John Muir


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drove our little boat across the waves in gallant exhilarating style. The swell was quite heavy. Now we were down in a deep trough, now held on top as if balanced, then were diagonally twisting and twirling the canoe like a bit of drift. The high prow was often down below the level of the wave ahead and seemed to be diving, yet she rode well and took but little water which was at once carefully bailed out. Our Indians dread this wide crossing. They were grave and watchful and perhaps a little afraid. One of them said, “I am surprised to see that you are not frightened to cross here.” They spoke of it all the way from Wrangel as the one difficulty in the way of making the trip at this time of year. Toyatte said he had not slept well a single night thinking of it. “You will be scared to death before you get across.” “All right,” I said, “some of you Indians will show it first.” After we had rounded Cape Gardner and were in the comparatively calm Chatnam Strait they all chattered and laughed and joked like schoolboys on a vacation frolic. We kept on up the Strait to the first of the Hootsenoo villages, arriving at 1:30 P.M., having run some 50 miles in 7 hours. We were welcomed by the whole village.

Men, women and children turned out, creeping from doors and holes and streaming down to the beach, staring curiously as if never had before seen a white man. One of the chief men, a remarkably good-looking and intelligent fellow, shook hands with us and invited us to his house, the largest and cleanest looking in the village. Quite a number of children followed us in and crowded round the fire, staring like a lot of frightened curious seals. When two old women, one of them like some blackened gigberry ghoul drove them out with most terror-inspiring looks and gesticulations, the whole flock poured through the round hole of a door like sheep crowding out of a gap in a corral, most of them laughing and enjoying the joke. In a few moments our cook began to get dinner. Our host said, through the interpreter, that he was sorry we could not eat Indian muck-a-muck. He was anxious to entertain us. We explained that we had not yet learned to eat in Indian fashion but were sensible of his kindness. His brother brought out six or eight turnips and pared them without getting them soiled, and cut them in slices and offered them in a clean dish. This we ate as desert. Then he brought out a cubical box from some corner, took off the lid which was carefully fitted. {sketch: Looking SE from the Channel between Wrangel Island and the mainland.}

Date Original



Original journal dimensions: 11.5 x 18 cm.

Resource Identifier



Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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