Click here to Download Steep Trails PDF Book by John Muir Language English having PDF Size 5.8 MB and No of Pages 203.
Moral improvers have calls to preach. I have a friend who has a call to plough, and woe to the daisy sod or azalea thicket that falls under the savage redemption of his keen steel shares. Not content with the so-called subjugation of every terrestrial bog, rock, and moorland, he would fain discover some method of reclamation applicable to the ocean and the sky.
Steep Trails PDF Book by John Muir
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That in due calendar time they might be brought to bud and blossom as the rose. Our efforts are of no avail when we seek to turn his attention to wild roses, or to the fact that both ocean and sky are already about as rosy as possible—the one with stars, the other with dulse, and foam, and wild light.
The practical developments of his culture are orchards and clover-fields wearing a smiling, benevolent aspect, truly excellent in their way, though a near view discloses something barbarous in them all. Wildness charms not my friend, charm it never so wisely: and whatsoever may be the character of his heaven, his earth seems only a chaos of agricultural possibilities calling for grubbing-hoes and manures.
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Sometimes I venture to approach him with a plea for wildness, when he good-naturedly shakes a big mellow apple in my face, reiterating his favorite aphorism, “Culture is an orchard apple; Nature is a crab.” Not all culture, however, is equally destructive and inappreciative. Azure skies and crystal waters find loving recognition.
And few there be who would welcome the axe among mountain pines, or would care to apply any correction to the tones and costumes of mountain waterfalls. Nevertheless, the barbarous notion is almost universally entertained by civilized man, that there is in all the manufactures of Nature something essentially coarse which can and must be eradicated by human culture.
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I was, therefore, delighted in finding that the wild wool growing upon mountain sheep in the neighborhood of Mount Shasta was much finer than the average grades of cultivated wool. This FINE discovery was made some three months ago , while hunting among the Shasta sheep between Shasta and Lower Klamath Lake.
Three fleeces were obtained—one that belonged to a large ram about four years old, another to a ewe about the same age, and another to a yearling lamb. After parting their beautiful wool on the side and many places along the back, shoulders, and hips, and examining it closely with my lens, I shouted: “Well done for wildness! Wild wool is finer than tame!”
My companions stooped down and examined the fleeces for themselves, pulling out tufts and ringlets, spinning them between their fingers, and measuring the length of the staple, each in turn paying tribute to wildness. It WAS finer, and no mistake; finer than Spanish Merino. Wild wool IS finer than tame. Steep Trails PDF Book Free
“Here,” said I, “is an argument for fine wildness that needs no explanation. Not that such arguments are by any means rare, for all wildness is finer than tameness, but because fine wool is appreciable by everybody alike—from the most speculative president of national wool-growers’ associations all the way down to the gude-wife spinning by her ingleside.”
Next morning, having slept little the night before the ascent and being weary with climbing after the excitement was over, I slept late. Then, awaking suddenly, my eyes opened on one of the most beautiful and sublime scenes I ever enjoyed. A boundless wilderness of storm clouds of different degrees of ripeness were congregated over all the lower landscape for thousands of square miles.
Colored gray, and purple, and pearl, and deep-glowing white, amid which I seemed to be floating; while the great white cone of the mountain above was all aglow in the free, blazing sunshine. It seemed not so much an ocean as a land of clouds—undulating hill and dale, smooth purple plains, and silvery mountains of cumuli, range over range. Steep Trails PDF Book Free
Diversified with peak and dome and hollow fully brought out in light and shade. I gazed enchanted, but cold gray masses, drifting like dust on a wind-swept plain, began to shut out the light, forerunners of the coming storm I had been so anxiously watching. I made haste to gather as much wood as possible, snugging it as a shelter around my bed.
The storm side of my blankets was fastened down with stakes to reduce as much as possible the sifting-in of drift and the danger of being blown away. The precious bread sack was placed safely as a pillow, and when at length the first flakes fell I was exultingly ready to welcome them.
Most of my firewood was more than half rosin and would blaze in the face of the fiercest drifting; the winds could not demolish my bed, and my bread could be made to last indefinitely; while in case of need I had the means of making snowshoes and could retreat or hold my ground as I pleased. Steep Trails PDF Book Free
Presently the storm broke forth into full snowy bloom, and the thronging crystals darkened the air. The wind swept past in hissing floods, grinding the snow into meal and sweeping down into the hollows in enormous drifts all the heavier particles, while the finer dust was sifted through the sky, increasing the icy gloom.
But my fire glowed bravely as if in glad defiance of the drift to quench it, and, notwithstanding but little trace of my nest could be seen after the snow had leveled and buried it, I was snug and warm, and the passionate uproar produced a glad excitement. But to return to the storm. Toward the evening of the 18th it began to wither.
The snowy skirts of the Wahsatch Mountains appeared beneath the lifting fringes of the clouds, and the sun shone out through colored windows, producing one of the most glorious after-storm effects I ever witnessed. Looking across the Jordan, the gray sagey slopes from the base of the Oquirrh Mountains were covered with a thick. Steep Trails PDF Book Free
Plushy cloth of gold, soft and ethereal as a cloud, not merely tinted and gilded like a rock with autumn sunshine, but deeply muffled beyond recognition. Surely nothing in heaven, nor any mansion of the Lord in all his worlds, could be more gloriously carpeted. Other portions of the plain were flushed with red and purple, and all the mountains and the clouds above them were painted in corresponding loveliness.
Earth and sky, round and round the entire landscape, was one ravishing revelation of color, infinitely varied and interblended. I have seen many a glorious sunset beneath lifting storm clouds on the mountains, but nothing comparable with this. I felt as if new-arrived in some other far-off world.
