Monday, June 15, 2009

"The Mountains are Calling and I must Go..." - John Muir.

"The Mountains are Calling and I must Go." I had never heard of this quote by John Muir, before my latest trip to Virginia and her Blue Ridge Mountains. But I had felt it within me for ages. How long have I scoured the electronic ether for images of the Shenandoah National Park or the Blue Ridge Parkway? Hours I have spent, enraptured by their promise, spellbound by their beauty and their lofty majesty. As I sat gazing dreamily at such pictures, I felt the same giddy anticipation I would feel as a small child, perusing the toy section of the Sear's Christmas catalog. It is as though John Muir himself had read the very contents of my heart.

Mr. Muir may well have been thinking about Yosemite when he coined this phrase, but I believe that the lure, the beauty and the wonders of nature to be found, applies to just any mountain range on earth. Certainly this is the case with the mountain ranges of Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

I had stopped at the Elkwallow Comfort Station, perhaps at the 24-mile mark along the Skyline Drive. I bought a very tasty Bar-B-Q pork sandwich and a Pepsi. After having fed myself, I wandered back into the store section, featuring all manner of souvenirs. I wanted to pick up a pin for my "parade vest", as well as a patch or two for my denim cut-off jacket... They had many items which advertised or showcased the virtues of the Park. And then I saw this one t-shirt, which featured Mr. Muir's famous quote. I knew in an instant that it had been made for me. It summed up my very reason for being there. It gave an identity and substance to this heretofore indescribable longing which had been tormenting me for years. Clearly, the mountains had been calling... long and loud. I had simply, finally decided to respond.

John Muir (21 April 1838 – 24 December 1914) was a Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of U.S. wilderness. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California, have been read by millions and are still popular today. His direct activism helped to save the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he founded, is now one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States. His writings and philosophy strongly influenced the formation of the modern environmental movement.

For a complete rundown on the man and his considerable and varied career, you can check out the Wiki site below:

John Muir may well have been the original "tree-hugger". The great, great-granddaddy of all ecology-minded nutbars. And you know what? That's just fine by me. Without him and his ilk, there may not be such spectacular places as this, still existent for the unbounded pleasure of folks such as me. John Muir is a person whose life's work and passion for nature, strikes a chord within me. He is reknown for a good many other quotes, all of which are as valid today as the day he first uttered them.

Here are just a few of his gems:

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.”

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

“The gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature, and poetry, and all that is spiritual.”

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

“The power of imagination makes us infinite.”

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

“Keep close to Nature's heart...and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

“Society speaks and all men listen, mountains speak and wise men listen.”

So there you have it. John Muir... an author whose works I intend to become much more familiar with in the future. Traveling does indeed have a tendency to broaden the mind...

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