Skip to main content

Full text of "Our national parks"

See other formats








ITY t 





Published November, igoi. 

i C 








IN this book, made up of sketches first pub- 
lished in the Atlantic Monthly, I have done the 
best I could to show forth the beauty, gran- 
deur, and all-embracing usefulness of our wild 
mountain forest reservations and parks, with a 
view to inciting the people to come and enjoy 
them, and get them into their hearts, that so at 
length their preservation and right use might be 
made sure 

September, 1901 











PARKS 268 




SEQUOIAS, MARIPOSA GROVE (page 134) . Frontispiece 

UNITED STATES ............. 2 

From a map furnished by the courtesy of the United 
States Geological Survey. 






RESERVE ................ 210 




WEAH ................. 306 





" Keep not standing fix'd and rooted, 

Briskly venture, briskly roam ; 
Head and hand, where'er thou foot it, 

And stout heart are still at home. 
In each land the sun does visit 

We are gay, whate'er betide : 
To give room, for wandering is it 

That the world was made so wide." 

THE tendency nowadays to wander in wilder- 
nesses is delightful to see. Thousands of tired, 
nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning 
to find out that going to the mountains is going 
home ; that wildness is a necessity ; and that 
mountain parks and reservations are useful not 
only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, 
but as fountains of life. Awakening from the 
stupefying effects of the vice of over-industry 
and the deadly apathy of luxury, they are trying 
as best they can to mix and enrich their own 
little ongoings with those of Nature, and to get 
rid of rust and disease. Briskly venturing and 


roaming, some are washing off sins and cobweb 
cares of the devil's spinning in all-day storms on 
mountains ; sauntering in rosiny pinewoods or 
in gentian meadows, brushing through chaparral, 
bending down and parting sweet, flowery sprays ; 
tracing rivers to their sources, getting in touch 
with the nerves of Mother Earth ; jumping from 
rock to rock, feeling the life of them, learning 
the songs of them, panting in whole-souled exer- 
cise, and rejoicing in deep, long-drawn breaths 
of pure wildness. This is fine and natural and 
full of promise. So also is the growing in- 
terest in the care and preservation of forests 
and wild places in general, and in the half wild 
parks and gardens of towns. Even the scenery 
habit in its most artificial forms, mixed with 
spectacles, silliness, and kodaks ; its devotees 
arrayed more gorgeously than scarlet tanagers, 
frightening the wild game with red umbrellas, 
even this is encouraging, and may well be 
regarded as a hopeful sign of the times. 

All the Western mountains are still rich in 
wildness, and by means of good roads are being 
brought neater civilization every year. To the 
sane and free it will hardly seem necessary to 
cross the continent in search of wild beauty, 
however easy the way, for they find it in abun- 
dance wherever they chance to be. Like Tho- 
reau they see forests in orchards and patches of 
huckleberry brush, and oceans in ponds and 





To 3rd, August, 1901. 
Scale of Mile* 

50 100 

l-V.v.v.-.-.l FOREST RESERVES 


drops of dew. Few in these hot, dim, strenuous 
times are quite sane or free ; choked with care 
like clocks full of dust, laboriously doing so 
much good and making so much money, or so 
little, they are no longer good for themselves. 
When, like a merchant taking a list of his 
goods, we take stock of our wildness, we are 
glad to see how much of even the most destruc- 
tible kind is still unspoiled. Looking at our 
continent as scenery when it was all wild, lying 
between beautiful seas, the starry sky above it, 
the starry rocks beneath it, to compare its sides, 
the East and the West, would be like comparing 
the sides of a rainbow. But it is no longer 
equally beautiful. The rainbows of to-day are, 
I suppose, as bright as those that first spanned 
the sky ; and some of our landscapes are grow- 
ing more beautiful from year to year, notwith- 
standing the clearing, trampling work of civili- 
zation. New plants and animals are enriching 
woods and gardens, and many landscapes wholly 
new, with divine sculpture and architecture, are 
just now coming to the light of day as the man- 
tling folds of creative glaciers are being with- 
drawn, and life in a thousand cheerful, beautiful 
forms is pushing into them, and new-born rivers 
are beginning to sing and shine in them. The 
old rivers, too, are growing longer, like healthy 
trees, gaining new branches and lakes as the 
residual glaciers at their highest sources on the 


mountains recede, while the rootlike branches 
in their flat deltas are at the same time spreading 
farther and wider into the seas and making new 

Under the control of the vast mysterious 
forces of the interior of the earth all the conti- 
nents and islands are slowly rising or sinking. 
Most of the mountains are diminishing in size 
under the wearing action of the weather, though 
a few are' increasing in height and girth, espe- 
cially th~vofeamc ones, as fresh floods of molten 
rocks are piIM..on their summits and spread in 
successive layers, like the wood-rings of trees, on 
their sides. New mountains, also, are being cre- 
ated from time to time as islands in lakes and 
seas, or as subordinate cones on the slopes of old 
ones, thus in some measure balancing the waste 
of old beauty with new. Man, too, is making 
many far-reaching changes. This most' influ- 
ential half animal, half angel is rapidly multiply- 
ing and spreading, covering the seas and lakes 
with ships, the land with huts, hotels, cathedrals, 
and clustered city shops and homes, so that soon, 
it would seem, we may have to go farther than 
Nansen to find a good sound solitude. None of 
Nature's landscapes are ugly so long as they are 
wild ; and much, we can say comfortingly, must 
always be in great part wild, particularly the sea 
and the sky, the floods of light from the stars, 
and the warm, unspoilable heart of the earth, 


infinitely beautiful, though only dimly visible to 
the eye of imagination. The geysers, too, 
spouting from the hot underworld ; the steady, 
long-lasting glaciers on the mountains, obedient 
only to the sun ; Yosemite domes and the tre- 
mendous grandeur of rocky canons and moun- 
tains in general, these must always be wild, 
for man can change them and mar them hardly 
more than can the butterflies that hover above 
them. But the continent's outer beauty is fast 
passing away, especially the plant part of it, the 
most destructible and most universally charming 
of aft 

Only thirty years ago, the great Central Val- 
ley of California, five hundred miles long and 
fifty miles wide, was one bed of golden and pur- 
ple flowers. Now it is ploughed and pastured 
out of existence, gone forever, scarce a mem- 
ory of it left in fence corners and along the 
bluffs of the streams. The gardens of the Si- 
erra, also, and the noble forests in both the re- 
served and unreserved portions are sadly haeked 
and trampled, notwithstanding the ruggedness 
of the topography, all excepting those of the 
parks guarded by a few soldiers. In the noblest 
forests of the world, the ground, once divinely 
beautiful, is desolate and repulsive, like a face 
ravaged by disease. This is true also of many 
other Pacific Coast and Kocky Mountain valleys 
and forests. The same fate, sooner or later, is 


awaiting them all, unless awakening public opin- 
ion comes forward to stop it. Even the great 
deserts in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and New Mex- 
ico, which offer so little to attract settlers, and 
which a few years ago pioneers were afraid of, 
as places of desolation and death, are now taken 
as pastures at the rate of one or two square 
miles per cow, and of course their plant treasures 
are passing away, the delicate abronias, 
phloxes, gilias, etc. Only a few of the bitter, 
thorny, unbitable shrubs are left, and the sturdy 
cactuses that defend themselves with bayonets 
and spears. 

Most of the wild plant wealth of the East also 
has vanished, gone into dusty history. Only 
vestiges of its glorious prairie and woodland 
wealth remain to bless humanity in boggy, rocky, 
unploughable places. Fortunately, some of these 
are purely wild, and go far to keep Nature's love 
visible. White water-lilies, with rootstocks deep 
and safe in, mud, still send up every summer a 
Milky Way of starry, fragrant flowers around a 
thousand lakes, and many a tuft of wild grass 
waves its panicles on mossy rocks, beyond reach 
of trampling feet, in company with saxifrages, 
bluebells, and ferns. Even in the midst of farm- 
ers' fields, precious sphagnum bogs, too soft 
for the feet of cattle, are preserved with their 
charming plants unchanged, chiogenes, An- 
dromeda, Kalmia, Linnsea, Arethusa, etc. Ca- 


lypso borealis still hides in the arbor vitse swamps 
of Canada, and away to the southward there are 
a few unspoiled swamps, big ones, where miasma, 
snakes, and alligators, like guardian angels, de- 
fend their treasures and keep them as pure as 
paradise. And beside a' that and a' that, the 
East is blessed with good winters and blossoming 
clouds that shed white flowers over all the land, 
covering every scar and making the saddest land- 
scape divine at least once a year. 

The most extensive, least spoiled, and most 
unspoilable of the gardens of the continent are 
the vast tundras of Alaska. In summer they 
extend smooth, even, undulating, continuous beds 
of flowers and leaves from about lat. 62 to 
the shores of the Arctic Ocean ; and in winter 
sheets of snowflowers make all the country shine, 
one mass of white radiance like a star. Nor are 
these Arctic plant people the pitiful frost-pinched 
unfortunates they are guessed to be by those who 
have never seen them. Though lowly in stature, 
keeping near the frozen ground as if loving it, 
they are bright and cheery, and speak Nature's 
love as plainly as their big relatives of the South. 
Tenderly happed and tucked in beneath downy 
snow to sleep through the long, white winter, 
they make haste to bloom in the spring without 
trying to grow tall, though some rise high enough 
to ripple and wave in the wind, and display 
masses of color, yellow, purple, and blue, so 


rich that they look like beds of rainbows, and 
are visible miles and miles away. 

As early as June one may find the showy Geum 
glaciale in flower, and the dwarf willows putting 
forth myriads of fuzzy catkins, to be followed 
quickly, especially on the dryer ground, by mer- 
tensia, eritrichium, polemonium, oxytropis, astra- 
galus, lathyrus, lupinus, myosotis, dodecatheon, 
arnica, chrysanthemum, nardosmia, saussurea, 
senecio, erigeron, matrecaria, caltha, valeriana, 
stellaria, Tofieldia, polygonum, papaver, phlox, 
lychnis, cheiranthus, Linnsea, and a host of dra- 
bas, saxifrages, and heathworts, with bright stars 
and bells in glorious profusion, particularly Cassi- 
ope, Andromeda, ledum, pyrola, and vaecinium, 

Cassiope the most abundant and beautiful of 
them all. Many grasses also grow here, and 
wave fine purple spikes and panicles over the 
other flowers, poa, aira, calamagrostis, alope- 
curus, trisetum, elymus, festuca, glyceria, etc. 
Even ferns are found thus far north, carefully 
and comfortably unrolling their precious fronds, 

aspidium, cystopteris, and woodsia, all grow- 
ing on a sumptuous bed of mosses and lichens ; 
not the scaly lichens seen on rails and trees and 
fallen logs to the southward, but massive, round- 
headed, finely colored plants like corals, wonder- 
fully beautiful, worth going round the world to 
see. I should like to mention all the plant 
friends I found in a summer's wanderings in 


this cool reserve, but I fear few would care to 
read their names, although everybody, I am sure, 
would love them could they see them blooming 
and rejoicing at home. 

On my last visit to the region about Kotzebue 
Sound, near the middle of September, 1881, the 
weather was so fine and mellow that it suggested 
the Indian summer of the Eastern States. The 
winds were hushed, the tundra glowed in creamy 
golden sunshine, and the colors of the ripe foli- 
age of the heath worts, willows, and birch red, 
purple, and yellow, in pure bright tones were 
enriched with those of berries which were scat- 
tered everywhere', as if they had been showered 
from the clouds like hail. When I was back a 
mile or two from the shore, reveling in this color- 
glory, and thinking how fine it would be could I 
cut a square of the tundra sod of conventional 
picture size, frame it, and hang it among the 
paintings on my study walls at home, saying to 
myself, " Such a Nature painting taken at ran- 
dom from any part of the thousand-mile bog 
would make the other pictures look dim and 
coarse," I heard merry shouting, and, looking 
round, saw a band of Eskimos men, women, 
and children, loose and hairy like wild animals 
running towards me. I could not guess at 
first what they were seeking, for they seldom 
leave the shore ; but soon they told me, as they 
threw themselves down, sprawling and laughing, 


on the mellow bog, and began to feast on the 
berries. A lively picture they made, and a pleas- 
ant one, as they frightened the whirring ptarmi- 
gans, and surprised their oily stomachs with the 
beautiful acid berries of many kinds, and filled 
sealskin bags with them to carry away for festive 
days in winter. 

Nowhere else on my travels have I seen so 
much warm-blooded, rejoicing life as in this 
grand Arctic reservation, by so many regarded 
as desolate. Not only are there whales in abun- 
dance along the shores, and innumerable seals, 
walruses, and white bears, but on the tundras 
great herds of fat reindeer and wild sheep, foxes, 
hares, mice, piping marmots, and birds. Perhaps 
more birds are born here than in any other re- 
gion of equal extent on the continent. Not only 
do strong-winged hawks, eagles, and water-fowl, 
to whom the length of the continent is merely a 
pleasant excursion, come up here every summer 
in great numbers, but also many short-winged 
warblers, thrushes, and finches, repairing hither 
to rear their young in safety, reinforce the plant 
bloom with their plumage, and sweeten the wil- 
derness with song; flying all the way, some of 
them, from Florida, Mexico, and Central Amer- 
ica. In coming north they are coming home, 
for they were born here, and they go south only 
to spend the winter months, as New Englanders 
go to Florida. Sweet-voiced troubadours, they 


sing in orange groves and vine-clad magnolia 
woods in winter, in thickets of dwarf birch and 
alder in summer, and sing and chatter more or 
less all the way back and forth, keeping the 
whole country glad. Oftentimes, in New Eng- 
land, just as the last snow-patches are melting 
and the sap in the maples begins to flow, the 
blessed wanderers may be heard about orchards 
and the edges of fields where they have stopped 
to glean a scanty meal, not tarrying long, know- 
ing they have far to go. Tracing the footsteps 
of spring, they arrive in their tundra homes in 
June or July, and set out on their return journey 
in September, or as soon as their families are able 
to fly well. 

This is Nature's own reservation, and every 
lover of wildness will rejoice with me that by 
kindly frost it is so well defended. The discov- 
ery lately made that it is sprinkled with gold 
may cause some alarm ; for the strangely excit- 
ing stuff makes the timid bold enough for any- 
thing, and the lazy destructively industrious. 
Thousands at least half insane are now pushing 
their way into it, some by the southern passes 
over the mountains, perchance the first moun- 
tains they have ever seen, sprawling, strug- 
gling, gasping for breath, as, laden with awkward, 
merciless burdens of provisions and tools, they 
climb over rough-angled boulders and cross thin 
miry bogs. Some are going by the mountains 


and rivers to the eastward through Canada, 
tracing the old romantic ways of the Hudson 
Bay traders ; others by Bering Sea and the Yu- 
kon, sailing all the way, getting glimpses per- 
haps of the famous fur-seals, the ice-floes, and 
the innumerable islands and bars of the great 
Alaska river. In spite of frowning hardships 
and the frozen ground, the Klondike gold will 
increase the crusading crowds for years to come, 
but comparatively little harm will be done. 
Holes wih 1 be burned and dug into the hard 
ground here and there, and into the quartz-ribbed 
mountains and hills ; ragged towns like beaver 
and muskrat villages will be built, and mills and 
locomotives will make rumbling, screeching, dis- 
enchanting noises ; but the miner's pick will not 
be followed far by the plough, at least not until 
Nature is ready to unlock the frozen soil-beds 
with her slow-turning climate key. On the other 
hand, the roads of the pioneer miners will lead 
many a lover of wildness into the heart of the 
reserve, who without them would never see it. 

In the meantime, the wildest health and plea- 
sure grounds accessible and available to tourists 
seeking escape from care and dust and early 
death are the parks and reservations of the West. 
There are four national parks, 1 the Yellow- 
stone, Yosemite, General Grant, and Sequoia, 
all within easy reach, and thirty forest reserva- 

1 There are now five parks and thirty-eight reservations. 


tions, a magnificent realm of woods, most of 
which, by railroads and trails and open ridges, is 
also fairly accessible, not only to the determined 
traveler rejoicing in difficulties, but to those (may 
their tribe increase) who, not tired, not sick, just 
naturally take wing every summer in search of 
wildness. The forty million acres of these re- 
serves are in the main unspoiled as yet, though 
sadly wasted and threatened on their more open 
margins by the axe and fire of the lumberman 
and prospector, and by hoofed locusts, which, 
like the winged ones, devour every leaf within 
reach, while the shepherds and owners set fires 
with the intention of making a blade of grass 
grow in the place of every tree, but with the re- 
sult of killing both the grass and the trees. 

In the million acre Black Hills Reserve of 
South Dakota, the easternmost of the great forest 
reserves, made for the sake of the farmers and 
miners, there are delightful, reviving sauntering- 
grounds in open parks of yellow pine, planted 
well apart, allowing plenty of sunshine to warm 
the ground. This tree is one of the most variable 
and most widely distributed of American pines. 
It grows sturdily on all kinds of soil and rocks, 
and, protected by a mail of thick bark, defies 
frost and fire and disease alike, daring every dan- 
ger in firm, calm beauty and strength. It occurs 
here mostly on the outer hills and slopes where 
no other tree can grow. The ground beneath it 


is yellow most of the summer with showy Wythia, 
arnica, applopappus, solidago, and other sun-lov- 
ing plants, which, though they form no heavy 
entangling growth, yet give abundance of color 
and make all the woods a garden. Beyond the 
yellow pine woods there lies a world of rocks 
of wildest architecture, broken, splintery, and 
spiky, not very high, but the strangest in form 
and style of grouping imaginable. Countless 
towers and spires, pinnacles and slender domed 
columns, are crowded together, and feathered 
with sharp-pointed Engelmann spruces, making 
curiously mixed forests, half trees, half rocks. 
Level gardens here and there in the midst of 
them offer charming surprises, and so do the 
many small lakes with lilies on their meadowy 
borders, and bluebells, anemones, daises, castil- 
leias, comandras, etc., together forming land- 
scapes delightfully novel, and made still wilder 
by many interesting animals, elk, deer, beavers, 
wolves, squirrels, and birds. Not very long ago 
this was the richest of all the red man's hunting- 
grounds hereabout. After the season's buffalo 
hunts were over, as described by Parkman, 
who, with a picturesque cavalcade of Sioux sav- 
ages, passed through these famous hills in 1846, 
every winter deficiency was here made good, 
and hunger was unknown until, in spite of most 
determined, fighting, killing opposition, the 
white gold-hunters entered the fat game reserve 


and spoiled it. The Indians are dead now, and 
so are most of the hardly less striking free trap- 
pers of the early romantic Eocky Mountain 
times. Arrows, bullets, scalping-knives, need no 
longer be feared ; and all the wilderness is peace- 
fully open. 

The Rocky Mountain reserves are the Teton, 
Yellowstone, Lewis and Clark, Bitter Root, Priest 
River and Flathead, comprehending more than 
twelve million acres of mostly unclaimed, rough, 
forest-covered mountains in which the great rivers 
of the country take their rise. The commonest 
tree in most of them is the brave, indomitable, and 
altogether admirable Pinus contorta, widely distri- 
buted in all kinds of climate and soil, growing 
cheerily in frosty Alaska, breathing the damp 
salt air of the sea as well as the dry biting blasts 
of the Arctic interior, and making itself at home 
on the most dangerous flame-swept slopes and 
ridges of the Rocky Mountains in immeasurable 
abundance and variety of forms. Thousands of 
acres of this species are destroyed by running 
fires nearly every summer, but a new growth 
springs quickly from the ashes. It is generally 
small, and yields few sawlogs of commercial 
value, but is of incalculable importance to the 
farmer and miner; supplying fencing, mine 
timbers, and firewood, holding the porous soil 
on steep slopes, preventing landslips and ava- 
lanches, and giving kindly, nourishing shelter to 


animals and the widely outspread sources of the 
life-giving rivers. The other trees are mostly 
spruce, mountain pine, cedar, juniper, larch, 
and balsam fir ; some of them, especially on the 
western slopes of the mountains, attaining grand 
size and furnishing abundance of fine timber. 

Perhaps the least known of all this grand 
group of reserves is the Bitter Boot, of more 
than four million acres. It is the wildest, shag- 
giest block of forest wildness in the Rocky 
Mountains, full of happy, healthy, storm-loving 
trees, full of streams that dance and sing in 
glorious array, and full of Nature's animals, 
elk, deer, wild sheep, bears, cats, and innumer- 
able smaller people. 

In calm Indian summer, when the heavy winds 
are hushed, the vast forests covering hill and 
dale, rising and falling over the rough topo- 
graphy and vanishing in the distance, seem 
lifeless. No moving thing is seen as we climb 
the peaks, and only the low, mellow murmur of 
falling water is heard, which seems to thicken 
the silence. Nevertheless, how many hearts with 
warm red blood in them are beating under cover 
of the woods, and how many teeth and eyes are 
shining ! A multitude of animal people, inti- 
mately related to us, but of whose lives we know 
almost nothing, are as busy about their own 
affairs as we are about ours : beavers are build- 
ing and mending dams and huts for winter, and 


Storing them with food; bears are studying 
winter quarters as they stand thoughtful in open 
spaces, while the gentle breeze ruffles the long 
hair on their backs ; elk and deer, assembling 
on the heights, are considering cold pastures 
where they will be farthest away from the 
wolves ; squirrels and marmots are busily laying 
up provisions and lining their nests against com- 
ing frost and snow foreseen ; and countless 
thousands of birds are forming parties and gath- 
ering their young about them for flight to the 
southlands ; while butterflies and bees, appar- 
ently with no thought of hard times to come, 
are hovering above the late-blooming goldenrods, 
and, with countless other insect folk, are danc- 
ing and humming right merrily in the sunbeams 
and shaking all the air into music. 

Wander here a whole summer, if you can. 
Thousands of God's wild blessings will search 
you and soak you as if you were a sponge, and 
the big days will go by uncounted. If you 
are business-tangled, and so burdened with duty 
that only weeks can be got out of the heavy- 
laden year, then go to the Flathead Reserve ; 
for it is easily and quickly reached by the Great 
Northern Railroad. Get off the track at Belton 
Station, and in a few minutes you will find your- 
self in the midst of what you are sure to say is 
the best care-killing scenery on the continent, 
beautiful lakes derived straight from glaciers, 


lofty mountains steeped in lovely nemophila-blue 
skies and clad with forests and glaciers, mossy, 
ferny waterfalls in their hollows, nameless and 
numberless, and meadowy gardens abounding in 
the best of everything. When you are calm 
enough for discriminating observation, you will 
find the king of the larches, one of the best of 
the Western giants, beautiful, picturesque, and 
regal in port, easily the grandest of all the 
larches in the world. It grows to a height of 
one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet, with 
a diameter at the ground of five to eight feet, 
throwing out its branches into the light as no 
other tree does. To those who before have seen 
only the European larch or the Lyall species of 
the eastern Rocky Mountains, or the little tama- 
rack or hackmatack of the Eastern States and 
Canada, this Western king must be a revelation. 

Associated with this grand tree in the making 
of the Flathead forests is the large and beautiful 
mountain pine, or Western white pine (Pinus 
monticola), the invincible contorta or lodge-pole 
pine, and spruce and cedar. The forest floor is 
covered with the richest beds of Linnsea borealis 
I ever saw, thick fragrant carpets, enriched with 
shining mosses here and there, and with Clin- 
tonia, pyrola, moneses, and vaccinium, weaving 
hundred-mile beds of bloom that would have 
made blessed old Linnseus weep for joy. 

Lake McDonald, full of brisk trout, is in the 


heart of this forest, and Avalanche Lake is ten 
miles above McDonald, at the feet of a group of 
glacier-laden mountains. Give a month at least 
to this precious reserve. The time will not be 
taken from the sum of your life. Instead of 
shortening, it will indefinitely lengthen it and 
make you truly immortal. Nevermore will time 
seem short or long, and cares will never again 
fall heavily on you, but gently and kindly as 
gifts from heaven. 

The vast Pacific Coast reserves in Washington 
and Oregon the Cascade, Washington, Mount 
Kainier, Olympic, Bull Kun, and Ashland, named 
in order of size include more than 12,500,000 
acres of magnificent forests of beautiful and 
gigantic trees. They extend over the wild, un- 
explored Olympic Mountains and both flanks of 
the Cascade Kange, the wet and the dry. On 
the east side of the Cascades the woods are sunny 
and open, and contain principally yellow pine, of 
moderate size, but of great value as a cover for 
the irrigating streams that flow into the dry in- 
terior, where agriculture on a grand scale is being 
carried on. Along the moist, balmy, foggy, 
west flank of the mountains, facing the sea, the 
woods reach their highest development, and, ex- 
cepting the California redwoods, are the heaviest 
on the continent. They are made up mostly of 
the Douglas spruce (Pseudotsuga taxifolia), with 
the giant arbor vitse, or cedar, and several species 


of fir and hemlock in varying abundance, form- 
ing a forest kingdom unlike any other, in which 
limb meets limb, touching and overlapping in 
bright, lively, triumphant exuberance, two hun- 
dred and fifty, three hundred, and even four 
hundred feet above the shady, mossy ground. 
Over all the other species the Douglas spruce 
reigns supreme. It is not only a large tree, 
the tallest in America next to the redwood, 
but a very beautiful one, with bright green 
drooping foliage, handsome pendent cones, and 
a shaft exquisitely straight and round and reg- 
ular. Forming extensive forests by itself in 
many places, it lifts its spiry tops into the sky 
close together with as even a growth as a well- 
tilled field of grain. No ground has been bet- 
ter tilled for wheat than these Cascade Moun- 
tains for trees : they were ploughed by mighty 
glaciers, and harrowed and mellowed and out- 
spread by the broad streams that flowed from 
the ice-ploughs as they were withdrawn at the 
close of the glacial period. 

In proportion to its weight when dry, Douglas 
spruce timber is perhaps stronger than that of 
any other large conifer in the country, and being 
tough, durable, and elastic, it is admirably suited 
for ship-building, piles, and heavy timbers in 
general ; but its hardness and liability to warp 
when it is cut into boards render it unfit for fine 
work. In the lumber markets of California it is 


called " Oregon pine." When lumbering is 
going on in the best Douglas woods, especially 
about Puget Sound, many of the long, slender 
boles are saved for spars; and so superior is 
their quality that they are called for in almost 
every shipyard in the world, and it is interesting 
to follow their fortunes. FeUed and peeled and 
dragged to tide-water, they are raised again as 
yards and masts for ships, given iron roots and 
canvas foliage, decorated with flags, and sent to 
sea, where in glad motion they go cheerily over 
the ocean prairie in every latitude and longitude, 
singing and bowing responsive to the same winds 
that waved them when they were in the woods. 
After standing in one place for centuries they 
thus go round the world like tourists, meeting 
many a friend from the old home forest ; some 
traveling like themselves, some standing head 
downward in muddy harbors, holding up the 
platforms of wharves, and others doing all kinds 
of hard timber work, showy or hidden. 

This wonderful tree also grows far northward 
in British Columbia, and southward along the 
coast and middle regions of Oregon and Califor- 
nia ; flourishing with the redwood wherever it 
can find an opening, and with the sugar pine, 
yellow pine, and libocedrus in the Sierra. It ex- 
tends into the San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and 
San Jacinto Mountains of southern California. 
It also grows well on the Wasatch Mountains, 


where it is called " red pine/' and on many parts 
of the Rocky Mountains and short interior ranges 
of the Great Basin. But though thus widely 
distributed, only in Oregon, Washington, and 
some parts of British Columbia does it reach per- 
fect development. 

To one who looks from some high standpoint 
over its vast breadth, the forest on the west side 
of the Cascades seems all one dim, dark, monoto- 
nous field, broken only by the white volcanic 
cones along the summit of the range. Back in 
the untrodden wilderness a deep furred carpet of 
brown and yellow mosses covers the ground like 
a garment, pressing about the feet of the trees, 
and rising in rich bosses softly and kindly over 
every rock and mouldering trunk, leaving no spot 
uncared for ; and dotting small prairies, and 
fringing the meadows and the banks of streams 
not seen in general views, we find, besides the 
great conifers, a considerable number of hard- 
wood trees, oak, ash, maple, alder, wild apple, 
cherry, arbutus, Nuttall's flowering dogwood, 
and in some places chestnut. In a few favored 
spots the broad-leaved maple grows to a height 
of a hundred feet in forests by itself, sending out 
large limbs in magnificent interlacing arches cov- 
ered with mosses and ferns, thus forming lofty 
sky-gardens, and rendering the underwoods de- 
lightfully cool. No finer forest ceiling is to be 
found than these maple arches, while the floor, 


ornamented with tall ferns and rubus vines, and 
cast into hillocks by the bulging, moss-covered 
roots of the trees, matches it well. 

Passing from beneath the heavy shadows of 
the woods, almost anywhere one steps into lovely 
gardens of lilies, orchids, heathworts, and wild 
roses. Along the lower slopes, especially in Ore- 
gon, where the woods are less dense, there are 
miles of rhododendron, making glorious masses 
of purple in the spring, while all about the 
streams and the lakes and the beaver meadows 
there is a rich tangle of hazel, plum, cherry, 
crab-apple, cornel, gaultheria, and rubus, with 
myriads of flowers and abundance of other more 
delicate bloomers, such as erythronium, brodisea, 
fritillaria, calochortus, Clintonia, and the lovely 
hider of the north, Calypso. Beside all these 
bloomers there are wonderful ferneries about the 
many misty waterfalls, some of the fronds ten 
feet high, others the most delicate of their tribe, 
the maidenhair fringing the rocks within reach of 
the lightest dust of the spray, while the shading 
trees on the cliffs above them, leaning over, look 
like eager listeners anxious to catch every tone 
of the restless waters. In the autumn berries of 
every color and flavor abound, enough for birds, 
bears, and everybody, particularly about the 
stream-sides and meadows where sunshine reaches 
the ground : huckleberries, red, blue, and black, 
some growing close to the ground others on 


bushes ten feet high ; gaultheria berries, called 
" sal-al " by the Indians ; salmon berries, an inch 
in diameter, growing in dense prickly tangles, the 
flowers, like wild roses, still more beautiful than 
the fruit; raspberries, gooseberries, currants, 
blackberries, and strawberries. The underbrush 
and meadow fringes are in great part made up of 
these berry bushes and vines ; but in the depths 
of the woods there is not much underbrush of 
any kind, only a thin growth of rubus, huckle- 
berry, and vine-maple. 

