John Muir


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the strange plantless icy stormy looks of the country and declared that his tumtum was in doubtful state, that it seemed as if he were sailing his canoe into a skookum-house (jail) from which we might not be able to escape. Kadachan, too, was afraid of something happening, and said that if I had not come back tonight he would have been troubled, for he would have felt that I need had been killed and my blood would have been upon his hands. That he would go with us, however, as a friend, but not for money, and that he hoped we would all get safe away from this wild region because he thought the Lord loved us. I saw that they were frightened, and assured them that I had ten years wandered alone in far more dangerous places and that God always took care of me. “You will all have good luck while you travel with me.” To this they listened attentively. Kadachan said that he liked to travel with a man who feared nothing, but that one of their chiefs was lost in the snow while hunting wild sheep, and that his people in general were afraid of mountains, that they believed they had souls and individual character, and “if you are lost how will I be able to tell your friends.” Toyatte said that my “wawa” was “delait”, but that if the canoe was turned over he wanted to take me in his arms and sink with me. Their apprehensions were excited, or rather intensified by the guide, who on learning that I wanted to sail close along the face of the ice-cliffs said he would not go, for we would all be killed by the fall or sudden uprising of bergs. Five of their tribe had perished in this way while hunting the hair seal. Oct. 27 – Still raining and the Wind high, but fair. We ran into a bay at the mouth of the 2d/of the great glaciers that flow into the sea, having passed the mouth of the bay or fiord of the first, Geikie, on this side on Saturday, while a violent wind was blowing out of it. Here we landed and made a slight examination of the grand blue ice wall, which is perhaps about 45 ft. or 100 ft. high, while it plunges into deep water – how deep I had no means of finding out. The snout is about a mile and a half long and an extensive tributary comes in within half a mile of the sea-front. The jagged spires and pyramids and flat topped towers into which the ice is broken and weathered are indiscernible. Back from the face the whole current is fissured and corrugated, making a surface impassable for man. It seems as if the whole mass of the gl[acier] spreads away indefinitely in a smooth gently sloping prairie-like expanse with mountain tops rising as islands in the midst. From here a run of two hours brought us to the extreme N end of the Sound in the westmost branch of it, which is from 1 to 2 ms. wide and about 5 ms. long, and encompassed with lofty mountains and gla[acier]s, the mountains mostly submerged in ice up to their waists, and whiter than any I ever saw before. Our Indian guide had cached some wood near the mouth of the fiord while on one of his seal hunts. This we obtained on our way up, but with difficulty on account of the roughness of the water. The wind seemed to rush us into this cold north chamber as if saying, “Go then if you will, but mind you stay until I let you out.” All this time the rain was falling thick and plenty, but contrary to all signs the sky began to open soon after we landed. We found a sheltered bay on the East shore near the head of the fiord just opposite the mouth of the largest gl[acier], the tents were put up, and the canoe dragged up the beach above the {Sketch: Island in Kiku Strait opposite Kake village}

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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