John Muir


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There is some 10 or a dozen houses all told in this village. There is another smaller village belonging to this tribe on the other side of the Sound. The count we made, or rather induced the chief to make, shows some 725 persons in the tribe. Oct. 24th – From here we set sail for the Ice Mountain, as a certain large gl[acier] is called by our guide, Charley, the only one of our party who has any knowledge of this region. All the great gl[acier]s are called Ice Mountains from the Stickine Gl[acier] at “Buck’s”. We had broken the handle of our heaviest axe and as Charley declared that there was no wood to be had to the S & W of here and would therefore have to load the canoe with a store for cooking at an island off the entrance of this Hoona bay. We were anxious to buy or trade in the matter of getting a good axe. A young Hoona offered one for our broken axe and half a dollar. The axe and money were at once given him, when he demanded an additional 25 cts. worth of tobacco. This also was given, when he required half a dollar’s worth more, which also was brought and given. Then he demanded something more, at which Charley’s patience broke and we sailed in the same condition as to axes as when we arrived. This is the only contemptible affair we have found among any of the aborigines since leaving Wrangel. We reached the island about one o’clock, made coffee, took o a little wood, and set sail for the ice, finding it very hard indeed to believe the woodless party of Charley’s description, so heavily and uniformly are all the shores forested wherever we had been. In this we were joined by the other Indians, none of whom had ever seen a woodless region in their travels. Steering across to a point on the mainland which is made of gl[acial] detritus, low and float and covered with small spruces and alder bushes, with open sports gray with lichens, and where there is a small square stockade built by the Hoonas in a war with the Sitkas, we then bore across to the S. shore of the Sound, steering in a general W. direction, camping at 7:30 P.M. in a bay at the head of which there is a salmon chuck, and several islands about the mouth of it, mostly low flat masses of gl[acial] drift, large gray granite boulders angular and unworn about the shores, and remarkably young and spruces, Menzies, Mertens, and onelike willow (Patton) growing sparsely among alder and birch on lichen covered ground. Those flat islands are morain patches built up from the bottom of the Sound when it was being opened in irregular lake-like bits. Not traces of larger trees ever having been on them are to be seen. The main mountains are bare and forested in alternate patches, mostly bare. From the wood island we sailed probably about 25 ms. Camping on the windy shore in the dark and rain was rather trying. About an inch of snow on the ground. A strip of gravelly sand 8 or 10 ft. wide above tide and back of this a slope covered with alder 10 ft high. Most of the crew ran here and there looking for a good camp ground, while Toyatte made a complete home into which he gathered his children, whose skill and enterprise is so much less than his own. This afternoon we saw a few ice-bergs for the first time on the trip. The waves were beaten against their blue and white bluffs as against rock islands. {sketch: Group of young spruces on dead one – Kiku Strait} Oct. 25 – At daylight as we were about to embark we noticed a smoke rising from an island on the other side of the bay to which we steered. Just as we came within hailing distance an infernally black-faced Hoona came out of a little bark and brush hut and fired a challenge shot and demanded who we were. John replied, “Missionary from Wrangel,” when some fifteen men, women and children came out and met us on the beach. One of the men brought his gun, whom Kadachan sternly reprimanded and shamed for meeting a missionary with a gun in his hands. Going into the hovel we all found room to warm some 21 of us, though the place would seem small for two. It was also densely store with seal-skins, salmon, seal meat, etc. One of the men offered to go with us as guide. His wife got ready his tattered blanket and bit of matting and some dried salmon and seal-sausage made by plaiting strips of lean meat around a centre strip of fat. When we were ready she said with a smile, “You are taking

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Original journal dimensions: 11.5 x 18 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