Notwithstanding the outcry against the reser- 
vations last winter in Washington, that un- 
counted farms, towns, and villages were included 
in them, and that all business was threatened or 
blocked, nearly all the mountains in which the 
reserves lie are still covered with virgin forests. 
Though lumbering has long been carried on with 
tremendous energy along their boundaries, and 
home-seekers have explored the woods for open- 
ings available for farms, however small, one may 
wander in the heart of the reserves for weeks 
without meeting a human being, Indian or white 
man, or any conspicuous trace of one. Indians 
used to ascend the main streams on their way to 
the mountains for wild goats, whose wool fur- 
nished them clothing. But with food in abun- 
dance on the coast there was little to draw them 
into the woods, and the monuments they have 
left there are scarcely more conspicuous than 


those of birds and squirrels ; far less so than 
those of the beavers, which have dammed streams 
and made clearings that will endure for centu- 
ries. Nor is there much in these woods to at- 
tract cattle-keepers. Some of the first settlers 
made farms on the small bits of prairie and in 
the comparatively open Cowlitz and Chehalis 
valleys of Washington; but before the gold 
period most of the immigrants from the Eastern 
States settled in the fertile and open Willamette 
Valley of Oregon. Even now, when the search 
for tillable land is so keen, excepting the bottom- 
lands of the rivers around Puget Sound, there 
are few cleared spots in all western Washington. 
On every meadow or opening of any sort some 
one will be found keeping cattle, raising hops, 
or cultivating patches of grain, but these spots 
are few and far between. All the larger spaces 
were taken long ago ; therefore most of the 
newcomers build their cabins where the beavers 
built theirs. They keep a few cows, laboriously 
widen their little meadow openings by hacking, 
girdling, and burning the rim of the close-press- 
ing forest, and scratch and plant among the huge 
blackened logs and stumps, girdling and killing 
themselves in killing the trees. 

Most of the farm lands of Washington and 
Oregon, excepting the valleys of the Willamette 
and Rogue rivers, lie on the east side of the 
mountains. The forests on the eastern slopes 


of the Cascades fail altogether ere the foot of 
the range is reached, stayed by drought as sud- 
denly as on the west side they are stopped by 
the sea ; showing strikingly how dependent are 
these forest giants on the generous rains and 
fogs so often complained of in the coast climate. 
The lower portions of the reserves are solemnly 
soaked and poulticed in rain and fog during the 
winter months, and there is a sad dearth of sun- 
shine, but with a little knowledge of woodcraft 
any one may enjoy an excursion into these woods 
even in the rainy season. The big, gray days 
are exhilarating, and the colors of leaf and branch 
and mossy bole are then at their best. The 
mighty trees getting their food are seen to be 
wide-awake, every needle thrilling in the wel- 
come nourishing storms, chanting and bowing 
low in glorious harmony, while every raindrop 
and snowflake is seen as a beneficent messenger 
from the sky. The snow that falls on the lower 
woods is mostly soft, coming through the trees 
in downy tufts, loading their branches, and bend- 
ing them down against the trunks until they 
look like arrows, while a strange muffled silence 
prevails, making everything impressively solemn. 
But these lowland snowstorms and their effects 
quickly vanish. The snow melts in a day or 
two, sometimes in a few hours, the bent branches 
spring up again, and all the forest work is left 
to the fog and the rain. At the same time, dry 


snow is falling on the upper forests and moun- 
tain tops. Day after day, often for weeks, the 
big clouds give their flowers without ceasing, as 
if knowing how important is the work they have 
to do. The glinting, swirling swarms thicken 
the blast, and the trees and rocks are covered 
to a depth of ten to twenty feet. Then the 
mountaineer, snug in a grove with bread and 
fire, has nothing to do but gaze and listen and 
enjoy. Ever and anon the deep, low roar of the 
storm is broken by the booming of avalanches, 
as the snow slips from the overladen heights and 
rushes down the long white slopes to fill the 
fountain hollows. All the smaller streams are 
hushed and buried, and the young groves of 
spruce and fir near the edge of the timber-line 
are gently bowed to the ground and put to sleep, 
not again to see the light of day or stir branch 
or leaf until the spring. 

These grand reservations should draw thou- 
sands of admiring visitors at least in summer, yet 
they are neglected as if of no account, and spoil- 
ers are allowed to ruin them as fast as they like. 1 
A few peeled spars cut here were set up in Lon- 
don, Philadelphia, and Chicago, where they 

1 The outlook over forest affairs is now encouraging. Popular in- 
terest, more practical than sentimental in whatever touches the welfare 
of the country's forests, is growing rapidly, and a hopeful begin- 
ning has been made by the Government in real protection for the res- 
ervations as well as for the parks. From July 1, 1900, there have 
been 9 superintendents, 39 supervisors, and from 330 to 445 rangers of 


excited wondering attention ; but the countless 
hosts of living trees rejoicing at home on the 
mountains are scarce considered at all. Most 
travelers here are content with what they can see 
from car windows or the verandas of hotels, and 
in going from place to place cling to their pre- 
cious trains and stages like wrecked sailors to 
rafts. When an excursion into the woods is 
proposed, all sorts of dangers are imagined, 
snakes, bears, Indians. Yet it is far safer to 
wander in God's woods than to travel on black 
highways or to stay at home. The snake danger 
is so slight it is hardly worth mentioning. Bears 
are a peaceable people, and mind their own busi- 
ness, instead of going about like the devil seeking 
whom they may devour. Poor fellows, they have 
been poisoned, trapped, and shot at until they 
have lost confidence in brother man, and it is not 
now easy to make their acquaintance. As to 
Indians, most of them are dead or civilized into 
useless innocence. No American wilderness that 
I know of is so dangerous as a city home " with 
all the modern improvements." One should go to 
the woods for safety, if for nothing else. Lewis 
and Clark, in their famous trip across the conti- 
nent in 1804-1805, did not lose a single man by 
Indians or animals, though all the West was then 
wild. Captain Clark was bitten on the hand as 
he lay asleep. That was one bite among more 
than a hundred men while traveling nine thou- 


sand miles. Loggers are far more likely to be 
met than Indians or bears in the reserves or about 
their boundaries, brown weather-tanned men with 
faces furrowed like bark, tired-looking, moving 
slowly, swaying like the trees they chop. A 
little of everything in the woods is fastened to 
their clothing, rosiny and smeared with balsam, 
and rubbed into it, so that their scanty outer gar- 
ments grow thicker with use and never wear out. 
Many a forest giant have these old woodmen 
felled, but, round-shouldered and stooping, they 
too are leaning over and tottering to their fall. 
Others, however, stand ready to take their places, 
stout young fellows, erect as saplings ; and 
always the foes of trees outnumber their friends. 
Far up the white peaks one can hardly fail to 
meet the wild goat, or American chamois, an 
admirable mountaineer, familiar with woods and 
glaciers as well as rocks, and in leafy thickets 
deer will be found ; while gliding about unseen 
there are many sleek furred animals enjoying 
their beautiful lives, and birds also, notwithstand- 
ing few are noticed in hasty walks. The ousel 
sweetens the glens and gorges where the streams 
flow fastest, and every grove has its singers, how- 
ever silent it seems, thrushes, linnets, warblers ; 
humming-birds glint about the fringing bloom of 
the meadows and peaks, and the lakes are stirred 
into lively pictures by water-fowl. 

The Mount Eainier Forest Reserve should be 


made a national park and guarded while yet its 
bloom is on ; 1 for if in the making of the West 
Nature had what we call parks in mind, places 
for rest, inspiration, and prayers, this Eainier 
region must surely be one of them. In the 
centre of it there is a lonely mountain capped 
with ice ; from the ice-cap glaciers radiate in 
every direction, and young rivers from the gla- 
ciers ; while its flanks, sweeping down in beauti- 
ful curves, are clad with forests and gardens, and 
filled with birds and animals. Specimens of the 
best of Nature's treasures have been lovingly 
gathered here and arranged in simple symmetrical 
beauty within regular bounds. 

Of all the fire-mountains which, like beacons, 
once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount 
Rainier is the noblest in form, has the most in- 
teresting forest cover, and, with perhaps the ex- 
ception of Shasta, is the highest and most 
flowery. Its massive white dome rises out of its 
forests, like a world by itself, to a height of four- 
teen thousand to fifteen thousand feet. The for- 
ests reach to a height of a little over six thousand 
feet, and above the forests there is a zone of the 
loveliest flowers, fifty miles in circuit and nearly 

1 This was done shortly after the above was written. " One of the 
most important measures taken during the past year in connection 
with forest reservations was the action of Congress in withdrawing 
from the Mount Rainier Forest Reserve a portion of the region imme- 
diately surrounding Mount Rainier ?nd setting it apart as a national 
park." (Report of Commissioner of General Land Office, for the year 
ended June, 1899.) But the park as it now stands is far too small. 


two miles wide, so closely planted and luxuriant 
that it seems as if Nature, glad to make an open 
space between woods so dense and ice so deep, 
were economizing the precious ground, and try- 
ing to see how many of her darlings she can get 
together in one mountain wreath, daisies, 
anemones, geraniums, columbines, erythroniums, 
larkspurs, etc., among which we wade knee-deep 
and waist-deep, the bright corollas in myriads 
touching petal to petal. Picturesque detached 
groups of the spiry Abies lasiocarpa stand like 
islands along the lower margin of the garden 
zone, while on the upper margin there are exten- 
sive beds of bryanthus, Cassiope, Kalmia,and other 
heath worts, and higher still saxifrages and drabas, 
more and more lowly, reach up to the edge of the 
ice. Altogether this is the richest subalpine 
garden I ever found, a perfect floral elysium. 
The icy dome needs none of man's care, but un- 
less the reserve is guarded the flower bloom will 
soon be killed, and nothing of the forests will be 
left but black stump monuments. 

The Sierra of California is the most openly 
beautiful and useful of all the forest reserves, 
and the largest excepting the Cascade Reserve of 
Oregon and the Bitter Root of Montana and 
Idaho. It embraces over four million acres of 
the grandest scenery and grandest trees on the 
continent, and its forests are planted just where 
they do the most good, not only for beauty, but 


for farming in the great San Joaquin Valley be- 
neath them. It extends southward from the 
Yosemite National Park to the end of the range, 
a distance of nearly two hundred miles. No 
other coniferous forest in the world contains so 
many species or so many large and beautiful 
trees, Sequoia gigantea, king of conifers, " the 
noblest of a noble race," as Sir Joseph Hooker 
well says; the sugar pine, king of all the 
world's pines, living or extinct ; the yellow pine, 
next in rank, which here reaches most perfect 
development, forming * noble towers of verdure 
two hundred feet high; the mountain pine, 
which braves the coldest blasts far up the moun- 
tains on grim, rocky slopes; and five others, 
flourishing each in its place, making eight species 
of pine in one forest, which is still further en- 
riched by the great Douglas spruce, libocedrus, 
two species of silver fir, large trees and exquisitely 
beautiful, the Paton hemlock, the most graceful 
of evergreens, the curious tumion, oaks of many 
species, maples, alders, poplars, and flowering 
dogwood, all fringed with flowery underbrush, 
manzanita, ceanothus, wild rose, cherry, chestnut, 
and rhododendron. Wandering at random 
through these friendly, approachable woods, one 
comes here and there to the loveliest lily gardens, 
some of the lilies ten feet high, and the smooth- 
est gentian meadows, and Yosemite valleys known 
only to mountaineers. Once I spent a night by 


a camp-fire on Mount Shasta with Asa Gray and 
Sir Joseph Hooker, and, knowing that they were 
acquainted with all the great forests of the 
world, I asked whether they knew any conifer- 
ous forest that rivaled that of the Sierra. They 
unhesitatingly said : " No. In the beauty and 
grandeur of individual trees, and in number and 
variety of species, the Sierra forests surpass all 

This Sierra Eeserve, proclaimed by the Presi- 
dent of the United States in September, 1893, is 
worth the most thoughtful care of the govern- 
ment for its own sake, without considering its 
value as the fountain of the rivers on which the 
fertility of the great San Joaquin Valley de- 
pends. Yet it gets no care at all. In the fog 
of tariff, silver, and annexation politics it is left 
wholly unguarded, though the management of 
the adjacent national parks by a few soldiers 
shows how well and how easily it can be pre- 
served. In the meantime, lumbermen are al- 
lowed to spoil it at their will, and sheep in 
uncountable ravenous hordes to trample it and 
devour every green leaf within reach ; while the 
shepherds, like destroying angels, set innumer- 
able fires, which burn not only the undergrowth 
of seedlings on which the permanence of the 
forest depends, but countless thousands of the 
venerable giants. If every citizen could take 
one walk through this reserve, there would be 


no more trouble about its care ; for only in 
darkness does vandalism flourish. 1 

The reserves of southern California, the 
San Gabriel, San Bernardino, San Jacinto, and 
Trabuco, though not large, only about two 
million acres together, are perhaps the best ap- 
preciated. Their slopes are covered with a 
close, almost impenetrable growth of flowery 
bushes, beginning on the sides of the fertile 
coast valleys and the dry interior plains. Their 
higher ridges, however, and mountains are open, 
and fairly well forested with sugar pine, yellow 
pine, Douglas spruce, libocedrus, and white fir. 
As timber fountains they amount to little, but as 
bird and bee pastures, cover for the precious 
streams that irrigate the lowlands, and quickly 
available retreats from dust and heat and care, 
their value is incalculable. Good roads have 
been graded into them, by which in a few hours 
lowlanders can get well up into the sky and find 
refuge in hospitable camps and club-houses, 
where, while breathing reviving ozone, they may 
absorb the beauty about them, and look comfort- 
ably down on the busy towns and the most 
beautiful orange groves ever planted since gar- 
dening began. 

The Grand Canon Reserve of Arizona, of 
nearly two million acres, or the most interesting 
part of it, as well as the Rainier region, should 

1 See note, p. 27. 


be made into a national park, on account of their 
supreme grandeur and beauty. Setting out 
from Flagstaff, a station on the Atchison, To- 
peka, and Santa Fe Railroad, on the way to the 
canon you pass through beautiful forests of 
yellow pine, like those of the Black Hills, but 
more extensive, and curious dwarf forests of 
nut pine and juniper, the spaces between the 
miniature trees planted with many interesting 
species of eriogonum, yucca, and cactus. After 
riding or walking seventy-five miles through 
these pleasure-grounds, the San Francisco and 
other mountains, abounding in flowery parklike 
openings and smooth shallow valleys with long 
vistas which in fineness of finish and arrange- 
ment suggest the work of a consummate land- 
scape artist, watching you all the way, you come 
to the most tremendous canon in the world. It 
is abruptly countersunk in the forest plateau, so 
that you see nothing of it until you are suddenly 
stopped on its brink, with its immeasurable 
wealth of divinely colored and sculptured build- 
ings before you and beneath you. No matter 
how far you have wandered hitherto, or how 
many famous gorges and valleys you have seen, 
this one, the Grand Canon of the Colorado, will 
seem as novel to you, as unearthly in the color 
and grandeur and quantity of its architecture, as 
if you had found it after death, on some other 
star ; so incomparably lovely and grand and 


supreme is it above all the other canons in our 
fire-moulded, earthquake-shaken, rain-washed, 
wave-washed, river and glacier sculptured world. 
It is about six thousand feet deep where you 
first see it, and from rim to rim ten to fifteen 
miles wide. Instead of being dependent for 
interest upon waterfalls, depth, wall sculpture, 
and beauty of parklike floor, like most other 
great canons, it has no waterfalls in sight, and 
no appreciable floor spaces. The big river has 
just room enough to flow and roar obscurely, 
here and there groping its way as best it can, 
like a weary, murmuring, overladen traveler try- 
ing to escape from the tremendous, bewildering 
labyrinthic abyss, while its roar serves only to 
deepen the silence. Instead of being filled with 
air, the vast space between the walls is crowded 
with Nature's grandest buildings, a sublime 
city of them, painted in every color, and adorned 
with richly fretted cornice and battlement spire 
and tower in endless variety of style and archi- 
tecture. Every architectural invention of man 
has been anticipated, and far more, in this 
grandest of God's terrestrial cities. 



OF the four national parks of the West, the 
Yellowstone is far the largest. It is a big, 
wholesome wilderness on the broad summit of the 
Eocky Mountains, favored with abundance of 
rain and snow, - a place of fountains where the 
greatest of the American rivers take their rise. 
The central portion is a densely forested and 
comparatively level volcanic plateau with an aver- 
age elevation of about eight thousand feet above 
the sea, surrounded by an imposing host of moun- 
tains belonging to the subordinate Gallatin, Wind 
River, Teton, Absaroka, and snowy ranges. Un- 
numbered lakes shine in it, united by a famous 
band of streams that rush up out of hot lava beds, 
or fall from the frosty peaks in channels rocky 
and bare, mossy and bosky, to the main rivers, 
singing cheerily on through every difficulty, cun- 
ningly dividing and finding their way east and 
west to the two far-off seas. 

Glacier meadows and beaver meadows are out- 
spread with charming effect along the banks of 
the streams, parklike expanses in the woods, and 


innumerable small gardens in rocky recesses of 
the mountains, some of them containing more 
petals than leaves, while the whole wilderness is 
enlivened with happy animals. 

Beside the treasures common to most mountain 
regions that are wild and blessed with a kind 
climate, the park is full of exciting wonders. 
The wildest geysers in the world, in bright, tri- 
umphant bands, are dancing and singing in it 
amid thousands of boiling springs, beautiful and 
awful, their basins arrayed in gorgeous colors like 
gigantic flowers ; and hot paint-pots, mud springs, 
mud volcanoes, mush and broth caldrons whose 
contents are of every color and consistency, 
plash and heave and roar in bewildering abun- 
dance. In the adjacent mountains, beneath the 
living trees the edges of petrified forests are ex- 
posed to view, like specimens on the shelves of a 
museum, standing on ledges tier above tier where 
they grew, solemnly silent in rigid crystalline 
beauty after swaying in the winds thousands 
of centuries ago, opening marvelous views back 
into the years and climates and life of the past. 
Here, too, are hills of sparkling crystals, hills of 
sulphur, hills of glass, hills of cinders and ashes, 
mountains of every style of architecture, icy or 
forested, mountains covered with honey-bloom 
sweet as Hymettus, mountains boiled soft like 
potatoes and colored like a sunset sky. A' 
that and a' that, and twice as muckle 's a' that, 


Nature has on show in the Yellowstone Park. 
Therefore it is called Wonderland, and thousands 
of tourists and travelers stream into it every sum- 
mer, and wander about in it enchanted. 

Fortunately, almost as soon as it was discov- 
ered it was dedicated and set apart for the bene- 
fit of the people, a piece of legislation that shines 
benignly amid the common dust-and-ashes history 
of the public domain, for which the world must 
thank Professor Hayden above all others ; for he 
led the first scientific exploring party into it, de- 
scribed it, and with admirable enthusiasm urged 
Congress to preserve it* As delineated in the 
year 1872, the park contained about 3344 square 
miles. On March 30, 1891 it was to all intents 
and purposes enlarged by the Yellowstone Na- 
tional Park Timber Reserve, and in December, 
1897, by the Teton Forest Reserve ; thus nearly 
doubling its original area, and extending the 
southern boundary far enough to take in the 
sublime Teton range and the famous pasture-lands 
of the big Rocky Mountain game animals. The 
withdrawal of this large tract from the public 
domain did no harm to any one ; for its height, 
6000 to over 13,000 feet above the sea, and its 
thick mantle of volcanic rocks, prevent its ever 
being available for agriculture or mining, while 
on the other hand its geographical position, re- 
viving climate, and wonderful scenery combine 
to make it a grand health, pleasure, and study 


resort, a gathering-place for travelers from 
all the world. 

The national parks are not only withdrawn 
from sale and entry like the forest reservations, 
but are efficiently managed and guarded by small 
troops of United States cavalry, directed by the 
Secretary of the Interior. Under this care the 
forests are flourishing, protected from both axe 
and fire ; and so, of course, are the shaggy beds 
of underbrush and the herbaceous vegetation. 
The so-called curiosities, also, are preserved, and 
the furred and feathered tribes, many of which, 
in danger of extinction a short time ago, are 
now increasing in numbers, a refreshing thing 
to see amid the blind, ruthless destruction that is 
going on in the adjacent regions. In pleasing 
contrast to the noisy, ever changing manage- 
ment, or mismanagement, of blundering, plun- 
dering, money-making vote-sellers who receive 
their places from boss politicians as purchased 
goods, the soldiers do their duty so quietly that 
the traveler is scarce aware of their presence. 

This is the coolest and highest of the parks. 
Frosts occur every month of the year. Neverthe- 
less, the tenderest tourist finds it warm enough 
in summer. The air is electric and full of ozone, 
healing, reviving, exhilarating, kept pure by frost 
and fire, while the scenery is wild enough to 
awaken the dead. It is a glorious place to grow 
in and rest in; camping on the shores of the 


lakes, in the warm openings of the woods golden 
with sunflowers, on the banks of the streams, by 
the snowy waterfalls, beside the exciting wonders 
or away from them in the scallops of the moun- 
tain walls sheltered from every wind, on smooth 
silky lawns enameled with gentians, up in the 
fountain hollows of the ancient glaciers between 
the peaks, where cool pools and brooks and gar- 
dens of precious plants charmingly embowered 
are never wanting, and good rough rocks with 
every variety of cliff and scaur are invitingly 
near for outlooks and exercise. 

From these lovely dens you may make excur- 
sions whenever you like into the middle of the 
park, where the geysers and hot springs are reek- 
ing and spouting in their beautiful basins, dis- 
playing an exuberance of color and strange mo- 
tion and energy admirably calculated to surprise 
and frighten, charm and shake up the least sensi- 
tive out of apathy into newness of life. 

However orderly your excursions or aimless, 
again and again amid the calmest, stillest scenery 
you will be brought to a standstill hushed and 
awe-stricken before phenomena wholly new to 
you. Boiling springs and huge deep pools of 
purest green and azure water, thousands of them, 
are plashing and heaving in these high, cool 
mountains as if a fierce furnace fire were burning 
beneath each one of them ; and a hundred gey- 
sers, white torrents of boiling water and steam, 


like inverted waterfalls, are ever and anon rush- 
ing up out of the hot, black underworld. Some 
of these ponderous geyser columns are as large as 
sequoias, five to sixty feet in diameter, one 
hundred and fifty to three hundred feet high, 
and are sustained at this great height with 
tremendous energy for a few minutes, or per- 
haps nearly an hour, standing rigid and erect, 
hissing, throbbing, booming, as if thunderstorms 
were raging beneath their roots, their sides 
roughened or fluted like the furrowed boles of 
trees, their tops dissolving in feathery branches, 
while the irised spray, like misty bloom is at times 
blown aside, revealing the massive shafts shining 
against a background of pine-covered hills. 
Some of them lean more or less, as if storm-bent, 
and instead of being round are flat or fan-shaped, 
issuing from irregular slits in silex pavements 
with radiate structure, the sunbeams sifting 
through them in ravishing splendor. Some are 
broad and round-headed like oaks ; others are 
low and bunchy, branching near the ground like 
bushes ; and a few are hollow in the centre like 
big daisies or water-lilies. No frost cools them, 
snow never covers them nor lodges in their 
branches ; winter and summer they welcome alike ; 
all of them, of whatever form or size, faithfully 
rising and sinking in fairy rhythmic dance night 
and day, in all sorts of weather, at varying periods 
of minutes, hours, or weeks, growing up rapidly, 


uncontrollable as fate, tossing their pearly 
branches in the wind, bursting into bloom and 
vanishing like the frailest flowers, plants of 
which Nature raises hundreds or thousands of 
crops a year with no apparent exhaustion of the 
fiery soil. 

The so-called geyser basins, in which this rare 
sort of vegetation is growing, are mostly open 
valleys on the central plateau that were eroded 
by glaciers after the greater volcanic fires had 
ceased to burn. Looking down over the forests 
as you approach them from the surrounding 
heights, you see a multitude of white columns, 
broad, reeking masses, and irregular jets and 
puffs of misty vapor ascending from the bottom 
of the valley, or entangled like smoke among the 
neighboring trees, suggesting the factories of 
some busy town or the camp-fires of an army. 
These mark the position of each mush-pot, paint- 
pot, hot spring, and geyser, or gusher, as the 
Icelandic words mean. And when you saunter 
into the midst of them over the bright sinter 
pavements, and see how pure and white and 
pearly gray they are in the shade of the moun- 
tains, and how radiant in the sunshine, you are 
fairly enchanted. So numerous they are and 
varied, Nature seems to have gathered them 
from all the world as specimens of her rarest 
fountains, to show in one place what she can do. 
Over four thousand hot springs have been counted 


in the park, and a hundred geysers ; how many 
more there are nobody knows. 

These valleys at the heads of the great rivers 
may be regarded as laboratories and kitchens, 
in which, ainid a thousand retorts and pots, we 
may see Nature at work as chemist or cook, cun- 
ningly compounding an infinite variety of mineral 
messes ; cooking whole mountains ; boiling and 
steaming flinty rocks to smooth paste and mush, 
yellow, brown, red, pink, lavender, gray, and 
creamy white, making the most beautiful mud 
in the world ; and distilling the most ethereal 
essences. Many of these pots and caldrons have 
been boiling thousands of years. Pots of sul- 
phurous mush, stringy and lumpy, and pots of 
broth as black as ink, are tossed and stirred with 
constant care, and thin transparent essences, too 
pure and fine to be called water, are kept simmer- 
ing gently in beautiful sinter cups and bowls 
that grow ever more beautiful the longer they 
are used. In some of the spring basins, the 
waters, though still warm, are perfectly calm, and 
shine blandly in a sod of overleaning grass and 
flowers, as if they were thoroughly cooked at last, 
and set aside to settle and cool. Others are 
wildly boiling over as if running to waste, thou- 
sands of tons of the precious liquids being thrown 
into the air to fall in scalding floods on the clean 
coral floor of the establishment, keeping onlook- 
ers at a distance. Instead of holding limpid pale 


green or azure water, other pots and craters are 
filled with scalding mud, which is tossed up from 
three or four feet to thirty feet, in sticky, rank- 
smelling masses, with gasping, belching, thud- 
ding sounds, plastering the branches of neigh- 
boring trees ; every flask, retort, hot spring, and 
geyser has something special in it, no two being 
the same in temperature, color, or composition. 

In these natural laboratories one needs stout 
faith to feel at ease. The ground sounds hollow 
underfoot, and the awful subterranean thunder 
shakes one's mind as the ground is shaken, es- 
pecially at night in the pale moonlight, or when 
the sky is overcast with storm-clouds. In the 
solemn gloom, the geysers, dimly visible, look 
like monstrous dancing ghosts, and their wild 
songs and the earthquake thunder replying to 
the storms overhead seem doubly terrible, as if 
divine government were at an end. But the 
trembling hills keep their places. The sky clears, 
the rosy dawn is reassuring, and up comes the 
sun like a god, pouring his faithful beams across 
the mountains and forest, lighting each peak 
and tree and ghastly geyser alike, and shining 
into the eyes of the reeking springs, clothing 
them with rainbow light, and dissolving the 
seeming chaos of darkness into varied forms of 
harmony. The ordinary work of the world goes 
on. Gladly we see the flies dancing in the sun- 
beams, birds feeding their young, squirrels gath- 


ering nuts, and hear the blessed ouzel singing 
confidingly in the shallows of the river, most 
faithful evangel, calming every fear, reducing 
everything to love. 

The variously tinted sinter and travertine 
formations, outspread like pavements over large 
areas of the geyser valleys, lining the spring 
basins and throats of the craters, and forming 
beautiful coral-like rims and curbs about them, 
always excite admiring attention ; so also does 
the play of the waters from which they are de- 
posited. The various minerals in them are rich 
in colors, and these are greatly heightened by a 
smooth, silky growth of brilliantly colored con- 
fervse which lines many of the pools and chan- 
nels and terraces. No bed of flower-bloom is 
more exquisite than these myriads of minute 
plants, visible only in mass, growing in the hot 
waters. Most of the spring borders are low and 
daintily scalloped, crenelated, and beaded with 
sinter pearls. Some of the geyser craters are 
massive and picturesque, like ruined castles or 
old burned-out sequoia stumps, and are adorned 
on a grand scale with outbulging, cauliflower- 
like formations. From these as centres the silex 
pavements slope gently away in thin, crusty, 
overlapping layers, slightly interrupted in some 
places by low terraces. Or, as in the case of the 
Mammoth Hot Springs, at the north end of the 
park, where the building waters issue from the 


side of a steep hill, the deposits form a succession 
of higher and broader terraces of white traver- 
tine tinged with purple, like the famous Pink 
Terrace at Rotomahana, New Zealand, draped 
in front with clustering stalactites, each terrace 
having a pool of indescribably beautiful water 
upon it in a basin with a raised rim that glistens 
with conf ervse, the whole, when viewed at a 
distance of a mile or two, looking like a broad, 
massive cascade pouring over shelving rocks in 
snowy purpled foam. 

The stones of this divine masonry, invisible 
particles of lime or silex, mined in quarries no 
eye has seen, go to their appointed places in 
gentle, tinkling, transparent currents or through 
the dashing turmoil of floods, as surely guided 
as the sap of plants streaming into bole and 
branch, leaf and flower. And thus from cen- 
tury to century this beauty-work has gone on and 
is going on. 

Passing though many a mile of pine and 
spruce woods, toward the centre of the park you 
come to the famous Yellowstone Lake. It is 
about twenty miles long and fifteen wide, and 
lies at a height of nearly 8000 feet above the 
level of the sea, amid dense black forests and 
snowy mountains. Around its winding, waver- 
ing shores, closely forested and picturesquely 
varied with promontories and bays, the distance 
is more than 100 miles. It is not very deep, 


only from 200 to 300 feet, and contains less 
water than the celebrated Lake Tahoe of the 
California Sierra, which is nearly the same size, 
lies at a height of 6400 feet, and is over 1600 
feet deep. But no other lake in North America 
of equal area lies so high as the Yellowstone, or 
gives birth to so noble a river. The terraces 
around its shores show that at the close of the 
glacial period its surface was about 160 feet 
higher than it is now, and its area nearly twice as 

It is full of trout, and a vast multitude of 
birds swans, pelicans, geese, ducks, cranes, 
herons, curlews, plovers, snipe feed in it and 
upon its shores ; and many forest animals come 
out of the woods, and wade a little way in shal- 
low, sandy places to drink and look about them, 
and cool themselves in the free flowing breezes. 

In calm weather it is a magnificent mirror for 
the woods and mountains and sky, now pattered 
with hail and rain, now roughened with sudden 
storms that send waves to fringe the shores and 
wash its border of gravel and sand. The Absa- 
roka Mountains and the Wind River Plateau on 
the east and south pour their gathered waters 
into it, and the river issues from the north side 
in a broad, smooth, stately current, silently glid- 
ing with such serene majesty that one fancies it 
knows the vast journey of four thousand miles 
that lies before it, and the work it has to do. 


For the first twenty miles its course is in a level, 
sunny valley lightly fringed with trees, through 
which it flows in silvery reaches stirred into 
spangles here and there by ducks and leaping 
trout, making no sound save a low whispering 
among the pebbles and the dipping willows and 
sedges of its banks. Then suddenly, as if pre- 
paring for hard work, it rushes eagerly, impetu- 
ously forward rejoicing in its strength, breaks 
into foam-bloom, and goes thundering down into 
the Grand Canon in two magnificent falls, one 
hundred and three hundred feet high. 

