John Muir’s Wilderness Essays is the perfect primer to follow the epic trail he blazed for all of us.
Anyone who has camped along the volcanic shores of Crater Lake or watched wild moose graze in the shadows of the Grand Tetons should offer a prayer of thanks for John Muir—the father of our national parks. His mystical and moving writings about the sights, sounds, flora, and fauna of these “pristine lands” helped inspire the public to preserve thousands of acres of rapture-filled wilderness that we still enjoy today. Reading John Muir’s Wilderness Essays today reminds us that nature is full of wonders to behold and encounters to share. So, for those who want to chase the legend, here are your trail notes.
REDISCOVER GLACIER BAY
JOHN MUIR: “When the sunshine is sifting through the midst of this multitude of icebergs, and through the jets of radiant spray ever plashing (sic) from the blows of the falling and rising bergs, the effect is indescribably glorious. Glorious, too, are the nights along these crystal cliffs when the moon and stars are shining.
Hike Into Wild Gardens
JM: “Passing from beneath the shadows of the woods where the trees grow close and high, we step into charming wild gardens full of lilies, orchids, heathworts, roses, etc., with colors so gay and forming such sumptuous masses of bloom, they make the gardens of civilization, however lovingly cared for, seem pathetic and silly.
Bring Your Best Manners
JM: “We were frightened and embarrassed, both of us, but the bear’s behavior was better than mine … I rushed towards him to frighten him … When I stopped short a few steps of him, as he held his ground in a fighting attitude, my mistake was monstrously plain. I was then put on my good behavior, and never afterward forgot the right manners.
Witness Weird Wonders
JM: “Besides the treasures common to most mountain regions that are wild and blessed with a kind climate, the park is full of exciting wonders. The wildest geysers in the world, in bright, triumphant bands, are dancing and singing … amid thousands of boiling springs, beautiful and awful, their basins arrayed in gorgeous colors.”