Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My First Summer in the Sierra - by John Muir

Free US/UK Kindle Classic

I have been enjoying Cheryl Strayed's account of walking the Pacific Coast Trail, Wild (From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail).  The Pacific Coast Trail is a West Coast version of the famous Appalachian trail that runs from Georgia to Maine.  The book is a bestseller in the US and is sold in the UK as well.  It is not a free classic.  It was published in 2012.
However, Strayed quotes from a free classic, My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir.  (US Edition)  (UK Edition)  Muir was one of the driving forces advocating for the creation of this trail and a section of it bears his name. 

I have never done much hiking or hiked the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) or Appalachian trail, but I once rode my bicycle from California to Florida and I feel a kinship with those who undertake arduous journeys.  Now I have to vicariously visit the trail and what better way than with John Muir?  Let's take a look at his 1917 memoir.
In the great Central Valley of California there are only two seasons— spring and summer. The spring begins with the first rainstorm, which usually falls in November. In a few months the wonderful flowery vegetation is in full bloom, and by the end of May it is dead and dry and crisp, as if every plant had been roasted in an oven.
Hmm, sounds like Texas except it doesn't rain here!  We are still in a drought in San Antonio.

We are now approaching the region of clouds and cool streams. Magnificent white cumuli appeared about noon above the Yosemite region,— floating fountains refreshing the glorious wilderness,— sky mountains in whose pearly hills and dales the streams take their rise,— blessing with cooling shadows and rain. No rock landscape is more varied in sculpture, none more delicately modeled than these landscapes of the sky; domes and peaks rising, swelling, white as finest marble and firmly outlined, a most impressive manifestation of world building. Every rain-cloud, however fleeting, leaves its mark, not only on trees and flowers whose pulses are quickened, and on the replenished streams and lakes, but also on the rocks are its marks engraved whether we can see them or not.
This will give you a good idea of the book.  It is a descriptive memoir of some of the most beautiful and wild places in the American landscape.

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