The canon is so tremendously wild and im- 
pressive that even these great falls cannot hold 
your attention. It is about twenty miles long 
and a thousand feet deep, a weird, unearthly- 
looking gorge of jagged, fantastic architecture, 
and most brilliantly colored. Here the Wash- 
burn range, forming the northern rim of the 
Yellowstone basin, made up mostly of beds of 
rhyolite decomposed by the action of thermal 
waters, has been cut through and laid open to 
view by the river ; and a famous section it has 
made. It is not the depth or the shape of the 
canon, nor the waterfall, nor the green and gray 
river chanting its brave song as it goes foaming 
on its way, that most impresses the observer, but 
the colors of the decomposed volcanic rocks. 
With few exceptions, the traveler in strange 
lands finds that, however much the scenery and 


vegetation in different countries may change, 
Mother Earth is ever familiar and the same. 
But here the very ground is changed, as if be- 
longing to some other world. The walls of the 
canon from top to bottom burn in a perfect 
glory of color, confounding and dazzling when 
the sun is shining, white, yellow, green, blue, 
vermilion, and various other shades of red indefi- 
nitely blending. All the earth hereabouts 
seems to be paint. Millions of tons of it lie in 
sight, exposed to wind and weather as if of no 
account, yet marvelously fresh and bright, fast 
colors not to be washed out or bleached out by 
either sunshine or storms. The effect is so novel 
and awful, we imagine that even a river might 
be afraid to enter such a place. But the rich 
and gentle beauty of the vegetation is reassur- 
ing. The lovely Linna3a borealis hangs her 
twin bells over the brink of the cliffs, forests 
and gardens extend their treasures in smiling 
confidence on either side, nuts and berries ripen 
well whatever may be going on below ; blind 
fears vanish, and the grand gorge seems a kindly, 
beautiful part of the general harmony, full of 
peace and joy and good will. 

The park is easy of access. Locomotives drag 
you to its northern boundary at Cinnabar, and 
horses and guides do the rest. From Cinnabar 
you will be whirled in coaches along the foam- 
ing Gardiner Biver to Mammoth Hot Springs ; 


thence through woods and meadows, gulches and 
ravines along branches of the Upper Gallatin, 
Madison, and Firehole rivers to the main geyser 
basins ; thence over the Continental Divide and 
back again, up and down through dense pine, 
spruce, and fir woods to the magnificent Yellow- 
stone Lake, along its northern shore to the out- 
let, down the river to the falls and Grand Canon, 
and thence back through the woods to Mammoth 
Hot Springs and Cinnabar ; stopping here and 
there at the so-called points of interest among 
the geysers, springs, paint-pots, mud volcanoes, 
etc., where you will be allowed a few minutes or 
hours to saunter over the sinter pavements, 
watch the play of a few of the geysers, and peer 
into some of the most beautiful and terrible of 
the craters and pools. These wonders you will 
enjoy, and also the views of the mountains, espe- 
cially the Gallatin and Absaroka ranges, the 
long, willowy glacier and beaver meadows, the 
beds of violets, gentians, phloxes, asters, phace- 
lias, goldenrods, eriogonums, and many other 
flowers, some species giving color to whole 
meadows and hillsides. And you will enjoy 
your short views of the great lake and river and 
canon. No scalping Indians will you see. The 
Blackfeet and Bannocks that once roamed here 
are gone ; so are the old beaver-catchers, the 
Coulters and Bridgers, with all their attractive 
buckskin and romance. There are several bands 


of buffaloes in the park, but you will not thus 
cheaply in tourist fashion see them nor many of 
the other large animals hidden in the wilderness. 
The song-birds, too, keep mostly out of sight of 
the rushing tourist, though off the roads thrushes, 
warblers, orioles, grosbeaks, etc., keep the air 
sweet and merry. Perhaps in passing rapids and 
falls you may catch glimpses of the water-ouzel, 
but in the whirling noise you will not hear his 
song. Fortunately, no road noise frightens the 
Douglas squirrel, and his merry play and gossip 
will amuse you all through the woods. Here 
and there a deer may be seen crossing the road, 
or a bear. Most likely, however, the only bears 
you will see are the half tame ones that go to the 
hotels every night for dinner-table scraps, 
yeast-powder biscuit, Chicago canned stuff, mixed 
pickles, and beefsteaks that have proved too 
tough for the tourists. 

Among the gains of a coach trip are the ac- 
quaintances made and the fresh views into hu- 
man nature ; for the wilderness is a shrewd 
touchstone, even thus lightly approached, and 
brings many a curious trait to view. Setting 
out, the driver cracks his whip, and the four 
horses go off at half gallop, half trot, in trained, 
showy style, until out of sight of the hotel. The 
coach is crowded, old and young side by side, 
blooming and fading, full of hope and fun and 
care. Some look at the scenery or the horses, 


and all ask questions, an odd mixed lot of them : 
" Where is the umbrella ? What is the name of 
that blue flower over there ? Are you sure the 
little bag is aboard ? Is that hollow yonder a 
crater? How is your throat this morning? 
How high did you say the geysers spout ? How 
does the elevation affect your head ? Is that a 
geyser reeking over there in the rocks, or only a 
hot spring ? " A long ascent is made, the solemn 
mountains come to view, small cares are quenched, 
and all become natural and silent, save perhaps 
some unfortunate expounder who has been read- 
ing guidebook geology, and rumbles forth foggy 
subsidences and upheavals until he is in danger 
of being heaved overboard. The driver will 
give you the names of the peaks and meadows 
and streams as you come to them, call attention 
to the glass road, tell how hard it was to build, 
how the obsidian cliffs naturally pushed the 
surveyor's lines to the right, and the industrious 
beavers, by flooding the valley in front of the 
cliff, pushed them to the left. 

Geysers, however, are the main objects, and as 
soon as they come in sight other wonders are for- 
gotten. All gather around the crater of the one 
that is expected to play first. During the erup- 
tions of the smaller geysers, such as the Beehive 
and Old Faithful, though a little frightened at 
first, all welcome the glorious show with enthu- 
siasm, and shout, " Oh, how wonderful, beautiful, 


splendid, majestic ! " Some venture near enough 
to stroke the column with a stick, as if it were 
a stone pillar or a tree, so firm and substantial 
and permanent it seems. While tourists wait 
around a large geyser, such as the Castle or the 
Giant, there is a chatter of small talk in anything 
but solemn mood; and during the intervals 
between the preliminary splashes and upheavals 
some adventurer occasionally looks down the 
throat of the crater, admiring the silex forma- 
tions and wondering whether Hades is as beauti- 
ful. But when, with awful uproar as if ava- 
lanches were falling and storm& thundering in 
the depths, the tremendous outburst begins, 
all run away to a safe distance, and look on, 
awe-stricken and silent, in devout, worshiping 

The largest and one of the most wonderf ully 
beautiful of the springs is the Prismatic, which 
the guide will be sure to show you. With a cir- 
cumference of 300 yards, it is more like a lake 
than a spring. The water is pure deep blue in 
the centre, fading to green on the edges, and its 
basin and the slightly terraced pavement about 
it are astonishingly bright and varied in color. 
This one of the multitude of Yellowstone foun- 
tains is of itself object enough for a trip across 
the continent. No wonder that so many fine 
myths have originated in springs ; that so many 
fountains were held sacred in the youth of the 


world, and had miraculous virtues ascribed to 
them. Even in these cold, doubting, question- 
ing, scientific times many of the Yellowstone 
fountains seem able to work miracles. Near the 
Prismatic Spring is the great Excelsior Geyser, 
which is said to throw a column of boiling water 
60 to 70 feet in diameter to a height of from 50 
to 300 feet, at irregular periods. This is the 
greatest of all the geysers yet discovered anywhere. 
The Firehole River, which sweeps past it, is, at 
ordinary stages, a stream about 100 yards wide 
and 3 feet deep ; but when the geyser is in 
eruption, so great is the quantity of water dis- 
charged that the volume of the river is doubled, 
and it is rendered too hot and rapid to be forded. 

Geysers are found in many other volcanic re- 
gions, in Iceland, New Zealand, Japan, the 
Himalayas, the Eastern Archipelago, South 
America, the Azores, and elsewhere ; but only in 
Iceland, New Zealand, and this Rocky Mountain 
park do they display their grandest forms, and of 
these three famous regions the Yellowstone is 
easily first, both in the number and in the size of 
its geysers. The greatest height of the column 
of the Great Geyser of Iceland actually measured 
was 212 feet, and of the Strokhr 162 feet. 

In New Zealand, the Te Pueia at Lake Taupo, 
the Waikite at Rotorna, and two others are said 
to lift their waters occasionally to a height of 100 
feet, while the celebrated Te Tarata at Rotomahana 


sometimes lifts a boiling column 20 feet in diame- 
ter to a height of 60 feet. But all these are far 
surpassed by the Excelsior. Few tourists, how- 
ever, will see the Excelsior in action, or a thou- 
sand other interesting features of the park that 
lie beyond the wagon-roads and the hotels. The 
regular trips from three to five days are too 
short. Nothing can be done well at a speed of 
forty miles a day. The multitude of mixed, 
novel impressions rapidly piled on one another 
make only a dreamy, bewildering, swirling blur, 
most of which is unrememberable. Far more 
time should be taken. Walk away quietly in 
any direction and taste the freedom of the moun- 
taineer. Camp out among the grass and gentians 
of glacier meadows, in craggy garden nooks full 
of Nature's darlings. 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. As age comes on, one source of 
enjoyment after another is closed, but Nature's 
sources never fail. Like a generous host, she 
offers here brimming cups in endless variety, 
served in a grand hall, the sky its ceiling, the 
mountains its walls, decorated with glorious paint- 
ings and enlivened with bands of music ever play- 
ing. The petty discomforts that beset the 
awkward guest, the unskilled camper, are quickly 


forgotten, while all that is precious remains. 
Fears vanish as soon as one is fairly free in the 

Most of the dangers that haunt the unseasoned 
citizen are imaginary ; the real ones are perhaps 
too few rather than too many for his good. 
The bears that always seem to spring up 
thick as trees, in fighting, devouring attitudes 
before the frightened tourist whenever a camp- 
ing trip is proposed, are gentle now, finding they 
are no longer likely to be shot ; and rattlesnakes, 
the other big irrational dread of over-civilized 
people, are scarce here, for most of the park lies 
above the snake-line. Poor creatures, loved only 
by their Maker, they are timid and bashful, as 
mountaineers know; and though perhaps not 
possessed of much of that charity that suffers 
long and is kind, seldom, either by mistake or 
by mishap, do harm to any one. Certainly they 
cause not the hundredth part of the pain and 
death that follow the footsteps of the admired 
Rocky Mountain trapper. Nevertheless, again 
and again, in season and out of season, the ques- 
tion comes up, " What are rattlesnakes good 
for ? " As if nothing that does not obviously 
make for the benefit of man had any right to 
exist ; as if our ways were God's ways. Long 
ago, an Indian to whom a French traveler put 
this old question replied that their tails were 
good for toothache, and their heads for fever. 


Anyhow, they are all, head and tail, good for 
themselves, and we need not begrudge them their 
share of life. 

Fear nothing. No town park you have been 
accustomed to saunter in is so free from danger 
as the Yellowstone. It is a hard place to leave. 
Even its names in your guidebook are attractive, 
and should draw you far from wagon-roads, all 
save the early ones, derived from the infernal re- 
gions: Hell Roaring River, Hell Broth Springs, 
The Devil's Caldron, etc. Indeed, the whole re- 
gion was at first called Coulter's Hell, from the 
fiery brimstone stories told by trapper Coulter, 
who left the Lewis and Clark expedition and 
wandered through the park, in the year 1807, 
with a band of Bannock Indians. The later 
names, many of which we owe to Mr. Arnold 
Hague of the U. S. Geological Survey, are so 
telling and exhilarating that they set our pulses 
dancing and make us begin to enjoy the pleas- 
ures of excursions ere they are commenced. 
Three River Peak, Two Ocean Pass, Continental 
Divide, are capital geographical descriptions, sug- 
gesting thousands of miles of rejoicing streams 
and all that belongs to them. Big Horn Pass, 
Bison Peak, Big Game Ridge, bring brave moun- 
tain animals to mind. Birch Hills, Garnet Hills, 
Amethyst Mountain, Storm Peak, Electric Peak, 
Roaring Mountain, are bright, bracing names. 
Wapiti, Beaver, Tern, and Swan lakes, conjure 


up fine pictures, and so also do Osprey and Ouzel 
falls. Antelope Creek, Otter, Mink, and Gray- 
ling creeks, Geode, Jasper, Opal, Carnelian, and 
Chalcedony creeks, are lively and sparkling 
names that help the streams to shine ; and 
Azalea, Stellaria, Arnica, Aster, and Phlox 
creeks, what pictures these bring up ! Violet, 
Morning Mist, Hygeia, Beryl, Vermilion, and 
Indigo springs, and many beside, give us visions 
of fountains more beautifully arrayed than 
Solomon in all his purple and golden glory. 
All these and a host of others call you to camp. 
You may be a little cold some nights, on moun- 
tain tops above the timber-line, but you will see the 
stars, and by and by you can sleep enough in your 
town bed, or at least in your grave. Keep awake 
while you may in mountain mansions so rare. 

If you are not very strong, try to climb Elec- 
tric Peak when a big bossy, well-charged thun- 
der-cloud is on it, to breathe the ozone set free, 
and get yourself kindly shaken and shocked. 
You are sure to be lost in wonder and praise, 
and every hair of your head will stand up and 
hum and sing like an enthusiastic congregation. 

After this reviving experience, you should take 
a look into a few of the tertiary volumes of the 
grand geological library of the park, and see how 
God writes history. No technical knowledge is re- 
quired ; only a calm day and a calm mind. Per- 
haps nowhere else in the Eocky Mountains have 


the volcanic forces been so busy. More than 
ten thousand square miles hereabouts have been 
covered to a depth of at least five thousand feet 
with material spouted from chasms and craters 
during the tertiary period, forming broad sheets 
of basalt, andesite, rhyolite, etc., and marvelous 
masses of ashes, sand, cinders, and stones now 
consolidated into conglomerates, charged with the 
remains of plants and animals that lived in the 
calm, genial periods that separated the volcanic 
^Perhaps the most interesting and telling of 

these rocks, to the hasty tourist, are those that 

' / 

make up the mass of Amethyst Mountain. On its 
north side it presents a section two thousand feet 
high of roughly stratified beds of sand, ashes, and 
conglomerates coarse and fine, forming the un- 
trimmed edges of a wonderful set of volumes ly- 
ing on their sides, books a million years old, 
well bound, miles in size, with full-page illustra- 
tions. On the ledges of this one section we see 
trunks and stumps of fifteen or twenty ancient 
forests ranged one above another, standing where 
they grew, or prostrate and broken like the pil- 
lars of ruined temples in desert sands, a forest 
fifteen or twenty stories high, the roots of each 
spread above the tops of the next beneath it, tell- 
ing wonderful tales of the bygone centuries, with 
their winters and summers, growth and death, 
fire, ice, and flood.) 


There were giants in those days. The largest 
of the standing opal and agate stumps and pros- 
trate sections of the trunks are from two or three 
to fifty feet in height or length, and from five 
to ten feet in diameter ; and so perfect is the pet- 
rifaction that the annual rings and ducts are 
clearer and more easily counted than those of 
living trees, centuries of burial having brightened 
the records instead of blurring them. They show 
that the winters of the tertiary period gave as 
decided a check to vegetable growth as do those 
of the present time. Some trees favorably lo- 
cated grew rapidly, increasing twenty inches in 
diameter in as many years, while others of the 
same species, on poorer soil or overshadowed, in- 
creased only two or three inches in the same 

Among the roots and stumps on the old forest 
floors we find the remains of ferns and bushes, 
and the seeds and leaves of trees like those now 
growing on the southern Alleghanies, such as 
magnolia, sassafras, laurel, linden, persimmon, 
ash, alder, dogwood. Studying the lowest of 
these forests, the soil it grew on and the deposits 
it is buried in, we see that it was rich in species, 
and flourished in a genial, sunny climate. When 
its stately trees were in their glory, volcanic fires 
broke forth from chasms and craters, like larger 
geysers, spouting ashes, cinders, stones, and mud, 
which fell on the doomed forest like hail and 


snow ; sifting, hurtling through the leaves and 
branches, choking the streams, covering the 
ground, crushing bushes and ferns, rapidly deep- 
ening, packing around the trees and breaking 
them, rising higher until the topmost boughs of 
the giants were buried, leaving not a leaf or twig 
in sight, so complete was the desolation. At last 
the volcanic storm began to abate, the fiery soil 
settled; mud floods and boulder floods passed 
over it, enriching it, cooling it ; rains fell and 
mellow sunshine, and it became fertile and ready 
for another crop. Birds, and the winds, and 
roaming animals brought seeds from more fortu- 
nate woods, and a new forest grew up on the top 
of the buried one. Centuries of genial growing 
seasons passed. The seedling trees became giants, 
and with strong outreaching branches spread a 
leafy canopy over the gray land. 

The sleeping subterranean fires again awake 
and shake the mountains, and every leaf trem- 
bles. The old craters, with perhaps new ones, are 
opened, and immense quantities of ashes, pumice, 
and cinders are again thrown into the sky. The 
sun, shorn of his beams, glows like a dull red 
ball, until hidden in sulphurous clouds. Volcanic 
snow, hail, and floods fall on the new forest, 
burying it alive, like the one beneath its roots. 
Then come another noisy band of mud floods 
and boulder floods, mixing, settling, enriching 
the new ground, more seeds, quickening sun- 


shine and showers ; and a third noble magnolia 
forest is carefully raised on the top of the second. 
And so on. Forest was planted above forest 
and destroyed, as if Nature were ever repenting, 
undoing the work she had so industriously done, 
and burying it. 

Of course this destruction was creation, pro- 
gress in the march of beauty through death. 
How quickly these old monuments excite and 
hold the imagination ! We see the old stone 
stumps budding and blossoming and waving in 
the wind as magnificent trees, standing shoulder 
to shoulder, branches interlacing in grand varied 
round-headed forests ; see the sunshine of morn- 
ing and evening gilding their mossy trunks, and 
at high noon spangling on the thick glossy 
leaves of the magnolia, filtering through translu- 
cent canopies of linden and ash, and falling in 
mellow patches on the ferny floor ; see the shin- 
ing after rain, breathe the exhaling fragrance, 
and hear the winds and birds and the murmur 
of brooks and insects. We watch them from sea- 
son to season ; see the swelling buds when the 
sap begins to flow in the spring, the opening 
leaves and blossoms, the ripening of summer 
fruits, the colors of autumn, and the maze of 
leafless branches and sprays in winter ; and we 
see the sudden oncome of the storms that over- 
whelmed them. 

One calm morning at sunrise I saw the oaks 


and pines in Yosemite Valley shaken by an earth- 
quake, their tops swishing back and forth, and 
every branch and needle shuddering as if in dis- 
tress like the frightened screaming birds. One 
may imagine the trembling, rocking, tumultuous 
waving of those ancient Yellowstone woods, and 
the terror of their inhabitants when the first 
foreboding shocks were felt, the sky grew dark, 
and rock-laden floods began to roar. But though 
they were close pressed and buried, cut off from 
sun and wind, all their happy leaf-fluttering and 
waving done, other currents coursed through 
them, fondling and thrilling every fibre, and 
beautiful wood was replaced by beautiful stone. 
Now their rocky sepulchres are partly open, and 
show forth the natural beauty of death. 

After the forest times and fire times had 
passed away, and the volcanic furnaces were 
banked and held in abeyance, another great 
change occurred. The glacial winter came on. 
The sky was again darkened, not with dust and 
ashes, but with snow which fell in glorious abun- 
dance, piling deeper, deeper, slipping from the 
overladen heights in booming avalanches, com- 
pacting into glaciers, that flowed over all the 
landscape, wiping off forests, grinding, sculptur- 
ing, fashioning the comparatively featureless 
lava beds into the beautiful rhythm of hill and 
dale and ranges of mountains we behold to-day ; 
forming basins for lakes, channels for streams, 


new soils for forests, gardens, and meadows. 
While this ice-work was going on, the slumber- 
ing volcanic fires were boiling the subterranean 
waters, and with curious chemistry decomposing 
the rocks, making beauty in the darkness ; these 
forces, seemingly antagonistic, working harmo- 
niously together. How wild their meetings on 
the surface were we may imagine. When the 
glacier period began, geysers and hot springs 
were playing in grander volume, it may be, than 
those of to-day. The glaciers flowed over them 
while they spouted and thundered, carrying away 
their fine sinter and travertine structures, and 
shortening their mysterious channels. 

The soils made in the down-grinding required 
to bring the present features of the landscape 
into relief are possibly no better than were some 
of the old volcanic soils that were carried away, 
and which, as we have seen, nourished magnifi- 
cent forests, but the glacial landscapes are incom- 
parably more beautiful than the old volcanic 
ones were. The glacial winter has passed away, 
like the ancient summers and fire periods, though 
in the chronolgy of the geologist all these times 
are recent. Only small residual glaciers on the 
cool northern slopes of the highest mountains 
are left of the vast all-embracing ice-mantle, as 
solfataras and geysers are all that are left of the 
ancient volcanoes. 

Now the post-glacial agents are at work on the 


grand old palimpsest of the park region, inscrib- 
ing new characters ; but still in its main telling 
features it remains distinctly glacial. The 
moraine soils are being leveled, sorted, refined, 
re-formed, and covered with vegetation ; the pol- 
ished pavements and scoring and other superficial 
glacial inscriptions on the crumbling lavas are 
being rapidly obliterated ; gorges are being cut in 
the decomposed rhyolites and loose conglome- 
rates, and turrets and pinnacles seem to be 
springing up like growing trees ; while the gey- 
sers are depositing miles of sinter and travertine. 
Nevertheless, the ice-work is scarce blurred as 
yet. These later effects are only spots and 
wrinkles on the grand glacial countenance of the 

Perhaps you have already said that you have 
seen enough for a lifetime. But before you go 
away you should spend at least one day and a 
night on a mountain top, for a last general, 
calming, settling view. Mount Washburn is a 
good one for the purpose, because it stands in 
the middle of the park, is unencumbered with 
other peaks, and is so easy of access that the 
climb to its summit is only a saunter. First your 
eye goes roving around the mountain rim amid 
the hundreds of peaks : some with plain flowing 
skirts, others abruptly precipitous and defended 
by sheer battlemented escarpments; flat-topped 
or round ; heaving like sea-waves or spired and 


turreted like Gothic cathedrals; streaked with 
snow in the ravines, and darkened with files of 
adventurous trees climbing the ridges. The 
nearer peaks are perchance clad in sapphire 
blue, others far off in creamy white. In the 
broad glare of noon they seem to shrink and 
crouch to less than half their real stature, and 
grow dull and uncommunicative, mere dead, 
draggled heaps of waste ashes and stone, giving 
no hint of the multitude of animals enjoying life 
in their fastnesses, or of the bright bloom- 
bordered streams and lakes. But when storms 
blow they awake and arise, wearing robes of 
cloud and mist in majestic speaking attitudes like 
gods. In the color glory of morning and evening 
they become still more impressive ; steeped in 
the divine light of the alpenglow their earthi- 
ness disappears, and, blending with the heavens, 
they seem neither high nor low. 

Over all the central plateau, which from here 
seems level, and over the foothills and lower 
slopes of the mountains, the forest extends like a 
black uniform bed of weeds, interrupted only 
by lakes and meadows and small burned spots 
called parks, all of them, except the Yellow- 
stone Lake, being mere dots and spangles in gen- 
eral views, made conspicuous by their color and 
brightness. About eighty-five per cent of the 
entire area of the park is covered with trees, 
mostly the indomitable lodge-pole pine (Pinus 


contorta, var. Murrayana), with a few patches 
and sprinklings of Douglas spruce, Engelmann 
spruce, silver fir (Abies lasiocarpa), Pinus flexi- 
lis, and a few alders, aspens, and birches. The 
Douglas spruce is found only on the lowest por- 
tions, the silver fir on the highest, and the Engel- 
mann spruce on the dampest places, best defended 
from fire. Some fine specimens of the flexilis 
pine are growing on the margins of openings, 
wide-branching, sturdy trees, as broad as high, 
with trunks five feet in diameter, leafy and 
shady, laden with purple cones and rose-colored 
flowers. The Engelmann spruce and sub-alpine 
silver fir are beautiful and notable trees, 
tall, spiry, hardy, frost and snow defying, and 
widely distributed over the West, wherever there 
is a mountain to climb or a cold moraine slope 
to cover. But neither of these is a good fire- 
fighter. With rather thin bark, and scattering 
their seeds every year as soon as they are ripe, 
they are quickly driven out of fire-swept re- 
gions. When the glaciers were melting, these 
hardy mountaineering trees were probably among 
the first to arrive on the new moraine soil beds ; 
but as the plateau became drier and fires began 
to run, they were driven up the mountains, and 
into the wet spots and islands where we now find 
them, leaving nearly all the park to the lodge- 
pole pine, which, though as thin-skinned as they 
and as easily killed by fire, takes pains to store 


up its seeds in firmly closed cones, and holds 
them from three to nine years, so that, let the 
fire come when it may, it is ready to die and 
ready to live again in a new generation. For 
when the killing fires have devoured the leaves 
and thin resinous bark, many of the cones, only 
scorched, open as soon as the smoke clears away ; 
the hoarded store of seeds is sown broadcast on 
the cleared ground, and a new growth imme- 
diately springs up triumphant out of the ashes. 
Therefore, this tree not only holds its ground, 
but extends its conquests farther after every fire. 
Thus the evenness and closeness of its growth are 
accounted for. In one part of the forest that I 
examined, the growth was about as close as a cane- 
brake. The trees were from four to eight inches 
in diameter, one hundred feet high, and one hun- 
dred and seventy-five years old. The lower limbs 
die young and drop off for want of light. Life 
with these close-planted trees is a race for light, 
more light, and so they push straight for the sky. 
Mowing off ten feet from the top of the forest 
would make it look like a crowded mass of tele- 
graph-poles ; for only the sunny tops are leafy. A 
sapling ten years old, growing in the sunshine, 
has as many leaves as a crowded tree one or two 
hundred years old. As fires are multiplied and the 
mountains become drier, this wonderful lodge- 
pole pine bids fair to obtain possession of nearly 
all the forest ground in the West. 


How still the woods seem from here, yet how 
lively a stir the hidden animals are making; 
digging, gnawing, biting, eyes shining, at work 
and play, getting food, rearing young, roving 
through the underbrush, climbing the rocks, 
wading solitary marshes, tracing the banks of the 
lakes and streams ! Insect swarms are dancing in 
the sunbeams, burrowing in the ground, diving, 
swimming, a cloud of witnesses telling Nature's 
joy. The plants are as busy as the animals, every 
cell in a swirl of enjoyment, humming like a 
hive, singing the old new song of creation. A 
few columns and puffs of steam are seen rising 
above the treetops, some near, but most of them 
far off, indicating geysers and hot springs, gentle- 
looking and noiseless as downy clouds, softly 
hinting the reaction going on between the sur- 
face and the hot interior. From here you see 
them better than when you are standing be- 
side them, frightened and confused, regarding 
them as lawless cataclysms. The shocks and out- 
bursts of earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, storms, 
the pounding of waves, the uprush of sap in 
plants, each and all tell the orderly love-beats of 
Nature's heart. 

Turning to the eastward, you have the Grand 
Canon and reaches of the river in full view ; and 
yonder to the southward lies the great lake, the 
largest and most important of all the high foun- 
tains of the Missouri-Mississippi, and the last to 
be discovered. 


In the year 1541, when De Soto, with a ro- 
mantic band of adventurers, was seeking gold 
and glory and the fountain of youth, he found 
the Mississippi a few hundred miles above its 
mouth, and made his grave beneath its floods. 
La Salle, in 1682, after discovering the Ohio, 
one of the largest and most beautiful branches of 
the Mississippi, traced the latter to the sea from 
the mouth of the Illinois, through adventures and 
privations not easily realized now. About the 
same time Joliet and Father Marquette reached 
the " Father of Waters " by way of the Wiscon- 
sin, but more than a century passed ere its high- 
est sources in these mountains were seen. The 
advancing stream of civilization has ever followed 
its guidance toward the west, but none of the 
thousand tribes of Indians living on its banks 
could tell the explorer whence it came. From 
those romantic De Soto and La Salle days to 
these times of locomotives and tourists, how much 
has the great river seen and done ! Great as it 
now is, and still growing longer through the 
ground of its delta and the basins of receding gla- 
ciers at its head, it was immensely broader toward 
the close of the glacial period, when the ice-man- 
tle of the mountains was melting : then with its 
three hundred thousand miles of branches out- 
spread over the plains and valleys of the conti- 
nent, laden with fertile mud, it made the biggest 
and most generous bed of soil in the world. 


Think of this mighty stream springing in the 
first place in vapor from the sea, flying on the 
wind, alighting on the mountains in hail and 
snow and rain, lingering in many a fountain 
feeding the trees and grass ; then gathering its 
scattered waters, gliding from its noble lake, and 
going back home to the sea, singing all the way ! 
On it sweeps, through the gates of the mountains, 
across the vast prairies and plains, through many 
a wild, gloomy forest, cane-brake, and sunny 
savanna ; from glaciers and snowbanks and pine 
woods to warm groves of magnolia and palm ; 
geysers dancing at its head keeping time with 
the sea-waves at its mouth ; roaring and gray in 
rapids, booming in broad, bossy falls, murmuring, 
gleaming in long, silvery reaches, swaying now 
hither, now thither, whirling, bending in huge 
doubling, eddying folds, serene, majestic, ungov- 
ernable, overflowing all its metes and bounds, 
frightening the dwellers upon its banks ; build- 
ing, wasting, uprooting, planting ; engulfing old 
islands and making new ones, taking away fields 
and towns as if in sport, carrying canoes and 
ships of commerce in the midst of its spoils and 
drift, fertilizing the continent as one vast farm. 
Then, its work done, it gladly vanishes in its 
ocean home, welcomed by the waiting waves. 

Thus naturally, standing here in the midst of 
its fountains, we trace the fortunes of the great 
river. And how much more comes to mind as 


we overlook this wonderful wilderness ! Foun- 
tains of the Columbia and Colorado lie before 
us, interlaced with those of the Yellowstone and 
Missouri, and fine it would be to go with them to 
the Pacific ; but the sun is already in the west, 
and soon our day will be done. 

Yonder is Amethyst Mountain, and other 
mountains hardly less rich in old forests, which 
now seem to spring up again in their glory ; and 
you see the storms that buried them, the ashes 
and torrents laden with boulders and mud, the 
centuries of sunshine, and the dark, lurid nights. 
You see again the vast floods of lava, red-hot and 
white-hot, pouring out from gigantic geysers, 
usurping the basins of lakes and streams, absorb- 
ing or driving away their hissing, screaming 
waters, flowing around hills and ridges, submerg- 
ing every subordinate feature. Then you see 
the snow and glaciers taking possession of the 
land, making new landscapes. How admirable 
it is that, after passing through so many vicissi- 
tudes of frost and fire and flood, the physiog- 
nomy and even the complexion of the landscape 
should still be so divinely fine ! 

