John Muir


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a dark cloud bank overhead with heavy, lurid caves; then the whole mass of the air a soft, purple mist, with innumerable purple islands seen more and more faintly beyond and beyond; a vision of the isles of the blessed, spiritualized in faint, or rather, tender, lines dissolving yet distinct; more glorious in reality than ever the heart of poet conceived; a realization of a more blessed, extravagant dreamland than the poets of any nation have ever dared to write. Some people on deck were transfigured, - doctors of divinity, tarry sailors and all – and worked in as an inseparable portion of the one grand effect. It is not generally known that during the long summer days in Alaska it is never dark, for though the sun sets here about 9 o’clock and is therefore some five or six hours below the horizon, it is so short a distance below even at midnight that there still is light enough to read, and the moist clouds that usually lie around the base of the sky are colored orange and red so that the sunset in subdued tones may be said to last all night. In Northern Alaska the sun scarce dips below the horizon. Perhaps one third of the summer days are rainy; but the rain is so warm, and the air is so calm as a general thing, and the rain falls so gently, that even this rainy weather is not stormy. Most of it would be called showery, as it seldom pours on evenly through all the twenty-four hours. The clouds are usually gray, often pearly white, and at sunset always well colored. There are few raw, black, draggled days without some dashes of late or early color, or white illumination about the noon hours. I never before have seen so much rain fall with so little noise, no loud, rushing winds, no thunder – at least I have heard none as yet, and from what I can learn from residents here it is quite as rare a phenomenon as in California a flash and clap of faint far away kind once in two or three years. The largest cluster of dry and sunny days was about two weeks long about the end of July. There is a fresh wholesomeness about the wettest of this weather that seems conducive { sketch: West from Wrangell. }

Date Original



Original journal dimensions: 8.5 x 13.5 cm.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist