John Muir


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Circa Date

circa 1887



to look at the moon through the meshes of some of the denser portions of the fall I ventured to creep still farther behind it while it was gently wind swayed without taking sufficient thought about the consequences of its swaying back to its natural place after the wind pressure should be removed


The effect was enchanting, wild music above beneath around me the moon apparently was in the very midst of the rushing waters & seemed to be struggling to keep her place on account of the ever varying thickness & forms of the water masses through which she was seen now darkened by a rush of dense comets now flashing out through openings in the denser portions, a rare [piece of] astronomical phenomenon, the transit of a thousand comets across the [disc of the] moon’s disc. I was in fairy land between the black wall & the wild illumined waters but I suffered sudden disenchantment for like the witch scene in Alloway Kirk “in a moment all was dark” [&] down came a hissing rush of water that felt as if mixed with stones so hard it seemed to strike [Actuated by that] instinctively [called presence of mind] I dropped on my knees laid hold of an


angle of the rock & [rolled myself like a ball] with my face pressed against my bosoms [& in this attitude] submitted as best I could to my [terrible] [thundering] baptism. There was a confused sound of many waters about me & the pelting of the larger streaks of water seemed to pelt & also pound me as if they [must be cobblestones] were [fall] made up of granite & cobblestones, hissing rushing gurgling clashing sounds that were not heard as music I realized the situation in a moment How clearly & fast ones thoughts burn at such times I was weighing the chances of escape with lightning rapidity

Would the column be swayed a few inches away from the wall or would it come yet closer The fall was in full springtime flood & not so easily would its ponderous mass be swayed My fate was in the hands of the idle wind depended on a breath of the “idle wind” a few moments must decide


The torrent would come a little nearer, one of the comets would strike like a thunderbolt & I would [fall] be stricken down into the (wild) gulf below [400 feet], thence [rushing] [down] & I would go below rumbled from fall to fall through the big gorge (pass) & over the lower fall & lodge among the rock & logs of the talus at the bottom valley 1000 ft below foot of the Lower Fall.

Or the fates would swing the (huge) fall like a pendulum

Date Occurred


Resource Identifier

MuirReel32 Notebook01 Img015.Jpeg

Contributing Institution

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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