February 9. At Gladstone Hotel, Fairlie and start for Hermitage by stage at 7:30am. Foggy and cloudy, but calm and likely to clear. Hills gradually rise into mountains on either hand, all treeless bunch grass region, brown and dry like the great basin country of Nevada. Soon the clouds lift, revealing the main range with its glaciers beautiful, but from here (20 to 25 miles from Fairlie) at elevation of 2500 feet, not very imposing. At noon we were as near or nearer Mt Cook than in the evening at Pukaki, 30 miles distant at the outlet of Lake Pukaki. Fine view from end of the lake of snowy Mt Cook and companion peaks with their many small glaciers. Successive terraces show clearly the different elevations at which the lake stood, by cutting back falls through different formations etc., [with an?] enormous extent and depth of water-washed and reformed moraine material. Charming white mat [Raoulia?] of compositae among tussock grass; called Maori carpet, Carmichaelia nana (senecio cassinioides). February 10. Mt Cook Heritage (42 miles) arriving about six o’clock, shiny mountains in sight all the way. The road traces the right bank of the river that drains the Mt Cook mountain group, or rather its valley, which is from three to six miles wide. Reckoning its flat, gravely, quick-sandy, flood-swept bottom which if it could be crossed near the Hermitage, would shorten the trip from Fairlie [by] about 40 miles. Lunched at the restaurant. Here the government has planted a large number of trees - spruce, pine, larch and birch etc., many of which are killed by fire. Indeed, all of the trees of the grassy, so-called “dessert south” region require constant care against fire. No wild native trees until near Hermitage - all yellow tussock grass.
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