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The Yosemite by John Muir

Produced by Dan Anderson and Andrew Sly. Thanks to the John Muir Exhibit for making this eBook available.

The Yosemite

by John Muir

Affectionately dedicated to my friend, Robert Underwood Johnson, faithful lover and defender of our glorious forests and originator of the Yosemite National Park.


On the early history of Yosemite the writer is indebted to Prof. J. D. Whitney for quotations from his volume entitled "Yosemite Guide-Book," and to Dr. Bunnell for extracts from his interesting volume entitled "Discovery of the Yosemite."


1. The Approach to the Valley 2. Winter Storms and Spring Floods 3. Snow-Storms 4. Snow Banners 5. The Trees of the Valley 6. The Forest Trees in General 7. The Big Trees 8. The Flowers 9. The Birds 10. The South Dome 11. The Ancient Yosemite Glaciers: How the Valley Was Formed 12. How Best to Spend One's Yosemite Time 13. Early History of the Valley 14. Lamon 15. Galen Clark 16. Hetch Hetchy Valley Appendix A. Legislation About the Yosemite Appendix B. Table of Distances Appendix C. Maximum Rates for Transportation

Chapter 1

The Approach to the Valley

When I set out on the long excursion that finally led to California I wandered afoot and alone, from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico, with a plant-press on my back, holding a generally southward course, like the birds when they are going from summer to winter. From the west coast of Florida I crossed the gulf to Cuba, enjoyed the rich tropical flora there for a few months, intending to go thence to the north end of South America, make my way through the woods to the headwaters of the Amazon, and float down that grand river to the ocean. But I was unable to find a ship bound for South America--fortunately perhaps, for I had incredibly little money for so long a trip and had not yet fully recovered from a fever caught in the Florida swamps. Therefore I decided to visit California for a year or two to see its wonderful flora and the famous Yosemite Valley. All the world was before me and every day was a holiday, so it did not seem important to which one of the world's wildernesses I first should wander.

Arriving by the Panama steamer, I stopped one day in San Francisco and then inquired for the nearest way out of town. "But where do you want to go?" asked the man to whom I had applied for this important information. "To any place that is wild," I said. This reply startled him. He seemed to fear I might be crazy and therefore the sooner I was out of town the better, so he directed me to the Oakland ferry.

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