Thus reviewing the eventful past, we see Na- 
ture working with enthusiasm like a man, blowing 
her volcanic forges like a blacksmith blowing 
his smithy fires, shoving glaciers over the land- 
scapes like a carpenter shoving his planes, clear- 
ing, ploughing, harrowing, irrigating, planting, 


and sowing broadcast like a farmer and gardener, 
doing rough work and fine work, planting se- 
quoias and pines, rosebushes and daisies ; work- 
ing in gems, filling every crack and hollow with 
them ; distilling fine essences ; painting plants 
and shells, clouds, mountains, all the earth and 
heavens, like an artist, ever working toward 
beauty higher and higher. Where may the 
mind find more stimulating, quickening pastur- 
age? A thousand Yellowstone wonders are call- 
ing, " Look up and down and round about you ! " 
And a multitude of still, small voices may be 
heard directing you to look through all this 
transient, shifting show of things called " sub- 
stantial " into the truly substantial, spiritual world 
whose forms flesh and wood, rock and water, air 
and sunshine, only veil and conceal, and to learn 
that here is heaven and the dwelling-place of the 

The sun is setting ; long, violet shadows are 
growing out over the woods from the mountains 
along the western rim of the park ; the Absaroka 
range is baptized in the divine I ight of the alpen- 
glow, and its rocks and trees are transfigured. 
Next to the light of the dawn on high mountain 
tops, the alpenglow is the most impressive of all 
the terrestrial manifestations of God. 

Now comes the gloaming. The alpenglow is 
fading into earthy, murky gloom, but do not let 
your town habits draw you away to the hotel. 


Stay on this good fire-mountain and spend the 
night among the stars. Watch their glorious 
bloom until the dawn, and get one more baptism 
of light. Then, with fresh heart, go down to 
your work, and whatever your fate, under what- 
ever ignorance or knowledge you may afterward 
chance to suffer, you will remember these fine, 
wild views, and look back with joy to your wan- 
derings in the blessed old Yellowstone Wonder- 



OF all the mountain ranges I have climbed, I 
like the Sierra Nevada the best. Though ex- 
tremely rugged, with its main features on the 
grandest scale in height and depth, it is never- 
theless easy of access and hospitable ; and its 
marvelous beauty, displayed in striking and al- 
luring forms, wooes the admiring wanderer on 
and on, higher and higher, charmed and en- 
chanted. Benevolent, solemn, fateful, pervaded 
with divine light, every landscape glows like a 
countenance hallowed in eternal repose ; and 
every one of its living creatures, clad in flesh 
and leaves, and every crystal of its rocks, whether 
on the surface shining in the sun or buried miles 
deep in what we call darkness, is throbbing and 
pulsing with the heartbeats of God. All the 
world lies warm in one heart, yet the Sierra 
seems to get more light than other mountains. 
The weather is mostly sunshine embellished with 
magnificent storms, and nearly everything shines 
from base to summit, the rocks, streams, lakes, 
glaciers, irised falls, and the forests of silver fir 


and silver pine. And how bright is the shining 
after summer showers and dewy nights, and after 
frosty nights in spring and autumn, when the 
morning sunbeams are pouring through the 
crystals on the bushes and grass, and in winter 
through the snow-laden trees ! 

The average cloudiness for the whole year is 
perhaps less than ten hundredths. Scarcely a 
day of all the summer is dark, though there is 
no lack of magnificent thundering cumuli. They 
rise in the warm midday hours, mostly over the 
middle region, in June and July, like new moun- 
tain ranges, higher Sierras, mightily augmenting 
the grandeur of the scenery while giving rain to 
the forests and gardens and bringing forth their 
fragrance. The wonderful weather and beauty 
inspire everybody to be up and doing. Every 
summer day is a workday to be confidently 
counted on, the short dashes of rain forming, 
not interruptions, but rests. The big blessed 
storm days of winter, when the whole range 
stands white, are not a whit less inspiring and 
kind. Well may the Sierra be called the Range 
of Light, not the Snowy Range; for only in 
winter is it white, while all the year it is bright. 

Of this glorious range the Yosemite National 
Park is a central section, thirty-six miles in 
length and forty-eight miles in breadth. The 
famous Yosemite Valley lies in the heart of it, 
and it includes the head waters of the Tuolumne 


and Merced rivers, two of the most songful 
streams in the world; innumerable lakes and 
waterfalls and smooth silky lawns ; the noblest 
forests, the loftiest granite domes, the deepest 
ice-sculptured canons, the brightest crystalline 
pavements, and snowy mountains soaring into 
the sky twelve and thirteen thousand feet, ar- 
rayed in open ranks and spiry pinnacled groups 
partially separated by tremendous canons and 
amphitheatres; gardens on their sunny brows, 
avalanches thundering down their long white 
slopes, cataracts roaring gray and foaming in 
the crooked rugged gorges, and glaciers in their 
shadowy recesses working in silence, slowly com- 
pleting their sculpture ; new-born lakes at their 
feet, blue and green, free or encumbered with 
drifting icebergs like miniature Arctic Oceans, 
shining, sparkling, calm as stars. 

Nowhere will you see the majestic operations 
of nature more clearly revealed beside the frail- 
est, most gentle and peaceful things. Nearly 
all the park is a profound solitude. Yet it is 
full of charming company, full of God's thoughts, 
a place of peace and safety amid the most exalted 
grandeur and eager enthusiastic action, a new 
song, a place of beginnings abounding in first 
lessons on life, mountain-building, eternal, invin- 
cible, unbreakable order ; with sermons in stones, 
storms, trees, flowers, and animals brimful of 
humanity. During the last glacial period^ just 


past, the former features of the range were rub- 
bed off as a chalk sketch from a blackboard, and 
a new beginning was made. Hence the wonder- 
ful clearness and freshness of the rocky pages. 

But to get all this into words is a hopeless 
task. The leanest sketch of each feature would 
need a whole chapter. Nor would any amount 
of space, however industriously scribbled, be of 
much avail. To defrauded town toilers, parks in 
magazine articles are like pictures of bread to the 
hungry. I can write only hints to incite good 
wanderers to come to the feast. 

While this glorious park embraces big, gener- 
ous samples of the very best of the Sierra trea- 
sures, it is, fortunately, at the same time, the 
most accessible portion. It lies opposite San 
Francisco, at a distance of about one hundred 
and forty miles. Railroads connected with all 
the continent reach into the foothills, and 
three good carriage roads, from Big Oak Flat, 
Coulterville, and Raymond, run into Yosemite 
Valley. Another, called the Tioga road, runs 
from Crocker's Station on the Yosemite Big Oak 
Flat road near the Tuolumne Big Tree Grove, 
right across the park to the summit of the range 
by way of Lake Tenaya, the Big Tuolumne 
Meadows, and Mount Dana. These roads, with 
many trails that radiate from Yosemite Valley, 
bring most of the park within reach of every- 
body, well or half well. 


The three main natural divisions of the park, 
the lower, middle, and alpine regions, are fairly 
well defined in altitude, topographical features, 
and vegetation. The lower, with an average 
elevation of about five thousand feet, is the 
region of the great forests, made up of sugar 
pine, the largest and most beautiful of all the 
pines in the world ; the silvery yellow pine, the 
next in rank; Douglas spruce, libocedrus, the 
white and red silver firs, and the Sequoia gi- 
gantea, or " big tree," the king of conifers, the 
noblest of a noble race. On warm slopes next 
the foothills there are a few Sabine nut pines ; 
oaks make beautiful groves in the canon valleys ; 
and poplar, alder, maple, laurel, and Nuttall's 
flowering dogwood shade the banks of the 
streams. Many of the pines are more than two 
hundred feet high, but they are not crowded to- 
gether. The sunbeams streaming through their 
feathery arches brighten the ground, and you 
walk beneath the radiant ceiling in devout sub- 
dued mood, as if you were in a grand cathedral 
with mellow light sifting through colored win- 
dows, while the flowery pillared aisles open en- 
chanting vistas in every direction. Scarcely a 
peak or ridge in the whole region rises bare 
above the forests, though they are thinly planted 
in some places where the soil is shallow. From 
the cool breezy heights you look abroad over a 
boundless waving sea of evergreens, covering 


hill and ridge and smooth-flowing slope as far as 
the eye can reach, and filling every hollow and 
down-plunging ravine in glorious triumphant 

Perhaps the best general view of the pine 
forests of the park, and one of the best in the 
range, is obtained from the top of the Merced 
and Tuolumne divide near Hazel Green. On 
the long, smooth, finely folded slopes of the 
main ridge, at a height of five to six thousand 
feet above the sea, they reach most perfect devel- 
opment and are marshaled to view in magni- 
ficent towering ranks, their colossal spires and 
domes and broad palmlike crowns, deep in the 
kind sky, rising above one another, a multi- 
tude of giants in perfect health and beauty, ' 
sun-fed mountaineers rejoicing in their strength, 
chanting with the winds, in accord with the fall- 
ing waters. The ground is mostly open and in- 
viting to walkers. The fragrant chamsebatia is 
outspread in rich carpets miles in extent; the 
manzanita, in orchard-like groves, covered with 
pink bell-shaped flowers in the spring, grows in 
openings facing the sun, hazel and buckthorn in 
the dells ; warm brows are purple with mint, 
yellow with sunflowers and violets ; and taU lilies 
ring their bells around the borders of meadows 
and along the ferny, mossy banks of the streams. 
Never was mountain forest more lavishly fur- 


Hazel Green is a good place quietly to camp 
and study, to get acquainted with the trees and 
birds, to drink the reviving water and weather, 
and to watch the changing lights of the big 
charmed days. The rose light of the dawn, 
creeping higher among the stars, changes to daf- 
fodil yellow ; then come the level enthusiastic 
sunbeams pouring across the feathery ridges, 
touching pine after pine, spruce and fir, liboce- 
drus and lordly sequoia, searching every recess, 
until all are awakened and warmed. In the 
white noon they shine in silvery splendor, every 
needle and cell in bole and branch thrilling and 
tingling with ardent lif e ; and the whole land- 
scape glows with consciousness, like the face of 
a god. The hours go by uncounted. The even- 
ing flames with purple and gold. The breeze 
that has been blowing from the lowlands dies 
away, and far and near the mighty host of trees 
baptized in the purple flood stand hushed and 
thoughtful, awaiting the sun's blessing and fare- 
well, as impressive a ceremony as if it were 
never to rise again. When the daylight fades, 
the night breeze from the snowy summits begins 
to blow, and the trees, waving and rustling 
beneath the stars, breathe free again. 

It is hard to leave such camps and woods ; 
nevertheless, to the" large majority of travelers 
the middle region of the park is still more in- 
teresting, for it has the most striking features of 

A ^PV 




^^^" : ' ' ' a ^^*j*^ 

all the Sierra scenery, the deepest sections of 
the famous canons, of which the Yosemite Val- 
ley, Hetch-Hetchy Valley, and many smaller 
ones are wider portions, with level parklike floors 
and walls of immense height and grandeur of 
sculpture. This middle region holds also the 
greater number of the beautiful glacier lakes 
and glacier meadows, the great granite domes, 
and the most brilliant and most extensive of the 
glacier pavements. And though in large part it 
is severely rocky and bare, it is still rich in trees. 
The magnificent silver fir (Abies magnified), 
which ranks with the giants, forms a continuous 
belt across the park above the pines at an eleva- 
tion of from seven to nine thousand feet, and 
north and south of the park boundaries to the 
extremities of the range, only slightly interrupted 
by the main canons. The two-leaved or tama- 
rack pine makes another less regular belt along 
the upper margin of the region, while between 
these two belts, and mingling with them, in 
groves or scattered, are the mountain hemlock, 
the most graceful of evergreens ; the noble 
mountain pine ; the Jeffrey form of the yellow 
pine, with big cones and long needles ; and the 
brown, burly, sturdy Western juniper. All these, 
except the juniper, which grows on bald rocks, 
have plenty of flowery brush about them, and 
gardens in open spaces. 

Here, too, lies the broad, shining, heavily 


sculptured region of primeval granite, which 
best tells the story of the glacial period on the 
Pacific side of the continent. No other moun- 
tain chain on the globe, as far as I know, is so 
rich as the Sierra in bold, striking, well-preserved 
glacial monuments, easily understood by any- 
body capable of patient observation. Every fea- 
ture is more or less glacial, and this park portion 
of the range is the brightest and clearest of all. 
Not a peak, ridge, dome, canon, lake basin, gar- 
den, forest, or stream but in some way explains 
the past existence and modes of action of flow- 
ing, grinding, sculpturing, soil-making, scenery- 
making ice. For, notwithstanding the post- 
glacial agents air, rain, frost, rivers, earth- 
quakes, avalanches have been at work upon 
the greater part of the range for tens of thou- 
sands of stormy years, engraving their own 
characters over those of the ice, the latter are so 
heavily emphasized and enduring they still rise 
in sublime relief, clear and legible through every 
after inscription. The streams have traced only 
shallow wrinkles as yet, and avalanche, wind, 
rain, and melting snow have made blurs and 
scars, but the change effected on the face of the 
landscape is not greater than is made on the face 
of a mountaineer by a single year of weathering. 
Of all the glacial phenomena presented here, 
the most striking and attractive to travelers are 
the polished pavements, because they are so 


beautiful, and their beauty is of so rare a kind, 
unlike any part of the loose earthy lowlands 
where people dwell and earn their bread. They 
are simply flat or gently undulating areas of 
solid resisting granite, the unchanged surface 
over which the ancient glaciers flowed. They 
are found in the most perfect condition at an ele- 
vation of from eight to nine thousand feet above 
sea level. Some are miles in extent, only slightly 
blurred or scarred by spots that have at last 
yielded to the weather ; while the best preserved 
portions are brilliantly polished, and reflect the 
sunbeams as calm water or glass, shining as if 
rubbed and burnished every day, notwithstand- 
ing they have been exposed to plashing, corrod- 
ing rains, dew, frost, and melting sloppy snows 
for thousands of years. 

The attention of hunters and prospectors, who 
see so much in their wild journeys, is seldom at- 
tracted by moraines, however regular and arti- 
ficial-looking ; or rocks, however boldly sculp- 
tured ; or canons, however deep and sheer-walled. 
But when they come to these pavements, they 
go down on their knees and rub their hands ad- 
miringly on the glistening surface, and try hard 
to account for its mysterious smoothness and 
brightness. They may have seen the winter 
avalanches come down the mountains, through 
the woods, sweeping away the trees and scour- 
ing the ground ; but they conclude that this 


cannot be the work of avalanches, because the 
striae show that the agent, whatever it was, flowed 
along and around and over the top of high ridges 
and domes, and also filled the deep canons. 
Neither can they see how water could be the 
agent, for the strange polish is found thousands 
of feet above the reach of any conceivable flood. 
Only the winds seem capable of moving over the 
face of the country in the directions indicated by 
the lines and grooves. 

The pavements are particularly fine around 
Lake Tenaya, and have suggested the Indian 
name Py-we-ack, the Lake of the Shining Rocks. 
Indians seldom trouble themselves with geologi- 
cal questions, but a Mono Indian once came to 
me and asked if I could tell him what made the 
rocks so smooth at Tenaya. Even dogs and 
horses, on their first journeys into this region, 
study geology to the extent of gazing wonder- 
ingly at the strange brightness of the ground, 
and pawing it and smelling it, as if afraid of 
falling or sinking. 

In the production of this admirable hard finish, 
the glaciers in many places exerted a pressure of 
more than a hundred tons to the square foot, 
planing down granite, slate, and quartz alike, 
showing their structure, and making beautiful 
mosaics where large feldspar crystals form the 
greater part of the rock. On such pavements 
the sunshine is at times dazzling, as if the sur- 
face were of burnished silver. 



Here, also, are the brightest of the Sierra 
landscapes in general. The regions lying at 
the same elevation to the north and south were 
perhaps subjected to as long and intense a gla- 
ciation ; but because the rocks are less resisting, 
their polished surfaces have mostly given way to 
the weather, leaving here and there only small 
imperfect patches on the most enduring portions 
of canon walls protected from the action of rain 
and snow, and on hard bosses kept comparatively 
dry by boulders. The short, steeply inclined 
canons of the east flank of the range are in some 
places brightly polished, but they are far less 
magnificent than those of the broad west flank. 

One of the best general views of the middle 
region of the park is to be had from the top of 
a majestic dome which long ago I named the 
Glacier Monument. It is situated a few miles 
to the north of Cathedral Peak, and rises to a 
height of about fifteen hundred feet above its 
base and ten thousand above the sea. At first 
sight it seems sternly inaccessible, but a good 
climber will find that it may be scaled on the 
south side. Approaching it from this side you 
pass through a dense bryanthus-fringed grove of 
mountain hemlock, catching glimpses now and 
then of the colossal dome towering to an immense 
height above the dark evergreens ; and when at 
last you have made your way across woods, wad- 
ing through azalea and ledum thickets, you step 
abruptly out of the tree shadows and mossy 


leafy softness upon a bare porphyry pavement, 
and behold the dome unveiled in all its grandeur. 
Fancy a nicely proportioned monument, eight or 
ten feet high, hewn from one stone, standing in 
a pleasure ground ; magnify it to a height of 
fifteen hundred feet, retaining its simplicity of 
form and fineness, and cover its surface with 
crystals ; then you may gain an idea of the sub- 
limity and beauty of this ice-burnished dome, one 
of many adorning this wonderful park. 

In making the ascent, one finds that the curve 
of the base rapidly steepens, until one is in 
danger of slipping ; but feldspar crystals, two or 
three inches long, that have been weathered into 
relief, afford slight footholds. The summit is 
in part burnished, like the sides and base, the 
striae and scratches indicating that the mighty 
Tuolumne Glacier, two or three thousand feet 
deep, overwhelmed it while it stood firm like a 
boulder at the bottom of a river. The pres- 
sure it withstood must have been enormous. 
Had it been less solidly built, it would have been 
ground and crushed into moraine fragments, like 
the general mass of the mountain flank in which 
at first it lay imbedded ; for it is only a hard re- 
sidual knob or knot with a concentric structure 
of superior strength, brought into relief by the 
removal of the less resisting rock about it, an 
illustration in stone of the survival of the strong- 
est and most favorably situated. 


Hardly less wonderful, when we contemplate 
the storms it has encountered since first it saw 
the light, is its present unwasted condition. The 
whole quantity of postglacial wear and tear it 
has suffered has not diminished its stature a sin- 
gle inch, as may be readily shown by measuring 
from the level of the unchanged polished por- 
tions of the surface. Indeed, the average post- 
glacial denudation of the entire region, measured 
in the same way, is found to be less than two 
inches, a mighty contrast to that of the ice ; 
for the glacial denudation here has been not less 
than a mile ; that is, in developing the present 
landscapes, an amount of rock a mile in average 
thickness has been silently carried away by flow- 
ing ice during the last glacial period. 

A few erratic boulders nicely poised on the 
rounded summit of the monument tell an inter- 
esting story. They came from a mountain on 
the crest of the range, about twelve miles to the 
eastward, floating like chips on the frozen sea, 
and were stranded here when the top of the 
monument emerged to the light of day, while the 
companions of these boulders, whose positions 
chanced to be over the slopes where they could 
not find rest, were carried farther on by the shal- 
lowing current. 

The general view from the summit consists 
of a sublime assemblage of iceborn mountains 
and rocks and long wavering ridges, lakes and 


streams and meadows, moraines in wide-sweeping 
belts, and beds covered and dotted with forests 
and groves, hundreds of square miles of them 
composed in wild harmony. The snowy moun- 
tains on the axis of the range, mostly sharp- 
peaked and crested, rise in noble array along the 
sky to the eastward and northward ; the gray- 
pillared Hoffman spur and the Yosemite domes 
and a countless number of others to the west- 
ward ; Cathedral Peak with its many spires and 
companion peaks and domes to the southward ; 
and a smooth billowy multitude of rocks, from 
fifty feet or less to a thousand feet high, which 
from their peculiar form seem to be rolling on 
westward, fill most of the middle ground. Im- 
mediately beneath you are the Big Tuolumne 
Meadows, with an ample swath of dark pine 
woods on either side, enlivened by the young 
river, that is seen sparkling and shimmering as 
it sways from side to side, tracing as best it can 
its broad glacial channel. 

The ancient Tuolumne Glacier, lavishly flooded 
by many a noble affluent from the snow-laden 
flanks of Mounts Dana, Gibbs, Lyell, Maclure, 
and others nameless as yet, poured its majes- 
tic overflowing current, four or five miles wide, 
directly against the high outstanding mass of 
Mount Hoffman, which divided and deflected it 
right and left, just as a river is divided against 
an island that stands in the middle of its chan- 


nel. Two distinct glaciers were thus formed, 
one of which flowed through the Big Tuolumne 
Canon and Hetch-Hetchy Valley, while the other 
swept upward five hundred feet in a hroad cur- 
rent across the divide between the basins of the 
Tuolumne and Merced into the Tenaya basin, 
and thence down through the Tenaya Canon and 
Yosemite Valley. 

The maplike distinctness and freshness of this 
glacial landscape cannot fail to excite the atten- 
tion of every observer, no matter how little of 
its scientific significance he may at first recognize. 
These bald, glossy, westward-leaning rocks in 
the open middle ground, with their rounded 
backs and shoulders toward the glacier fountains 
of the summit mountains and their split angular 
fronts looking in the opposite direction, every 
one of them displaying the form of greatest 
strength with reference to physical structure and 
glacial action, show the tremendous force with 
which through unnumbered centuries the ice 
flood swept over them, and also the direction of 
the flow ; while the mountains, with their sharp 
summits and abraded sides, indicate the height 
to which the glacier rose ; and the moraines, 
curving and swaying in beautiful lines, mark the 
boundaries of the main trunk and its tributaries 
as they existed toward the close of the glacial 
winter. None of the commercial highways of 
the sea or land, marked with buoys and lamps, 


fences and guideboards, is so unmistakably indi- 
cated as are these channels of the vanished Tuo- 
lumne glaciers. 

The action of flowing ice, whether in the form 
of river-like glaciers or broad mantling folds, is 
but little understood as compared with that of 
other sculpturing agents. Eivers work openly 
where people dwell, and so do the rain, and the 
sea thundering on all the shores of the world ; 
and the universal ocean of air, though unseen, 
speaks aloud in a thousand voices and explains 
its modes of working and its power. But gla- 
ciers, back in their cold solitudes, work apart from 
men, exerting their tremendous energies in silence 
and darkness. Coming in vapor from the sea, 
flying invisible on the wind, descending in snow, 
changing to ice, white, spiritlike, they brood out- 
spread over the predestined landscapes, working 
on unwearied through unmeasured ages, until in 
the fullness of time the mountains and valleys are 
brought forth, channels furrowed for the rivers, 
basins made for meadows and lakes, and soil 
beds spread for the forests and fields that man 
and beast may be fed. Then vanishing like 
clouds, they melt into streams and go singing 
back home to the sea. 

To an observer upon this adamantine old mon- 
ument in the midst of such scenery, getting 
glimpses of the thoughts of God, the day seems 
endless, the sun stands still. Much faithless fuss 


is made over the passage in the Bible telling of the 
standing still of the sun for Joshua. Here you 
may learn that the miracle occurs for every de- 
vout mountaineer, for everybody doing anything 
worth doing, seeing anything worth seeing. One 
day is as a thousand years, a thousand years as 
one day, and while yet in the flesh you enjoy 

From the monument you will find an easy way 
down through the woods and along the Big 
Tuolumne Meadows to Mount Dana, the summit 
of which commands a grand telling view of the 
alpine region. The scenery all the way is in- 
spiring, and you saunter on without knowing 
that you are climbing. The spacious sunny 
meadows, through the midst of which the bright 
river glides, extend with but little interruption 
ten miles to the eastward, dark woods rising 
on either side to the limit of tree growth, and 
above the woods a picturesque line of gray peaks 
and spires dotted with snow banks ; while, on the 
axis of the Sierra, Mount Dana and his noble 
compeers repose in massive sublimity, their vast 
size and simple flowing contours contrasting in 
the most striking manner with the clustering 
spires and thin-pinnacled crests crisply outlined 
on the horizon to the north and south of them. 

Tracing the silky lawns, gradually ascending, 
gazing at the sublime scenery more and more 
openly unfolded, noting the avalanche gaps in 


the upper forests, lingering over beds of blue 
gentians and purple-flowered bryanthus and cas- 
siope, and dwarf willows an inch high in close- 
felted gray carpets, brightened here and there 
with kalmia and soft creeping mats of vaccinium 
sprinkled with pink bells that seem to have been 
showered down from the sky like hail, thus 
beguiled and enchanted, you reach the base of 
the mountain wholly unconscious of the miles 
you have walked. And so on to the summit. 
For all the way up the long red slate slopes, that 
in the distance seemed barren, you find little gar- 
den beds and tufts of dwarf 'phlox, ivesia, and 
blue arctic daisies that go straight to your heart, 
blessed fellow mountaineers kept safe and warm 
by a thousand miracles. You are now more than 
thirteen thousand feet above the sea, and to the 
north and south you behold a sublime wilderness 
of mountains in glorious array, their snowy sum- 
mits towering together in crowded, bewildering 
abundance, shoulder to shoulder, peak beyond 
peak. To the east lies the Great Basin, barren- 
looking and silent, apparently a land of pure 
desolation, rich only in beautiful light. Mono 
Lake, fourteen miles long, is outspread below 
you at a depth of nearly seven thousand feet, its 
shores of volcanic ashes and sand, treeless and 
sunburned ; a group of volcanic cones, with 
well-formed, unwasted craters rises to the south 
of the lake ; while up from its eastern shore in- 


numerable mountains with soft flowing outlines 
extend range beyond range, gray, and pale purple, 
and blue, the farthest gradually fading on the 
glowing horizon. Westward you look down and 
over the countless moraines, glacier meadows, 
and grand sea of domes and rock waves of the 
upper Tuolumne basin, the Cathedral and Hoff- 
man mountains with their wavering lines and 
zones of forest, the wonderful region to the north 
of the Tuolumne Canon, and across the dark belt 
of silver firs to the pale mountains of the coast. 

In the icy fountains of the Mount Lyell and 
Ritter groups of peaks, to the south of Dana, 
three of the most important of the Sierra rivers 
the Tuolumne, Merced, and San Joaquin 
take their rise, their highest tributaries being 
within a few miles of one another as they rush 
forth on their adventurous courses from beneath 
snow banks and glaciers. 

Of the small shrinking glaciers of the Sierra, 
remnants of the majestic system that sculptured 
the range, I have seen sixty-five. About twenty- 
five of them are in the park, and eight are in 
sight from Mount Dana. 

The glacier lakes are sprinkled over all the 
alpine and subalpine regions, gleaming like eyes 
beneath heavy rock brows, tree-fringed or bare, 
embosomed in the woods, or lying in open basins 
with green and purple meadows around them; 
but the greater number are in the cool shadowy 


hollows of the summit mountains not far from 
the glaciers, the highest lying at an elevation of 
from eleven to nearly twelve thousand feet above 
the sea. The whole number in the Sierra, not 
counting the smallest, can hardly be less than 
fifteen hundred, of which about two hundred 
and fifty are in the park. From one standpoint, 
on Red Mountain, I counted forty-two, most of 
them within a radius of ten miles. The glacier 
meadows, which are spread over the filled-up 
basins of vanished lakes and form one of the 
most charming features of the scenery, are still 
more numerous than the lakes. 

An observer stationed here, in the glacial 
period, would have overlooked a wrinkled mantle 
of ice as continuous as that which now covers the 
continent of Greenland; and of all the vast 
landscape now shining in the sun, he would 
have seen only the tops of the summit peaks, 
rising darkly like storm-beaten islands, lifeless 
and hopeless, above rock-encumbered ice waves. 
If among the agents that nature has employed 
in making these mountains there be one that 
above all others deserves the name of Destroyer, 
it is the glacier. But we quickly learn that de- 
struction is creation. During the dreary centu- 
ries through which the Sierra lay in darkness, 
crushed beneath the ice folds of the glacial win- 
ter, there was a steady invincible advance toward 
the warm life and beauty of to-day; and it is 


just where the glaciers crushed most destructively 
that the greatest amount of beauty is made man- 
ifest. But as these landscapes have succeeded 
the preglacial landscapes, so they in turn are 
giving place to others already planned and fore- 
seen. The granite domes and pavements, appa- 
rently imperishable, we take as symbols of 
permanence, while these crumbling peaks, down 
whose frosty gullies avalanches are ever falling, 
are symbols of change and decay. Yet all alike, 
fast or slow, are surely vanishing away. 

Nature is ever at work building and pulling 
down, creating and destroying, keeping every- 
thing whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but 
in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in end- 
less song out of one beautiful form into another. 



THE coniferous forests of the Yosemite Park, 
and of the Sierra in general, surpass all others 
of their kind in America or indeed in the world, 
not only in the size and beauty of the trees, but 
in the number of species assembled together, and 
the grandeur of the mountains they are growing 
on. Leaving the workaday lowlands, and wan- 
dering into the heart of the mountains, we find 
a new world, and stand beside the majestic pines 
and firs and sequoias silent and awestricken, as 
if in the presence of superior beings new arrived 
from some other star, so calm and bright and 
godlike they are. 

Going to the woods is going home ; for I sup- 
pose we came from the woods originally. But 
in some of nature's forests the adventurous trav- 
eler seems a feeble, unwelcome creature ; wild 
beasts and the weather trying to kill him, the 
rank, tangled vegetation, armed with spears and 
stinging needles, barring his way and making 
life a hard struggle. Here everything is hospi- 
table and kind, as if planned for your pleasure, 


ministering to every want of body and soul. 
Even the storms are friendly and seem to regard 
you as a brother, their beauty and tremendous 
fateful earnestness charming alike. But the 
weather is mostly sunshine, both winter and 
summer, and the clear sunny brightness of the 
park is one of its most striking characteristics. 
Even the heaviest portions of the main forest 
belt, where the trees are tallest and stand closest, 
are not in the least gloomy. The sunshine falls 
in glory through the colossal spires and crowns, 
each a symbol of health and strength, the noble 
shafts faithfully upright like the pillars of 
temples, upholding a roof of infinite leafy inter- 
lacing arches and fretted skylights. The more 
open portions are like spacious parks, carpeted 
with small shrubs, or only with the fallen needles 
sprinkled here and there with flowers. In some 
places, where the ground is level or slopes gently, 
the trees are assembled in groves, and the flow- 
ers and underbrush in trim beds and thickets as 
in landscape gardens or the lovingly planted 
grounds of homes ; or they are drawn up in or- 
derly rows around meadows and lakes and along 
the brows of canons. But in general the forests 
are distributed in wide belts in accordance with 
climate and the comparative strength of each 
kind in gaining and holding possession of the 
ground, while anything like monotonous uni- 
formity is prevented by the grandly varied topo- 


graphy, and by the arrangement of the best soil- 
beds in intricate patterns like embroidery ; for 
these soilbeds are the moraines of ancient glaciers 
more or less modified by weathering and stream 
action, and the trees trace them over the hills 
and ridges, and far up the sides of the moun- 
tains, rising with even growth on levels, and 
towering above one another on the long rich 
slopes prepared for them by the vanished gla- 

Had the Sierra forests been cheaply accessible, 
the most valuable of them commercially would 
ere this have fallen a prey to the lumberman. 
Thus far the redwood of the Coast Mountains 
and the Douglas spruce of Oregon and Wash- 
ington have been more available for lumber 
than the pine of the Sierra. It cost less to go a 
thousand miles up the coast for timber, where 
the trees came down to the shores of navigable 
rivers and bays, than fifty miles up the moun- 
tains. Nevertheless, the superior value of the 
sugar pine for many purposes has tempted capi- 
talists to expend large sums on flumes and rail- 
roads to reach the best forests, though perhaps 
none of these enterprises has paid. Fortunately, 
the lately established system of parks and reser- 
vations has put a stop to any great extension of 
the business hereabouts in its most destructive 
forms. And as the Yosemite Park region has 
escaped the millmen, and the all-devouring 


hordes of hoofed locusts have been banished, it 
is still in the main a pure wilderness, unbroken 
by axe clearings except on the lower margin, 
where a few settlers have opened spots beside 
hay meadows for their cabins and gardens. But 
these are mere dots of cultivation, in no appre- 
ciable degree disturbing the grand solitude. 
Twenty or thirty years ago a good many trees 
were felled for their seeds ; traces of this de- 
structive method of seed-collecting are still visible 
along the trails ; but these as well as the shingle* 
makers' ruins are being rapidly overgrown, the 
gardens and beds of underbrush once devastated 
by sheep are blooming again in all their wild 
glory, and the park is a paradise that makes 
even the loss of Eden seem insignificant. 

