Trailing the Wilderness Prophet

In early June of 1869, a then 31-year old John Muir arrived in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains where he would spend the next few months with a flock of sheep, their shepherd Billy, and a friendly St. Bernard named Carlo. Enchanted by what he saw, Muir filled his notebook with notes and sketches, and in 1911 published them as My First Summer in the Sierra. Last month Houghton Mifflin Harcourt released a 100th Anniversary Illustrated Edition of the book, with lavish color photography by Scot Miller. It's an attractive volume, and one that will likely inspire fans of the Scottish-American naturalist to visit his beloved Yosemite National Park.

Muir left his mark on California and the West in many ways though, and it's possible to travel to some of the other places that were significant to him during his lifetime, too. I wrote about five of them for the San Francisco Chronicle, but many more certainly exist. Quite a few are worth seeing. Wherever you ultimately decide to go yourself, consider this sentence from My First Summer: "Nature as a poet, an enthusiastic workingman, becomes more and more visible the farther and higher we go; for the mountains are fountains—beginning places, however related to sources beyond mortal ken."
Photography courtesy of the John Muir National Historic Site

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