John Muir


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from the ground save the small white circle with fading edges

In the centre of which I stood, while the storm-wind swept past with low deep roar, was very impressive; [a sensation as if one were suspended in the clouds, or rather wading in a cloud, and all so strange and novel and bewildering that scarce a memory of the world, or one of one[‘s]self even, is left untouched. Every earth tie [seemed to be] severed. How easy to lose one[‘s]self when not a bit of ground, bush, grass stem or even cloud [is] left. A constant effort, instinctively made, was necessary to keep possession of the direction of my return, inasmuch as the mountain slopes were very complicated, falling to right and left in graduating waves, with numerous small lake basins in the hollows between them. The tracks of the ptarmigan and foxes were everywhere visible on the snow, some of them fresh, only a few minutes old as determined by the falling show. The brown earth covering is composed of grasses, mainly, on a ground of mosses, and a few white, gray and yellow lichens, the mosses about a foot deep, the grasses from one to five feet high. A fern about three feet high occurs in wet hollows and slopes in large patches; also the common Polypodium on steep slopes where the moss is thinner. One or two Vacciniums, three willows (dwarf), and on the mid-ridges Empetrum with Bryanthus, cranberry, and Linnea. On the low grounds [are found] a large Archangelica, Pisum, Maritinum, a lupine, draba, bearberry, and anemone, the three last in flower. How beautiful these mountains must be when all are in bloom, with the bland summer sunshine on them, the butterflies and bees among them, the deep glacial fiords calm and full of reflections, the purple masses of heathworts, the waving panicles of the grasses, and the beds of fragrant Linnea. On the way back to the ship I sauntered through the town Iliuliuk. It contains about one hundred buildings, half of them frame, built by the Alaska Commercial and Western Fur and Trading Companies. Aleutian huts are called “Barabaras”. They are built of turf on a frame of wood; some of them have floors, and are divided into many rooms, very small ones. The smells are horrible to clean nostrils, and the air is foul and dead beyond endurance. Some of the bedrooms are not much larger than coffins. The floors are below the surface of the ground two or three feet, and the doors are at the end away from the direction of the prevailing wind. [There are] one or two small windows of glass or bladder, [Drawing - no title - view of town]

Date Original



Original journal dimensions: 11 x 18.5 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