On the way to Yosemite Valley, you get some 
grand views over the forests of the Merced and 
Tuolumne basins and glimpses of some of the 
finest trees by the roadside without leaving your 
seat in the stage. But to learn how they live 
and behave in pure wildness, to see them in 
their varying aspects through the seasons and 
weather, rejoicing in the great storms, in the 
spiritual mountain light, putting forth their new 
leaves and flowers when all the streams are in 
flood and the birds are singing, and sending 
away their seeds in the thoughtful Indian sum- 
mer when all the landscape is glowing in deep 
calm enthusiasm, for this you must love them 


and live with them, as free from schemes and 
cares and time as the trees themselves. 

And surely nobody will find anything hard in 
this. Even the blind must enjoy these woods, 
drinking their fragrance, listening to the music 
of the winds in their groves, and fingering their 
flowers and plumes and cones and richly fur- 
rowed boles. The kind of study required is as 
easy and natural as breathing. Without any 
great knowledge of botany or wood-craft, in a 
single season you may learn the name and some- 
thing more of nearly every kind of tree in the 

With few exceptions all the Sierra trees are 
growing in the park, nine species of pine, two 
of silver fir, one each of Douglas spruce, liboce- 
drus, hemlock, juniper, and sequoia, sixteen 
conifers in all, and about the same number of 
round-headed trees, oaks, maples, poplars, laurel, 
alder, dogwood, tumion, etc. 

The first of the conifers you meet in going up 
the range from the west is the digger nut-pine 
(Pinus Sabiniana), a remarkably open, airy, 
wide-branched tree, forty to sixty feet high, with 
long, sparse, grayish green foliage and large 
cones. At a height of fifteen to thirty feet from 
the ground the trunk usually divides into several 
main branches, which, after bearing away from 
one another, shoot straight up and form separate 
heads as if the axis of the tree had been broken, 


while the secondary branches divide again and 
again into rather slender sprays loosely tasseled, 
with leaves eight to twelve inches long. The 
yellow and purple flowers are about an inch long, 
the staminate in showy clusters. The big, rough, 
burly cones, five to eight or ten inches in length 
and five or six in diameter, are rich brown in 
color when ripe, and full of hard-shelled nuts 
that are greatly prized by Indians and squirrels. 
This strange-looking pine, enjoying hot sunshine 
like a palm, is sparsely distributed along the 
driest part of the Sierra among small oaks and 
chaparral, and with its gray mist of foliage, strong 
trunk and branches, and big cones seen in relief 
on the glowing sky, forms the most striking 
feature of the foothill vegetation. 

Pinus attenuata is a small, slender, arrowy 
tree, with pale green leaves in threes, clustered 
flowers half an inch long, brownish yellow and 
crimson, and cones whorled in conspicuous clus- 
ters around the branches and also around the 
trunk. The cones never fall off or open until 
the tree dies. They are about four inches long, 
exceedingly strong and solid, and varnished with 
hard resin forming a waterproof and almost 
worm and squirrel proof package, in which the 
seeds are kept fresh and safe during the lifetime 
of the tree. Sometimes one of the trunk cones 
is overgrown and imbedded in the heart wood 
like a knot, but nearly all are pushed out and 


kept on tlie surface by the pressure of the suc- 
cessive layers of wood against the base. 

This admirable little tree grows on brushy, sun- 
beaten slopes, which from their position and the 
inflammable character of the vegetation are most 
frequently fire-swept. These grounds it is able to 
hold against all comers, however big and strong, 
by saving its seeds until death, when all it has pro- 
duced are scattered over the bare cleared ground, 
and a new generation quickly springs out of the 
ashes. Thus the curious fact that all the trees 
of extensive groves and belts are of the same age 
is accounted for, and their slender habit ; for 
the lavish abundance of seed sown at the same 
time makes a crowded growth, and the seedlings 
with an even start rush up in a hurried race for 
light and life. 

Only a few of the attenuata and Sabiniana 
pines are within the boundaries of the park, the 
former on the side of the Merced Canon, the 
latter on the walls of Hetch-Hetchy Valley and 
in the canon below it. 

The nut-pine (Pinus monophylla) is a small, 
hardy, contented-looking tree, about fifteen or 
twenty feet high and a foot in diameter. In its 
youth the close radiating and aspiring branches 
form a handsome broad-based pyramid, but when 
fully grown it becomes round-topped, knotty, 
and irregular, throwing out crooked divergent 
limbs like an apple tree. The leaves are pale 


grayish green, about an inch and a half long, 
and instead of being divided into clusters they 
are single, round, sharp-pointed, and rigid like 
spikes, amid which in the spring the red flowers 
glow brightly. The cones are only about two 
inches in length and breadth, but nearly half 
of their bulk is made up of sweet nuts. 

This fruitful little pine grows on the dry east 
side of the park, along the margin of the Mono 
sage plain, and is the commonest tree of the 
short mountain ranges of the Great Basin. Tens 
of thousands of acres are covered with it, form- 
ing bountiful orchards for the Red-man. Being 
so low and accessible, the cones are easily beaten 
off with poles, and the nuts procured by roasting 
until the scales open. To the tribes of the 
desert and sage plains these seeds are the staff of 
life. They are eaten either raw or parched, or 
in the form of mush or cakes after being pounded 
into meal. The time of nut harvest in the autumn 
is the Indian's merriest time of all the year. An 
industrious squirrelish family can gather fifty or 
sixty bushels in a single month before the snow 
comes, and then their bread for the winter is 

The white pine (Pinus flexilis) is widely dis- 
tributed through the Rocky Mountains and the 
ranges of the Great Basin, where in many places 
it grows to a good size, and is an important tim- 
ber tree where none better is to be found. In 


the park it is sparsely scattered along the eastern 
flank of the range from Mono Pass southward, 
above the nut-pine, at an elevation of from eight 
to ten thousand feet, dwarfing to a tangled bush 
near the timber-line, but under favorable condi- 
tions attaining a height of forty or fifty feet, 
with a diameter of three to five. The long 
branches show a tendency to sweep out in bold 
curves, like those of the mountain and sugar 
pines to which it is closely related. The needles 
are in clusters of five, closely packed on the 
ends of the branchlets. The cones are about 
five inches long, the smaller ones nearly oval, 
the larger cylindrical. But the most interesting 
feature of the tree is its bloom, the vivid red 
pistillate flowers glowing among the leaves like 
coals of fire. 

The dwarfed pine or white-barked pine (Pinus 
albicaulis) is sure to interest every observer on 
account of its curious low matted habit, and the 
great height on the snowy mountains at which it 
bravely grows. It forms the extreme edge of the 
timber-line on both flanks of the summit moun- 
tains if so lowly a tree can be called timber 
at an elevation of ten to twelve thousand feet 
above the level of the sea. Where it is first met 
on the lower limit of its range it may be thirty 
or forty feet high, but farther up the rocky 
wind-swept slopes, where the snow lies deep and 
heavy for six months of the year, it makes shaggy 


clumps and beds, crinkled and pressed flat, over 
which you can easily walk. Nevertheless in this 
crushed, down-pressed, felted condition it clings 
hardily to life, puts forth fresh leaves every 
spring on the ends of its tasseled branchlets, 
blooms bravely in the lashing blasts with abun- 
dance of gay red and purple flowers, matures its 
seeds in the short summers, and often outlives 
the favored giants of the sun lands far below. 
One of the trees that I examined was only about 
three feet high, with a stem six inches in diame- 
ter at the ground, and branches that spread out 
horizontally as if they had grown up against a 
ceiling ; yet it was four hundred and twenty-six 
years old, and one of its supple branchlets, about 
an eighth of an inch in diameter inside the bark, 
was seventy-five years old, and so tough that I 
tied it into knots. At the age of this dwarf 
many of the sugar and yellow pines and sequoias 
are seven feet in diameter and over two hundred 
feet high. 

In detached clumps never touched by fire the 
fallen needles of centuries of growth make fine 
elastic mattresses for the weary mountaineer, while 
the tasseled branchlets spread a roof over him, and 
the dead roots, half resin, usually found in abun- 
dance, make capital camp-fires, unquenchable in 
thickest storms of rain or snow. Seen from a 
distance the belts and patches darkening the 
mountain sides look like mosses on a roof, and 


bring to mind Dr. Johnson's remarks on the 
trees of Scotland. His guide, anxious for the 
honor of Mull, was still talking of its woods and 
pointing them out. "Sir/' said Johnson, "I 
saw at Tobermory what they called a wood, which 
I unluckily took for heath. If you show me 
what I shall take for furze, it will be something." 

The mountain pine ( Pinus monticola) is far 
the largest of the Sierra tree mountaineers. 
Climbing nearly as high as the dwarf albicaulis, 
it is still a giant in size, bold and strong, stand- 
ing erect on the storm-beaten peaks and ridges, 
tossing its cone-laden branches in the rough 
winds, living a thousand years, and reaching its 
greatest size ninety to a hundred feet in height, 
six to eight in diameter just where other trees, 
its companions, are dwarfed. But it is not able 
to endure burial in snow so long as the albicaulis 
and flexilis. Therefore, on the upper limit of 
its range it is found on slopes which, from their 
steepness or exposure, are least snowy. Its soft 
graceful beauty in youth, and its leaves, cones, 
and outsweeping feathery branches constantly 
remind you of the sugar pine, to which it is 
closely allied. An admirable tree, growing no- 
bler in form and size the colder and balder the 
mountains about it. 

The giants of the main forest in the favored 
middle region are the sequoia, sugar pine, yellow 
pine, libocedrus, Douglas spruce, and the two 


silver firs. The park sequoias are restricted to 
two small groves, a few miles apart, on the Tuol- 
umne and Merced divide, about seventeen miles 
from Yosemite Valley. The Big Oak Flat road 
to the valley runs through the Tuolumne Grove, 
the Coulterville through the Merced. The more 
famous and better known Mariposa Grove, be- 
longing to the state, lies near the southwest cor- 
ner of the park, a few miles above Wawona. 

The sugar pine (Pinus Lambertiana) is first 
met in the park in open, sunny, flowery woods, 
at an elevation of about thirty-five hundred feet 
above the sea, attains full development at a height 
between five and six thousand feet, and vanishes 
at the level of eight thousand feet. In many 
places, especially on the northern slopes of the 
main ridges between the rivers, it forms the bulk 
of the forest, but mostly it is intimately asso- 
ciated with its noble companions, above which it 
towers in glorious majesty on every hill, ridge, 
and plateau from one extremity of the range to 
the other, a distance of five hundred miles, 
the largest, noblest, and most beautiful of all 
the seventy or eighty species of pine trees in the 
world, and of all the conifers second only to King 

A good many are from two hundred to two 
hundred and twenty feet in height, with a dia- 
meter at four feet from the ground of six to eight 
feet, and occasionally a grand patriarch, seven or 


eight hundred years old, is found that is ten or 
even twelve feet in diameter and two hundred 
and forty feet high, with a magnificent crown 
seventy feet wide. David Douglas, who discov- 
ered " this most beautiful and immensely grand 
tree " in the fall of 1826 in southern Oregon, 
says that the largest of several that had been 
blown down, "at three feet from the ground 
was fifty-seven feet nine inches in circumference" 
(or fully eighteen feet in diameter) ; " at one 
hundred and thirty-four feet, seventeen feet five 
inches ; extreme length, two hundred and forty- 
five feet." Probably for fifty-seven we should 
read thirty-seven for the base measurement, 
which would make it correspond with the other 
dimensions ; for none of this species with any- 
thing like so great a girth has since been seen. 
A girth of even thirty feet is uncommon. A 
fallen specimen that I measured was nine feet 
three inches in diameter inside the bark at four 
feet from the ground, and six feet in diameter 
at a hundred feet from the ground. A compar- 
atively young tree, three hundred and thirty 
years old, that had been cut down, measured 
seven feet across the stump, was three feet three 
inches in diameter at a height of one hundred 
and fifty feet, and two hundred and ten feet in 

The trunk is a round, delicately tapered shaft 
with finely furrowed purplish-brown bark, usually 


free of limbs for a hundred feet or more. The 
top is furnished with long and comparatively 
slender branches, which sweep gracefully down- 
ward and outward, feathered with short tasseled 
branchlets, and divided only at the ends, forming 
a palmlike crown fifty to seventy-five feet wide, 
but without the monotonous uniformity of palm 
crowns or of the spires of most conifers. The 
old trees are as tellingly varied and picturesque 
as oaks. No two are alike, and we are tempted 
to stop and admire every one we come to, whether 
as it stands silent in the calm balsam-scented sun- 
shine or waving in accord with enthusiastic 
storms. The leaves are about three or four 
inches long, in clusters of five, finely tempered, 
bright lively green, and radiant. The flowers 
are but little larger than those of the dwarf pine, 
and far less showy. The immense cylindrical 
cones, fifteen to twenty or even twenty-tour inches 
long and three in diameter, hang singly or in 
clusters, like ornamental tassels, at the ends of 
the long branches, green, flushed with purple on 
the sunward side. Like those of almost all the 
pines they ripen in the autumn of the second 
season from the flower, and the seeds of all that 
have escaped the Indians, bears, and squirrels 
take wing and fly to their places. Then the 
cones become still more effective as ornaments, 
for by the spreading of the scales the diameter is 
nearly doubled, and the color changes to a rich 


brown. They remain on the tree the following 
winter and summer ; therefore few fertile trees 
are ever found without them. Nor even after 
they fall is the beauty work of these grand cones 
done, for they make a fine show on the flowery, 
needle-strewn ground. The wood is pale yellow, 
fine in texture, and deliciously fragrant. The 
sugar, which gives name to the tree, exudes from 
the heart wood on wounds made by fire or the 
axe, and forms irregular crisp white candy-like 
masses. To the taste of most people it is as 
good as maple sugar, though it cannot be eaten 
in large quantities. 

No traveler, whether a tree lover or not, will 
ever forget his first walk in a sugar-pine forest. 
The majestic crowns approaching one another 
make a glorious canopy, through the feathery 
arches of which the sunbeams pour, silvering the 
needles and gilding the stately columns and the 
ground into a scene of enchantment. 

The yellow pine (Pinus ponderosa) is sur- 
passed in size and nobleness of port only by its 
kingly companion. Full-grown trees in the main 
forest where it is associated with the sugar pine, 
are about one hundred and seventy-five feet high, 
with a diameter of five to six feet, though much 
larger specimens may easily be found. The 
largest I ever measured was a little over eight 
feet in diameter four feet above the ground, and 
two hundred and twenty feet high. Where there 


is plenty of sunshine and other conditions are 
favorable, it is a massive symmetrical spire, 
formed of a strong straight shaft clad with innu- 
merable branches, which are divided again and 
again into stout branchlets laden with bright 
shining needles and green or purple cones. 
Where the growth is at all close half or more of 
the trunk is branchless. The species attains its 
greatest size and most majestic form in open 
groves on the deep, well-drained soil of lake 
basins at an elevation of about four thousand 
feet. There nearly all the old trees are over two 
hundred feet high, and the heavy, leafy, much- 
divided branches sumptuously clothe the trunk 
almost to the ground. Such trees are easily 
climbed, and in going up the winding stairs of 
knotty limbs to the top you will gain a most tell- 
ing and memorable idea of the height, the rich- 
ness and intricacy of the branches, and the mar- 
velous abundance and beauty of the long shining 
elastic foliage. In tranquil weather, you will see 
the firm outstanding needles in calm content, 
shimmering and throwing off keen minute rays 
of light like lances of ice ; but when heavy winds 
are blowing, the strong towers bend and wave in 
the blast with eager wide-awake enthusiasm, and 
every tree in the grove glows and flashes in one 
mass of white sunfire. 

Both the yeUow and sugar pines grow rapidly 
on good soil where they are not crowded. At 


the age of a hundred years they are about two 
feet in diameter and a hundred or more high. 
They are then very handsome, though very un- 
like : the sugar pine, lithe, feathery, closely clad 
with ascending branches ; the yellow, open, 
showing its axis from the ground to the top, its 
whorled branches but little divided as yet, 
spreading and turning up at the ends with mag- 
nificent tassels of long stout bright needles, the 
terminal shoot with its leaves being often three- 
or four feet long and a foot and a half wide, the 
most hopeful looking and the handsomest tree- 
top in the woods. But instead of increasing, 
like its companion, in wildness and individual- 
ity of form with age, it becomes more evenly 
and compactly spiry. The bark is usually very 
thick, four to six inches at the ground, and ar- 
ranged in large plates, some of them on the 
7ower part of the trunk four or five feet long 
and twelve to eighteen inches wide, forming a 
strong defense against fire. The leaves are in 
threes, and from three inches to a foot long. 
The flowers appear in May : the staminate pink 
or brown, in conspicuous clusters two or three 
inches wide ; the pistillate crimson, a fourth of 
an inch wide, and mostly hidden among the 
leaves on the tips of the branchlets. The cones 
vary from about three to ten inches in length, 
two to five in width, and grow in sessile out- 
standing clusters near the ends of the upturned 


Being able to endure fire and hunger and 
many climates this grand tree is widely distribu- 
ted : eastward from the coast across the broad 
Rocky Mountain ranges to the Black Hills of 
Dakota, a distance of more than a thousand 
miles, and southward from British Columbia, 
near latitude 51, to Mexico, about fifteen hun- 
dred miles. South of the Columbia River it 
meets the sugar pine, and accompanies it all the 
way down along the Coast and Cascade moun- 
tains and the Sierra and southern ranges to the 
mountains of the peninsula of Lower California, 
where they find their southmost homes together. 
Pinus ponderosa is extremely variable, and much 
bother it gives botanists who try to catch and 
confine the unmanageable proteus in two or a 
dozen species, Jeffreyi, deflexa, Apacheca lati- 
folia, etc. But in all its wanderings, in every 
form, it manifests noble strength. Clad in thick 
bark like a warrior in mail, it extends its bright 
ranks over ah 1 the high ranges of the wild side 
of the continent : flourishes in the drenching 
fog and rain of the northern coast at the level 
of the sea, in the snow-laden blasts of the moun- 
tains, and the white glaring sunshine of the 
interior plateaus and plains, on the borders of 
mirage-haunted deserts, volcanoes, and lava beds, 
waving its bright plumes in the hot winds un- 
daunted, blooming every year for centuries, and 
tossing big ripe cones among the cinders and 
ashes of nature's hearths. 


The Douglas spruce grows with the great 
pines, especially on the cool north sides of ridges 
and canons, and is here nearly as large as the 
yellow pine, but less abundant. The wood is 
strong and tough, the bark thick and deeply 
furrowed, and on vigorous, quick-growing trees 
the stout, spreading branches are covered with 
innumerable slender, swaying sprays, handsomely 
clothed with short leaves. The flowers are about 
three fourths of an inch in length, red or green- 
ish, not so showy as the pendulous bracted 
cones. But in June and July, when the young 
bright yellow leaves appear, the entire tree seems 
to be covered with bloom. 

It is this grand tree that forms the famous 
forests of western Oregon, Washington, and the 
adjacent coast regions of British Columbia, 
where it attains its greatest size and is most 
abundant, making almost pure forests over thou- 
sands of square miles, dark and close and almost 
inaccessible, many of the trees towering with 
straight, imperceptibly tapered shafts to a height 
of three hundred feet, their heads together shut- 
ting out the light, one of the largest, most 
widely distributed, and most important of all the 
Western giants. 

The incense cedar (Libocedrus decurrens), 
when full grown, is a magnificent tree, one hun- 
dred and twenty to nearly two hundred feet 
high, five to eight and occasionally twelve feet 


in diameter, with cinnamon-colored bark and 
warm yellow-green foliage, and in general ap- 
pearance like an arbor vitse. It is distributed 
through the main forest from an elevation of 
three to six thousand feet, and in sheltered por- 
tions of canons on the warm sides to seven thou- 
sand five hundred. In midwinter, when most 
trees are asleep, it puts forth its flowers. The 
pistillate are pale green and inconspicuous ; but 
the staminate are yellow, about one fourth of an 
inch long, and are produced in myriads, tingeing 
all the branches with gold, and making the tree 
as it stands in the snow look like a gigantic 
goldenrod. Though scattered rather sparsely 
amongst its companions in the open woods, it is 
seldom out of sight, and its bright brown shafts 
and warm masses of plumy foliage make a strik- 
ing feature of the landscape. While young and 
growing fast in an open situation no other tree 
of its size in the park forms so exactly tapered a 
pyramid. The branches, outspread in flat 
plumes and beautifully fronded, sweep grace- 
fully down ward, and outward, except those near 
the top, which aspire ; the lowest droop to the 
ground, overlapping one another, shedding off 
rain and snow, and making fine tents for storm- 
bound mountaineers and birds. In old age it 
becomes irregular and picturesque, mostly from 
accidents : running fires, heavy wet snow break- 
ing the branches, lightning shattering the top, 


compelling it to try to make new summits out of 
side branches, etc. Still it frequently lives more 
than a thousand years, invincibly beautiful, and 
worthy its place beside the Douglas spruce and 
the great pines. 

This unrivaled forest is still further enriched 
by two majestic silver firs, Abies magnifica and 
Abies concolor, bands- of which come down from 
the main fir belt by cool shady ridges and glens. 
Abies magnifica is the noblest of its race, grow- 
ing on moraines, at an elevation of seven thou- 
sand to eight thousand five hundred feet above 
the sea, to a 1 eight of two hundred or two hun- 
dred and fifty feet, and five to seven in diame- 
ter ; and with these noble dimensions there is a 
richness and symmetry and perfection of finish 
not to be found in any other tree in the Sierra. 
The branches are whorled, in fives mostly, and 
stand out from the straight red purple bole in 
level or, on old trees, in drooping collars, every 
branch regularly pinnated like fern fronds, and 
clad with silvery needles, making broad plumes 
singularly rich and sumptuous. 

The flowers are in their prime about the mid- 
dle of June : the staminate red, growing on the 
underside of the branchlets in crowded profusion, 
giving a rich color to nearly all the tree ; the 
pistillate greenish yellow tinged with pink, stand- 
ing erect on the upper side of the topmost 
branches ; while the tufts of young leaves, about 


as brightly colored as those of the Douglas 
spruce, push out their fragrant brown buds a 
few weeks later, making another grand show. 

The cones mature in a single season from the 
flowers. When full grown they are about six 
to eight inches long, three or four in diameter, 
blunt, massive, cylindrical, greenish gray in color, 
covered with a fine silvery down, and beaded 
with transparent balsam, very rich and precious- 
looking, standing erect like casks on the topmost 
branches. If possible, the inside of the cone is 
still more beautiful. The scales and bracts are 
tinged with red, and the seed wings are purple 
with bright iridescence. 

Abies concolor, the white silver fir, grows best 
about two thousand feet lower than the magni- 
fica. It is nearly as large, but the branches are 
less regularly pinnated and whorled, the leaves 
are longer, and instead of standing out around 
the branchlets or turning up and clasping them 
they are mostly arranged in two horizontal or 
ascending rows, and the cones are less than half 
as large. The bark of the magnifica is reddish 
purple and closely furrowed, that of the concolor 
is gray and widely furrowed, a noble pair, ri- 
valed only by the Abies grandis, amabilis, and 
nobilis of the forests of Oregon, Washington, 
and the Northern California Coast Range. But 
none of these northern species form pure forests 
that in extent and beauty approach those of the 


The seeds of the conifers are curiously formed 
and colored, white, brown, purple, plain or 
spotted like birds' eggs, and excepting the juni- 
per they are all handsomely and ingeniously 
winged with reference to their distribution. 
They are a sort of cunningly devised flying ma- 
chines, one-winged birds, birds with but one 
feather, and they take but one flight, all save 
those which, after flying from the cone-nest in 
calm weather, chance to alight on branches 
where they have to wait for a wind. And though 
these seed wings are intended for only a mo- 
ment's use, they are as thoughtfully colored and 
fashioned as the wings of birds, and require 
from one to two seasons to grow. Those of the 
pine, fir, hemlock, and spruce are curved in such 
manner that, in being dragged through the air 
by the seeds, they are made to revolve, whirling 
the seeds in a close spiral, and sustaining them 
long enough to allow the winds to carry them to 
considerable distances, a style of flying full 
of quick merry motion, strikingly contrasted to 
the sober dignified sailing of seeds on tufts of 
feathery pappus. Surely no merrier adventurers 
ever set out to seek their fortunes. Only in the 
fir woods are large flocks seen ; for, unlike the 
cones of the pine, spruce, hemlock, etc., which 
let the seeds escape slowly, one or two at a time, 
by spreading the scales, the fir cones when ripe 
fall to pieces, and let nearly all go at once in 


favorable weather. All along the Sierra for hun- 
dreds of miles, on dry breezy autumn days, the 
sunny spaces in the woods among the colossal 
spires are in a whirl with these shining purple- 
winged wanderers, notwithstanding the harvest- 
ing squirrels have been working at the top of their 
speed for weeks trying to cut off every cone before 
the seeds were ready to swarm and fly. Sequoia 
seeds have flat wings, and glint and glance in 
their flight like a boy's kite. The dispersal of 
juniper seeds is effected by the plum and cherry 
plan of hiring birds at the cost of their board, 
and thus obtaining the use of a pair of extra 
good wings. 

Above the great fir belt, and below the ragged 
beds and fringes of the dwarf pine, stretch the 
broad dark forests of Pinus contorta, var. Mur- 
rayana, usually called tamarack pine. On broad 
fields of moraine material it forms nearly pure 
forests at an elevation of about eight or nine 
thousand feet above the sea, where it is a small, 
well proportioned tree, fifty or sixty feet high 
and one or two in diameter, with thin gray 
bark, crooked much-divided straggling branches, 
short needles in clusters of two, bright yellow 
and crimson flowers, and small prickly cones. 
The very largest I ever measured was ninety 
feet in height, and a little over six feet in dia- 
meter four feet above the ground. On moist 
well-drained soil in sheltered hollows along 


streamsides it grows tall and slender with ascend- 
ing branches, making graceful arrowy spires fifty 
to seventy-five feet high, with stems only five or 
six inches thick. 

The most extensive forest of this pine in the 
park lies to the north of the Big Tuolumne 
Meadows, a famous deer pasture and hunting 
ground of the Mono Indians. For miles over 
wide moraine beds there is an even, nearly pure 
growth, broken only by glacier meadows, around 
which the trees stand in trim array, their sharp 
spires showing to fine advantage both in green 
flowery summer and white winter. On account 
of the closeness of its growth in many places, 
and the thinness and gumminess of its bark, it is 
easily killed by running fires, which work wide- 
spread destruction in its ranks ; but a new gen- 
eration rises quickly from the ashes, for all or a 
part of its seeds are held in reserve for a year or 
two or many years, and when the tree is killed 
the cones open and the seeds are scattered over 
the burned ground like those of the attenuata. 

Next to the mountain hemlock and the dwarf 
pine this species best endures burial in heavy 
snow, while in braving hunger and cold on rocky 
ridgetops it is not surpassed by any. It is dis- 
tributed from Alaska to Southern California, and 
inland across the Rocky Mountains, taking many 
forms in accordance with demands of climate, 
soil, rivals, and enemies ; growing patiently in 


bogs and on sand dunes beside the sea where it 
is pelted with salt scud, on high snowy moun- 
tains and down in the throats'of extinct volcanoes; 
springing up with invincible vigor after every 
devastating fire and extending its conquests 

The sturdy storm-enduring red cedar (Juni- 
perus occidentalis) delights to dwell on the tops 
of granite domes and ridges and glacier pave- 
ments of the upper pine belt, at an elevation of 
seven to ten thousand feet, where it can get 
plenty of sunshine and snow and elbow-room 
without encountering quick-growing overshadow- 
ing rivals. They never make anything like a 
forest, seldom come together even in groves, but 
stand out separate and independent in the wind, 
clinging by slight joints to the rock, living 
chiefly on snow and thin air, and maintaining 
tough health on this diet for two thousand years 
or more, every feature and gesture expressing 
steadfast dogged endurance. The largest are 
usually about six or eight feet in diameter, and 
fifteen or twenty in height. A very few are ten 
feet in diameter, and on isolated moraine heaps 
forty to sixty feet in height. Many are mere 
stumps, as broad as high, broken by avalanches 
and lightning, picturesquely tufted with dense 
gray scalelike foliage, and giving no hint of dy- 
ing. The staminate flowers are like those of the 
libocedrus, but smaller ; the pistillate are incon- 


spicuous. The wood is red, fine-grained, and 
fragrant; the bark bright cinnamon and red, 
and in thrifty trees is strikingly braided and re- 
ticulated, flaking off in thin lustrous ribbons, 
which the Indians used to weave into matting 
and coarse cloth. These brown unshakable pil- 
lars, standing solitary on polished pavements 
with bossy masses of foliage in their arms, are 
exceedingly picturesque, and never fail to catch 
the eye of the artist. They seem sole survivors 
of some ancient race, wholly unacquainted with 
their neighbors. 

I have spent a good deal of time, trying to 
determine their age, but on account of dry rot 
which honeycombs most of the old ones, I never 
got a complete count of the largest. Some are 
undoubtedly more than two thousand years old ; 
for though on good moraine soil they grow about 
as fast as oaks, on bare pavements and smoothly 
glaciated overswept granite ridges in the dome 
region they grow extremely slowly. One on the 
Starr King ridge, only two feet eleven inches in 
diameter, was eleven hundred and forty years 
old. Another on the same ridge, only one foot 
seven and a half inches in diameter, had reached 
the age of eight hundred and thirty-four years. 
The first fifteen inches from the bark of a me- 
dium-sized tree six feet in diameter on the 
north Tenaya pavement had eight hundred and 
fifty-nine layers of wood, or fifty-seven to the 


inch. Beyond this the count was stopped by 
dry rot and scars of old wounds. The largest I 
examined was thirty-three feet in girth, or nearly 
ten in diameter ; and though I failed to get any- 
thing like a complete count, I learned enough 
from this and many other specimens to convince 
me that most of the trees eight to ten feet thick 
standing on pavements are more than twenty cen- 
turies of age rather than less. Barring accidents, 
for all I can see, they would live forever. When 
killed, they waste out of existence about as slowly 
as granite. Even when overthrown by ava- 
lanches, after standing so long, they refuse to lie 
at rest, leaning stubbornly on their big elbows as 
if anxious to rise, and while a single root holds 
to the rock putting forth fresh leaves with a grim 
never-say-die and never-lie-down expression. 

