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My First Summer in the Sierra

John Muir

Book Overview: 

The journal of nature-lover John Muir who spent the summer walking California’s Sierra Nevada range. From French Bar to Mono Lake and the Yosemite Valley, Muir was awestruck by everything he saw. The antics of the smallest “insect people” amazed him as much as stunted thousand-year old Juniper trees growing with inconceivable tenacity from tiny cracks in the stone. Muir spent the rest of his life working to preserve the high Sierra, believing that “the clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The long silvery foliage of the younger specimens forms[Pg 52] magnificent cylindrical brushes on the top shoots and the ends of the upturned branches, and when the wind sways the needles all one way at a certain angle every tree becomes a tower of white quivering sun-fire. Well may this shining species be called the silver pine. The needles are sometimes more than a foot long, almost as long as those of the long-leaf pine of Florida. But though in size the yellow pine almost equals the sugar pine, and in rugged enduring strength seems to surpass it, it is far less marked in general habit and expression, with its regular conventional spire and its comparatively small cones clustered stiffly among the needles. Were there no sugar pine, then would this be the king of the world's eighty or ninety species, the brightest of the bright, waving, worshiping multitude. Were they mere mechanical sculptures, what noble objects they would still be! How much more throbbing, thrilling,. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Why would I read this? For one, it takes place in my hood. Two, it's by John Muir, the famous Scottish/American naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club, which saved national treasures like Yosemite and the Sequoia National Park.

Without Muir this might no longer exist as it does to this day...

If...more

I vacillated between being completely absorbed in this book to being bored out of my mind. I couldn't place my finger on it at first, but I quickly figured out what my issue was. While I very much enjoyed Muir's description and narration of the animals he saw during his camping, I had zero intere...more

My First Summer in the Sierra is a journal, not a novel. As a journal, it garners an A+++ from me.

John Muir's wonderfully descriptive account is a work of art, a labor of love. And it poses the question how can we have become so technologically advanced and yet we have lost the basic skills of j...more

This book was excellent. It covers John Muir's first summer in the Sierra Mountains. I love reading books where I can see life at another point in time through someone else's eyes. For me, the most fascinating parts of the book were his encounters with the Native Americans. His reportage on these...more

Beautiful and inspiring. I just love Muir's personality. His outlook on the world is so close to my own. I feel like I can really related to his writings. Themes that make sense to me: the natural world as sacred; God speaking to us through nature; spirituality coming to us mostly through the mun...more

My First Summer in the Sierra chronicles John Muir’s first summer in the Yosemite River Valley from June through September 1869. He was thirty-one years old. He accompanied a small group of men and a flock of sheep 2050 strong; they were to be fattened up in the valley. I am speaking of the sheep...more

Here I could stay tethered forever with just bread and water, nor would I be lonely; loved friends and neighbors, as love for everything increased, would seem all the nearer however many the miles and mountains between us.

"My First Summer in the Sierra" is a naturalist's diary detailing an 1869...more

John Muir, America's favourite Scotsman, writes so beautifully and eloquently in this passionate book on the Sierra wilderness. It's playful, philosophical, poetic, scientific and very hard to put down. Read Muir singing the songs of Robert Burns to squirrels, encounter bears, describe the colour...more

Listen to Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 – this is how you will feel while reading John Muir. Exhilarated. Joyous. Passionate. Alive.

This book is never far from my reach. It is my inspiration for life.

Take a few minutes and read a sample:

“Here, we are camped for the night, our big fire, heaped...more

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