam Lam, a towering 1,277′ above sea level.

This is on par with the nubby hills of Northern Michigan, hills passed off as mountains simply because they’re the largest in the area.

Alas, there’s another way to look at Lam Lam – and that’s to look to oceanside – the windward side of the island, to be precise…

For a few miles offshore in the direction I’m gazing is the Mariana Trench http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariana_Trench, the deepest known part of the ocean at 35,760 feet.  Technically Lam Lam is the exposed peak of the edge of this incredibly deep valley – so in elevation change from valley floor to peak, Lam Lam beats Mt. Everest by  a staggering 8000+ feet.

Personally, I like that the world’s tallest mountain may be surmounted in flip-flops.  The valley floor is another issue altogether.

It’s pretty up here.

 

The mountains are covered with sword grass.  It’s attractive young to look at, but sword grass gets its name not from aesthetics.  The grass emits some sort of silica crystal structure on its leaves – these act like miniature serrated knives, imparting hundreds of small and painful cuts as they brush exposed flesh.

Either one walks with a machete (which I personally find damned cool) or one sticks to paths well-traveled..

From our lofty perch we could look down on the harbors – both commercial and Navy.

Make no mistake of it – this is a highly developed navy base.  I forget the exact numbers of people living on base, but it’s a population greater than that of Key West.

It’s nickname on-island?  Big Navy.

I’ve decided posts will take a slightly different turn for a while, as the scooter is finally roadworthy to the point where exploring mountainside is possible.  When I bought the anemic little sucker, the best it would do on Day One was a howling 23 MPH on the flat.  If you know me – that won’t do.  A couple of months later, the same scooter can take the steepest grade Guam can throw at it and still break the speed limit doing it.  Fortunately the wisdom of age keeps me from finding out exactly how fast it is, but it has been north of 50 on more than one occasion – no mean feat on an island with a maximum 35 MPH speed limit.

This means less of the tourist area – and more of the ‘real’ Guam.

Hope you like it!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 21, 2011 1:20 am

    I do miss mountains and their perspective looking down.

    • dangerboyandpixie permalink*
      August 21, 2011 1:55 am

      Funny you should mention that – I spent a good portion of my time growing up wishing I lived in a more hilly area. The Keys are falter than I like – but that’s a small price to pay for all the other good things one may enjoy.

      Still – it was cool to get some elevation the other day; many more pix to follow.

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