John Muir


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The day was rainy and the clouds hung low. The trees here are remarkably well developed, tall and straight, 150 ft. or more. Noticed three or four hemlocks which had been struck by lightning – the first I had seen in Alaska. Some of this species on stormy rock points become very picturesque, almost as much so as old oaks. The foliage becomes dense and the branchlets tufted in heavy plume shaped horizontal masses. Nov. 3rd. Clear and with our head wind again. Pull at the oars and paddles, rather dull work, but we must make what headway we can as the storm season is at hand. Met five canoes, more Hoonas coming home. The rock hereabouts is marble. Noted many picturesque points, tree-tufted and worn into caves, small waterfalls leaping on the cliffs which are not over 50 ft. high. Towards noon came in sight of the great Chilcat glacier, a massive snout coming out from a narrow canyon and seeming to reach out two or three miles into the canal. Told the crew that I wanted to camp alongside this gl[acier] or ice-mountain as they called it, to-night, but we failed to reach it, stopping short some 8 or 10 miles. Came by on the W side of an island in a narrow cove below the fork of the Canal about 12 ms. There is a smaller gl[acier] that comes down nearly to the salt water just opp[opsite] our camp, but Toyatte declared that it would take too long to reach it. A few steps from the spot selected for our bed we found the skeleton of a man which we buried. Nov. 4th. The wind light but fair, and we glide up the beautiful channel enjoying the noble landscape and hoping to reach the lower Chilcat vil[lage] before night. The great gl[acier] on our left just opposite the end of the promontory at the angle between the Chilcat and Chilcoot bays showed grandly as it thrust its immense snout forward into the channel. It is fan-shaped and measures about three miles around the curve and about one mile at the mouth of its own proper channel, which is back about 2 miles from the end of the snout, the gl[acier] coming this distance out into the channel, with its moraine material, a curve of which concentric with the outline of the snout, supports a growth of trees, mostly spruces, alders, and willows. This growth is about half a mile wide. The amount of surface gained by the expansion of its lower portion makes the waste equal the supply without leaving any space for bergs. Were it confined in its own proper channel it would undoubtedly send off bergs. Its course for 6 or 8 miles is quite steep, forming three well marked cascades. On this same side of the canal there are four other gl[acier]s which come down nearly to sea level, one to the south and three to the N. of the great gl[acier], opposite or a little above the Indian village, while at the head of the Chilcoot back of Lynn Canal there is a very noble one which I saw in the sit[ance] on the way southward. The main trunk is very straight and seems to extend directly into the sea. Besides this there are a great many gl[acier]s of the third class which yet descend below the timber line, while the smaller arms are innumerable. An Indian at Chilcat declares that up a left hand fork of the Chilcoot or on a sep[arate] stream there is a very large gl[acier] which pushes out into the main canyon of the stream and dams it, compelling the stream to force a way beneath it as the Stickeen is said to have done beneath the Buck gl[acier]. This is said to be large. {sketch: “House front in Hootsenoo vil.}

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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