As the juniper is the most stubborn and un- 
shakable of trees, the mountain hemlock (Tsuga 
Mertensiana) is the most graceful and pliant and 
sensitive, responding to the slightest touches of 
the wind. Until it reaches a height of fifty or 
sixty feet it is sumptuously clothed down to the 
ground with drooping branches, which are di- 
vided into countless delicate waving sprays, 
grouped and arranged in most indescribably 
beautiful ways, and profusely sprinkled with 
handsome brown cones. The flowers also are 
peculiarly beautiful and effective : the pistillate 
very dark rich purple ; the staminate blue of so 


fine and pure a tone that th'e best azure of the 
high sky seems to be condensed in them. 

Though apparently the most delicate and femi- 
nine of all the mountain trees, it grows best 
where the snow lies deepest, at an elevation of 
from nine thousand to nine thousand five hun- 
dred feet, in hollows on the northern slopes of 
mountains and ridges. But under all circum- 
stances and conditions of weather and soil, shel- 
tered from the main currents of the winds or in 
blank exposure to them, well fed or starved, it is 
always singularly graceful in habit. Even at its 
highest limit in the park, ten thousand five hun- 
dred feet above the sea on exposed ridgetops, 
where it crouches and huddles close together in 
low thickets like those of the dwarf pine, it still 
contrives to put forth its sprays and branches in 
forms of irrepressible beauty, while on moist 
well-drained moraines it displays a perfectly 
tropical luxuriance of f oliage, flower, and fruit. 

In the first winter storms the snow is often- 
times soft, and lodges in the dense leafy branches, 
pressing them down against the trunk, and the 
slender drooping axis bends lower and lower as 
the load increases, until the top touches the 
ground and an ornamental arch is made. Then, 
as storm succeeds storm and snow is heaped on 
snow, the whole tree is at last buried, not again 
to see the light or move leaf or limb until set 
free by the spring thaws in June or July. Not 


the young saplings only are thus carefully cov- 
ered and put to sleep in the whitest of white 
beds for five or six months of the year, but trees 
thirty and forty feet high. From April to May, 
when the snow is compacted, you may ride over 
the prostrate groves without seeing a single branch 
or leaf of them. In the autumn they are full of 
merry life, when Clark crows, squirrels, and chip- 
munks are gathering the abundant crop of seeds 
while the deer rest beneath the thick conceal- 
ing branches. The finest grove in the park is 
near Mount Conness, and the trail from the 
Tuolumne soda springs to the mountain runs 
through it. Many of the trees in this grove are 
three to four or five feet in diameter and about 
a hundred feet high. 

The mountain hemlock is widely distributed 
from near the south extremity of the high Sierra 
northward along the Cascade Mountains of Ore- 
gon and Washington and the coast ranges of 
British Columbia to Alaska, where it was first 
discovered in 1827. Its northmost limit, so far 
as I have observed, is in the icy fiords of Prince 
William's Sound in latitude 61, where it forms 
pure forests at the level of the sea, growing tall 
and majestic on the banks of the great glaciers, 
waving in accord with the mountain winds and 
the thunder of the falling icebergs. Here as in 
the Sierra it is ineffably beautiful, the very love* 
liest evergreen in America. 


Of the round-headed dicotyledonous trees in 
the park the most influential are the black and 
goldctip oaks. They occur in some parts of the 
main forest belt, scattered among the big pines 
like a heavier chaparral, but form extensive 
groves and reach perfect development only in 
the Yosemite valleys and flats of the main 
canons. The California black oak (Quercus 
Californica) is one of the largest and most 
beautiful of the Western oaks, attaining under fa- 
vorable conditions a height of sixty to a hundred 
feet, with a trunk three to seven feet in diameter, 
wide-spreading picturesque branches, and smooth 
lively green foliage handsomely scalloped, purple 
in the spring, yellow and red in autumn. It 
grows best in sunny open groves on ground cov- 
ered with ferns, chokecherry, brier rose, rubus, 
mints, goldenrods, etc. Few, if any, of the fa- 
mous oak groves of Europe, however extensive, 
surpass these in the size and strength and bright, 
airy beauty of the trees, the color and fragrance 
of the vegetation beneath them, the quality of 
the light that fills their leafy arches, and in the 
grandeur of the surrounding scenery. The fin- 
est grove in the park is in one of the little Yo- 
semite valleys of the Tuolumne Canon, a few 
miles above Hetch-Hetchy. 

The mountain live-oak, or goldcup oak (Quer- 
cus chrysolepis), forms extensive groves on 
earthquake and avalanche taluses and terraces 


in canons and Yosemite valleys, from about 
three to five thousand feet above the sea. In 
tough, sturdy, unwedgeable strength this is the 
oak of oaks. In general appearance it resembles 
the great live-oak of the Southern states. It 
has pale gray bark, a short, uneven, heavily but- 
tressed trunk which usually divides a few feet 
above the ground into strong wide-reaching 
limbs, forming noble arches, and ending in an in- 
tricate maze of small branches and sprays, the 
outer ones frequently drooping in long tresses to 
the ground like those of the weeping willow, 
covered with small simple polished leaves, mak- 
ing a canopy broad and bossy, on which the sun- 
shine falls in glorious brightness. The acorn 
cups are shallow, thick-walled, and covered with 
yellow fuzzy dust. The flowers appear in May 
and June with a profusion of pollened tresses, 
followed by the bronze-colored young leaves. 

No tree in the park is a better measure of alti- 
tude. In canons, at an elevation of four thou- 
sand feet, you may easily find a tree six or eight 
feet in diameter ; and at the head of a side 
canon, three thousand feet higher, up which you 
can climb in less than two hours, you find the 
knotty giant dwarfed to a slender shrub, with 
leaves like those of huckleberry bushes, still 
bearing acorns, and seemingly contented, form- 
ing dense patches of chaparral, on the top of 
which you may make your bed and sleep softly 


like a Highlander in heather. About a thou- 
sand feet higher it is still smaller, making fringes 
about a foot high around boulders and along 
seams in pavements and the brows of canons, 
giving hand-holds here and there on cliffs hard 
to climb. The largest I have measured were 
from twenty-five to twenty-seven feet in girth, 
fifty to sixty feet high, and the spread of the 
limbs was about double the height. 

The principal riverside trees are poplar, alder, 
willow, broad-leaved maple, and NuttalFs flower- 
ing dogwood. The poplar (Populus tricho- 
carpa), often called balm of Gilead from the 
gum on its buds, is a tall, stately tree, towering 
above its companions and gracefully embowering 
the banks of the main streams at an elevation of 
about four thousand feet. Its abundant foliage 
turns bright yellow in the fall, and the Indian- 
summer sunshine sifts through it in delightful 
tones over the slow-gliding waters when they are 
at their lowest ebb. 

The flowering dogwood is brighter still in 
these brooding days, for every branch of its 
broad head is then a brilliant crimson flame. In 
the spring, when the streams are in flood, it is 
the whitest of trees, white as a snow bank with 
its magnificent flowers four to eight inches in 
width, making a wonderful show, and drawing 
swarms of moths and butterflies. 

The broad-leaved maple is usually found in the 


coolest boulder-choked canons, where the streams 
are gray and white with foam, over which it 
spreads its branches in beautiful arches from 
bank to bank, forming leafy tunnels full of soft 
green light and spray, favorite homes of the 
water ousel. Around the glacier lakes, two or 
three thousand feet higher, the common aspen 
grows in fringing lines and groves which are 
brilliantly colored in autumn, reminding you of 
the color glory of the Eastern woods. 

Scattered here and there or in groves the bota- 
nist will find a few other trees, mostly small, 
the mountain mahogany, cherry, chestnut-oak, 
laurel, and nutmeg. The California nutmeg 
(Tumion Calif ornicum) is a handsome evergreen, 
belonging to the yew family, with pale bark, 
prickly leaves, fruit like a green-gage plum, and 
seed like a nutmeg. One of the best groves of 
it in the park is at the Cascades below Yosemite. 

But the noble oaks and all these rock-shading, 
stream-embowering trees are as nothing amid the 
vast abounding billowy forests of conifers. Dur- 
ing my first years in the Sierra I was ever calling 
on everybody within reach to admire them, but 
I found no one half warm enough until Emerson 
came. I had read his essays, and felt sure that of 
all men he would best interpret the sayings of 
these noble mountains and trees. Nor was my 
faith weakened when I met him in Yosemite. 
He seemed as serene as a sequoia, his head in the 


empyrean ; and forgetting his age, plans, duties, 
ties of every sort, I proposed an immeasurable 
camping trip back in the heart of the mountains. 
He seemed anxious to go, but considerately men- 
tioned his party. I said : " Never mind. The 
mountains are calling ; run away, and let plans 
and parties and dragging lowland duties all 
f gang tapsal-teerie.' We '11 go up a canon sing- 
ing your own song, ' Good-by, proud world ! 
I 'm going home,' in divine earnest. Up there 
lies a new heaven and a new earth ; let us go to 
the show." But alas, it was too late, too near 
the sundown of his life. The shadows were grow- 
ing long, and he leaned on his friends. His 
party, f uh 1 of indoor philosophy, failed to see the 
natural beauty and fullness of promise of my wild 
plan, and laughed at it in good-natured ignorance, 
as if it were necessarily amusing to imagine that 
Boston people might be led to accept Sierra 
manifestations of God at the price of rough 
camping. Anyhow, they would have none of it, 
and held Mr. Emerson to the hotels and trails. 

After spending only five tourist days in 
Yosemite he was led away, but I saw him two 
days more ; for I was kindly invited to go with 
the party as far as the Mariposa big trees. I told 
Mr. Emerson that I would gladly go to the 
sequoias with him, if he would camp in the grove. 
He consented heartily, and I felt sure that we 
would have at least one good wild memorable night 


around a sequoia camp-fire. Next day we rode 
through the magnificent forests of the Merced 
basin, and I kept calling his attention to the 
sugar pines, quoting his wood-notes, u Come 
listen what the pine tree saith," etc., pointing out 
the noblest as kings and high priests, the most 
eloquent and commanding preachers of all the 
mountain forests, stretching forth their century- 
old arms in benediction over the worshiping con- 
gregations crowded about them. He gazed in 
devout admiration, saying but little, while his fine 
smile faded away. 

Early in the afternoon, when we reached 
Clark's Station, I was surprised to see the party 
dismount. And when I asked if we were not 
going up into the grove to camp they said: 
" No ; it would never do to lie out in the night 
air. Mr. Emerson might take cold ; and you 
know, Mr. Muir, that would be a dreadful 
thing." In vain I urged, that only in homes and 
hotels were colds caught, that nobody ever was 
known to take cold camping in these woods, that 
there was not a single cough or sneeze in all the 
Sierra. Then I pictured the big climate-changing, 
inspiring fire I would make, praised the beauty 
and fragrance of sequoia flame, told how the 
great trees would stand about us transfigured in 
the purple light, while the stars looked down 
between the great domes ; ending by urging them 
to come on and make an immortal Emerson night 


of it. But the house habit was not to be overcome^ 
nor the strange dread of pure night air, though 
it is only cooled day air with a little dew in it. 
So the carpet dust and unknowable reeks were 
preferred. And to think of this being a Boston 
choice ! Sad commentary on culture and the glo- 
rious transcendentalism. 

Accustomed to reach whatever place I started 
for, I was going up the mountain alone to camp, 
and wait the coming of the party next day. But 
since Emerson was so soon to vanish, I con- 
cluded to stop with him. He hardly spoke a 
word all the evening, yet it was a great pleasure 
simply to be near him, warming in the light of his 
face as at a fire. In the morning we rode up the 
trail through a noble forest of pine and fir into 
the famous Mariposa Grove, and stayed an hour or 
two, mostly in ordinary tourist fashion, look- 
ing at the biggest giants, measuring them with a 
tape line, riding through prostrate fire-bored 
trunks, etc., though Mr. Emerson was alone occa- 
sionally, sauntering about as if under a spell. 
As we walked through a fine group, he quoted, 
" There were giants in those days," recognizing 
the antiquity of the race. To commemorate his 
visit, Mr. Galen Clark, the guardian of the grove,, 
selected the finest of the unnamed trees and re- 
quested him to give it a name. He named it 
Samoset, after the New England sachem, as the 
best that occurred to him. 


The poor bit of measured time was soon spent, 
and while the saddles were being adjusted I again 
urged Emerson to stay. " You are yourself a 
sequoia," I said. " Stop and get acquainted with 
your big brethren." But he was past his prime, 
and was now as a child in the hands of his affec- 
tionate but sadly civilized friends, who seemed as 
full of old-fashioned conformity as of bold intel- 
lectual independence. It was the afternoon of 
the day and the afternoon of his life, and his 
course was now westward down all the mountains 
into the sunset. The party mounted and rode 
away in wondrous contentment, apparently, 
tracing the trail through ceanothus and dog- 
wood bushes, around the bases of the big trees, 
up the slope of the sequoia basin, and over the 
divide. I followed to the edge of the grove. 
Emerson lingered in the rear of the train, and 
when he reached the top of the ridge, after all the 
rest of the party were over and out of sight, he 
turned his horse, took off his hat and waved me 
a last good-by. I felt lonely, so sure had I been 
that Emerson of all men would be the quickest 
to see the mountains and sing them. Gazing 
awhile on the spot where he vanished, I sauntered 
back into the heart of the grove, made a bed of 
sequoia plumes and ferns by the side of a stream, 
gathered a store of firewood, and then walked 
about until sundown. The birds, robins, thrushes, 
warblers, etc., that had kept out of sight, came 


about me, now that all was quiet, and made 
cheer. After sundown I built a great fire, and 
as usual had it all to myself. And though lone- 
some for the first time in these forests, I quickly 
took heart again, the trees had not gone to 
Boston, nor the birds ; and as I sat by the fire, 
Emerson was still with me in spirit, though I 
never again saw him in the flesh. He sent books 
and wrote, cheering me on ; advised me not to 
stay too long in solitude. Soon he hoped that 
my guardian angel would intimate that my pro- 
bation was at a close. Then I was to roll up my 
herbariums, sketches, and poems (though I never 
knew I had any poems), and come to his house ; 
and when I tired of him and his humble sur- 
roundings, he would show me to better people. 

But there remained many a forest to wander 
through, many a mountain and glacier to cross, 
before I was to see his Wachusett and Monad- 
nock, Boston and Concord. It was seventeen 
years after our parting on the Wawona ridge 
that I stood beside his grave under a pine tree 
on the hill above Sleepy Hollow. He had gone 
to higher Sierras, and, as I fancied, was again 
waving his hand in friendly recognition. 



WHEN California was wild, it was the floweri- 
est part of the continent. And perhaps it is so 
still, notwithstanding the lowland flora has in 
great part vanished before the farmers' flocks 
and ploughs. So exuberant was the bloom of 
the main valley of the state, it would still 
have been extravagantly rich had ninety-nine out 
of every hundred of its crowded flowers been 
taken away, far flowerier than the beautiful 
prairies of Illinois and Wisconsin, or the savan- 
nas of the Southern states. In the early spring 
it was a smooth, evenly planted sheet of purple 
and gold, one mass of bloom more than four 
hundred miles long, with scarce a green leaf in 

Still more interesting is the rich and wonder- 
fully varied flora of the mountains. Going up 
the Sierra across the Yosemite Park to the Sum- 
mit peaks, thirteen thousand feet high, you find 
as much variety in the vegetation as in the scen- 
ery. Change succeeds change with bewildering 
rapidity, for in a few days you pass through as 


many climates and floras, ranged one above an- 
other, as you would in walking along the low- 
lands to the Arctic Ocean. 

And to the variety due to climate there is 
/ added that caused by the topographical features 
of the different regions. Again, the vegetation 
^ is profoundly varied by the peculiar distribution 
^ of the soil and moisture. Broad and deep mo- 
raines, ancient and well weathered, are spread 
over the lower regions, rough and comparatively 
recent and un weathered moraines over the middle 
and upper regions, alternating with bare ridges 
and domes and glacier-polished pavements, the 
highest in the icy recesses of the peaks,, raw and 
shifting, some of them being still in process of 
formation, and of course scarcely planted as yet. 
Besides these main soilbeds there are many 
others comparatively small, reformations of both 
glacial and weather soils, sifted, sorted out, and 
deposited by running water and the wind on 
gentle slopes and in all sorts of hollows, pot- 
holes, valleys, lake basins, etc., some in dry 
and breezy situations, others sheltered and kept 
moist by lakes, streams, and waf tings of waterfall 
spray, making comfortable homes for plants 
widely varied. In general, glaciers give soil to 
high and low places almost alike, while water 
current^ are dispensers of special blessings, con- 
stantly tending to make the ridges poorer and 
the valleys richer. Glaciers mingle all kinds of 


material together, mud particles and boulders 
fifty feet in diameter : water, whether in oozing 
currents or passionate torrents, discriminates both 
in the size and shape of the material it carries. 
Glacier mud is the finest meal ground for any 
use in the Park, and its transportation into lakes 
and as foundations for flowery garden meadows 
was the first work that the young rivers were 
called on to do. Bogs occur only in shallow 
alpine basins where the climate is cool enough 
for sphagnum, and where the surrounding topo- 
graphical conditions are such that they are safe, 
even in the most copious rains and thaws, from 
the action of flood currents capable of carrying 
rough gravel and sand, but where the water 
supply is nevertheless constant. The mosses 
dying from year to year gradually give rise to 
those rich spongy peat-beds in which so many of 
our best alpine plants delight to dwell. The 
strong winds that occasionally sweep the high 
Sierra play a more important part in the distri- 
bution of special soil-beds than is at first sight 
recognized, carrying forward considerable quan- 
tities of sand and gravel, flakes of mica, etc., and 
depositing them in fields and beds beautifully 
ruffled and embroidered and adapted to the wants 
of some of the hardiest and handsomest of the 
alpine shrubs and flowers. The more resisting 
of the smooth, solid, glacier-polished domes and 
ridges can hardly be said to have any soil at all, 


while others beginning to give way to the wea- 
ther are thinly sprinkled with coarse angular 
gravel. Some of them are full of crystals/which 
as the surface of the rock is decomposed are set 
free, covering the summits and rolling down the 
sides in minute avalanches, giving rise to zones 
and beds of crystalline soil. In some instances 
the various crystals occur only here and there, 
sprinkled in the gray gravel like daisies in a 
sod ; but in others half or more is made up of 
crystals, and the glow of the imbedded or loosely 
strewn gems and their colored gleams and glint- 
ings at different times of the day when the sun 
is shining might well exhilarate the flowers that 
grow among them, and console them for being 
so completely outshone. 

These radiant sheets and belts and dome-en- 
circling rings of crystals are the most beautiful 
of all the Sierra soil-beds, while the huge taluses 
ranged along the walls of the great canons are 
the deepest and roughest. Instead of being 
slowly weathered and accumulated from the 
cliffs overhead like common taluses, they were 
all formed suddenly and simultaneously by an 
earthquake that occurred at least three centuries 
ago. Though thus hurled into existence at a 
single effort, they are the least changeable and 
destructible of all the soil formations in the 
range. Excepting those which were launched 
directly into the channels of rivers, scarcely one 


of their wedged and interlocked boulders has 
been moved since the day of their creation, and 
though mostly made up of huge angular blocks 
of granite, many of them from ten to fifty feet 
cube, trees and shrubs make out to live and 
thrive on them, and even delicate herbaceous 
plants, draperia, collomia, zauschneria, etc., 
soothing their rugged features with gardens and 
groves. In general views of the Park scarce a 
hint is given of its floral wealth. Only by pa- 
tiently, lovingly sauntering about in it will you 
discover that it is all more or less flowery, the 
forests as well as the open spaces, and the moun- 
tain tops and rugged slopes around the glaciers 
as well as the sunny meadows. 

Even the majestic canon cliffs, seemingly ab- 
solutely flawless for thousands of feet and neces- 
sarily doomed to eternal sterility, are cheered 
with happy flowers on invisible niches and ledges 
wherever the slightest grip for a root can be 
found; as if Nature, like an enthusiastic gar- 
dener, could not resist the temptation to plant 
flowers everywhere. On high, dry rocky sum- 
mits and plateaus, most of the plants are so small 
they make but little show even when in bloom. 
But in the opener parts of the main forests, the 
meadows, stream banks, and the level floors of 
Yosemite valleys the vegetation is exceedingly 
rich in flowers, some of the lilies and larkspurs 
being from eight to ten feet high. And on the 


upper meadows there are miles of blue gentians 
and daisies, white and blue violets ; and great 
breadths of rosy purple heathworts covering 
rocky moraines with a marvelous abundance of 
bloom, enlivened by humming-birds, butterflies 
and a host of other insects as beautiful as flow- 
ers. In the lower and middle regions, also, many 
of the most extensive beds of bloom are in great 
part made by shrubs, adenostoma, manzanita, 
ceanothus, chamsebatia, cherry, rose, rubus, spi- 
raea, shad, laurel, azalea, honeysuckle, calycan- 
thus, ribes, philadelphus, and many others, the 
sunny spaces about them bright and fragrant 
with mints, lupines, geraniums, lilies, daisies, 
goldenrods, castilleias, gilias, pentstemons, etc. 

Adenostoma fasciculatum is a handsome, 
hardy, heathlike shrub belonging to the rose 
family, flourishing on dry ground below the pine 
belt, and often covering areas of twenty or thirty 
square miles of rolling sun-beaten hills and dales 
with a dense, dark green, almost impenetrable 
chaparral, which in the distance looks like Scotch 
heather. It is about six to eight feet high, has 
slender elastic branches, red shreddy bark, needle- 
shaped leaves, and small white flowers in panicles 
about a foot long, making glorious sheets of fra- 
grant bloom in the spring. To running fires it 
offers no resistance, vanishing with the few 
other flowery shrubs and vines and liliaceous 
plants that grow with it about as fast as dry 


grass, leaving nothing but ashes. But with 
wonderful vigor it rises again and again in fresh 
beauty from the root, and calls back to its hos- 
pitable mansions the multitude of wild animals 
that had to flee for their lives. 

As soon as you enter the pine woods you 
meet the charming little Chamaebatia foliolosa, 
one of the handsomest of the Park shrubs, next 
in fineness and beauty to the heathworts of the 
alpine regions. Like adenostoma it belongs to 
the rose family, is from twelve to eighteen inches 
high, has brown bark, slender branches, white 
flowers like those of the strawberry, and thrice- 
pinnate glandular, yellow-green leaves, finely 
cut and fernlike, as if unusual pains had been 
taken in fashioning them. Where there is 
plenty of sunshine at an elevation of three thou- 
sand to six thousand feet, it makes a close, con- 
tinuous growth, leaf touching leaf over hundreds 
of acres, spreading a handsome mantle beneath 
the yellow and sugar pines. Here and there a lily 
rises above it, an arching bunch of tall bromus, 
and at wide intervals a rosebush or clump of 
ceanothus or manzanita, but there are no rough 
weeds mixed with it, no roughness of any 

Perhaps the most widely distributed of all the 
Park shrubs and of the Sierra in general, cer- 
tainly the most strikingly characteristic, are the 
many species of manzanita (Arctostaphylos). 


Though one species, the Uva-ursa, or bearberry, 
the kinikinic of the Western Indians, ex- 
tends around the world, the greater part of them 
are Californian. They are mostly from four to 
ten feet high, round-headed, with innumerable 
branches, brown or red bark, pale green leaves 
set on edge, and a rich profusion of small, pink, 
narrow-throated, urn-shaped flowers like those 
of arbutus. The branches are knotty, zigzaggy, 
and about as rigid as bones, and the bark is so 
thin and smooth, both trunk and branches seem 
to be naked, looking as if they had been peeled, 
polished, and painted red. The wood also is red, 
hard, and heavy. 

These grand bushes seldom fail to engage the 
attention of the traveler and hold it, especially 
if he has to pass through closely planted fields 
of them such as grow on moraine slopes at an 
elevation of about seven thousand feet, and in 
canons choked with earthquake boulders ; for 
they make the most uncompromisingly stubborn 
of all chaparral. Even bears take pains to go 
around the stoutest patches if possible, and when 
compelled to force a passage leave tufts of hair 
and broken branches to mark their way, while 
less skillful mountaineers under like circum- 
stances sometimes lose most of their clothing and 
all their temper. 

The manzanitas like sunny ground. On warm 
ridges and sandy flats at the foot of sun-beaten 


canon cliffs, some of the tallest specimens have 
well-defined trunks six inches to a foot or more 
thick, and stand apart in orchard-like growths 
which in bloomtime are among the finest gar- 
den sights in the Park. The largest I ever saw 
had a round, slightly fluted trunk nearly four 
feet in diameter, which at a height of only eigh- 
teen inches from the ground dissolved into a 
wilderness of branches, rising and spreading to 
a height and width of about twelve feet. In 
spring every bush over all the mountains is cov- 
ered with rosy flowers, in autumn with fruit. 
The red pleasantly acid berries, about the size 
of peas, 'are like little apples, and the hungry 
mountaineer is glad to eat them, though half 
their bulk is made up of hard seeds. Indians, 
bears, coyotes, foxes, birds, and other mountain 
people live on them for months. 

Associated with manzanita there are six or 
seven species of ceanothus, flowery, fragrant, 
and altogether delightful shrubs, growing in 
glorious abundance in the forests on sunny or 
half -shaded ground, up to an elevation of about 
nine thousand feet above the sea. In the sugar- 
pine woods the most beautiful species is C. 
integerrimus, often called California lilac, or 
deer brush. It is five or six feet high, smooth, 
slender, willowy, with bright foliage and abund- 
ance of blue flowers in close, showy panicles. 
Two species, prostatus and procumbens, spread 


handsome blue-flowered mats and rugs on warm 
ridges beneath the pines, and offer delightful 
beds to the tired mountaineers. The common- 
est species, C. cordulatus, is mostly restricted to 
the silver fir belt. It is white-flowered and 
thorny, and makes extensive thickets of tangled 
chaparral, far too dense to wade through, and 
too deep and loose to walk on, though it is 
pressed flat every winter by ten or fifteen feet of 

Above these thorny beds, sometimes mixed 
with them, a very wild, red-fruited cherry grows 
in magnificent tangles, fragrant and white as 
snow when in bloom. The fruit is small and 
rather bitter, not so good as the black, puckery 
chokecherry that grows in the canons, but 
thrushes, robins, chipmunks like it. Below the 
cherry tangles, chinquapin and goldcup oak 
spread generous mantles of chaparral, and with 
hazel and ribes thickets in adjacent glens help 
to clothe and adorn the rocky wilderness, and 
produce food for the many mouths Nature has 
to fill. Azalea occidentalis is the glory of cool 
streams and meadows. It is from two to five feet 
high, has bright green leaves and a rich profu- 
sion of large, fragrant white and yellow flowers, 
which are in prime beauty in June, July, and 
August, according to the elevation (from three 
thousand to six thousand feet.) Only the pur- 
ple-flowered rhododendron of the redwood for- 



ests rivals or surpasses it in superb abounding 

Back a little way from the azalea-bordered 
streams, a small wild rose makes thickets, often 
several acres in extent, deliciously fragrant on 
dewy mornings and after showers, the fragrance 
mingled with the music of birds nesting in them. 
And not far from these rose gardens Rubus 
Nutkanus covers the ground with broad velvety 
leaves and pure white flowers as large as those 
of its neighbor the rose, and finer in texture ; 
followed at the end of summer by soft red berries 
good for bird and beast and man also. This is 
the commonest and the most beautiful of the 
whole blessed flowery fruity genus. 

The glory of the alpine region in bloomtime 
are the heathworts, cassiope, bryanthus, kalmia, 
and vaccinium, enriched here and there by the 
alpine honeysuckle, Lonicera conjugialis, and 
by the purple-flowered Primula suffruticosa, the 
only primrose discovered in California, and the 
only shrubby species in the genus. The lowly, 
hardy, adventurous cassiope has exceedingly slen- 
der creeping branches, scalelike leaves, and pale 
pink or white waxen bell flowers. Few plants, 
large or small, so well endure hard weather and 
rough ground over so great a range. In July it 
spreads a wavering, interrupted belt of the love- 
liest bloom around glacier lakes and meadows 
and across wild moory expanses, between roar- 


ing streams, all along the Sierra, and northward 
beneath cold skies by way of the mountain 
chains of Oregon, Washington, British Colum- 
bia, and Alaska, to the Arctic regions ; gradu- 
ally descending, until at the north end of the 
continent it reaches the level of the sea ; bloom- 
ing as profusely and at about the same time 
on mossy frozen tundras as on the high Sierra 

Bryanthus, the companion of cassiope, accom- 
panies it as far north as southeastern Alaska, 
where together they weave thick plushy beds on 
rounded mountain tops above the glaciers. It 
grows mostly at slightly lower elevations ; the 
upper margin of what may be called the bryan- 
thus belt in the Sierra uniting with and overlap- 
ping the lower margin of the cassiope. The 
wide bell-shaped flowers are bright purple, about 
three fourths of an inch in diameter, hundreds 
to the square yard, the young branches, mostly 
erect, being covered with them. No Highlander 
in heather enjoys more luxurious rest than the 
Sierra mountaineer in a bed of blooming bryan- 
thus. And imagine the show on calm dewy 
mornings, when there is a radiant globe in the 
throat of every flower, and smaller gems on the 
needle-shaped leaves, the sunbeams pouring 
through them. 

In the same wild, cold region the tiny Vacci- 
nium myrtillus, mixed with kalmia and dwarf 


willows, spreads thinner carpets, the down- 
pressed matted leaves profusely sprinkled with 
pink bells ; and on higher sandy slopes you will 
find several alpine species of eriogonum with 
gorgeous bossy masses of yellow bloom, and the 
lovely Arctic daisy with many blessed compan- 
ions; charming plants, gentle mountaineers, 
Nature's darlings, which seem always the finer 
the higher and stormier their homes. 

