Louie [Strentzel Muir]
Mammoth Springs,YellowstonePark, Aug.20,1885. 9 A.M.Dear Louie,I hope you are all well. I suppose I shall not hear from you until I reach Portage,--nothing at Portland. I reached the Park last evening, two days from Portland, [I] saw some interesting country about about Prend Oreille and through the greater portion of Montana, and now this strange region of fire and water, [I] mean to set on horseback this afternoon or tomorrow morning. Sorry I can stay so short a time. Afraid I will not learn much, still I may get some good facts besides the mere pleasurable mass of wonderment from the spouting steam and muds and suds.The general appearance of the country hereabouts is gray and ashy and forbidding -- few trees except in hollows and ravines. Gray sage hills with here and there rough gray jumpers and two-leaved pines, far away removed from the freshness and leafy beauty of Yosemite. The piles of salt from the springs hundreds of feet in height stained with many colors interblended look like the refuse heaps about chemical and dye works, so far as I have seen.I feel better since leaving Portland and am beginning to eat, not refusing anything -- not even hot soda biscuit and gray-looking lava-like puddings with blood-curdling sauce and slime, more wonderful in color, some of them, than the variegated geyser muds. Have not been aware of my stomach's existence for several days, and have not been compelled to take any of Dr. G[ibbon]'s powdered brass.After crossing the Rocky Mountains yesterday morning I found one of the flowers that I used to love near thirty years ago. How old I must be, and yet the sight of this purple liatris for the time being blots all these years away.10P.M.In the forenoon, after writing the above, I joined a party to examine the great terraces of deposits from the boiling springs near the hotel. The glare of the sun on the white landscape was very severe and though greatly interested by the marvellous abundance of beautiful forms and the strange colors, etc. I became thirsty and weary, and my old trouble began, and I was afraid I never would be able to do any more with my old battered body. Had to come back to [the] hotel - walked not more than five miles. After lunch, which was [as] bad as possible though costing a dollar , I set out again to climb above the terraces of the summit of a mountain, determined to try again, and succeeded this time, after vomiting part of the abominable bill of fare. Now after an abominable supper I am yet fairly well, though weary. Got some valuable facts relating to geysers and glaciers.Tomorrow morning we set out on horseback, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Sellers of Chicago, with pack animals to see the marvels at a distance and camp out, though [it is] likely I may wish I had gone in the old way alone. But I fear I could not climb every day.Blessed Wanda is asleep. Love to all,Ever truly yours,J. M.
Mammoth Springs, Yellowstone Park, [Mont]
1885 Aug 20
Original letter dimensions: 20.5 x 25.5 cm.
Muir, John, "Letter from John Muir to Louie [Strentzel Muir], 1885 Aug 20." (1885). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 1619.
Reel 05, Image 0370
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