John Muir


John Muir


Strentzel [Family]



In camp near Belmont Nevada Aug’ 28th 1878 —

[in margin: 668]

Dear Strentzels.

I sent you a note from Austin. Thence we traveled southward down the Big Smoky Valley, crossing & recrossing it between the [Toryabet?] & Toquima ranges, the [illegible] summits of which we ascended. Thence still southward towards death valley to Lone Mountain thence Northeastward to this little [ mining?] town — From the summit of a huge volcanic table mountain in the Toquima range I observed a truly glorious spet[illegible] – a dozen Nevada “Cloud bursts” falling at once While we were cordially pelted with hail the falling water Cloud [illegible], thunder tones, lighting, & tranquil blue sky windows between made one of the most impressive pictures I ever beheld — One of those cloud bursts fell upon Austin, another upon Eureka. But still more glorious to me was the big significant fact I found here fresh telling glacial phenomena – a whole series. Moraines roches moutonees. glacial Sculptures & even feeble specimens of glacier meadows & glacier lakes, I also observed less manifest glaciation on several other ranges I have long guessed that this Great Basin was [illegible] with ice during the last cold period but the rocks are so unresisting & the water spouts to wh all the ranges have been exposed have not simply obscured the glacial scriptures here but nearly burned & obliterated them, so that only the skilled

[in margin: Our next address good for fifteen days will be [underlined: Hamilton Nevada]. Care Cap’ A. F. Rodgers]

[in margin: Tomorrow we set out for the White Pine region Cordially Yrs J Muir]

[Page 2]

would probably be called a glaciated Monom[illegible] Now it is clear that this fury inland region was icy prior to the lake period. I have also been so fortunate as to settle that [pined?] species we discussed & found [illegible] nest & young of the Alpine sparrow. What do you thank of all this? a” that & a’ that [illegible] The sun heat has been intense What a triangle of noses, Capt’ R’s, Embecks, & mine. Mine sore Embecks sour Caps sorest, scaled & dry as the backs of lizards, & divided into sections all over the surface & burned up on the edges like the surface layers of the desicated sections of adobe flats. On Lone Mountain we were thirsty How we thought of the Cool singing streams of the S[illegible] while our blood fevered & boiled & throbbed. Three of us ascended the mountain against my counsel & re= =monstrances while forty miles from any known water Two of the three nearly lost their lives, I suffered least though I suffered as never before, & was the only one strong enough to ascend a sandy canon to find & fetch the animals after descending the mtn. Then I had to find my two companions. One I found death like crying in the hot sand scarily conscious & unable to speak above a frightful whisper. I managed however to get him on his horse. The other I found in a kind of delirious stupor voiceless in the sage brush. it was a fearfully exciting search & I forgot my own exhaustion in it though I never for a moment lost my will & wits

[in margin: or doubted our ability to endure & escapse. We reached water at daybreak of second day - two days & nights in this fire without water. A lesson has been learned that will last]

[in margin: & we will not suffer so again. Of course we could not eat or sleep all the time, for we could not swallow food, & the [illegible] [prevented?] sleep]


In Camp near Belmont Nevada

Date Original

1878 Aug 28


Original letter dimensions: 32 x 20.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 03, Image 0880

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, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.

Owning Institution

University of the Pacific Library Holt-Atherton Special Collections. 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



2 pages



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