Many interesting ferns are distributed over 
the Park from the foothills to a little above the 
timber line. The greater number are rock ferns, 
pellsea, cheilanthes, polypodium, adiantum, wood- 
sia, cryptogramme, etc., with small tufted fronds, 
lining glens and gorges and fringing the cliffs 
and moraines. The most important of the 
larger species are woodwardia, aspidium, asple- 
nium, and the common pteris. Woodwardia 
radicans is a superb fern five to eight feet high, 
growing in vaselike clumps where the ground is 
level, and on slopes in a regular thatch, frond 
over frond, like shingles on a roof. Its range 
in the Park is from the western boundary up to 
about five thousand feet, mostly on benches of 
the north walls of canons watered by small out- 
spread streams. It is far more abundant in the 
Coast Mountains beneath the noble redwoods, 
where it attains a height of ten to twelve feet. 
The aspidiums are mostly restricted to the moist 
parts of the lower forests, Asplenium filix-foa- 


mina to marshy streams. The hardy, broad- 
shouldered Pteris aquilina, the commonest of 
ferns, grows tall and graceful on sunny flats and 
hillsides, at elevations between three thousand 
and six thousand feet. Those who know it only 
in the Eastern states can form no fair conception 
of its stately beauty in the sunshine of the Si- 
erra. On the level sandy floors of Yosemite 
valleys it often attains a height of six to eight 
feet in fields thirty or forty acres in extent, the 
magnificent fronds outspread in a nearly hori- 
zontal position, forming a ceiling beneath which 
one may walk erect in delightful mellow shade. 
No other fern does so much for the color glory 
of autumn, with its browns and reds and yellows 
changing and interblending. Even after lying 
dead all winter beneath the snow it spreads a 
lively brown mantle over the desolate ground, 
until the young fronds with a noble display of 
faith and hope come rolling up into the light 
through the midst of the beautiful ruins. A 
few weeks sufiice for their development, then, 
gracefully poised each in its place, they manage 
themselves in every exigency of weather as if 
they had passed through a long course of train- 
ing. I have seen solemn old sugar pines thrown 
into momentary confusion by the sudden onset 
of a storm, tossing their arms excitedly as if 
scarce awake, and wondering what had happened, 
but I never noticed surprise or embarrassment in 
the behavior of this noble pteris. 


Of five species of pellsea in the Park, the 
handsome andromedaefolia, growing in brushy 
foothills with Adiantum emarginatum, is the 
largest. P. Breweri, the hardiest and at the 
same time the most fragile of the genus, grows 
in dense tufts among rocks on storm-beaten 
mountain sides along the upper margin of the 
fern line. It is a charming little fern, four or 
five inches high, has shining bronze-colored stalks 
which are about as brittle as glass, and pale 
green pinnate fronds. Its companions on the 
lower part of its range are Cryptogramme acros- 
tichoides and Phegopteris alpestris, the latter 
soft and tender, not at all like a rock fern, 
though it grows on rocks where the snow lies 
longest. P. Bridgesii, with blue-green, narrow, 
simply pinnate fronds, is about the same size 
as Breweri and ranks next to it as a moun- 
taineer, growing in fissures and around boulders 
on glacier pavements. About a thousand feet 
lower we find the smaller and more abundant P. 
densa, on ledges and boulder-strewn fissured 
pavements, watered until late in summer by ooz- 
ing currents from snow-banks or thin outspread 
streams from moraines, growing in close sods, 
its little bright green triangular tripinnate 
fronds, about an inch in length, as innumerable 
as leaves of grass. P. ornithopus has twice or 
thrice pinnate fronds, is dull in color, and dwells 
an hot rocky hillsides among chaparral. 


Three species of Cheilanthes, Californica, 
gracillima, and myriophylla, with beautiful two 
to four pinnate fronds, an inch to five inches 
long, adorn the stupendous walls of the canons, 
however dry and sheer. The exceedingly deli- 
cate and interesting Californica is rare, the 
others abundant at from three thousand to seven 
thousand feet elevation, and are often accom- 
panied by the little gold fern, Gynmogramme 
triangularis, and rarely by the curious little 
Botrychium simplex, the smallest of which are 
less than an inch high. 

The finest of all the rock ferns is Adiantum 
pedatum, lover of waterfalls and the lightest 
waftings of irised spray. No other Sierra fern 
is so constant a companion of white spray-covered 
streams, or tells so well their wild thundering 
music. The homes it loves best are cave-like 
hollows beside the main falls, where it can float 
its plumes on their dewy breath, safely sheltered 
from the heavy spray-laden blasts. Many of 
these moss-lined chambers, so cool, so moist, 
and brightly colored with rainbow light, contain 
thousands of these happy ferns, clinging to the 
emerald walls by the slightest holds, reaching 
out the most wonderfully delicate fingered fronds 
on dark glossy stalks, sensitive, tremulous, all 
alive, in an attitude of eager attention ; throb- 
bing in unison with every motion and tone of 
the resounding waters, compliant to their faint- 


est impulses, moving each division of the frond 
separately at times as if fingering the music, 
playing on invisible keys. 

Considering the lilies as you go up the moun- 
tains, the first you come to is L. Pardalinum, 
with large orange-yellow, purple-spotted flowers 
big enough for babies' bonnets. It is seldom 
found higher than thirty-five hundred feet above 
the sea, grows in magnificent groups of fifty to 
a hundred or more, in romantic waterfall dells 
in the pine woods shaded by overarching maple 
and willow, alder and dogwood, with bushes in 
front of the embowering trees for a border, and 
ferns and sedges in front of the bushes ; while 
the bed of black humus in which the bulbs 
are set is carpeted with mosses and liverworts. 
These richly furnished lily gardens are the pride 
of the falls on the lower tributaries of the Tuol- 
umne and Merced rivers, falls not like those of 
Yosemite valleys, coming from the sky with 
rock-shaking thunder tones, but small, with 
low, kind voices cheerily singing in calm leafy 
bowers, self-contained, keeping their snowy 
skirts well about them, yet furnishing plenty 
of spray for the lilies. 

The Washington lily (L. Washingtonianum) 
is white, deliciously fragrant, moderate in size, 
with three to ten flowered racemes. The largest 
I ever measured was eight feet high, the raceme 
two feet long, with fifty-two flowers, fifteen of 


them open ; the others had faded or were still in 
the bud. This famous lily is distributed over 
the sunny portions of the sugar-pine woods, never 
in large garden companies like pardalinum, but 
widely scattered, standing up to the waist in 
dense ceanothus and manzanita chaparral, waving 
its lovely flowers above the blooming wilderness 
of brush, and giving their fragrance to the 
breeze. These stony, thorny jungles are about 
the last places in the mountains in which one 
would look for lilies. But though they toil not 
nor spin, like other people under adverse circum- 
stances, they have to do the best they can. Be- 
cause their large bulbs are good to eat they are 
dug up by Indians and bears; therefore, like 
hunted animals, they seek refuge in the chapar- 
ral, where among the boulders and tough tangled 
roots they are comparatively safe. This is the 
favorite Sierra lily, and it is now growing in all 
the best parks and gardens of the world. 

The showiest gardens in the Park lie imbedded 
in the silver fir forests on the top of the main 
dividing ridges or hang like gayly colored scarfs 
down their sides. Their wet places are in great 
part taken up by veratrum, a robust broad-leaved 
plant determined to be seen, and habenaria and 
spiranthes; the drier parts by tall columbines, 
larkspurs, castilleias, lupines, hosackias, erigerons, 
valerian, etc., standing deep in grass, with violets 
here and there around the borders. But the 


finest feature of these forest gardens is Lilium 
parvum. It varies greatly in size, the tallest 
being from six to nine feet high, with splendid 
racemes of ten to fifty small orange-colored flow- 
ers, which rock and wave with great dignity 
above the other flowers in the infrequent winds 
that fall over the protecting wall of trees. 
Though rather frail-looking it is strong, reaching 
prime vigor and beauty eight thousand feet above 
the sea, and in some places venturing as high as 
eleven thousand. 

Calochortus, or Mariposa tulip, is a unique 
genus of many species confined to the California 
side of the continent ; charming plants, somewhat 
resembling the tulips of Europe, but far finer. 
The richest calochortus region lies below the 
western boundary of the Park ; still five or six 
species are included. C. NuttaUii is common on 
moraines in the forests of the two-leaved pine; 
and C. cseruleus and nudus, very slender, lowly 
species, may be found in moist garden spots near 
Yosemite. C. albus, with pure white flowers, 
growing in shady places among the foothill 
shrubs, is, I think, the very loveliest of all the 
lily family, a spotless soul, plant saint, that 
every one must love and so be made better. It 
puts the wildest mountaineer on his good behav- 
ior. With this plant the whole world would seem 
rich though none other existed. Next after Calo- 
chortus, Brodiaea is the most interesting genus. 


Nearly all the many species have beautiful showy 
heads of blue, lilac, and yellow flowers, enriching 
the gardens of the lower pine region. Other 
liliaceous plants likely to attract attention are 
the blue-flowered camassia, the bulbs of which 
are prized as food by Indians ; f ritillaria, smila- 
cina, chloragalum, and the twining climbing stro- 

The common orchidaceous plants are corallo- 
rhiza, goodyera, spiranthes, and habenaria. Cy- 
pripedium montanum, the only moccasin flower 
I have seen in the Park, is a handsome, thought- 
ful-looking plant living beside cool brooks. The 
large oval lip is white, delicately veined with 
purple ; the other petals and sepals purple, strap- 
shaped, and elegantly curved and twisted. 

To tourists the most attractive of all the flow- 
ers of the forest is the snow plant (Sar codes san- 
guinea). It is a bright red, fleshy, succulent 
pillar that pushes up through the dead needles 
in the pine and fir woods like a gigantic aspara- 
gus shoot. The first intimation of its coming is 
a loosening and upbulging of the brown stratum 
of decomposed needles on the forest floor, in the 
cracks of which you notice fiery gleams; pre- 
sently a blunt dome-shaped head an inch or two 
in diameter appears, covered with closely imbri- 
cated scales and bracts. In a week or so it 
grows to a height of six to twelve inches. Then 
the long fringed bracts spread and curl aside, 


allowing the twenty or thirty five-lobed bell- 
shaped flowers to open and look straight out 
from the fleshy axis. It is said to grow up 
through the snow ; on the contrary it always 
waits until the ground is warm, though with 
other early flowers it is occasionally buried or 
half buried for a day or two by spring storms. 
The entire plant flowers, bracts, stem, scales, 
and roots is red. But notwithstanding its 
glowing color and beautiful flowers, it is singu- 
larly unsympathetic and cold. Everybody ad- 
mires it as a wonderful curiosity, but nobody 
loves it. Without fragrance, rooted in decaying 
vegetable matter, it stands beneath the pines and 
firs lonely, silent, and about as rigid as a grave- 
yard monument. 

Down in the main canons adjoining the azalea 
and rose gardens there are fine beds of herba- 
ceous plants, tall mints and sunflowers, iris, 
oenothera, brodia3a, and bright beds of erythrsea 
on the ferny meadpws. Bolandera, sedum, and 
airy, feathery, purple-flowered heuchera adorn 
mossy nooks near falls, the shading trees wreathed 
and festooned with wild grapevines and clematis ; 
while lightly shaded flats are covered with gilia 
and eunanus of many species, hosackia, arnica, 
cbaenactis, gayophytum, gnaphalium, monardella, 

Thousands of the most interesting gardens in 
the Park are never seen, for they are small and 


lie far up on ledges and terraces of the sheer 
canon walls, wherever a strip of soil, however 
narrow and shallow, can rest. The birds, winds, 
and down-washing rains have planted them with 
all sorts of hardy mountain flowers, and where 
there is sufficient moisture they flourish in pro- 
fusion. Many of them are watered by little 
streams that seem lost on the tremendous preci- 
pices, clinging to the face of the rock in lacelike 
strips, and dripping from ledge to ledge, too 
silent to be called falls, pathless wanderers from 
the upper meadows, which for centuries have 
been seeking a way down to the rivers they be- 
long to, without having worn as yet any appre- 
ciable channel, mostly evaporated or given to the 
plants they meet before reaching the foot of the 
cliffs. To these unnoticed streams the finest of 
the cliff gardens owe their luxuriance and fresh- 
ness of beauty. In the larger ones ferns and 
showy flowers flourish in wonderful profusion, 
woodwardia, columbine, collomia, castilleia, 
draperia, geranium, erythraea, pink and scarlet 
mimulus, hosackia, saxifrage, sunflowers and 
daisies, with azalea, spiraa, and calycanthus, a 
few specimens of each that seem to have been 
culled from the large gardens above and beneath 
them. Even lilies are occasionally found in these 
irrigated cliff gardens, swinging their bells over 
the giddy precipices, seemingly as happy as their 
relatives down in the waterfall dells. Most of 


the cliff gardens, however, are dependent on 
summer showers, and though from the shallow- 
ness of the soil beds they are often dry, they still 
display a surprising number of bright flowers, 
scarlet zauschneria, purple bush penstemon, mints, 
gilias, and bosses of glowing golden bahia. Nor 
is there any lack of commoner plants ; the homely 
yarrow is often found in them, and sweet clover 
and honeysuckle for the bees. 

In the upper canons, where the walls are in- 
clined at so low an angle that they are loaded 
with moraine material, through which perennial 
streams percolate in broad diffused currents, 
there are long wavering garden beds, that seem 
to be descending through the forest like cascades, 
their fluent lines suggesting motion, swaying 
from side to side of the forested banks, surging 
up here and there over island-like boulder piles, 
or dividing and flowing around them. In some 
of these floral cascades the vegetation is chiefly 
sedges and grasses ruffled with willows ; in others, 
showy flowers like those of the lily gardens on 
the main divides. Another curious and pictu- 
resque series of wall gardens are made by thin 
streams that ooze slowly from moraines and slip 
gently over smooth glaciated slopes. From par- 
ticles of sand. and mud they carry, a pair of lobe- 
shaped sheets of soil an inch or two thick are 
gradually formed, one of them hanging down 
from the brow of the slope, the other leaning up 


from the foot of it, like stalactite and stalagmite, 
the soil being held together by the flowery, 
moisture-loving plants growing in it. 

Along the rocky parts of the canon bottoms 
between lake basins, where the streams flow fast 
over glacier-polished granite, there are rows of 
pothole gardens full of ferns, daisies, golden- 
rods, and other common plants of the neigh- 
borhood nicely arranged like bouquets, and 
standing out in telling relief on the bare shining 
rock banks. And all the way up the canons to 
the Summit mountains, wherever there is soil of 
any sort, there is no lack of flowers, however 
short the summer may be. Within eight or ten 
feet of a snow bank lingering beneath a shadow, 
you may see belated ferns unrolling their fronds 
in September, and sedges hurrying up their 
brown spikes on ground that has been free from 
snow only eight or ten days, and likely to be 
covered again within a few weeks ; the winter in 
the coolest of these shadow gardens being about 
eleven months long, while spring, summer, and 
autumn are hurried and crowded into one month. 
Again, under favorable conditions, alpine gar- 
dens three or four thousand feet higher than the 
last are in their prime in June. Between the 
Summit peaks at the head of the canons sur- 
prising effects are produced where the sunshine 
falls direct on rocky slopes and reverberates 
among boulders. Toward the end of August, in 


one of these natural hothouses on the north 
shore of a glacier lake 11,500 feet above the sea, 
I found a luxuriant growth of hairy lupines, 
thistles, goldenrods, shrubby potentilla, spraguea, 
and the mountain epilobium with thousands of 
purple flowers an inch wide, while the opposite 
shore, at a distance of only three hundred yards, 
was bound in heavy avalanche snow, flowery 
summer on one side, winter on the other. And 
I know a bench garden on the north wall of 
Yosemite in which a few flowers are in bloom all 
winter ; the massive rocks about it storing up 
sunshine enough in summer to melt the snow 
about as fast as it falls. When tired of the 
confinement of my cabin I used to camp out in 
it in January, and never failed to find flowers, 
and butterflies also, except during snowstorms 
and a few days after. 

From Yosemite one can easily walk in a day 
to the top of Mount Hoffman, a massive gray 
mountain that rises in the centre of the Park, 
with easy slopes adorned with castellated piles 
and crests on the south side, rugged precipices 
banked with perpetual snow on the north. Most 
of the broad summit is comparatively level and 
smooth, and covered with crystals of quartz, 
mica, hornblende, feldspar, garnet, zircon, tour- 
maline, etc., weathered out and strewn loosely as 
if sown broadcast ; their radiance so dazzling in 
some places as to fairly hide the multitude of 


small flowers that grow among them; myriads 
of keen lance rays infinitely fine, white or colored, 
making an almost continuous glow over aU the 
ground, with here and there throbbing, spangling 
lilies of light, on the larger gems. At first sight 
only these crystal sunflowers are noticed, but 
looking closely you discover minute gilias, 
ivesias, eunanus, phloxes, etc., in thousands, 
showing more petals than leaves; and larger 
plants in hollows and on the borders of rills, 
lupines, potentillas, daisies, harebells, mountain 
columbine, astragalus, fringed with heathworts. 
You wander about from garden to garden en- 
chanted, as if walking among stars, gathering 
the brightest gems, each and all apparently doing 
their best with eager enthusiasm, as if everything 
depended on faithful shining; and considering 
the flowers basking in the glorious light, many 
of them looking like swarms of small moths and 
butterflies that were resting after long dances in 
the sunbeams. Now your attention is called to 
colonies of woodchucks and pikas, the mounds in 
front of their burrows glittering like heaps of 
jewelry, romantic ground to live in or die in. 
Now you look abroad over the vast round land- 
scape bounded by the down-curving sky, nearly- 
all the Park in it displayed like a map, forests, 
meadows, lakes, rock waves, and snowy mountains. 
Northward lies the basin of Yosemite Creek, 
paved with bright domes and lakes like larger crys- 


tals ; eastward, the meadowy, billowy Tuolumne 
region and the Summit peaks in glorious array ; 
southward, Yosemite ; and westward, the bound- 
less forests. On no other mountain that I 
know of are you more likely to linger. It is a 
magnificent camp ground. Clumps of dwarf 
pine furnish rosiny roots and branches for fuel, 
and the rills pure water. Around your camp fire 
the flowers seem to be looking eagerly at the 
light, and the crystals shine unweariedly, making 
fine company as you He at rest in the very heart 
of the vast, serene, majestic night. 

The finest of the glacier meadow gardens lie 
at an elevation of about nine thousand feet, 
imbedded in the upper pine forests like lakes of 
light. They are smooth and level, a mile or two 
long, and the rich, well-drained ground is com- 
pletely covered with a soft, silky, plushy sod 
enameled with flowers, not one of which is in 
the least weedy or coarse. In some places the 
sod is so crowded with showy flowers that the 
grasses are scarce noticed, in others they are 
rather sparingly scattered ; while every leaf and 
flower seems to have its winged representative in 
the swarms of happy flower-like insects that en- 
liven the air above them. 

With the winter snowstorms wings and petals 
are folded, and for more than half the year the 
meadows are snow-buried ten or fifteen feet deep. 
In June they begin to thaw out, small patches of 


the dead sloppy sod appear, gradually increasing 
in size until they are free and warm again, face 
to face with the sky ; myriads of growing points 
push through the steaming mould, frogs sing 
cheeringly, soon joined by the birds, and the 
merry insects come back as if suddenly raised 
from the dead. Soon the ground is green with 
mosses and liverworts and dotted with small 
fungi, making the first crop of the season. Then 
the grass leaves weave a new sod, and the ex- 
ceedingly slender panicles rise above it like a 
purple mist, speedily followed by potentilla, 
ivesia, bossy orthocarpus, yellow and purple, and 
a few pentstemons. Later come the daisies and 
goldenrods,. asters and gentians. Of the last 
there are three species, small and fine, with vary- 
ing tones of blue, and in glorious abundance, 
coloring extensive patches where the sod is shal- 
lowest. Through the midst flows a stream only 
two or three feet wide, silently gliding as if care- 
ful not to disturb the hushed calm of the solitude, 
its banks embossed by the common sod bent 
down to the water's edge, and trimmed with mosses 
and violets ; slender grass panicles lean over like 
miniature pine trees, and here and there on the 
driest places small mats of heathworts are neatly 
spread, enriching without roughening the bossy 
down-curling sod. In spring and summer the 
weather is mostly crisp, exhilarating sunshine, 
though magnificent mountain ranges of cumuli 


are often upheaved about noon, their shady hol- 
lows tinged with purple ineffably fine, their 
snowy sun-beaten bosses glowing against the 
sky, casting cooling shadows for an hour or two, 
then dissolving in a quick washing rain. But 
for days in succession there are no clouds at all, 
or only faint wisps and pencilings scarcely 

Toward the end of August the sunshine grows 
hazy, announcing the coming of Indian summer, 
the outlines of the landscapes are softened and 
mellowed, and more and more plainly are the 
mountains clothed with light, white tinged with 
pale purple, richest in the morning and evening. 
The warm, brooding days are full of life and 
thoughts of life to come, ripening seeds with 
next summer in them or a hundred summers. 
The nights are unspeakably impressive and calm ; 
frost crystals of wondrous beauty grow on the 
grass, each carefully planned and finished as if 
intended to endure forever. The sod becomes 
yellow and brown, but the late asters and gen- 
tians, carefully closing their flowers at night, do 
not seem to feel the frost ; no nipped, wilted 
plants of any kind are to be seen ; even the 
early snowstorms fail to blight them. At last 
the precious seeds are ripe, all the work of the 
season is done, and the sighing pines tell the 
coming of winter and rest. 

Ascending the range you find that many of 


the higher meadows slope considerably, from 
the amount of loose material washed into their 
basins ; and sedges and rushes are mixed with 
the grasses or take their places, though all are 
still more or less flowery and bordered with 
heathworts, sibbaldea, and dwarf willows. Here 
and there you come to small bogs, the wettest 
smooth and adorned with parnassia and butter- 
cups, others tussocky and ruffled like bits of 
Arctic tundra, their mosses and lichens inter- 
woven with dwarf shrubs. On boulder piles the 
red iridescent oxyria abounds, and on sandy, 
gravelly slopes several species of shrubby, yel- 
low-flowered eriogonum, some of the plants, less 
than a foot high, being very old, a century or 
more, as is shown by the rings made by the 
annual whorls of leaves on the big roots. Above 
these flower-dotted slopes the gray, savage wil- 
derness of crags and peaks seems lifeless and bare. 
Yet all the way up to the tops of the highest 
mountains, commonly supposed to be covered 
with eternal snow, there are bright garden spots 
crowded with flowers, their warm colors calling 
to mind the sparks and jets of fire on polar vol- 
canoes rising above a world of ice. The princi- 
pal mountain-top plants are phloxes, drabas, 
saxifrages, silene, cymopterus, hulsea, and pole- 
monium, growing in detached stripes and mats, 
the highest streaks and splashes of the sum- 
mer wave as it breaks against these wintry 


heights. The most beautiful are the phloxes 
(douglasii and csespitosum), and the red-flowered 
silene, with innumerable flowers hiding the 
leaves. Though herbaceous plants, like the 
trees and shrubs, are dwarfed as they ascend, 
two of these mountain dwellers, Hulsea algida 
and Polemonium confertum, are notable excep- 
tions. The yellow-flowered hulsea is eight to 
twelve inches high, stout, erect, the leaves, 
three to six inches long, secreting a rosiny, fra- 
grant gum, standing up boldly on the grim 
lichen-stained crags, and never looking in the 
least tired or discouraged. Both the ray and 
disk flowers are yellow ; the heads are nearly 
two inches wide, and are eagerly sought for by 
roving bee mountaineers. The polemonium is 
quite as luxuriant and tropical-looking as its 
companion, about the same height, glandular, 
fragrant, its blue flowers closely packed in eight 
or ten heads, twenty to forty in a head. It is 
never far from hulsea, growing at elevations of 
between eleven and thirteen thousand feet wher- 
ever a little hollow or crevice favorably situated 
with a handful of wind-driven soil can be found. 

From these frosty Arctic sky gardens you 
may descend in one straight swoop to the abronia, 
mentzelia, and cenothera gardens of Mono, where 
the sunshine is warm enough for palms. 

But the greatest of all the gardens is the belt 
of forest trees, profusely covered in the spring 


with blue and purple, red and yellow blossoms, 
each tree with a gigantic panicle of flowers fifty 
to a hundred feet long. Yet strange to say 
they are seldom noticed. Few travel through 
the woods when they are in bloom, the flowers 
of some of the showiest species opening before 
the snow is off the ground. Nevertheless, one 
would think the news of such gigantic flowers 
would quickly spread, and travelers from all the 
world would make haste to the show. Eager 
inquiries are made for the bloomtime of rhodo- 
dendron-covered mountains and for the bloom- 
time of Yosemite streams, that they may be en- 
joyed in their prime ; but the far grander outburst 
of tree bloom covering a thousand mountains 
who inquires about that? That the pistillate 
flowers of the pines and firs should escape the 
eyes of careless lookers is less to be wondered 
at, since they mostly grow aloft on the topmost 
branches, and can hardly be seen from the foot 
of the trees. Yet even these make a magnificent 
show from the top of an overlooking ridge when 
the sunbeams are pouring through them. But 
the far more numerous staminate flowers of the 
pines in large rosy clusters, and those of the 
silver firs in countless thousands on the under 
side of the branches, cannot be hid, stand where 
you may. The mountain hemlock also is glori- 
ously colored with a profusion of lovely blue 
and purple flowers, a spectacle to gods and men. 


A single pine or hemlock or silver fir in the 
prime of its beauty about the middle of June is 
well worth the pains of the longest journey ; 
how much more broad forests of them thousands 
of miles long ! 

One of the best ways to see tree flowers is to 
climb one of the tallest trees and to get into 
close tingling touch with them, and then look 
abroad. Speaking of the benefits of tree climb- 
ing, Thoreau says : " I found my account in 
climbing a tree once. It was a tall white pine, 
on the top of a hill ; and though I got well 
pitched, I was well paid for it, for I discovered 
new mountains in the horizon which I had never 
seen before. I might have walked about the 
foot of the tree for threescore years and ten, and 
yet I certainly should never have seen them. 
But, above all, I discovered around me, it was 
near the middle of June, on the ends of the 
topmost branches, a few minute and delicate red 
conelike blossoms, the fertile flower of the white 
pine looking heavenward. I carried straightway 
to the village the topmost spire, and showed it 
to stranger jurymen who walked the streets, 
for it was court week, and to farmers and 
lumbermen and woodchoppers and hunters, and 
not one had ever seen the like before, but they 
wondered as at a star dropped down." 

The same marvelous blindness prevails here, 
although the blossoms are a thousandfold more 


abundant and telling. Once when I was collect- 
ing flowers of the red silver fir near a summer 
tourist resort on the mountains above Lake Ta- 
hoe, I carried a handful of flowery branches to 
the boarding house, where they quickly attracted 
a wondering, admiring crowd of men, women, 
and children. " Oh, where did you get these ? " 
they cried. "How pretty they are mighty 
handsome just too lovely for anything where 
do they grow ? " "On the commonest trees 
about you," I replied. " You are now standing 
beside one of them, and it is in full bloom ; look 
up." And I pointed to a blossom-laden Abies 
magnifica, about a hundred and twenty feet high, 
in front of the house, used as a hitching post. 
And seeing its beauty for the first time, their 
wonder could hardly have been greater or more 
sincere had their silver fir hitching post blossomed 
for them at that moment as suddenly as Aaron's 

The mountain hemlock extends an almost con- 
tinuous belt along the Sierra and northern ranges 
to Prince William's Sound, accompanied part of 
the way by the pines; our two silver firs, to 
Mount Shasta, thence the fir belt is continued 
through Oregon, Washington, and British Colum- 
bia by four other species, Abies nobilis, grandis, 
amabilis, and lasiocarpa ; while the magnificent 
Sitka spruce, with large, bright, purple flowers, 
adorns the coast region from California to Cook's 


Inlet and Kodiak. All these, interblending, 
form one flowery belt one garden blooming in 
June, rocking its myriad spires in the hearty 
weather, bowing and swirling, enjoying clouds 
and the winds and filling them with balsam ; 
covering thousands of miles of the wildest moun- 
tains, clothing the long slopes by the sea, crown- 
ing bluffs and headlands and innumerable islands, 
and, fringing the banks of the glaciers, one wild 
wavering belt of the noblest flowers in the world, 
worth a lifetime of love work to know it. 



THE Sierra bear, brown or gray, the sequoia 
of the animals, tramps over all the park, though 
few travelers have the pleasure of seeing him. 
On he fares through the majestic forests and 
canons, facing all sorts of weather, rejoicing in 
his strength, everywhere at home, harmonizing 
with the trees and rocks and shaggy chaparral. 
Happy fellow ! his lines have fallen in pleasant 
places, lily gardens in silver-fir forests, miles 
of bushes in endless variety and exuberance of 
bloom over hill-waves and valleys and along the 
banks of streams, canons full of music and 
waterfalls, parks fair as Eden, places in which 
one might expect to meet angels rather than 

In this happy land no famine comes nigh him. 
All the year round his bread is sure, for some of 
the thousand kinds that he likes are always in 
season and accessible, ranged on the shelves of 
the mountains like stores in a pantry. From 
one to another, from climate to climate, up and 
down he climbs, feasting on each in turn, en- 


joying as great variety as if he traveled to far-off 
countries north and south. To him almost every 
thing is food except granite. Every tree helps 
to feed him, every bush and herb, with fruits and 
flowers, leaves and bark ; and all the animals he 
can catch, badgers, gophers, ground squirrels, 
lizards, snakes, etc., and ants, bees, wasps, old 
and young, together with their eggs and larvse 
and nests. Craunched and hashed, down all go 
to his marvelous stomach, and vanish as if cast 
into a fire. What digestion ! A sheep or a 
wounded deer or a pig he eats warm, about as 
quickly as a boy eats a buttered muffin ; or should 
the meat be a month old, it still is welcomed with 
tremendous relish. After so gross a meal as 
this, perhaps the next will be strawberries and 
clover, or raspberries with mushrooms and nuts, 
or puckery acorns and chokecherries. And as 
if fearing that anything eatable in all his domin- 
ions should escape being eaten, he breaks into 
cabins to look after sugar, dried apples, bacon, etc. 
Occasionally he eats the mountaineer's bed ; but 
when he has had a full meal of more tempting 
dainties he usually leaves it undisturbed, though 
he has been known to drag it up through a hole 
in the roof, carry it to the foot of a tree, and lie 
down on it to enjoy a siesta. Eating everything, 
never is he himself eaten except by man, and 
only man is an enemy to be feared. " B'ar meat," 
said a hunter from whom I was seeking informa- 


tion, " b'ar meat is the best meat in the moun- 
tains ; their skins make the best beds, and their 
grease the best butter. Biscuit shortened with 
b'ar grease goes as far as beans; a man will 
walk all day on a couple of them biscuit." 

In my first interview with a Sierra bear we 
were frightened and embarrassed, both of us, 
but the bear's behavior was better than mine. 
When I discovered him, he was standing in a 
narrow strip of meadow, and I was concealed be- 
hind a tree on the side of it. After studying his 
appearance as he stood at rest, I rushed toward 
him to frighten him, that I might study his gait 
in running. But, contrary to all I had heard 
about the shyness of bears, he did not run at all ; 
and when I stopped short within a few steps of 
him, as he held his ground in a fighting attitude, 
my mistake was monstrously plain. I was then 
put on my good behavior, and never afterward 
forgot the right manners of the* wilderness. 

This happened on my first Sierra excursion in 
the forest to the north of Yosemite Valley. I 
was eager to meet the animals, and many of them 
came to me as if willing to show themselves and 
make my acquaintance ; but the bears kept out 
of my way. 

An old mountaineer, in reply to my questions, 
told me that bears were very shy, all save grim 
old grizzlies, and that I might travel the moun- 
tains for years without seeing one, unless I gave 


my mind to them and practiced the stealthy ways 
of hunters. Nevertheless, it was only a few weeks 
after I had received this information that I met 
the one mentioned above, and obtained instruc- 
tion at first-hand. 

