Muir essay on Yosemite


[…] the place, comprehensively seen, looks like some immense hall or temple lighted from above. But no temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite. Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life. Some lean back in majestic repose; others, absolutely sheer or nearly so for thousands of feet, advance beyond their companions in thoughtful attitudes giving welcome to storms and calms alike, seemingly conscious, yet heedless of everything going on about them. – John Muir, The Treasures of the Yosemite, 1890.

Tomorrow, after five years in California, I shall make my first journey to Yosemite National Park to see firsthand the famed landscape that I have only seen in photographs – notably the beautiful plates by Ansel Adams. In the course of researching the spots to visit and the order in which to visit them, Google served up this wonderful essay written in The Century Magazine in 1890 by the legendary John Muir. It was through the efforts of Muir and the Sierra Club that Yosemite became a National Park in early twentieth century. Many of my friends – even those unfamiliar with Ansel Adams – have remarked that the Yosemite is a place that is made for photography and that I should prepare to get dozens of pictures. However, I happen to have time constraints as always, and might get one – or possibly two – day(s) in Yosemite before we head south-east to Sequoia National Park. The hope is to get a reasonably wide overview of both parks this time, and then make a more specific trip when the opportunity presents itself again.

EDIT: Added the photograph that we took from Glacier Point near the end of a hard day’s work. Even though one knows that the landscape has been carved by glaciers, the stupendous size of the glacial formation never ceases to amaze. We were all quietly stunned.


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