Camping with John Muir

Today, on his birthday, I’m thinking of John Muir (born April 21, 1838), a Scottish immigrant who helped America see the true nature of our wild gifts. At a critical time, Muir helped us see that wilderness is more than just a warehouse of “resources” to be plundered. One of the coolest things Muir ever did was to take President Teddy Roosevelt on a three-day camping trip in Yosemite in 1903. Roosevelt enjoyed the outdoors and had requested the guided trip. One night snow fell on their campsite overlooking the Yosemite valley, and Roosevelt later recalled the day as “the grandest day of my life.” Muir believed that forests and wild places would easily be saved if we could just get people outdoors to experience nature firsthand. Muir’s campout with the president would have a lasting impact on Roosevelt, and was do doubt one of the most significant camping trips in history. Muir saw himself as an evangelist for nature, and he provides much of my inspiration for sharing my thoughts on The Wandering Trail.

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs on this site are my own. Obviously, I did not take this photo of Muir and Roosevelt on Glacier Point over the Yosemite Valley. Nor did I take the one above of him seated on a boulder in 1907. I may seem older, but I’m not that old.

Here are a couple of quotes from John Muir’s small book, Our National Parks, published in 1901.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” — John Muir, Our National Parks, page 1.

“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.” — Our National Parks, page 56.


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