The mountains, the plains, the sky, all seemed new. Other experiences seemed but to have prepared me for this, as souls are prepared for heaven. To describe the colors on a single mountain would, if it were possible at all, require many a volume—purples, and yellows, and delicious pearly grays divinely toned and interblended. Steep Trails PDF Book Free
And so richly put on one seemed to be looking down through the ground as through a sky. The disbanding clouds lingered lovingly about the mountains, filling the cañons like tinted wool, rising and drooping around the topmost peaks, fondling their rugged bases, or, sailing alongside, trailed their lustrous fringes through the pines as if taking a last view of their accomplished work.
Then came darkness, and the glorious day was done. This afternoon the Utah mountains and valleys seem to belong to our own very world again. They are covered with common sunshine. Down here on the banks of the Jordan, larks and redwings are swinging on the rushes; the balmy air is instinct with immortal life; the wild flowers, the grass, and the farmers’ grain are fresh as if.
Like the snow, they had come out of heaven, and the last of the angel clouds are fleeing from the mountains. Liliaceous women and girls are rare among the Mormons. They have seen too much hard, repressive toil to admit of the development of lily beauty either in form or color. In general they are thickset, with large feet and hands, and with sunbrowned faces. Steep Trails PDF Book Free
Often curiously freckled like the petals of Fritillaria atropurpurea. They are fruit rather than flower— good brown bread. But down in the San Pitch Valley at Gunnison, I discovered a genuine lily, happily named Lily Young. She is a granddaughter of Brigham Young, slender and graceful, with lily-white cheeks tinted with clear rose.
She was brought up in the old Salt Lake Zion House, but by some strange chance has been transplanted to this wilderness, where she blooms alone, the “Lily of San Pitch.” Pitch is an old Indian, who, I suppose, pitched into the settlers and thus acquired fame enough to give name to the valley.
Here I feel uneasy about the name of this lily, for the compositors have a perverse trick of making me say all kinds of absurd things wholly unwarranted by plain copy, and I fear that the “Lily of San Pitch” will appear in print as the widow of Sam Patch. But, however this may be, among my memories of this strange land, that Oquirrh mountain. Steep Trails PDF Book Free
With its golden lilies, will ever rise in clear relief, and associated with them will always be the Mormon lily of San Pitch. At a height of about ninety-five hundred feet we passed through a magnificent grove of aspens, about a hundred acres in extent, through which the mellow sunshine sifted in ravishing splendor, showing every leaf to be as beautiful in color as the wing of a butterfly.
And making them tell gloriously against the evergreens. These extensive groves of aspen are a marked feature of the Nevada woods. Some of the lower mountains are covered with them, giving rise to remarkably beautiful masses of pale, translucent green in spring and summer, yellow and orange in autumn, while in winter, after every leaf has fallen.
The white bark of the boles and branches seen in mass seems like a cloud of mist that has settled close down on the mountain, conforming to all its hollows and ridges like a mantle, yet roughened on the surface with innumerable ascending spires. Just above the aspens we entered a fine, close growth of foxtail pine, the tallest and most evenly planted I had yet seen. Steep Trails PDF Book
It extended along a waving ridge tending north and south and down both sides with but little interruption for a distance of about five miles. The trees were mostly straight in the bole, and their shade covered the ground in the densest places, leaving only small openings to the sun. A few of the tallest specimens measured over eighty feet, with a diameter of eighteen inches.
But many of the younger trees, growing in tufts, were nearly fifty feet high, with a diameter of only five or six inches, while their slender shafts were hidden from top to bottom by a close, fringy growth of tasseled branchlets. A few white pines and balsam firs occur here and there, mostly around the edges of sunny openings.
Where they enrich the air with their rosiny fragrance, and bring out the peculiar beauties of the predominating foxtails by contrast. Birds find grateful homes here—grouse, chickadees, and linnets, of which we saw large flocks that had a delightfully enlivening effect. But the woodpeckers are remarkably rare. Steep Trails PDF Book Download
Thus far I have noticed only one species, the golden-winged; and but few of the streams are large enough or long enough to attract the blessed ousel, so common in the Sierra. On Wheeler’s Peak, the dominating summit of the Snake Mountains, I found all the conifers I had seen on the other ranges of the State, excepting the foxtail pine.
Which I have not observed further east than the White Pine range, but in its stead the beautiful Rocky Mountain spruce. First, as in the other ranges, we find the juniper and nut pine; then, higher, the white pine and balsam fir; then the Douglas spruce and this new Rocky Mountain spruce, which is common eastward from here, though this range is.
As far as I have observed, its western limit. It is one of the largest and most important of Nevada conifers, attaining a height of from sixty to eighty feet and a diameter of nearly two feet, while now and then an exceptional specimen may be found in shady dells a hundred feet high or more. Steep Trails PDF Book Download
The ground was strewn with burs and needles and fallen trees; and, down in the dells, on the north side of the dome, where strips of aspen are imbedded in the spruces, every breeze sent the ripe leaves flying, some lodging in the spruce boughs, making them bloom again, while the fresh snow beneath looked like a fine painting.
Around the dome and well up toward the summit of the main peak, the snow-shed was well marked with tracks of the mule deer and the pretty stitching and embroidery of field mice, squirrels, and grouse; and on the way back to camp I came across a strange track, somewhat like that of a small bear, but more spreading at the toes.
It proved to be that of a wolverine. In my conversations with hunters, both Indians and white men assure me that there are no bears in Nevada, notwithstanding the abundance of pine-nuts, of which they are so fond, and the accessibility of these basin ranges from their favorite haunts in the Sierra Nevada and Wahsatch Mountains. Steep Trails PDF Book Download
The mule deer, antelope, wild sheep, wolverine, and two species of wolves are all of the larger animals that I have seen or heard of in the State.