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Thread: John Muir, a true outdoors-man

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    Junior Member zedsdead's Avatar
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    Default John Muir, a true outdoors-man

    For all who don't know, John Muir is a mountaineer from the 19th century who was a huge advocate for preserving American nature and is most notably credited with the creation of Yosemite National Park in California.

    I'm reading one of his books currently, "The Mountains of California" which is an assortment of his experiences there; especially his study of glacier movement and how those movements slowly grind away at mountains to make massive valleys and fresh soil for the creation of forests.

    Anyways, let me get to the point. He sometimes talks about how he managed to survive 12,000+ ft above sea level in unexplored land for weeks at a time. The only thing this man took out was a metal cup, tea, some bread, and anything he needed for his study. To make camp, he would sleep under pine trees on pine boughs with only the clothes on his back and a small fire just outside the tree.

    One time, while attempting to be the first man to summit Mount Ritter in October, he got so far up the mountain (around 13500ft) that the only shelter available was a small bush beside a lake. During the night, an intense wind storm picked up, so he had to curl around his fire for warmth throughout the night. I looked up the average temperature in the nearest city to Mt. Ritter (June Lake, CA) and it is 24F average low!! Now imagine how cold that is on the side of a mountain in a wind storm.

    How he survived, we may never know. I hope he was telling the truth. All I know is, we have succumbed to the comfort of our daily lives and have lost the iron-will that Muir had.


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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Yea, I am wondering where he got the wood for a fire to last all night at 13,000 feet. Tree line is about 8,000. Muir would have loved You-tube! Use that brush patch at the end of the driveway to convince the world you are in the wilderness.

    Modern men have not "succumbed" to much of anything, they simply use the available technology in the most logical manner.

    We are the same species with no notable change in genetic markers. U.S and foreign service men endure hardships much the same on a daily basis even here in 2020.

    Muir would not have known about that, he was a draft dodger during the Civil War. He suddenly decided to study the Canadian wilderness when his draft notice showed up.

    There were also perhaps 5,000-6,000 people young and old that completed "through hikes" on the Application, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails this year, enduring trials Muir never dreamed of while walking trails named after him.

    They were no "tougher" than us, we simply have the option of not normally enduring what they chose to do, and even then it was often a choice. He could have been home with his wife and kids. There was not much nobility in leaving your family in the care of your in-laws so you can roam the woods unfettered.

    I am not a big Muir fan.

    Same for Nesmuck and Kepart.
    If you didn't bring jerky what did I just eat?

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    Member DogMan635's Avatar
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    YES, hard to believe but all true I've been told by some experts. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Muir

    He is a big reason we have the National Parks we do today. As he and others spoke of the importance of saving areas. But I'm sure you both know all this. Back then it's hard to say how and why some things were done the way they were. I'm just thinking here, but maybe he packed the wood with himself knowing what he would need to cook snow for dranking water. But that's just a guess. Good points.

    I once saw a film on him and others while in Washington DC. Reviewing some National Park stuff and his name pop out and brought me in to read your post.
    Last edited by DogMan635; 01-06-2020 at 10:27 PM.
    We cannot live and love and engage life in meaningful ways without sometimes ending up in the wilderness. Wilderness times are those times when we feel we are tested to our limits, and we describe those times in wilderness terms: dry, desolate, lonely, trying, difficult, agonizing. We speak of hunger, thirst, and longing in the wilderness. a spiritual territory. by Tim K. Bruster. (The word "Wilderness" is shown 164 times in the Holy Bible). Yep a real true, Bull Rider

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    Junior Member zedsdead's Avatar
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    I reread the passage in which he was camping in the bush: He says he used sappy thickets as fuel.

  5. #5
    Junior Member zedsdead's Avatar
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    Also, I think this brings up an interested discussion on human tolerance.

    I agree with kyrat that the human make-up hasn't changed and therefore we are no tougher than Muir; but I believe our tolerance has. Surely Muir could tolerate more cold, pain, and displeasure than the average phone-scrolling person could today. His ability to roam out, sleep under the stars, and survive is a connection I dream to get with wilderness one day.

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