The Mountains Called; He Went

IMG_2634The U.S. has more than 130,000 square miles (about 340,000 square kilometers) of national parks, at least one in every state. They are cared for (operated; maintained) by the U.S. National Park Service (NPS), which will soon celebrate its 100th birthday.

Yosemite, one of the most popular, is in the Sierra Nevada, or Snowy Range (group or line of mountains), in California. Ansel Adam‘s photos and John Muir’s books and articles have introduced many to Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada and played an important part in the beginning of the NPS.

Muir, an immigrant from Scotland, once wrote that “The mountains are calling, and I must go….” He lived alone for 15 years, observing, experiencing, and writing about the Sierra Nevada. Today’s blog post is from The Yosemite National Park, an article he wrote for The Atlantic magazine in 1899. I have made some changes to his article to make it easier to read.

Of all the mountain ranges I have climbed, I like the Sierra Nevada the best. Though extremely high and rugged (rough), it is welcoming and easy to explore. Its beauty invites a visitor on and on, higher and higher, delighted and fascinated. Filled with divine (God-like) light, everything you see glows (shines with light), and every plant, animal, or rock beats (like a drum) with the heartbeats of God.

The Sierra seem to get more light than other mountains. The weather is mostly sunshine, made even more beautiful by occasional magnificent (beautifully impressive) storms. Nearly everything shines, from base (bottom) to summit (top)—the rocks, streams (small rivers), lakes, glaciers (slow-moving sheets of ice), waterfalls, and forests. It could easily be called the Range of Light, not the Snowy Range, because it is white only in the winter, while all the year it is bright with light.

Yosemite National Park – 36 miles (58 km) long and 48 miles (77 km) wide – lies in the center of the Sierra Nevada. The famous Yosemite Valley (land between mountains) lies in the heart of it. The Valley includes the beginnings of the Tuolumne and Merced rivers, two of the most musical streams in the world; uncountable lakes and waterfalls and smooth silky meadows (grassy areas); the noblest (majestic; dignified) forests; the highest granite domes (rounded tops of mountains); the deepest canyons (narrow rocky valleys); snowy mountains rising into the sky twelve and thirteen-thousand feet (3700-4000 m), with avalanches (snow falling down a mountain) roaring down their long white sides; water rushing noisily through narrow canyons; and glaciers working slowly and silently in the shadows to create new lakes.

Nowhere will you see the impressively beautiful work of nature more clearly side by side with the most gentle and peaceful things. Nearly all the park is filled with deep silence. Yet it is full of pleasant company, full of God’s thoughts, a place of peace and safety in the middle of the most impressive beauty and activity, a new song, a place of beginnings, full of lessons about life, mountain-building, never-ending, unchanging, unbreakable; with sermons (messages from God) in stones, storms, trees, flowers, and almost human-like animals.

But to try to put all this into words is a hopeless task. The simplest sketch (drawing, or a description of a thing) of each part would need a whole chapter in a book. No amount of space, however small the writing, would be large enough. I can only begin to strongly encourage good travelers to come to the feast (meal of celebration).

You can read all of Muir’s article here: The Yosemite National Park.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English website.

Photo of Yosemite Valley by W. Ediger

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7 Responses to The Mountains Called; He Went

  1. Dan says:

    How is going on is Dan

    That’s nice and lovely. He says that’s impossible to describe those mountains, but he did a good job.
    As I was reading it could see or create the images in my mind.

    The only thing I would disagree on is that he’s describing those places only in positive terms or from one point of view.
    Those places are also dangerous and inhospitable.

    And I will give you an example. Did you know that if you get bite from a deer’s tick you can risk your life?
    And that is just a minor accident in that kind of environment.

    I am just trying to zoom out and look at the entire picture here instead of focusing only on the positive stuff.

    Personally, I have my little mountain just outdoor and go up there almost daily.
    I saw deers, foxes, boars and other beautiful animals.

    I like the way how he describes those streams as being musical. I had never thought at it that way. Love it.

    I think this is all I had to say. Thanks.


  2. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Thanks Warren for the impressive History and Geography lesson. I’d like to see those places and enjoy the peace around. Someday, who know?
    From Brazil, milk and honey

  3. emiliano says:

    All I could say is that it is necessary to keep safe these places
    for long as possible because they will be the only lands that men will
    have to admire Nature as it was before humans spoil everything on

    Thanks Warren so incredible nice national parks.

  4. emiliano says:

    By the way Spain is the second country in the world, first in Europe, with more
    World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), it is said that something good
    we may have, not everything has to be a disaster, as it use to be.


  5. Dan says:


    The one I would like to visit the most is Yellowstone.
    That because of the supervolcano that sleeping just below the surface.

    Hey Emi..if that volcano wakes up and goes off…it’s not us the one that ^spoil^ the natural world.
    That thing is going to wipe out one third of the US..probably..


  6. emiliano says:

    Dear Dan, Natura has it´s own will and follows changing by thousand of millions
    Humans have changed Nature in only one thousand years being optimists, but
    if we are not so optimist it happened in the last seven hundred years.
    In watch´s time it has been only in a million of a second when humans have changed
    everything round them so dear Dan, no I can´t be content about that subject.

    But sure not you and not me have enough time to see the consequences
    of human´s spoil or our work of devatation.

    It is said than in thirty thousand years another big glaciation could erradicate us
    nearly from the earth face, and this planets could be going on for more millions
    of years.

    We humans have been like a bad dream for this planet that is earth, but
    of course we could think we are the one.
    Why not?

    I think this is another story too much complicated that have something to
    be with faith and religion and this is not the site to talk about it.
    Being a man that somehow has recuperated some of his faith I prefer to
    think we humans are here for some misterious reason that only God knows.

    My best. emiliano

  7. emiliano says:

    Talking about humans and our feelings
    here it is an emiliano´s thought.


    When I go or come accompanied by my own stay.
    Never alone I am, no, always he is inside me.
    I was not introduced to this soul that ever not let me alone.

    Would not I have chosen me? who knows.
    Suddenly I found what I am, do I like me?
    Which I have become after years living, is him?

    Who am I?. Who is this person I feel inside?
    I would like to know who is he, as with or without my will.
    He ever living with me will be.

    Wherever I go without choosing me as a friend there is he.
    Again, who is him? why me and not other? I repeat, do I like me?
    I am myself and I do not know me, not even if I am happy or not.

    Do I enjoy my company or I don´t ?.
    Ever constantly I am changing once and again.
    But when the balance with him I find,

    Oh yes, then finally I rest.


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