John Muir


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Circa Date

circa 1887



then of course they feast on [the] flesh. The skins are made into blankets. In the autumn the more enterprising of the hunters bring in a good many deer & rarely a wild sheep from the high peaks. Antelopes used to be abundant on the desert at the base of the interior mountain ranges. Sage hens & grouse & squirrels help to vary their wild diet of worms, pine nuts also from a small species that grows here. (P. Monophylla [Fremontiana]) & good bread & good mush are made from acorns & wild rye. Strange to say they seem to like the lake larvae best of all [and regard it as the stuff of life] Long windrows of the grub are washed up on the shore & gathered & dried for winter use. It is said that wars on account of encroachments on worm ground are common occurrence among the various tribes & families. Each claiming a certain marked portion of the shore. The pine nuts are delicious large quantities 1000s of bushels are gathered every autumn. The tribes of the west flank of the range trade acorns for worms & pine nuts, the squaws carry immense loads on their backs across the rough passes & down the range making a journey of about 40 or 50 [100] miles each way.

The Desert around Mono Lake is surprisingly [is remarkably] flowery. In many places among the sage brushes I saw Mentzelia, Abronia, Aster Bigelovii [linosyris], gilia, etc. [I noticed in abundance] all of which seemed to


enjoy the hot sunshine. The Abronia in particular is a delicate fragrant & most charming plant. [South of the lake] X Opposite the mouth of [Bloody] canyon (there are) a range number of (recent) volcanoes[ic] [cones some of which are very perfect in form, more than 2000 feet high I guess.] extends southward from the lake rising abruptly out of the desert like a chain of mountains. The largest [highest] of the cones are about 2500 feet high above the lake level [hardy] well formed craters & all of them are comparatively recent additions to the landscape. At a distance of a few miles they look like heaps of loose ashes that have never been blest by either rain or snow. But for a’that & a’that [Hardy] Yellow pines are climbing their gray [ashy] [cindery] slopes here & there trying to clothe [Nature’s] them [clothing the] old hearths [of Nature with living green] & give beauty for ashes. A country of wonderful [strange] contrasts. Hot deserts bounded by [icy] snow-laden mountains [both flrs] Cinders & ashes scattering on glacier polished pavements Frost & fire working together in the making of beauty. [meeting, mingling, volcanoes scattering] [&] In the lake are several volcanic islands which show that there even the waters were once mingled with fire. Glad to get back to the green side of the mountains though I have greatly enjoyed the gray east side & hope to see more of it. & surely reading these grand mountain manuscripts & rejoice in Nature’s invincible beauty & charm through display heat & cold, calms & vicissitude of storms [heat & cold,] [frost fire] upheaving volcanoes & down-grinding glaciers & see every thing called destruction [being only] creation. What a change from beauty to beauty [controlled by God’s love]

X Trans see p 46 Our glacier meadow [new] camp north of the Soda Springs seems more (is on a) beautiful every day [level lawn smooth & silky & with as close a sod as the pastures of Ireland & the best of the Alps]. The grasses cover all the ground though the leaves are thread like in fineness & the flowers & panicles are so delicate the stems are scarce visible & with the purple

Date Occurred


Resource Identifier

MuirReel31 Notebook 009 Img039.jpg

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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