John Muir


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some moutoneed mountain boss is about to be born. This is a fine specimen of a general gl[acier], undivided, covering hill and dale of a country not yet quite finished, quite ready to be brought to the light. A more perfectly chaste and finely bossed and bosomed landscape growing in pale sunshine could never be imagined. The only outlets of this ice-mantle visible from here are two mouths about a mile and half a mile wide respectively. These have no vertical broken faces and seem barely to reach to salt water without sending off bergs to any great extent. Southward along the shore of the main bay there are several outlets (3). The first of these (No. 2 counting from S.) measuring from the head of Gl[acier] B[ay] is situated at a dis[ance] of about 10 or 12 ms. It comes boldly down into deep water with a front of about 2 ms. in length and 200 ft. h[igh], a mass of broken towers and battlements and mural cliffs of blue ice of many shades from pale shining limpid tints in the crevasses, fine as the pale tones in the sky, to the most startling and chilling tones of vitriol. The other two mouths (No. 1 of gl[acier]s counting from S) are at the head of a side fiord about 4 ms. long, coming in thus, [tiny drawing] the one to right looking up the fiord sends its ice off in bergs from a front about a mile wide, coming down in a most imposing cascade of ice fragments, each a work of divine art. The left gl[acier] has deposited its terminal moraine in front of the snout, filling up the bay and thus cutting itself off from the water. The bottom of its snout is still undoubtedly below sea level, but it sends off no bergs, melts without the need of warm water. On the right hand side about 2 ms. below the head of the fiord there is a third gl[acier] which is smaller and does not reach quite so low a level. All these are outlets of the one grand mer and Indian Charley, who is acquainted with the region says that similar gl[acier]s extending into salt water in fiords occur on the sea coast immediately across from here, which would seem to prove that this same ice-mantle extends over the whole of the lower end of the peninsula formed by the ocean and this branch of Cross Sound. An Indian is said to have crossed over from Ice Bay to the sea and reported ice all the way. Looking W. the view is bounded by a most extravagant peaked mass of mountains which send down a multitude of tributary gl[acier]s into one grand level mass which discharges into the bay a mouth a mile wide or more. The view of these mountains draped with clouds which rose and fell and were rearranged constantly, the play of light from the sun through the clouds from peak to peak and over the miles of crevasses and pinnacles and blue cliffs of the gl[acier] in the foreground made one of the most impressive pictures I ever beheld. Looking NW a third gl[acier] front is seen in the foreground pushing out into deep water with a multitude of bergs crowded back against it by the wind and a long gl[acier], river-like, but broad and unwavering in trend reaching back into the distance, a well-defined range of mountains bounding its R. bank, while the L. bank is invisible from my outlook, being cut off by a noble mountain which rises from the N.W. extremity of the snout of the gl[acier]. This seems to be the largest of the gl[acier]s that are at all river-like. The large island mass that separates this gl[acier] from the last may possibly be only an island and the two mouths be thus separate outlets of one gl[acier]. Going back to camp towards evening the sun was shining brightly and the sky was so perfectly clear and frosty that it now seems to bid fair for dry days for some time. Every day since setting out from Wrangel it has rained, though not steadily. A perfectly dry spell after crouching cold and wet in the boat, clothing never dry, bed never dry, efforts always being made to protect things and ourselves from the weather, rain percolating and stealing confidingly and surely down our backs, etc – such a treat would be appreciated. {Sketch: Dead house totem, Kake village.} I had some cautious scambling down the cliff. Found a fair fire and some hot coffee waiting me. How brightly shine the stars in the crisp frosty sky tonight, and how impressively the birth of bergs is told in thunder tones that roll and swell in the stillness of this northern solitude, and also by the swelling waves which travel across the bay and rush up the stony shelving shore below

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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