onVacation: Climb the Mountains with Muir
This is the first installment of a series of book recommendations based on the type of vacation you’re planning. I’ll highlight the mountains today, and tackle other locations in subsequent articles.
If you’d like to jump beyond what you can find on the bestseller list– 50 Shades of Grey (two thumbs down) and The Hunger Games (two thumbs up) are good examples–this article might be a really awesome place to start.
MOUNTAINS: There’s really no discussion here as to which author you should take with you when you go hiking, at least not for me. Have you heard of a guy named John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club? He wrote quite a few books about the wilderness. Muir was born in Scotland in 1838, to a farming family. They moved to Wisconsin when John was a young boy. Muir did not want to enlist in the army, and he ran away to Canada, which began his adventures in the wilderness.
He eventually returned to the States and began working in a factory, but after nearly being blinded in an accident, he determined, ”This affliction has driven me to the sweet fields. God has to nearly kill us sometimes, to teach us lessons.”
He started walking down from Indiana to Florida (about one thousand miles), and he had planned to board a ship in Florida to head down to South America. However, his plans were derailed when he became ill with malaria, and he ended up heading for California by train. Upon arriving in San Francisco, he asked for directions to “anyplace that is wild,” and ended up in Yosemite almost immediately.
“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us,” Muir wrote. “No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite… The grandest of all special temples of Nature.”
John Muir published over 300 articles and 12 books, but the best introduction to him would probably be the Essential Muir, which has a very interesting biography combined with some of his best essays.
From one of these essays: “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”