John Muir


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Circa Date

circa 1887



a partial lull would allow the vast torrent to arrange its tattered skirts & sway back again into its accustomed course.

√ Amid all this swaying & bending & rocking of the waters they were lighted by a steady glow of sunlight strangely white from small spicules of snow-crystals. The spattered & broken columns of the Lower Fall though less exposed to wind action was yet violently swirled & torn & dashed about in its narrow [gorge] recess & at times was seen from my standpoint as one resplendent mass of irsed colors from top to bottom, as if a [dozen] hundred rainbows had been doubled up [& intensified ] & blended into a [homogenous] glorious mass of color 600 feet in dia [diameter].

In the afternoon, about 3 0’clock while I watched the Upper Fall from the shelter of a pine tree the entire column of the fall was suddenly arrested in its descent about halfway between base & top, & was neither blown upward nor turned aside but was simply held staitionary [stationary] in midair as if gravitation below that point in the path of descent had ceased to act & the ponderous flood was sustained hovering & hesitating like a bunch of thistledown until I had counted 190. about two minutes. All this time the usual amount of water was flowing over the brow of the cliff & accumulating


in midair, swedging & widening forming a sort of irregular cone of white water tapering to the top of the wall the whole standing still resting on the invisible arm of the North Wind weighing hundreds of tons - held as if arrested by direct act of God. Then as if ordered to go on again scores of arriving comet-shaped [ ] masses shot forth from the bottom of the suspended lake as if gushing from separate outlets.

□ El Capitan also was in fine (display) attire displaying (with) long snow streamers like white [locks] hair about his brow. Clouds Rest was enveloped in drifting gossamer films of snow tissue, her sublime form looming dimly through the gauzy folds of the storm in marvelous impressiveness. So also the S. [south] dome Tissack loomed shows in the strange garish light like some majestic living creature robed in gauze of wind worn drapery - sometimes smoking like a volcano. (See gas. pp.51-3) it seemed strange through all this stupendous display of energy that the light should lie so calm. We half expected to see it blown away with the dusty snow.

The song of Decembers hundred waterfalls was not more impressive than this terribly earnest song of the wild North Wind.

Date Occurred


Resource Identifier

MuirReel31 Notebook11 Img012.jpg

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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