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Author Biography: Gretel Ehrlich, a native Californian, is the author of the award-winning The Solace of Open Spaces, as well as John Muir: Nature’s Visionary and This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland, among other books and essays. She lives in Wyoming and California.
Evokes the timeless appeal of wandering through what Muir called his "marvelous wonderland."
Posted May 14, 2012
By, John Muir
The Yosemite, by John Muir is one of three books he wrote about California; the other two are named California (no figure) and The Sierras. The book titled, Yosemite, is all about Yosemite Valley and the surrounding peaks and valleys. John is somewhat of a poet when he talks about nature and its' beauty. “In the bright spring mornings the black-walled recess at the foot of the Lower Yosemite Fall is lavishly filled with irises spray; and not simply does this span the dashing foam, but the foam itself, the whole mass of it, beheld at certain distance, seems to be colored, and drifts and wavers from color to color, mingling with the foliage of the adjacent trees, without suggesting any relationship to the ordinary rainbow.” Muir stayed in Yosemite Valley for a total of four years; so it is easily said that John Muir was no couch potato. Being by himself most of the time he got himself in to a lot of interesting situations and adventures. John didn’t just have adventures for fun; he was a scientist who wanted to learn about everything around him when it came to nature. Climbing up Ice Mountains, going under waterfalls and crossing dangerous rivers were only some of the lengths he went to in discovering Yosemite.
In Yosemite, Muir talks a lot about specific details of the valley and surrounding peaks; details of how the trees grow, at what elevation, and how old they grow. He also talks about the beauty behind the facts. “I have often feasted on the beauty of these noble trees when they were towering in all their winter grandeur, laden with snow—one mass of bloom; in summer, too, when the brown, staminate cluster hang thick among the shimmering needles, and the big purple burrs are ripening in the mellow light; but it is during cloudless wind-storms that these colossal pines are most impressively beautiful.” John wanted you to realize how extraordinary this place was in its natural beauty. He cared so much about the land that he went to those great lengths to get that information in order to protect it. That’s where all of his adventure and research of the land paid off. John would grade a loaf of bread and some dried meat and is good for a weeklong adventure. John was always looking for the unknown or the unexplored, that’s what made him such a good mountaineer; what most people would be afraid of is what drove him further. John said one of the most spectacular scenes he ever saw was in the valley of Yosemite after a night of rain fall in his last winter, where in the morning there were one hundred new waterfalls rushing over the edges of the cliffs. Mister Muir does a great job in making you feel like your right there next to him, which is what makes it a fun read.
This is a great book, if you like to read about nature and the history behind it. I’ve been to Yosemite a couple of times personally and wanted to learn more about it, this book was perfect for that. It’s also trippy to think about how much Yosemite Valley has changed in the last hundred year’s. This was great because while you read you're looking at the maps that are in the book and you can follow exactly where John was going. Now that it's summer it's time for me to take one of my own John Muir adventures in Yosemite.
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Posted August 6, 2010
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Posted April 24, 2011
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