January 30. Rain all day. Pouring as we climbed into coach and on top; occasionally almost faired for a few minutes, then clouds sweeping along mountain side darkened and on wild corner another torrent driven in our faces as we rode on top of high coach above the driver. In the Buller Gorge the stage dashed through cataract from overhanging cliffs while bushes, rain laden, were thrashing in our faces. Yet not without pleasurable enjoyment of excitement and wild scenery. As a gorge the Buller is not very notable. In a few places where the river brushes sheer cliffs of breccia the road runs in a mere groove blasted from the front, like tunnel open on one side. Beautiful mountain slopes richly forested. Red and white Rata in glory of bloom. Enjoyed ride in spite of storm. January 31. Rain in afternoon. Rained most of the night, clearing this morning. Nobody hurt by cold wet ride as far as I know. In the afternoon hire coach and go botanizing on the broad tangled river delta as far as the ferry, six miles pushing through the brush here and there from road. Found white Rata in great abundance covering stumps, logs, trees dead or alive, a charming plant in wealth of bloom and glossy firm leaves and in its influence covering all decay and sign of death in bright life. Another species with very small leaves has red or pink flowers, both stamens, pistil and petals pink. Also climbs to top of tallest trees. The larger red Rata very abundant, taking possession of trees gradually as vine, ending by extinguishing its supporters. Found also fine orchid epiphyte, white flowers in panicles, and fern [firm?] handsome leaves forming tufts, pendant wind shaken. Fine rich almost impenetrable forest. Handsome pigeon and little fussy bird, I [a] fantail, white. The best trees white (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides Kahikatea), black (Prumnopitys taxifolia, Mataî) and red (Dacrydium cupressinum, Rimu) pinus.
Original journal dimensions: 9 x 15.5 cm.
Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist