John Muir


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48 The branches of no pine has so long a downward swooping curve as most of Monticola ends tufted & conspicuous bark redder the higher you go Noblest in form the colder & [balder] the mtns [mountains] about it [sketch] 10th day Dense & black clouds coming from SW [southwest] over the black crests & pks [peaks] of Ritter the [forest] [torn] & raked to pieces. Cold wind tuned to the opaque [somber] sky Now a little rain snow & hail Wish to cross to the E [east] side of the range today visiting the main N [north] gl [glacier] of Ritter on my way [have] [never] crossed in [these] summits & fear to try in so dark a day. Noon clds [clouds] breaking will make the [attempt] Up the fissured & flowing edge of rock near Ritter cascade at top of cascade find grand [amphitheater] where gls [glaciers] from Ritter & pks [peaks] to N [north] congathered Now meadow & lake & wild red & black [walls] with wild undressed falls & rapids & few hardy flrs [flowers] from rim of this glorious view of [fountain] gls [glaciers] & névés with pointed spears & [tapering] towers & spires innumerable. (Found white stemless [thistle] larger than purple of [ ]) Yet higher following the wild stream where I could & climbing [round] inaccessible [gorges] at length came in sight of the lofty top crest of Ritter & know that I am exactly right the clouds dense again & send hail to it I know the rest of my way too well to fear Can push down to tree line in dark if need be. A gl [glacier] wh [which] I had not before seen heaves in sight It is on N [north] side of the highest of the many spurs that run off from Ritter Pk [Peak] as a [centre] one of the most beautiful gls [glaciers] ever saw, Curved most [divinely] & occupying one of the most delicately [caved] basins ever beheld discharges into lake (See sketch) Came in sight of the main N [north] Ritter gl [glacier] its snout projecting from narrow opening gap into fine lake wh [which] is about 300 yds dia [diameter] [Water] most [intensely] lovely blue. Its basin excavated by the Ritter gls [glaciers] & those of a mtn [mountain] to N [north] at [time] of their greater extension Gl [Glacier] enters on E [east] side on W [west] is a splendid frame of pure white 49 névé abounding in deep caves with arched openings one of these 40 ft span & 30 in height This [form] of névé comes to the water edge or reaches out over the lake. Most of its face is precipitous by sections breaking off into the lake after the manner of icebergs These are snow bergs The strength of the gl [glacier] is so nearly [spent] ere it reaches lake it does not break off in bergs but melts with many a [rill] giving a network of sweet music I wished to reach the head of this gl [glacier] & set out cross over to the N [north] side by following up the left lateral moraine that [extends] from the flank of the mtn [mountain] to the lake than across the gl [glacier] where it was not so steep reached the top of moraine & attempted the gl [glacier] found it bare unwalkable ice The least slip would send me into the lake down a slope of 35° [degrees] a distance of about 300 yds I began to cut steps but the snout of the gl [glacier] was so hard & every step had to be so perfect that I made slow & wearisome progress with blankets on back soon knew that it would be dark ere I succeeded in crossing therefore resolved to retrace my steps & attempt crossing at the foot of the gl [glacier] close to lake where it was narrower & if found that [too] dangerous from crevasses to go entirely around the lake wh [which] last alternative from the roughness of its [shores] would be no easy thing Found the ice softer on the end of gl [glacier] & crossed then pushed rapidly up the right moraine to where the gl [glacier] becomes much more easily accessible on account of the [bareness] of its slopes & roughness of it surface with ridges rocks etc. In going up between the edge of gl [glacier] & mor [moraine] found where the main surface stream of the gl [glacier] had cut a large cave wh [which] I entered & found clear veined ice a very unhuman place with strange water gurgles & [tinkles] The lower steep portion of gl [glacier] is alive with swift running rills A larger stream begins its course at the head of the gl [glacier] & runs in westerly dir [direction] along near the right side of the gl [glacier] It has cut for itself a strangely curved & scalloped [channel] in the solid green ice in wh [which] it glides with motions & [tones] & [gestures] that I never knew water to make before This gl [glacier] receives its snow from the N [north] side of [Ritter] [ ] It has two motions one nearly N [north] the other W 10° [degrees] N In flowing N [north] it is soon stopped by the steep wall of the next mtn [mountain] & its one [escape] is W [west]ward down the cañon in grating along the right [bank] [ ] hard against it by the northward thrust it grinds the [stone]

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Original journal dimensions: 15 x 18 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