John Muir


image preview


May 4, 1881. Sailed from San Francisco for the Arctic Ocean today at 3 P.M. to see what I might learn concerning the glaciations of the coast, hoping in particular to unite my previous observations, made as far North as Lat. 60o, with higher latitudes on both the Asiatic and American shores; in general, to study the geology of what ground I might have the chance to see, and to get some views of the flora, fauna, climates, et cetera. The bay was rough and gloomy, and the sky dark, making it uncomfortable for the few friends of out [band of] forty who were anxious to see us off. We were accompanied outside the heads by the steam tug “Rush” and a yacht. Mr. Magee, also, followed nearly as far, his boat being towed astern of us. Then with farewell cannon and flags dipping we were left to pursue our long voyage. We made direct for Unalaska, and the weather was such that we varied but little from a direct course. On the morning of the 16th we sighted land, and in the afternoon about half past twelve we dropped anchor Unalaska harbor. [Drawing - “On W. side Akutan Pass, Unalaska”] [Drawing - “Glacier fountain, Unalaska”] [Drawing - “Cook’s Harbor, Near Akutan Pass, Unalaska] There was no striking event in all the voyage until we came in sight of the snowy, stormy Island of Unalaska. The weather was remarkably cool, an average daily temperature of about 55o gradually falling to 35o with squalls of sleet and snow when we neared land. The days drifted past gray and cloudy in even tone. A few gulls in the wake of the ship skimmed the dull blue waves, now up, now down, tracing the irregularities of the swells with admirable fidelity and absence of visible effort - clean , strong, and happy in the midst of as dull and discouraging an environment as might well be conceived, as unlike the sunny leafy homes of larks and linnets as possible, yet to all appearance [the gulls were] as well fed and unruffled as they. Here and there a whale, too, was spouting hot breath and foam

Date Original



Original journal dimensions: 11 x 18.5 cm.

Resource Identifier



Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

Rights Management

To view additional information on copyright and related rights of this item, such as to purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish them, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.


John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist