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A Rare Gem from John Muir

| December 6, 2008

While browsing the Library of Congress collection I came across this gem, an original article penned by John Muir from The Atlantic Monthly in 1899. I’ve read all of John Muir’s books and short storied but I’ve never read this article until tonight.

OF all the mountain ranges I have climbed, I like the Sierra Nevada the best. Though extremely rugged, with its main features on the grandest scale in height and depth, it is nevertheless easy of access and hospitable; and its marvelous beauty, displayed in striking and alluring forms, wooes the admiring wanderer on and on, higher and higher, charmed and enchanted. Benevolent, solemn, fateful, pervaded with divine light, every landscape glows like a countenance hallowed in eternal repose; and every one of its living creatures, clad in flesh and leaves, and every crystal of its rocks, whether on the surface shining in the sun or buried miles deep in what we call darkness, is throbbing and pulsing with the heartbeats of God. All the world lies warm in one heart, yet the Sierra seems to get more light than other mountains. The weather is mostly sunshine embellished with magnificent storms, and nearly everything shines from base to summit, the rocks, streams, lakes, glaciers, irised falls, and the forests of silver fir and silver pine.

And how bright is the shining after summer showers and dewy nights, and after frosty nights in spring and autumn when the morning sunbeams are pouring through the crystals on the bushes and grass, and in winter through the snow-laden trees! The average cloudiness for the whole year is perhaps less than ten hundredths. Scarcely a day of all the summer is dark, though there is no lack of magnificent thundering cumuli. They rise in the warm midday hours, mostly over the middle region, in June and July, like new mountain ranges, higher Sierras, mightily augmenting the grandeur of the scenery while giving rain to. the forests and gardens and bringing forth their fragrance. The wonderful weather and beauty inspire everybody to be up and doing. Every summer day is a workday to be confidently counted on, the short dashes of rain forming, not interruptions, but rests. The big blessed storm days of winter, when the whole range stands white, are not a whit less inspiring and kind. Well may the Sierra be called the Range of Light, not the Snowy Range; for only in winter is it white, while all the year it is bright.

In just that short snippet it’s easy to see why so many people came to Yosemite after reading John Muir’s magazine articles.

Be sure to read the entire article over at the Library of Congress.


Category: History


About Loyd: For over 30 years I've enjoyed hiking, backpacking, fishing, photographing and exploring Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. More About the Author. View author profile.

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