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Travels in Alaska

John Muir

Book Overview: 

In 1879 John Muir went to Alaska for the first time. Its stupendous living glaciers aroused his unbounded interest, for they enabled him to verify his theories of glacial action. Again and again he returned to this continental laboratory of landscapes. The greatest of the tide-water glaciers appropriately commemorates his name. Upon this book of Alaska travels, all but finished before his unforeseen departure, John Muir expended the last months of his life.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .tensiana) with a few specimens of yellow cypress. The ferns were developed in remarkable beauty and size—aspidiums, one of which is about six feet high, a woodsia, lomaria, and several species of polypodium. The underbrush is chiefly alder, rubus, ledum, three species of vaccinium, and Echinopanax horrida, the whole about from six to eight feet high, and in some places closely intertangled and hard to penetrate. On the opener spots beneath the trees the ground is covered to a depth of two or three feet with mosses of indescribable freshness and beauty, a few dwarf conifers often planted on their rich furred bosses, together with pyrola, coptis, and Solomon's-seal. The tallest of the trees are about a hundred and fifty feet high, with a diameter of about four or five feet, their branches mingling together and making a perfect shade. As the twilight began to fall, I sat down on the mossy instep of a spruce. Not a bush or tree was moving; every leaf seemed hushed in b. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I became aware of John Muir's extensive travels in Alaska while kayaking the Stikine River in 2008. I hadn't realized the founder of the Sierra Club had spent so much time in Southeast Alaska. When Ken Burn's 'National Parks' book/documentary came out last year, it further cemented my desire to d...more

I've always been drawn to Alaska and spent 14 years following high school living there. Muir write beautifully of the landscape and Native Alaskans. My favorite chapter was that of his glacial adventure with Stickeen. Silly dog should have listened and stayed home but boy did he have a story to t...more

In my year of reading Canada and Alaska, nobody has written as eloquently about glaciers as John Muir. His reverence for the natural world and his fearlessness in exploring it shines through in Travels in Alaska, the book he was writing when he died in 1915. I spent some time comparing his photos...more

Another John Muir, and another fantastic book. This time moving away from his much loved locations in the south, and particularly California, Muir recounts several trips he made to Alaska, primarily to view in person the sort of glacial erosion that formed his beloved Yosemite and much of the Sie...more

Extremely pompous and repetitive in the constant romanticization of nature. I guess I can forgive him because (1) Herzog wasn't born yet, and (2) he had already foreseen that humans were destroying the environment.

His adventures are cool though. There are some pretty great ones amidst the never e...more

Wow! This man could brave anything, I believe! Throughout this short book, Muir walked and hiked and climbed (in some of the worst weather) more terrain than most of us walk in our lives. Muir was preparing this book for publication from his journals when he died, so much of what is in the now-pu...more

I thought I would completely enjoy this book, but I didn't.........at all. This was a little on the painful side to get through. Primarily, it dealt with what Alaska looks like which isn't the detail I enjoy reading. I grew up in Alaska, so I'm already well acquainted with what it looks like. I w...more

John Muir is amazing. He's like a nature-based superhero. Hiking for days with no food other than a pocketful of grain? Fun! Falling into glacial crevasses? Sure! Fending off hypothermia by doing jumping jacks all night? Of course! Snow blindness? Bring it on! And he does it all with a smile and...more

A little embarrassed to say this is the first of Muir's books I've read. After all, this is a man with plants, animals, mountains, a glacier, trails, a wilderness, and a forest named after him, is the founder of the Sierra Club, and a true original. He is part of, arguably the father of, an era w...more

Even today Alaska is one of the few unspoilt wildernesses in the world. This vast part of America still has glaciers, bears, eagles and wolves, and still has the capability of filling people with awe at the scenery. In the late nineteenth century, John Muir made a number of trips to Alaska. At th...more

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