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Steep Trails

John Muir

Book Overview: 

A collection of Muir's previously unpublished essays, released shortly after his death. "This volume will meet, in every way, the high expectations of Muir's readers. The recital of his experiences during a stormy night on the summit of Mount Shasta will take rank among the most thrilling of his records of adventure. His observations on the dead towns of Nevada, and on the Indians gathering their harvest of pine nuts, recall a phase of Western life that has left few traces in American literature. ... The landscapes that Muir saw ... will live in good part only in his writings, for fire, axe, plough, and gunpowder have made away with the supposedly boundless forest wildernesses and their teeming life."

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .the dangers that would necessarily attend our efforts, and conscious of being the cause of his present peril, decided not to leave him. Our discussions ended, Jerome made a dash from the shelter of the lava-block and began forcing his way back against the wind to the "Hot Springs," wavering and struggling to resist being carried away, as if he were fording a rapid stream. After waiting and watching in vain for some flaw in the storm that might be urged as a new argument in favor of attempting the descent, I was compelled to follow. "Here," said Jerome, as we shivered in the midst of the hissing, sputtering fumaroles, "we shall be safe from frost." "Yes," said I, "we can lie in this mud and steam and sludge, warm at least on one side; but how can we protect our lungs from the acid gases, and how, after our clothing is saturated, shall we be able to reach camp without freezing, even after the storm is over? We shall have to wait for sunshine, and when will it come?" <. . . Read More

Community Reviews

“Exceeds expectations.” I read this book over the course of a couple of years, reading an essay in between other books. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Muir’s writing. I was expecting some heavy philosophical musings such as Thoreau, but Muir had a very descriptiv

He does have a poetic turn of phrase but I think he really liked to hear himself talk.

I love John Muir, I really do. That being said, I would not say that this is his best work. I loved his history of natural worlds and his biblical description of American landscapes, but his racism is pretty noticeable in this work as he begins ranting about the inferiority of a specific tribe of na

While this book was a bit disjointed because of its publication, it was still a wonderful and interesting read. Muir has talent when writing about scenery and his love of nature and travel really comes through in these stories. His ability to describe the setting really puts you there and I think my

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, reading Muir's descriptions of the Pacific Northwest that has been my home for the last 33 years, and the Great Basin/Utah of my childhood.

I read this getting ready for a trip to the Southwest.

A collection of excerpts, articles and letters, this book isn't as good as the more effective works focused on a single trip or period. Nevertheless, Muir's writing remains eminently readable and the passion with which he regards his beloved wild spaces shines through even the driest of scientific a

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