January 24. Go up the Wanganui in steamer about 20 miles. Start at 9:30am. Current very rapid, in half a dozen spots had to be warped up by wire cable and capstan. Between rapids long tranquil reaches. Returned in and hour and a half, landed at Mourn [Maori] villages. Saw Barlett pears nearly ripe, and apples, quinces etc., in village without cultivation. Happy looking people, flocks and fields. River banks very steep and richly fern thatched, two or three species beside the tree form which made delightful growth on mountain slopes one above another. Visited cave, charming embowered arch cave, the tree climbers hanging in festoons from roof, the roots apparently changing to leafy stems. Trends of river glacial, the channel eroded by water, depth of 200 feet. January 25. Start this morning down river at 8:45am for a rail road town [Wanganui]. Expect to reach Wellington by rail tomorrow at noon. Yesterday was interested to find unmistakable traces of glacial action in general sculpture of the mountains and trends of main valleys. The post-glacial weathering on soft sandstone has eaten deeply into the icy records. Some of the small streams have sawed narrow slots of channels 100 feet deep or more, five or ten feet wide buried in foliage, the sides thatched with charming ferns but nothing in the canyon fairy dell kind can surpass those of the grand forest region between the glacial Ruapehu and Pipirika [Pipiriki]. Hill or mountain side covered from top to river with fern trees over bushes and ferns, the fairy cave in fossiliferous rock sandstone, draped in climber shrub and the fern-thatched river precipices and glorious shaggy Rata forest in bloom, the grand features of the upper Wanganui. Climbed Rata tree in evening and was soon laden with scarlet flowers. The sail today down to Wanganui City is less interesting.
Original journal dimensions: 9 x 15.5 cm.
Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist