John Muir


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Before leaving Chilcat climbed the mountain back of the vil[lage] to a height of 3000 ft. Found the Wil. Spruce at this height considerably dwarfed with Mew and Merten sp[ruce], the tallest about 20 ft., 16 inches dia. Saw stragglers higher, say at 4,000. This mountain terminates in a noble dome broken away on the N. Spotless white, 5500 ft. h[igh]. Tall grass all the way as far as I went, which burns now and then, killing most of the timber. Saw many fire-killed spots further south 30 ms. This climate is evidently drier than towards Wrangel, where the woods never burn. The potatoes here tell of more sunshine. Birch and two-leaved pine common, also wild rose, the hips of which are eaten entire like berries, seeds and all. A wooden tray ornamented round the flat margin with shells was brought in one evening, filled with rose-hips and passed round. The Indians laughed at my eating only the outside, and rejecting the prickly, seedy contents. We passed around on the E. side of the larger island, lying near the S extremity of the point of land dividing the Chilcat and the Chilcoot Channels, and then down the E shore of the Canal. The great gl[acier] is just opp[osite] the dividing ridge, the end of it an hour and a half’s run from the vil[lage] with good wind. This eve at sunset we harbored in a small bay 3 or 4 ms. below the south jaw of Berner’s Bay. Nov. 9. Sunday. Remain in camp as usual on ministerial account, though the wind is fair. The Indians would fondly accept any creed making every day of the week a lazy day. Still they wash and mend and chop wood. Charley made a sweat-house and took a good bath. So did his comp[anion]s, which was at least one pious deed. The house was a blanket over poles, and water poured on hot stones. A more complete shelter could not be found than is this little horseshoe bay. The rock here is lava trachyte, black, scarce at all basaltic in structure. The Chilcat islands are limestone. The timber the two sp[ruce]s, well developed, 150 ft. h[igh], with alder fringe on the shore. Nov. 10th. Head wind. Pulled about 30 ms. down to Auk village beautifully located nearly opp[osite] the NW extremity of Douglas Island. Passed three large gl[acier]s that came down to within a few feet of sea-level. All within a few miles of each other, opposite the n. extremity of Admiralty Island. The mountain north of this all are gl[acier] laden, some three or four descend below the timber-line. The Auks are the poorest Thlinkets I have seen. They have but 8 or 9 inhabited houses in the vl[lage]. They were mostly drunk or nearly so, and we could make nothing of them. The head chief was five miles away at a salmon chuck and they would not send for him nor invite a talk, but we were offered a big sq[uare] house with carved pillars inside for a shelter for the night. We concluded to leave them and set off to seek a camp. It was now nearly dark and quite so ere we found a harbor not far from a large gl[acier] which pours down into the narrow channel that cuts off Douglas Is[land] from the mainland. The chief’s house is situated opposite our camp a mile or two dist[ant]. We see his light and {sketch: Dead houses 15 ft. above ground. At Hoona 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