In the Rockies, we mock the hills that pass for mountains in the east. But airplane descending over the sprawling farmlands of Vermont, I couldn’t help being enchanted by the Green Mountains, currently white tipped with snow. Even as our shuttle bus neared Johnson, it felt as if the “mountains” were “towering” above. The majestic Sangre de Cristos that I know and love are over 13,000′ tall, while these eastern rock formations are just above 4,000′. Yet, the hike from the base to the peak of these two sets ends up being about the same. My mountains in New Mexico begin at just under 9,000′, while these mountains begin at nearly sea level. I don’t want to belittle the difference altitude makes; a New Englander would be huffing and puffing up the alpine Rockies with diminished oxygen while I sprinted these boreal forests. Still, high altitude in the sunny southwest might be comparable to the northern climate of Vermont. And, I can’t forget, their small stature is due to their elder status. So, I will still continue to mock these eastern “mountains” with dry sarcastic wit, but with a new respect for them and their sister river valleys.