S. Hall Young
St. Michael, Alaska
Aug. 31st, 1899.
My Dear Friend Muir:
I have just arrived in the [illegible] after an eventful & busy summer in the valley of the great Yukon. I was delayed a month in all at Skagway, more than a week after I saw you. Then I went over to Bennett, bought a Klondyke boat & Mr. Koonce navigated it with our nearly three tons of goods down to Ra[illegible]. It was the first week in July before we arrived at our first camping place, where we were to remain any time, - Eagle, just across the line in Alaska, I went at once into the woods to try to get you the cone blossoms you wished. But it was evidently far beyond the time. I chopped down a number to trees, but the cones were hardened, the blossoms gone. I am very sorry - will try to do better next summer. I have found only three species of evergreen trees in the Yukon Valley. You can best name them - two species of spruce & a fir.
But I saw some wonderful country. I took one eighty mile walk across the mountains, ascending America Creek from Eagle 18 miles, then across the mountain ridges to Comet Creek which empties into Forty mile, camped in the basin of grand rugged edged mountains, the [illegible] of mountain sheep, lived three days on grayling, then across the ridges & rugges mountain slopes
again down Mission br. to Eagle. The mountains are the most beautiful treeless & snowless mountains I have ever seen. At one camp, within a radius of a few [weres?] we picked 63 distinct varieties of flowers. I collected over 30 species of butterflies. The mountains of S.E. Alaska are not "is it" with these in flowers & insects. And such pastures! The herds of the U.S. might graze there.
I hope you will take a trip across these mountains get botanizing & mountainizing. cant you come to me at Cape Nome the first of July next, ascending the Yukon with me to [illegible] where I am to attend a meeting of the Presbytery of Yukon the fourth Thurs. of July; thence I comtemplate going on up to Eagle 600 miles further, then take a pack train from Eagle across those mountains to headwaters of Copper R. & down it to Baldy, where I think of founding a mission? Thence it is easy to Sitka & down the Coast. What do you say? Shall we have another "high & solemn revel" together? Break away from the luxury of millionair trips to the freedom of roughing it with your old companion.
We shot the various rapids of the Yukon in our boat when they were at their highest & fiercest, but we go through safely & enjoyed it. I was touched by the graves at White Horse Rapids of the fevor fellows who have been wrecked & drowned there. Afterwards, one midnight while steering along
with Mr. Koonce sleeping, I got [sententious?] & [evolved?] the written so-called poem. It is poor, but you will read beyond the expression to the feeling that prompted it.
I am to winter at Cape Nome. That is bound to be next summer, the greatest [ruining?] camp of the North. It is now the largest town in Alaska, and is only beginning. I have sent outside for materials for church & dwelling, and hope to organize a prosperous mission. We founded two promising ones this summer at Eagle & [illegible]. The conditions of life will be pretty severe at bleak Cape Nome this winter. You have seen this coast & know it. But I hope to do some good, & that is the only comfort & happiness after all. I am learning more & more to be independent of physical circumstance for my enjoyment.
If you answer this immediately, addressing me at Cape Nome, Alaska, either by str. direct from San Francisco, or care of Rev. A.E. Hutchison, D.D. first Pres. Ch. Seattle, Wash, your letter will probably reach me before the ice pack [closes?] in. Write! Send me what you can about the trip of the Elder. Pity a lonely, bookless fellow - long, winter nights, eight months without possible communication, mind-hunger, soul-hunger!
Yours as always,
S. Hall Young
St. Michaels, Alaska
1899 Aug 31
Original letter dimensions: 25 x 20 cm.
Young, S. Hall, "Letter from S. Hall Young to John Muir, 1899 Aug 31." (1899). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 2439.
Reel 10, Image 0959
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