John Muir


[John Muir]


[Jeanne C. Carr]



This is about the limit of what I feel capable of doing for the public - the moiling squirming fog breathing public. But for my few friends I can do more because they already know the mtn harmonies & can catch the tones I gather for them though written in a few harsh & gravelly sentences. Here you demand an account of work accomplished for either friends or public, well this is all. Next morning after reaching Turlock I sped afoot over the stubble fields & through miles of brown [hemzon?] & purple [Eriognum?] to Hopeton conscious of but little more than that the great town was behind & beneath me, & the mtns above & before me. Next day pushed on through the oaks & chaparral of the foothills - Next passed Coulterville & ascended the first great mtn step upon wh grows the Sugar Pine. Here I slackened my pace for I drank the spicy rosing wind & was at home, Never did pine trees seem so dear, How sweet was their breath & their song, & how grandly they [illegible].


Yosemite Valley Dec 25th 72

Dear Mrs Carr, My memories of that far off country of Oakland are already dim as if worn by the waves of a hundred winters, but your self- sacrificing everlasting love burns clear to my eye as a naked sun For you my friend I could sing thanks & praise on a thousand pages but you know my gratitude better than any song can tell & I need not sound a single note The light of our friendship requires no adjustment -, like a planet, it will burn along its own path without our care, for all of the clean love that the world contains is divine, & circles around God as stars around their sun. You told me I ought to abandon letter writing, & I see plainly enough that you



are right in this, because my correspondence has gone on increasing year by year & has become far too [bulky?] [deleted: illegible] & miscellaneous in its character, & consumes too much of my time Therefore I mean to take you advice & allow broad acres of silence to spread between my letters, however much of self denial may be demanded Bookmaking frightens me because it demands so much artificial- -ness & retrograding. Somehow, up here in these fountain skies I feel like a flake of glass through wh light passes, but wh, conscious of the inexhaustableness of its sun fountain, cares not whether its passing light coins itself into other forms or goes unchanged - neither charcoated or diamonded, Moreover I find that though I have a few thoughts entangled in the fibers of my mind I possess no words into wh I can shake them. You tell me that I must be patient


& reach out & grope in lexicon graneries for the words I want, but if some [illegible] angel were to touch my lips with literary fire bestowing every word of Webster I would scarce thank him for the gift, because most of the words of the English language are made of mud, for muddy purposes, while those invented for containing spiritual matter are doubtful & unfixed in Capacity & form. as wind-ridden mist rays These mountain fires that glow in ones blood are free to all, but I cannot find the chemistry that may press them unimpaired into booksellers bricks True, with that August instrument Eng' language in the manufacture of wh so many brains have been broken, I can proclaim to you that moonshine is glorious & nice, & sunshine more glorious & nicer, that winds rage, & waters roar, & that in "terrible times" glaciers guttered the mountains with their hard cold snouts

782 Winter Walk



the sky, & how I tingled my fingers among their tassels, & rubbed my feet among the fallen needles & burrs I had a grand greeting of Yosemite rocks never did they appear so lovable or more willing to speak to me as to a friend. But though I bathed in the bright river & sauntered on the meadows & rustled in the brown ferns & prayed with the pines, I was still uneasy, as if tainted with the sticky sky of your town, therefore I determined to run out to the higher Mtns. 'The days are sunful' I said & though it is now winter there will be but little danger & a sudden storm will not prevent me from forcing my way back to the Valley, & will do me the good I seek. Next morning after this decision I rolled up a pair of blankets & set out up the Canon of Tenaya caring little about the quantity of bread I carried, for I said that a fast & a storm & a difficult canon is just the medicine I require to heal me of all this town heaviness The distance from Mirror Lake up the Tenaya Canon to Lake Tenaya


is about ten miles & the scenery all the way is not a whit less glorious then that of Yosemite - Indeed this Tenaya Can- on is a fork of Yosemite wh shallows gradually untill within a mile & a half of Lake Tenaya. For about a mile above Mirror Lake the Canon bottom is flat & level & is grandly forested with fir & Douglas Spruce & Libocedrus, this forest is growing upon the [illegible] in portion of the Mirror Lake basin. At the head of these [deleted: forest] Mirror Lake groves is the Tenaya falls wh is about 80 feet high. for about 30 yds above the brink of the fall the stream [deleted: flows] rushes in rapids down a [deleted: cold] flat open [illegible] pavement of granite inclined at an angle of 18° this sheet of rapids wh in high water is 75 feet wide is [deleted: splendidly] varied by three parallel [deleted: gutters] grooves running [deleted: in the direction of] parallel with the stream They have been formed by the action of the water on [deleted: soft seams] cleavage [points?]. & as these [deleted: gutters] grooves are variable in width & slightly sinuous & [deleted: possessed of] rounded boulders are wedged firmly in Narrow places, they compel the swift water to leap & arch & Scatter itself in crystals in most


unanticipatable methods, thus the whole stream [deleted: stream] in descending this incline is beaten into foam & broidered with endless variety of living forms before it reaches the brink, when it leaps down so feet into a [deleted: sort of] cross gorge & flows out at bottom at right angles to its general course somewhat like the Victoria Falls on the [Zambesi?] The glory of this fall is the abundance of luxuriant groviness about it & mingling with [it?] Its white waters issue from a tangle of evergreen trees & shrubs & ferns & mosses & flow through a tungle into a tangle Ferns, tall [woodwardias?] & gentle floating [Mardenhairs?] & emerald mosses In sheltered coves ever [illegible] with mealy spray are pre[illegible] fluxuriant fringes of Mardenhairs & thickets of the tall woodwardia.


Yosemite Valley

Date Original

1872 Dec 25


Original letter dimensions: 21 x 26 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 02, Image 1031

Collection Identifier

Online finding aid for the microform version of the John Muir Correspondence

Copyright Statement

The unpublished works of John Muir are copyrighted by the Muir-Hanna Trust. To purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish or exhibit them, see

Owning Institution

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.

Copyright Holder

Muir-Hanna Trust

Copyright Date



4 pages


Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters



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