Louie [Strentzel Muir]
Aug. 17 or 18 1895
I reached this cool calm nest in the sugar pines last evening. I think you will remember the the place. It is not far from the Tuolumne Sequoia grove where we had lunch on the way to the Valley 10 years ago.
I sent a pencil note to Wanda from the Tuolumne meadows at the head of the great canon by Mr Howard which I suppose was received. I had taken two of the Howard boys (Spring Valley Howards) to the top of Conness & left them at the meadows, they to return to Yosemite, & I to go down the canon to Hetch Hetchy where I had ordered horses to meet me about the 20th. Well I had a hard time & a good time & anyhow by this you see I got through safely. I started with provisions for three weeks but after breaking my way for a few miles through the rocks & brush I found it was too heavy & bulky & so had to throw half of it away somehow I couldn't eat much--only a handful of conkers & bite of chocolate no matter
how hard I scrambled, so I threw away half of what was left when I was about the middle of the canon for the weather was hot during the day & I soon was very tired. I carried that extra thick suit of underclothing to draw on at night as I had no blanket but I abandoned that also & then got on better though of course cold at night. The bears were very numerous, this being berry time in the canon but they gave no trouble as I knew they wouldn't, only in tangled underbrush I had to shout a good deal to avoid coming suddenly on them. But the rattlesnakes called for far greater caution on two evenings when I was seeking a little open spot in the brush & rocks for a camp & had chosen one I came plump on a big snake just where I was going to make my fire so I had to climb onto a big boulder about 15 ft square & sleep there on the sloping surface as best I could, but of course I had a fire on the boulder with a row of rough stones to keep the fire from rolling off & another rough to keep myself from rolling off or onto the fire Well--it was pretty trying, & I couldn't eat & was of course growing very thin & [gaunt?] but nevertheless I climbed & made my way with the old skill & the old [lore?] & was very far from fainting by the way. I sketched & made
the notes I wanted, took my time, & in spite of all disadvantages greatly enjoyed the glorious river in its glorious home.
When at length I reached Hetch Hetchy I had only two handfuls of little square crackers & tea. I bathed & washed my underclothes stayed a day sketching noting etc for the next description I have to write & then instead of waiting for horses I having no food had to set out for Crockers 20 miles on foot. This seemed only a comfortable saunter weak though I was after the canon work. But now came a change.
After I had climbed out of H. H. two or three miles on my way to Crockers I met a big good-natured dog on the trail, then a big good-natured man on horseback. Then another man came in sight around a bend in the trail & two laden pack animals etc. The gentleman on the lead asked my name, then told me he had come
to meet me & came so early to make sure of not missing me or keeping me waiting. He Mr Lukens is a banker stopping at Crocker for his health, said he was glad of the chance of knowing John Muir & so organized the expedition at his own expense & refuses to allow me to pay for anything. Well he offered to open a pack & feed me when we met on the trail but I was not hungry We returned to H Hetchy & camped there on the bank of the beautiful river beneath a Kellogg Oak. & remained 3 days making photos of the scenery fishing for trout--eating etc. I left my handful of crackers by the roadside and when I sat down to the bountiful table of Mr Lukens my appetite came back & I have been eating ever since. those 3 days in the valley I was fairly stall fed on trout.
But enough & more of these small [illegible] I have no space here for the substantial result of the trip. I mean to rest here a week or so making short excursions into the woods then go back to Yosemite for a few days & home. I hope you dont miss me much in the work. The grapes will not be ripe for some weeks yet. Everybody is kind & flattering & the glorious woods are about me with healing in their arms.
With love to all I am ever yrs
1895 Aug 17
Original letter dimensions: 26.5 x 20.5 cm.
Muir, John, "Letter from John Muir to Louie [Strentzel Muir], 1895 Aug 17 or 18." (1895). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 3127.
Reel 08, Image 1119
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Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters