John Muir


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The sky after sunrise was light blue. The sun shone through colored bars, red and cerise and fell in spiritual purity upon innumerable peaks, every one clad in spotless white from top to base, every one girdled with fresh snow. First the light from where I sat fell upon one peak in richest rosy crimson of the most exciting beauty, so warm, a bathing penetrating bloom, not an external flush but apparently the whole mass, so cool in its snow, was burning like hot metal, yet ineffably pure and immaterial. Then one after another was transfigured in the same God light, which changed in 20 or 30 minutes to a neutral tint which would perhaps be called lavender, a color I never before saw on land or sea. Then came commoner shades of red and purple. Then yellow paler and paler. The sky in the W was violet , with a purple cloud here and there of small size. This was the most marvelously lovely gl[acier] morning I ever saw. So glorious a multitude of Alps laden with ice bathed in a light as eternal and impressive as that of the alpenglow, yet perfectly novel and more massy and thick. The bay full or bergs setting out in the wind, spangles on the green water, prismatic light flashing and glowing on the gl[acier]s and bergs and shattered crystal of the ice battlements and a furred white glow on the snow domes and swelling currents of the gl[acier]s. We sailed out of Icy bay and rounded the point which terminates it on its left side. {sketch} Oct. 29. – Intended to run up to the snout of a fine glacier which pours its ice into another branch of the main bay, but found it closed with thin ice as well as by a jamb of bergs which had been floated there during the night by the changing wind. We could only observe W therefore at a dist[ance] of 3 or 4 ms. The next gl[acier] to the right as you look up N.ward was blocked in the same way. The next which comes in on the E side of the main bay we visited, landing and going back upon it a short dist[ance]. This one does not reach the bay, but melts about a mile from the short. Its snout is very ragged, many large masses are detached, not by falling off but by the more rapid melting of portions of the gl[acier] current further back. These detached masses are mostly buried in gl[acial] detritus and resemble in their relations to the gl[acier] to which they belonged small pools in front of a stream which is disappearing in the sands of a hot desert. The melting of these give rise to many pits and hollows, some of them 20 or 30 ft. deep. The ground parallel to the store and the gl[acier] snout is strewn with large deposits of washed pebbles and bowlders. Many fragments, not very abraded, of wood are scattered over this pebbly drift, derived from the vanished forests. Many pieces not at all decayed. The rock hereabouts is marble. From here continued three or four miles down the bay to the next gl[acial] fiord, into which we paddled our canoe. This fiord branches at the head and contains a gl[acier] in each branch, neither of which quite reaches the bay water. They are both fine gl[acier]s flowing in grand curves from ample fountains set far back. After landing and examining the front of the first {sketch: 30 ft high 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