John Muir


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or N.most we sailed up the branch of the fiord, leading to the other, but after proceeding half a mile or so found the whole fiord covered with thin ice through which the canoe grated heavily and soon brought us to a standstill. We therefore turned back and camped on a sloped of gravel and cobblestones not far from the point of the angle between the two forks of the fiord. [Drawing of the totem pole] Our campfire was made from wood that we gathered from the beach and a stratified mass of gl[acial] detritus clayey and sandy and gravelly but containing also large bowlders. This wood is here quite abundant and is exposed by the down-washing of the deposit in which it lies buried. This deposit is enormously thick, 1000 ft. or more. Some portion of the mountain-side is covered to a height above the bay of 2000 ft. and is all more or less distinctly stratified, as shown in stream sections with which it is furrowed. The rock on which it rests is scored and planed and grooved by the gl[acial] action. The timber is in the form of trunks from 10 or 20 or 30 ft long, and the largest about 3 ft. in dia. I saw many projecting from steep stream-cut banks. All had been broken, though sound and tough, as if by ava[lanche]s. All were lying in horizontal position, and often in regular layers for consider[able] dist[ances] stretching across from gully to gully thus [Drawing]. The species seems mostly will[ow] and Merten Spruce, with some Menzies, like the present forests in similar locations and elevations.These hills and mountains seem to have been about as heavily forested as those farther south. But not a spot of ground is now stable enough to allow them to stand. Every sq. yd. of soil is on the move, in a transition state. {Sketch: Kake vil.} The night is very brilliant. How large seems the evening star, half as big as the moon. The Indians have a long hungry talk on astronomy, the cause of the tide, winds, etc. Their eager attention and quick perception are refreshing. Will set off early tomorrow to climb for a view before breakfast. Oct. 29th. Started at 3:30 this morning up the face of the angle between the forks of the fiord. The ground was frozen and steep and hard to climb. Reached a point about 1500 or 2000 ft. above camp. Only on small level tablets is there any vegetation, even lichens are in most places awanting. Dwarf willows are the only bushes beside huckleberry, and of these only a very scant growth on small spots beneath rocks that sheltered them. Loose moving moraine soil extended all the way up far as I went. I had a fine view of the upper course of the N. gl[acier], the main trunk of which is made of three trib[utarie]s with medial mor[aine]s extending in fine fluent curves down the trunk to the ter[minal] mor[aine.] The down-wash from these large gl[acier]s is so great that term[minal] mor[aine]s are never distinct in structure. They consist of only a draggled wash of pebbles and bowlders, mostly well rounded. Only the smaller gl[acier]s whose drainage area is small have curved embankment like mor[aine]s and these only where the mountain slope is not too steep. Here too I found trunks of spruce belonging to the old forest. Got back to camp while breakfast was being worked, and got under way in the canoe about daylight. The frost was not very keen. Nevertheless there was a thin film of ice covering

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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