Steamship California, On the Columbia, a few miles below Astoria, July 9th 1879.
Dear friends three,
Your bottles & letters, one from Louie & one from the Doctor were received at Seattle two days ago, the whole sinking or raising me more & more irredeemably in debt. I am on my way to Alaska, will go as far as Sitka to obtain general views of the Coast & as much of the interior as good & safe opportunities chance to offer. The California is a staunch little screw steamer smooth & narrow & will no doubt roll & plunge in a rough sea like a porpoise at play but I can not how rough the way that leads where I want to go, & as for storms I heartily enjoy them either on land or sea. I mean to stop over one trip so I will probably be in that northland a month or two. After leaving Olympia at the head of Puget Sound we returned to Victoria & sailed thence to New West – -minister on the Fraser River. Then took another steamer to Yale about a hundred miles up- the head of navigation. Spent one day in the mountains there, & returned to Victoria. Then sailed again for Seattle & Tecoma. At the latter place took the Cars for Kalama on the Columbia 105 miles then a steamer from Kalama for 5 o’clock. The California & Oregon were lying at
[in margin: 00857]
the dock, both to sail at 3. [underlined: A M] next morning. Magee took the one for his wife-home-&-business I the other for ————— & trees-& ice etc. The Overland expedition is therefore definitely postponed for at least a year. The way for all I could learn was clear enough, but I would not choose to undertake it alone. Lieutenant Hooper commanding the steamship Wo[illegible] invited me to go to Alaska with him in the Reven[illegible] Cutter lying at Port Townsend. I would have a good time with him, but as he did not know within a month or two when his sailing orders would arrive I concluded to go less comfortably & at greater expense on this black porpoise. We will touch at Victoria & other ports - thus it will appear that I will have visited this British City four times besides sailing the whole length of Puget Sound three times, & up & down a hundred miles of the Fraser & Columbia rivers. So much I have seen of water & shore, forests & mountain it seems incredible to me that the Almanac time since leaving San Francisco should be less than three weeks. Sheldon Jackson the missionary & commissionary man who lectured in Yosemite on Alaska will go with us. We have only about a dozen passengers aboard as yet, but will pick up more at Victoria, & port Townsend. On my return I hope to make some good excursions into the woods & up some of the snowy Cones in W. T. & Oregon. The owner of the mills at Burrard Inlet
who sent that famous plank & douglass spruce to the centennial is anxious to have me visit the woods there. So also the owners of the Coal mines at Seattle & Carbon are offering their mines as just the spots of greatest interest to a geologist. At Port Townsend I met Mr Webster the [Collection?] of customs & a Mr Swan who has long been a correspondent of Agassiz Also a [illegible] hunter & mountaineer by the name of Stratton. These gentlemen offer to make up a party to explore the Olympic Range when I return, So you see I will not be alone unless I so choose. The season is not yet sufficiently advanced for excursions into the dense woods, or up the snowladen peaks. The streams are all deep & the ground is covered with a saturated sponge of mosses. From one point on the Columbia a few miles below the mouth of the Wal[illegible]ette I saw five snowy cones from ten to fourteen thousand feet high. Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens Mt Adams, Mt Hood, & the North Sister? Rainier & St Helens are the noblest mountains I ever saw, surpassing even Shasta in the beauty of their lines & in [illegible]ciness & in whiteness Hood is much less imposing – sharp & rugged & wanting in solid massiness Rainier is best seen from Tecoma on Puget Sound, St Helens from the Columbia The one is the
[in margin: 00857]
pole star – the great white light of the sound, the other of the lower Columbia. We are just approaching the bar, & our little ship is beginning to plunge. We will probably reach Victoria tomorrow where I will mail this. I sent some books that I did not care to carry from Victoria a week ago. Also some plants to Louis, & again at Seattle the other day a bookful of colored maple leaves & a box of burs & bushes etc, should you get them soon some of them – the arbor vitae & spruce may grow — [my?] how we are pitching end on crossing the bar, Two hours ago the wind [began?] to blow hard from the sea, sending a [fleet?] of fishing boats scudding home some 30 or 40 of them like frightened gulls. I must go on deck & sea the famous bar Your loving kindness & confidence are very comforting to a lonely wanderer I feel strong & well & if spared will return to you notwithstanding your sacrificing care for me makes me uneasy when I think about it, accustomed as I have been to fight on & walk on relying only on God & myself
[in margin: In the meantime I only say thank you. Ever truly John Muir]
Steamship California, On the Columbia…below Astoria
1879 Jul 9
Original letter dimensions: 27 x 21 cm.
Muir, John, "Letter from John Muir to [Strentzel Family], 1879 Jul 9." (1879). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 493.
Reel 03, Image 1098
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