"People talk about
creation as a remote fact of history, as if it were something that was attended
to a long time ago, and finished at the time. But creation was not an act; it is a process; and it
is going on today as much as it ever was. And
Nature is not in a
"When we try to pick out any one thing we find it hitched to
everything in the Universe."
I followed the Mono Trail up the eastern
rim of the basin nearly to its summit, then turned off southward to a small
shallow valley that extends to the edge of the Yosemite, which we reached about
noon, and encamped.
After lunch I made haste to high ground, and from
the top of the ridge on the west side of Indian Canyon gained the
noblest view of the summit
peaks I have ever yet enjoyed.
Nearly all the upper
basin of the Merced was displayed, with its sublime domes and
canyon, dark up sweeping forests, and glorious
array of white peaks deep in the sky, every feature glowing, radiating beauty
that pours into our flesh and bones like heat
rays from fire.
Sunshine over all; no breath
of wind to stir the brooding calm.
Never before had I seen so glorious
a landscape, so boundless an affluence of
The most extravagant description I
might give of this view to anyone who has not seen similar landscapes with his
own eyes would not so much as hint its grandeur and the spiritual glow that
I shouted and gesticulated in a
wild burst of ecstasy, much
to the astonishment of St. Bernard Carlo, who came running up to me,
manifesting in his intelligent eyes a puzzled concern that was very
ludicrous, which had the effect of
bringing me to my senses.
A brown bear, too, it would appear, had been
a spectator of the show I had made of myself, for I had gone but a few yards
when I started one from a thicket of brush.
He evidently considered me
dangerous, for he ran away very fast, tumbling over the tops of the tangled
manzanita bushes in his haste.
Carlo drew back, with his ears depressed
as if afraid, and kept looking me in the face, as if
expecting me to pursue and
shoot, for he had seen many a bear battle in his day.
Following the ridge, which made a gradual descent to the
south, I came at length to the brow of that massive cliff that stands between
Indian Canyon and Yosemite Falls, and here the far famed valley came suddenly
into view throughout almost its whole extent.
noble walls - sculptured
into endless variety of domes and gables,
spires and battlements and plain mural precipices - all a tremble with the
thunder tones of the falling water.
The level bottom seemed to be dressed like a
garden - sunny meadows here and there, and
groves of pine and oak; the this world of Mercy
sweeping in majesty through the midst of them and flashing back the
The great Tissiack, or
Half-Dome, rising at the upper end of the valley to a height of nearly a mile,
is nobly proportioned and life - like, the most impressive of all the rocks,
holding the eye in devout admiration,
calling it back again and again from falls or meadows, or even the mountains
beyond, marvelous cliffs,
marvelous in sheer dizzy depth and
sculpture, types of endurance.
Thousands of years have they stood in
the sky exposed to rain, snow, frost,
earthquake and avalanche,
yet they still wear the bloom of youth.
I rambled along the valley rim
to the westward; most of it is rounded off on the very brink, so that it is not
easy to find places where one may look clear down the face of the wall to the
When such places were found, and I had cautiously set my feet
and drawn my body erect, I could not help fearing a little that the rock might
split off and let me down, and what a down! - more than three thousand feet.
Still my limbs did not tremble, nor did I feel the least
uncertainty as to the
reliance to be placed on them.
My only fear was that a flake of the
granite, which in some places showed joints more or less open and running
parallel with the face of the cliff, might give way. After withdrawing from
such places, excited with the view
I had got, I would say to myself, "Now don't go out on the verge
only because it is not understood. Anyhow, it seems silly to make so much of
it, while the natural and common is more truly
marvelous and mysterious than the
so-called supernatural. Indeed
most of the miracles we hear of are infinitely less
wonderful than the commonest of
natural phenomena, when
fairly seen." - John Muir
But in the
face of Yosemite scenery cautious remonstrance is vain; under its
spell one's body appears to go where it likes with a will over which we appear
to have scarce any control.
After a mile or so of this memorable cliff
work I approached Yosemite Creek, admiring its easy, graceful, confident
gestures as it comes bravely forward in its narrow channel,
singing the last of its mountain songs
on its way to its fate - a few rods more over the shining granite, then
down half a mile in showy foam to another world, to be lost in the Merced,
where climate, vegetation, inhabitants, all are different.
from its last gorge, it glides in wide lace - like rapids down a smooth incline
into a pool where it appears to rest and compose its gray, agitated waters
before taking the grand plunge, then slowly slipping over the lip of the pool
basin, it descends another glossy slope with rapidly accelerated speed to the
brink of the tremendous cliff, and with sublime, fateful
confidence springs out
free in the air.
I took off my shoes and stockings and worked my way cautiously down
alongside the rushing flood, keeping my feet
and hands pressed firmly on the polished rock.
The booming, roaring
circumstances, I crept down safely to the little ledge, got my heels well
planted on it, then shuffled in a horizontal direction twenty or thirty feet
until close to the out plunging current, which, by the time it had descended
thus far, was already white.
Here I obtained a perfectly free view down
into the heart of the snowy,
chanting throng of comet - like streamers, into which the body of the
While perched on
that narrow niche I was not distinctly
conscious of danger.
The tremendous grandeur of the fall in form and sound and motion, acting at
close range, smothered the sense of fear, and in such places one's body
takes keen care for safety on its own account.
long I remained down there, or how I returned, I can hardly tell.
Anyhow I had a glorious time, and got back to camp about
exhilaration soon followed by
Hereafter I'll try to keep from such extravagant, nerve
Yet such a day is well worth venturing for.
My first view of the High Sierra, first view looking down into
Yosemite, the death song of Yosemite Creek, and its flight over the vast cliff,
each one of these is of itself enough for a great life long landscape fortune -
a most memorable day of days -
enjoyment enough to kill
if that were possible.
John Muir, from My First Summer in the
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