'Many a beautiful plant cultivated to deformity, and arranged in strict geometrical beds, the whole pretty affair a laborious failure side by side with divine beauty.' A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf is the second book in John Muir's Wilderness-Discovery series.
It is within this work that we are really given strong clues toward Muir's future trailblazing movement for environmental conservation, in such comments as 'The universe would be incomplete without man; but it would also be incomplete without the smallest transmicroscopic creature that dwells beyond our conceitful eyes and knowledge.' Muir's walk from Indiana to Florida was conceived in order to explore and study further the flora and fauna across states. He undertakes this alone, a dangerous choice perhaps so soon after the civil war, as many characters along the way forewarn. Indeed, Muir is threatened by a robber, and we see a new side to the quiet, lowly gentleman we know as he springs into self-defence mode with lightning initiative and remarkable courage. This is not the only facet of Muir's personality that is uncovered throughout this journey. He makes reference to feeling 'dreadfully lonesome and poor', which is intriguing as his circumstances are self-sought: 'Stayed with lots of different people but preferred sleeping outside alone where possible'. He spends a substantial period of time struck down with malaria, which does not come as a surprise; he was covering many miles on an unsustainably meagre diet with thirst often quenched with swamp water or not at all.
Join Muir in Kentucky forests, Cumberland mountains, Florida swamps and all the elegantly described trees, plants, creatures and rocks in-between. A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf teaches us as much about Muir himself as it does the ecosystems in the wilderness across those 1,000 miles.
Series introduction by Terry Gifford
Foreword by Terry Gifford
1 Kentucky Forests and Caves
2 Crossing the Cumberland Mountains
3 Through the River Country of Georgia
4 Camping Among the Tombs
5 Through Florida Swamps and Forests
6 Cedar Keys
7 A Sojourn in Cuba
8 By a Crooked Route to California
9 Twenty Hill Hollow
Born in 1838, John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and ahead-of-his-time advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. Muir's works tell of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada of California. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other exquisite wilderness areas. He founded The Sierra Club, and petitioned the US Congress for the National Park bill that was passed in 1890, establishing Yosemite National Park. The 211-mile John Muir Trail – a hiking trail in the Sierra Nevada – was named in his honour, as was the John Muir Way in Scotland, and many other places including a beach, college and glacier. Muir married Louisa Strentzel and they had two daughters together, living on a fruit orchard in California. Today he is referred to as the 'Father of the National Parks' and has a legacy as one of the most influential naturalists in America.