John Muir


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Circa Date

circa 1887



[now & how fragrant spice & exhilarating (with balsam & green)] Here the sugar pine reaches its fullest development in [of] size & beauty & number of individuals, filling every swell & hollow & down plunging ravine almost to the exclusion of other species. A few Yellow pines are still to be found as companions and in the coolest places [some of the grand] silver firs but noble as these are the Sugar pine is King & spreads long protecting [his] arms above them [in blessing] while they rock & wave in sign of [cordial] recognition. We have now reached a height of 6000 feet. In the forenoon we passed along a flat part of the dividing ridge that is planted with manzanita Arctostaphylos [mostly] some specimens the largest I have seen. [from 2 to 4 feet in diameter. I saw only one that presented a well defined trunk bole 4 feet thick.] It was only 18 inches in length] I measured one the bole of which is four feet in diameter & only eighteen inches high from the ground where it dissolves into many wide spreading branches forming a [wide] round broad head about ten or twelve feet high [spreading widely & rising in a round wavy dome to a total height of about 10 or 12 feet all] covered with clusters of [pink bells], small, narrow throated, pink bells [in close clusters]. The leaves are pale green, glandular & set on edge by a twist of the petiole. [The thin smooth chocolate colored bark is very striking.] The branches seem naked, for the chocolate colored bark is as smooth & thin as fine glossy paper


& is shed off in flakes that curl [up] when dry. This is a very curious & interesting bush or dwarf tree [bush that is] sure to catch the eye [of anybody that sees it]. The wood is red [colored, very] close grained [&] hard and heavy. I wonder how old these curious tree bushes [shrubs] are, probably as old as the great pines. [The] Indians & bears & birds & fat [baby] grubs feast on [are fond of] the berries [I am told they] which look like small apples, often rosy on one side, green on the other. The Indians are said to make a kind of beer or cider out of them. There are many species Arctostaphylos pungens [& varieties. This one is perhaps the most common in the Sierras (Arctostaphylos Pungens) How firmly it their tough roots grip the ground]. No need have they [for it] to fear the wind, so low they are & steadfastly rooted [& invincibly anchored]. Even the fires that sweep the woods seldom destroy them utterly for they rise again from the root & some of the dry rocky ridges they grow on are seldom touched by fire [& prove destructive to so many of its neighbors great & small seldom touch it because it grows on dry bare rocky ground mostly]. I must try [learn] to know them [more] better [of the history of this these interesting tree-bushes.]

I miss my river songs [music] tonight. [The songs of the river]. Here Hazel Creek at its topmost springs has a voice like a bird. [is only a small purling brook with] [but the] wind tones in the great trees [noble pines] overhead are strangely impressive [are intensely] all the more because not a leaf stirs below them [no wind stirs a leaf down on the ground in our grand pillow hall] But it grows late [as the stars tell] and I must to bed. The camp is silent. Everybody, sheep, dogs, & all seem to be sound asleep. It seems extravagant [[ ] [ ] eyes on so glorious a night] to spend hours so precious in sleep. “He giveth his beloved sleep” pity the poor beloved needs its weak weary fare spent. Oh, the pity of it. To sleep in the midst of beautiful eternal [motion] [perchance to dream] instead of gazing forever like the stars [over all the bright universe in calm eternal enthusiasm]

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Resource Identifier

MuirReel31 Notebook07 Img005.jpg

Contributing Institution

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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