Quotables: The Spiritual Wilderness
The most famous and accessible of these Canyon valleys, and also the one that presents their most striking and sublime features on the grandest scale, is the Yosemite, situated in the basin of the Merced River at an elevation of 4000 feet above the level of the sea. It is about 7 miles long, half a mile to a mile wide, and nearly a mile deep in the solid granite flank of the range. The walls are made up of rocks, mountains in size, partly separated from each other by side canyons, and they are so sheer in front, and so compactly and harmoniously arranged on a level floor, that the valley, comprehensively seen, looks like an 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. Down through the middle of the Valley flows the crystal Merced, River of Mercy, peacefully quiet, reflecting lilies and trees and the onlooking rocks; things frail and fleeting and types of endurance meeting here and blending in countless forms as if into this one mountain mansion nature had gathered her choicest treasures, to draw her lovers into close and confiding communion with her.
Meditations of John Muir, Nature’s Temple, compiled and edited by Chris Highland
(Berkeley, CA: Wilderness Press, 2001), p. 13
John Muir (1838-1914) was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he founded, is a prominent American conservation organization. The 211-mile John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada was named in his honor. Other such places include Muir Woods National Monument, Muir Beach, John Muir College, Mount Muir, Camp Muir and Muir Glacier.
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