Susan M. Gilroy
Louie [Strentzel Muir]
Martigny, [Switz.],Aug. 16, 1893.
I had a glorious day at Zermatt on the Gorner Grat about 9000ft. high, close to Monte Rosa and the Gorner Glacier, the largest in this region.
No sooner had I commenced to write yesterday than I was called to mount the diligence for Chamonix where I now am. I have seen so much and have been reading the majestic inscriptions of the ice here so greedily that I hardly know where to begin. I suppose I may as well leave out the science altogether and tell that when I get home. I hardly ever saw a grander mountain view than the one I enjoyed from this famous standpoint of Gorner Grat. I met and passed hundreds in ascending and descending, many women were bravely going afoot,though the day was warm, and young girls and boys, - a climb of 5,000 from Zermatt. A dozen or so of sick or weak men and women were being carried up by four porters, as if this mountaintop were a healing fountain or sacred shrine where sins and diseases were sure to be washed away and healed. Certainly a hopeful sign of the times - such love of fountain beauty and wildness. But most I liked to see so many boys and girls bravely plodding up through the woods over the hot dusty trail and shouting their admiration as the great white domes and peaks appeared here and there as they mounted the long zigzags from point to point. The crowds of all kinds of tourists I have found everywhere in Switzerland shows a wonderful growth in love of nature.
I reached Chamonix about 6 o'clock last evening, and all the way from Martigny was through mountain scenery of the wildest description, over the Tete Noire Pass. After crossing the summit I had glorious views of Mt. Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe, and its many noble associates, with the celebrated Mer de Glace, Glacier du Buissons, etc.
The hotel I'm stopping at is just in front of and at the foot of Mt. Blanc, as near-looking as Mts. Helen and Wanda at our home. A vast system [of] jagged cascading glaciers are presented, yet small as compared to those of Alaska or even of Norway. How clear and bright the weather is. How brightly falls the sunshine on the great white domes and shattered vascades of ice. It has been very hard to restrain myself from climbing this mountain and others, but I seem tonight to have crushed the temptation. Lack of time and blistered feet, blistered on the Gorner Grat, I suppose helped. I'm sure I could go up there without a guide. I turn away tomorrow for Geneva, and I suppose I needn't cry about it, since I can use the time to better advantage than in climbing. But you don't know how hard it is to keep my poor legs back, sick or well, old or young.
Well, I'm off tomorrow bowling along a roaring tributary of the Rhone to Geneva, thence to Neufchatel, thence, perhaps, to Basle, then to Zurich, back again on the St. Gollard Road and across to Andermot, thence some way or other to Constance and down the Rhine to Basle, thence straight back to London via Boulogne, then a few days more in Scotland, and home. I shall then have had a pretty thorough view of a general kind of all Switzerland and my former studies have enabled me to regard it all as familiar ground. How long it is since I had word from you. Surely not half of my notes and letters have been answered. I hope to get some word when I return to London. Then on the receipt of this surely you can have a line for me at Mother's, on my way home. I'll telegraph when I reach New York, and wait an answer there. Heaven bless and keep you.
I've a horrible cough, and I believe climbing that mountain would cure it. It's getting a little better, however, anyway.Dear Louie,
1893 Aug 16/17
Original letter dimensions: 21.5 x 27 cm.
Gilroy, Susan M., "Letter from Susan M. Gilroy to Louie [Strentzel Muir], 1893 Aug 16/17." (1893). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 978.
Reel 07, Image 1279
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