John Muir


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[After] a mile or two we struck across towards an island that stands nearly in the mid[dle] of the bay. In this part of our night sail we came near running on a rock which showed a black round back over which the waves were breaking, and in the hurried Indian shouts that followed the discovery, and while we were close alongside of it Mr. Y[oung] shouted as he leaned over against me, “It’s a whale!” He evidently feared its tail as well as its big mouth, several fine specimens of both we had seen this forenoon close to the boat in still water – some 8 or 10 of them about 40 ft. long. He was Jonahed, however. While sailing along the east shore of the island we got into a cross wind that was sweeping down the bay from the icy mountains at the head and hoisted our sail. Here too saw a light on the opposite shore which Toyatte took for some fire in the Indian vill[age] and steered for it. John stood in the bows to watch for bergs. We passed a good many. Suddenly he dropped the sail just as we were running upon a sand-bar. After clearing this by backing and running half a mile or so to the S. we again steered for the light, which now shone brightly. I thought it strange that Indians should have so good a fire. There was a large white mass seen below the clouds, and above the fire which Mr. Y[oung] took for the glow of the fire. This proved to be the bent down-flowing snout of a glacier. After we had effected a landing and stumbled up over a ledge of algae-covered rocks and through the ordinary lush tangle of shore grass to the fire we were astonished to find white men instead of Indians, the first we had seen for a month. They proved to be a party of seven gold-seekers who left fort Wrangel four days before we did. It was about 8 o’clock and most of them had gone to bed. One of them, a jolly Irishman, got up and made a cup of coffee for Mr. Y[oung] and myself which was appreciated by Mr. Y[oung] as a drink of whisky by a toper dry. We had been out of coffee for a day and Mr. Y[oung]’s sufferings were already shamefully great. We took out our chart and the Irish friend took great pains to mislead us if possible as to our position. He also said there was but little ice here or sceneries is this were what we sought. {sketch: From Hoona vil. Entrance of Hoona Channel} There were big rocks and gulches and sceneries of a better quality down on our way to Wrangel. He and his party were prospecting, he said, but had only found color here and there and they proposed going over to Admiralty Island tomorrow morning as there was nothing here. I felt that he was not speaking the truth, but was not interested in finding his motive. Next day when he was to have gone to the island we noticed a big smoke half a mile or so

Date Original



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