I was encamped in the woods about a mile 
back of the rim of Yosemite, beside a stream that 
falls into the valley by the way of Indian Canon. 
Nearly every day for weeks I went to the top of the 
North Dome to sketch ; for it commands a gen- 
eral view of the valley, and I was anxious to draw 
eveiy tree and rock and waterfah 1 . Carlo, a St. 
Bernard dog, was my companion, a fine, intel- 
ligent fellow that belonged to a hunter who was 
compelled to remain all summer on the hot plains, 
and who loaned him to me for the season for the 
sake of having him in the mountains, where he 
would be so much better off. Carlo knew bears 
through long experience, and he it was who led 
me to my first interview, though he seemed as 
much surprised as the bear at my unhunter-like 
behavior. One morning in June, just as the sun- 
beams began to stream through the trees, I set 
out for a day's sketching on the dome ; and be- 
fore we had gone half a mile from camp Carlo 
snuffed the air and looked cautiously ahead, low- 
ered his bushy tail, drooped his ears, and began 
to step softly like a cat, turning every few yards 
and looking me in the face with a telling expres- 
sion, saying plainly enough, " There is a bear a 


little way ahead." I walked carefully in the in- 
dicated direction, until I approached a small 
flowery meadow that I was familiar with, then 
crawled to the foot of a tree on its margin, bear- 
ing in mind what I had been told about the shy- 
ness of bears. Looking out cautiously over the 
instep of the tree, I saw a big, burly cinnamon 
bear about thirty yards off, half erect, his paws 
resting on the trunk of a fir that had fallen into 
the meadow, his hips almost buried in grass and 
flowers. He was listening attentively and trying 
to catch the scent, showing that in some way he 
was aware of our approach. I watched his ges- 
tures, and tried to make the most of my opportu- 
nity to learn what I could about him, fearing he 
would not stay long. He made a fine picture, 
standing alert in the sunny garden walled in by 
the most beautiful firs in the world. 

After examining him at leisure, noting the 
sharp muzzle thrust inquiringly forward, the long 
shaggy hair on his broad chest, the stiff ears 
nearly buried in hair, and the slow, heavy way in 
which he moved his head, I foolishly made a rush 
on him, throwing up my arms and shouting to 
frighten him, to see him run. He did not mind 
the demonstration much ; only pushed his head 
farther forward, and looked at me sharply as if 
asking, " What now ? If you want to fight, I 'm 
ready." Then I began to fear that on me would 
fall the work of running. But I was afraid to 


run, lest he should be encouraged to pursue me ; 
therefore I held my ground, staring him in the 
face within a dozen yards or so, putting on as 
bold a look as I could, and hoping the influence 
of the human eye would be as great as it is said 
to be. Under these strained relations the inter- 
view seemed to last a long time. Finally, the bear, 
seeing how still I was, calmly withdrew his huge 
paws from the log, gave me a piercing look, as if 
warning me not to follow him, turned, and walked 
slowly up the middle of the meadow into the for- 
est ; stopping every few steps and looking back 
to make sure that I was not trying to take him 
at a disadvantage in a rear attack. I was glad 
to part with him, and greatly enjoyed the van- 
ishing view as he waded through the lilies and 

Thenceforth I always tried to give bears re- 
spectful notice of my approach, and they usu- 
ally kept well out of my way. Though they 
often came around my camp in the night, only 
once afterward, as far as I know, was I very 
near one of them in daylight. This time it was 
a grizzly I met ; and as luck would have it, I 
was even nearer to him than I had been to the 
big cinnamon. Though not a large specimen, 
he seemed formidable enough at a distance of 
less than a dozen yards. His shaggy coat was 
well grizzled, his head almost white. When I 
first caught sight of him he was eating acorns 


under a Kellogg oak, at a distance of perhaps 
seventy-five yards, and I tried to slip past with- 
out disturbing him. But he had either heard 
my steps on the gravel or caught my scent, for 
he came straight toward me, stopping every rod 
or so to look and listen : and as I was afraid to 
be seen running, I crawled on my hands and 
knees a little way to one side and hid behind a 
libocedrus, hoping he would pass me unnoticed. 
He soon came up opposite me, and stood look- 
ing ahead, while I looked at him, peering past 
the bulging trunk of the tree. At last, turn- 
ing his head, he caught sight of mine, stared 
sharply a minute or two, and then, with fine 
dignity, disappeared in a manzanita-covered 
earthquake talus. 

Considering how heavy and broad-footed bears 
are, it is wonderful how little harm they do in 
the wilderness. Even in the well-watered gar- 
dens of the middle region, where the flowers 
grow tallest, and where during warm weather the 
bears wallow and roll, no evidence of destruc- 
tion is visible. On the contrary, under nature's 
direction, the massive beasts act as gardeners. 
On the forest floor, carpeted with needles and 
brush, and on the tough sod of glacier meadows, 
bears make no mark ; but around the sandy mar- 
gin of lakes their magnificent tracks form grand 
lines of embroidery. Their well-worn trails ex- 
tend along the main canons on either side, and 


though dusty in some places make no scar on 
the landscape. They bite and break off the 
branches of some of the pines and oaks to get 
the nuts, but this pruning is so light that few 
mountaineers ever notice it ; and though they 
interfere with the orderly lichen-veiled decay of 
fallen trees, tearing them to pieces to reach the 
colonies of ants that inhabit them, the scattered 
ruins are quickly pressed back into harmony by 
snow and rain and over-leaning vegetation. 

The number of bears that make the Park their 
home may be guessed by the number that have 
been killed by the two best hunters, Duncan and 
old David Brown. Duncan began to be known 
as a bear-killer about the year 1865. He was 
then roaming the woods, hunting and prospect- 
ing on the south fork of the Merced. A friend 
told me that he killed his first bear near his 
cabin at Wawona ; that after mustering courage 
to fire he fled, without waiting to learn the ef- 
fect of his shot. Going back in a few hours he 
found poor Bruin dead, and gained courage to 
try again. Duncan confessed to me, when we 
made an excursion together in 1875, that he was 
at first mortally afraid of bears, but after killing 
a half dozen he began to keep^count of his vic- 
tims, and became ambitious to be known as a 
great bear-hunter. In nine years he had killed 
forty-nine, keeping count by notches cut on one 
of the timbers of his cabin on the shore of Ores- 


cent Lake, near the south boundary of the Park. 
He said the more he knew about bears, the more 
he respected theni and the less he feared them. 
But at the same time he grew more and more 
cautious, and never fired until he had every ad- 
vantage, no matter how long he had to wait and 
how far he had to go before he got the bear just 
right as to the direction of the wind, the dis- 
tance, and the way of escape in case of accident ; 
making allowance also for the character of the 
animal, old or young, cinnamon or grizzly. For 
old grizzlies, he said, he had no use whatever, 
and he was mighty careful to avoid their ac- 
quaintance. He wanted to kill an even hundred; 
then he was going to confine himself to safer 
game. There was not much money in bears, 
anyhow, and a round hundred was enough for 

I have not seen or heard of him lately, and do 
not know how his bloody count stands. On my 
excursions, I occasionally passed his cabin. It 
was full of meat and skins hung in bundles from 
the rafters, and the ground about it was strewn 
with bones and hair, infinitely less tidy than 
a bear's den. He went as hunter and guide 
with a geological survey party for a year or two, 
and was very proud of the scientific knowledge 
he picked up. His admiring fellow mountain- 
eers, he said, gave him credit for knowing not 
only the botanical names of all the trees and 


bushes, but also the "botanical names of the 
bears." . 

The most famous hunter of the region was 
David Brown, an old pioneer, who early in the 
gold period established his main camp in a little 
forest glade on the north fork of the Merced, 
which is still called " Brown's Flat." No finer 
solitude for a hunter and prospector could be 
found ; the climate is delightf ul all the year, and 
the scenery of both earth and sky is a perpetual 
feast. Though he was not much of a " scenery 
fellow," his friends say that he knew a pretty 
place when he saw it as well as any one, and 
liked mightily to get on the top of a command- 
ing ridge to " look off." 

When out of provisions, he would take down 
his old-fashioned long-barreled rifle from its deer- 
horn rest over the fireplace and set out in search 
of game. Seldom did he have to go far for veni- 
son, because the deer liked the wooded slopes of 
Pilot Peak ridge, with its open spots where they 
could rest and look about them, and enjoy the 
breeze from the sea in warm weather, free from 
troublesome flies, while they found hiding-places 
and fine aromatic food in the deer-brush chapar- 
ral. A small, wise dog was his only companion, 
and well the little mountaineer understood the 
object of every hunt, whether deer or bears, or 
only grouse hidden in the fir-tops. In deer- 
hunting Sandy had little to do, trotting behind 


his master as he walked noiselessly through the 
fragrant woods, careful not to step heavily on 
dry twigs, scanning open spots in the chaparral 
where the deer feed in the early morning and 
toward sunset, peering over ridges and swells as 
new outlooks were reached, and along alder and 
willow fringed flats and streams, until he found 
a young buck, killed it, tied its legs together, 
threw it on his shoulder, and so back to camp. 
But when bears were hunted, Sandy played an 
important part as leader, and several times saved 
his master's life ; and it was as a bear-hunter that 
David Brown became famous. His method, as 
I had it from a friend who had passed many an 
evening in his cabin listening to his long stories 
of adventure, was simply to take a few pounds 
of flour and his rifle, and go slowly and silently 
over hill and valley in the loneliest part of the 
wilderness, until little Sandy came upon the 
fresh track of a bear, then follow it to the death, 
paying no heed to time. Wherever the bear 
went he went, however rough the ground, led by 
Sandy, who looked back from time to time to see 
how his master was coming on, and regulated his 
pace accordingly, never growing weary or allow- 
ing any other track to divert him. When high 
ground was reached a halt was made, to scan 
the openings in every direction, and perchance 
Bruin would be discovered sitting upright on 
his haunches, eating manzanita berries ; pulling 


down the fruit-laden branches "with his paws and 
pressing them together, so as to get substantial 
mouthfuls, however mixed with leaves and twigs. 
The time of year enabled the hunter to deter- 
mine approximately where the game would be 
found : in spring and early summer, in lush grass 
and clover meadows and in berry tangles along 
the banks of streams, or on pea-vine and lupine 
clad slopes ; in late summer and autumn, beneath 
the pines, eating the cones cut off by the squir- 
rels, and in oak groves at the bottom of canons, 
munching acorns, manzanita berries, and cher- 
ries ; and after snow had fallen, in alluvial bot- 
toms, feeding on ants and yellow-jacket wasps. 
These food places were always cautiously ap- 
proached, so as to avoid the chance of sudden 

" Whenever," said the hunter, " I saw a bear 
before he saw me, I had no trouble in killing 
him. I just took lots of time to learn what he 
was up to and how long he would be likely to 
stay, and to study the direction of the wind and 
the lay of the land. Then I worked round to 
leeward of him, no matter how far I had to go ; 
crawled and dodged to within a hundred yards, 
near the foot of a tree that I could climb, but 
which was too small for a bear to climb. There 
I looked well to the priming of my rifle, took 
off my boots so as to climb quickly if necessary, 
and, with my rifle in rest and Sandy behind me, 


waited until my bear stood right, when I made 
a sure, or at least a good shot back of the fore 
leg. In case he showed fight, I got up the tree 
I had in mind, before he could reach me. But 
bears are slow and awkward with their eyes, and 
being to windward they could not scent me, and 
often I got in a second shot before they saw the 
smoke. Usually, however, they tried to get 
away when they were hurt, and I let them go 
a good safe while before I ventured into the 
brush after them. Then Sandy was pretty sure 
to find them dead ; if not, he barked bold as a 
lion to draw attention, or rushed in and nipped 
them behind, enabling me to get to a safe dis- 
tance and watch a chance for a finishing shot. 

" Oh yes, bear-hunting is a mighty interesting 
business, and safe enough if followed just right, 
though, like every other business, especially the 
wild kind, it has its accidents, and Sandy and I 
have had close calls at times. Bears are nobody's 
fools, and they know enough to let men alone 
as a general thing, unless they are wounded, or 
cornered, or have cubs. In my opinion, a hun- 
gry old mother would catch and eat a man, if 
she could ; which is only fair play, anyhow, for 
we eat them. But nobody, as far as I know, 
has been eaten up in these rich mountains. 
Why they never tackle a fellow when he is lying 
asleep I never could understand. They could 
gobble us mighty handy, but I suppose it 's 
nature to respect a sleeping man." 


Sheep-owners and their shepherds have killed 
a great many bears, mostly by poison and traps 
of various sorts. Bears are fond of mutton, and 
levy heavy toll on every flock driven into the 
mountains. They usually come to the corral at 
night, climb in, kill a sheep with a stroke of the 
paw, carry it off a little distance, eat about half 
of it, and return the next night for the other 
half; and so on all summer, or until they are 
themselves killed. It is not, however, by direct 
killing, but by suffocation through crowding 
against the corral wall in fright, that the great- 
est losses are incurred. From ten to fifteen 
sheep are found dead, smothered in the corral, 
after every attack ; or the walls are broken, and 
the flock is scattered far and wide. A flock 
may escape the attention of these marauders for 
a week or two in the spring; but after their 
first taste of the fine mountain-fed meat the 
visits are persistently kept up, in spite of all 
precautions. Once I spent a night with two 
Portuguese shepherds, who were greatly troubled 
with bears, from two to four or five visiting 
them almost every night. Their camp was near 
the middle of the Park, and the wicked bears, 
they said, were getting worse and worse. Not 
waiting now until dark, they came out of the 
brush in broad daylight, and boldly carried off 
as many sheep as they liked. One evening, 
before sundown, a bear, followed by two cubs, 


came for an early supper, as the flock was being 
slowly driven toward the camp. Joe, the elder 
of the shepherds, warned by many exciting ex- 
periences, promptly climbed a tall tamarack pine, 
and left the freebooters to help themselves ; 
while Antone, calling him a coward, and declar- 
ing that he was not going to let bears eat up his 
sheep before his face, set the dogs on them, and 
rushed toward them with a great noise and a 
stick. The frightened cubs ran up a tree, and 
the mother ran to meet the shepherd and dogs. 
Antone stood astonished for a moment, eying 
the oncoming bear ; then fled faster than Joe 
had, closely pursued. He scrambled to the roof 
of their little cabin, the only refuge quickly 
available ; and fortunately, the bear, anxious 
about her young, did not climb after him, 
only held him in mortal terror a few minutes, 
glaring and threatening, then hastened back to 
her cubs, called them down, went to the fright- 
ened, huddled flock, killed a sheep, and feasted 
in peace. Antone piteously entreated cautious 
Joe to show him a good safe tree, up which he 
climbed like a sailor climbing a mast, and held on 
as long as he could with legs crossed, the slim 
pine recommended by Joe being nearly branch- 
less. " So you, too, are a bear coward as well 
as Joe," I said, after hearing the story. " Oh, 
I tell you," he replied, with grand solemnity, 
" bear face close by look awful ; she just as soon 


eat me as not. She do so as eef all my sheeps 
b'long every one to her own self. I run to bear 
no more. I take tree every time." 

After this the shepherds corraled the flock 
about an hour before sundown, chopped large 
quantities of dry wood and made a circle of fires 
around the corral every night, and one with a 
gun kept watch on a stage built in a pine by the 
side of the cabin, while the other slept. But 
after the first night or two this fire fence did no 
good, for the robbers seemed to regard the light 
as an advantage, after becoming used to it. 

On the night I spent at their camp the show 
made by the wall of fire when it was blazing in 
its prime was magnificent, the illumined trees 
round about relieved against solid darkness, and 
the two thousand sheep lying down in one gray 
mass, sprinkled with gloriously brilliant gems, 
the effect of the firelight in their eyes. It was 
nearly midnight when a pair of the freebooters 
arrived. They walked boldly through a gap in 
the fire circle, killed two sheep, carried them out, 
and vanished in the dark woods, leaving ten 
dead in a pile, trampled down and smothered 
against the corral fence ; while the scared 
watcher in the tree did not fire a single shot, 
saying he was afraid he would hit some of the 
sheep, as the bears got among them before he 
could get a good sight. 

In the morning I asked the shepherds why 


they did not move the flock to a new pasture. 
" Oh, no use ! " cried Antone. " Look my 
dead sheeps. We move three four time before, 
all the same bear come by the track. No use. 
To-morrow we go home below. Look my dead 
sheeps. Soon all dead." 

Thus were they driven out of the mountains 
more than a month before the usual time. After 
Uncle Sam's soldiers, bears are the most effective 
forest police, but some of the shepherds are very 
successful in killing them. Altogether, by 
hunters, mountaineers, Indians, and sheepmen, 
probably five or six hundred have been killed 
within the bounds of the Park, during the last 
thirty years. But they are not in danger of 
extinction. ' Now that the Park is guarded by 
soldiers, not only has the vegetation in great 
part come back to the desolate ground, but all 
the wild animals are increasing in numbers. No 
guns are allowed in the Park except under cer- 
tain restrictions, and after a permit has been 
obtained from the officer in charge. This has 
stopped the barbarous slaughter of bears, and 
especially of deer, by shepherds, hunters, and 
hunting tourists, who, it would seem, can find 
no pleasure without blood. 

The Sierra deer the blacktail spend the 
winters in the brushy and exceedingly rough 
region just below the main timber-belt, and are 
less accessible to hunters there than when they 


are passing through the comparatively open for- 
ests to and from their summer pastures near the 
summits of the range. They go up the moun- 
tains early in the spring as the snow melts, not 
waiting for it all to disappear ; reaching the 
high Sierra about the first of June, and the 
coolest recesses at the base of the peaks a month 
or so later. I have tracked them for miles over 
compacted snow from three to ten feet deep. 

Deer are capital mountaineers, making their 
way into the heart of the roughest mountains ; 
seeking not only pasturage, but a cool climate, 
and safe hidden places in which to bring forth 
their young. They are not supreme as rock- 
climbing animals ; they take second rank, yield- 
ing the first to the mountain sheep, which dwell 
above them on the highest crags and peaks. 
Still, the two meet frequently; for the deer 
climbs alTthe peaks save the lofty summits above 
the glaciers, crossing piles of angular boulders, 
roaring swollen streams, and sheer-walled canons 
by fords and passes that would try the nerves 
of the hardiest mountaineers, climbing with 
graceful ease and reserve of strength that can- 
not fail to arouse admiration. Everywhere some 
species of deer seems to be at home, on rough 
or smooth ground, lowlands or highlands, in 
swamps and barrens and the densest woods, in 
varying climates, hot or cold, over aU the conti- 
nent; maintaining glorious health, never mak- 


ing an awkward step. Standing, lying down, 
walking, feeding, running even for life, it is al- 
ways invincibly graceful, arid adds beauty and 
animation to every landscape, a charming ani- 
mal, and a great credit to nature. 

I never see one of the common blacktail deer, 
the only species in the Park, without fresh ad- 
miration ; and since I never carry a gun I see 
them well : lying beneath a juniper or dwarf 
pine, among the brown needles on the brink of 
some cliff or the end of a ridge commanding a 
wide outlook ; feeding in sunny openings among 
chaparral, daintily selecting aromatic leaves and 
twigs ; leading their fawns out of my way, or 
making them lie down and hide ; bounding past 
through the forest, or curiously advancing and 
retreating again and again. 

One morning when I was eating breakfast 
in a little garden spot on the Kaweah, hedged 
around with chaparral, I noticed a deer's head 
thrust through the bushes, the big beautiful 
eyes gazing at me. I kept still, and the deer 
ventured forward a step, then snorted and with- 
drew. In a few minutes she returned, and 
came into the open garden, stepping with in- 
finite grace, followed by two others. After 
showing themselves for a moment, they bounded 
over the hedge with sharp, timid snorts and 
vanished. But curiosity brought them back 
with still another, and all four came into my 


garden, and, satisfied that I meant them no ill, 
began to feed, actually eating breakfast with 
me, like tame, gentle sheep around a shepherd, 
rare company, and the most graceful in move- 
ments and attitudes. I eagerly watched them 
while they fed on ceanothus and wild cherry, 
daintily culling single leaves here and there from 
the side of the hedge, turning now and then to 
snip a few leaves of mint from the midst of the 
garden flowers. Grass they did not eat at all. 
No wonder the contents of the deer's stomach 
are eaten by the Indians. 

While exploring the upper canon of the north 
fork of the San Joaquin, one evening, the sky 
threatening rain, I searched for a dry bed, and 
made choice of a big juniper that had been 
pushed down by a snow avalanche, but was rest- 
ing stubbornly on its knees high enough to let 
me He under its broad trunk. Just below my 
shelter there was another juniper on the very 
brink of a precipice, and, examining it, I found a 
deer-bed beneath it, completely protected and 
concealed by drooping branches, a fine refuge 
and lookout as well as resting-place. About an 
hour before dark I heard the clear, sharp snort- 
ing of a deer, and looking down on the brushy, 
rocky canon bottom, discovered an anxious doe 
that no doubt had her fawns concealed near by. 
She bounded over the chaparral and up the far- 
ther slope of the wall, often stopping to look 


back and listen, a fine picture of vivid, eager 
alertness. I sat perfectly still, and as my shirt 
was colored like the juniper bark I was not easily 
seen. After a little she came cautiously toward 
me, sniffing the air and grazing, and her move- 
ments, as she descended the canon side over 
boulder piles and brush and fallen timber, were 
admirably strong and beautiful; she never 
strained or made apparent efforts, although 
jumping high here and there. As she drew 
nigh she sniffed anxiously, trying the air in dif- 
ferent directions until she caught my scent ; 
then bounded off, and vanished behind a small 
grove of firs. Soon she came back with the same 
caution and insatiable curiosity, coming and 
going five or six times. While I sat admiring 
her, a Douglas squirrel, evidently excited by her 
noisy alarms, climbed a boulder beneath me, and 
witnessed her performances as attentively as I 
did, while a frisky chipmunk, too restless or hun- 
gry for such shows, busied himself about his 
supper in a thicket of shadbushes, the fruit of 
which was then ripe, glancing about on the 
slender twigs lightly as a sparrow. 

Toward the end of the Indian summer, when 
the young are strong, the deer begin to gather 
in little bands of from six to fifteen or twenty, 
and on the approach of the first snowstorm they 
set out on their march down the mountains to 
their winter quarters ; lingering usually on warm 


hillsides and spurs eight or ten miles below the 
summits, as if loath to leave. About the end of 
November, a heavy, far-reaching storm drives 
them down in haste along the dividing ridges 
between the rivers, led by old experienced bucks 
whose knowledge of the topography is wonder- 

It is when the deer are coming down that the 
Indians set out on their grand fall hunt. Too 
lazy to go into the recesses of the mountains 
away from trails, they wait for the deer to come 
out, and then waylay them. This plan also has 
the advantage of finding them in bands. Great 
preparations are made. Old guns are mended, 
bullets moulded, and the hunters wash them- 
selves and fast to some extent, to insure good 
luck, as they say. Men and women, old and 
young, set forth together. Central camps are 
made on the well-known highways of the deer, 
which are soon red with blood. Each hunter 
comes in laden, old crones as well as maidens 
smiling on the luckiest. All grow fat and merry. 
Boys, each armed with an antlered head, play at 
buck-fighting, and plague the industrious wo- 
men, who are busily preparing the meat for 
transportation, by stealing up behind them and 
throwing fresh hides over them. But the In- 
dians are passing away here as everywhere, and 
their red camps on the mountains are fewer every 


There are panthers, foxes, badgers, porcupines, 
and coyotes in the Park, but not in large num- 
bers. I have seen coyotes well back in the range 
at the head of the Tuolutnne Meadows as early 
as June 1st, before the snow was gone, feeding 
on marmots ; but they are far more numerous 
on the inhabited lowlands around ranches, where 
they enjoy life on chickens, turkeys, quail eggs, 
ground squirrels, hares, etc., and all kinds of 
fruit. Few wild sheep, I fear, are left here- 
abouts ; for, though safe on the high peaks, they 
are driven down the eastern slope of the moun- 
tains when the deer are driven down the western, 
to ridges and outlying spurs where the snow does 
not fall to a great depth, and there they are 
within reach of the cattlemen's rifles. 

The two squirrels of the Park, the Douglas 
and the California gray, keep all the woods 
lively. The former is far more abundant and 
more widely distributed, being found all the way 
up from the foothills to the dwarf pines on the 
Summit peaks. He is the most influential of the 
Sierra animals, though small, and the brightest of 
all the squirrels I know, a squirrel of squirrels, 
quick mountain vigor and valor condensed, purely 
wild, and as free from disease as a sunbeam. 
One cannot think of such an animal ever being 
weary or sick. He claims all the woods, and is 
inclined to drive away even men as intruders. 
How he scolds, and what faces he makes ! If 


not so comically small he would be a dreadful 
fellow. The gray, Sciurus fossor, is the hand- 
somest, I think, of all the large American 
squirrels. He is something like the Eastern 
gray, but is brighter and clearer in color, and 
more lithe and slender. He dwells in the oak 
and pine woods up to a height of about five 
thousand feet above the sea, is rather common in 
Yosemite Valley, Hetch-Hetchy, Kings Kiver 
Canon, and indeed in all the main canons and 
Yosemites, but does not like the high fir-covered 
ridges. Compared with the Douglas, the gray 
is more than twice as large ; nevertheless, he 
manages to make his way through the trees with 
less stir than his small, peppery neighbor, and is 
much less influential in every way. In the 
spring, before the pine-nuts and hazel-nuts are 
ripe, he examines last year's cones for the few 
seeds that may be left in them between the half- 
open scales, and gleans fallen nuts and seeds on 
the ground among the leaves, after making sure 
that no enemy is nigh. His fine tail floats, now 
behind, now above him, level or gracefully 
curled, light and radiant as dry thistledown. 
His body seems hardly more substantial than his 
tail. The Douglas is a firm, emphatic bolt of 
life, fiery, pungent, full of brag and show and 
fight, and his movements have none of the ele- 
gant deliberation of the gray. They are so 
quick and keen they almost sting the onlooker, 


and the acrobatic harlequin gyrating show he 
makes of himself turns one giddy to see. The 
gray is shy and oftentimes stealthy, as if half ex- 
pecting to find an enemy in every tree and bush 
and behind every log ; he seems to wish to be 
let alone, and manifests no desire to be seen, or 
admired, or feared. He is hunted by the In- 
dians, and this of itself is cause enough for cau- 
tion. The Douglas is less attractive for game, 
and probably increasing in numbers in spite of 
every enemy. He goes his ways bold as a lion, 
up and down and across, round and round, the 
happiest, merriest of all the hairy tribe, and at 
the same time tremendously earnest and solemn, 
sunshine incarnate, making every tree tingle 
with his electric toes. If you prick him, you 
cannot think he will bleed. He seems above the 
chance and change that beset common mortals, 
though in busily gathering burs and nuts he 
shows that he has to work for a living, like the 
rest of us. I never found a dead Douglas. He 
gets into the world and out of it without being 
noticed ; only in prime is he seen, like some 
little plants that are visible only when in bloom. 
The little striped Tamias quadrivittatus is one 
of the most amiable and delightful of all the 
mountain tree-climbers. A brighter, cheerier 
chipmunk does not exist. He is smarter, more 
arboreal and squirrel-like, than the familiar East- 
ern species, and is distributed as widely on the 


Sierra as the Douglas. Every forest, however 
dense or open, every hilltop and canon, how- 
ever brushy or bare, is cheered and enlivened by 
this happy little animal. You are likely to notice 
him first on the lower edge of the coniferous belt, 
where the Sabine and yellow pines meet; and 
thence upward, go where you may, you will find 
him every day, even in winter, unless the weather 
is stormy. He is an exceedingly interesting 
little fellow, full of odd, quaint ways, confiding, 
thinking no evil ; and without being a squirrel 
a true shadow-tail he lives the life of a 
squirrel, and has almost all squirrelish accom- 
plishments without aggressive quarrelsomeness. 
I never weary of watching him as he frisks 
about the bushes, gathering seeds and berries; 
poising on slender twigs of wild cherry, shad, 
chinquapin, buckthorn, bramble ; skimming along 
prostrate trunks or over the grassy, needle-strewn 
forest floor ; darting from boulder to boulder on 
glacial pavements and the tops of the great 
domes. When the seeds of the conifers are ripe, 
he climbs the trees and cuts off the cones for a 
winter store, working diligently, though not with 
the tremendous lightning energy of the Douglas, 
who frequently drives him out of the best trees. 
Then he lies in wait, and picks up a share of the 
burs cut off by his domineering cousin, and stores 
them beneath logs and in hollows. Few of the 
Sierra animals are so well liked as this little airy, 


fluffy half squirrel, half spermophile. So gentle, 
confiding, and busily cheery and happy, he takes 
one's heart and keeps his place among the best- 
loved of the mountain darlings. A diligent col- 
lector of seeds, nuts, and berries, of course he is 
well fed, though never in the least dumpy with 
fat. On the contrary, he looks like a mere fluff 
of fur, weighing but little more than a field 
mouse, and of his frisky, birdlike liveliness with- 
out haste there is no end. Douglas can bark 
with his mouth closed, but little quad always 
opens his when he talks or sings. He has a 
considerable variety of notes which correspond 
with his movements, some of them sweet and 
liquid, like water dripping into a pool with tink- 
ling sound. His eyes are black and animated, 
shining like dew. He seems dearly to like teas- 
ing a dog, venturing within a few feet of it, then 
frisking away with a lively chipping and low 
squirrelish churring ; beating time to his music, 
such as it is, with his tail, which at each chip and 
churr describes a half circle. Not even Douglas 
is surer footed or takes greater risks. I have 
seen him running about on sheer Yosemite cliffs, 
holding on with as little effort as a fly and as 
little thought of danger, in places where, if he 
had made the least slip, he would have fallen 
thousands of feet. How fine it would be could 
mountaineers move about on precipices with the 
same sure grip 1 


Before the pine-nuts are ripe, grass seeds and 
those of the many species of ceanothus, with 
strawberries, raspberries, and the soft red thim- 
bleberries of Rubus nutkanus, form the bulk of 
his food, and a neater eater is not to be found 
in the mountains. Bees powdered with pollen, 
poking their blunt noses into the bells of flowers, 
are comparatively clumsy and boorish. Frisking 
along some fallen pine or fir, when the grass 
seeds are ripe, he looks about him, considering 
which of the tufts he sees is likely to have the 
best, runs out to it, selects what he thinks is sure 
to be a good head, cuts it off, carries it to the top 
of the log, sits upright and nibbles out the grain 
without getting awns in his mouth, turning 
the head round, holding it and fingering it as if 
playing on a flute ; then skips for another and 
another, bringing them to the same dining-log. 

The woodchuck (Arctomys monax) dwells 
on high bleak ridges and boulder piles; and 
a very different sort of mountaineer is he, 
bulky, fat, aldermanic, and fairly bloated at 
times by hearty indulgence in the lush pastures 
of his airy home. And yet he is by no means a 
dull animal. In the midst of what we regard as 
storm-beaten desolation, high in the frosty air, 
beside the glaciers he pipes and whistles right 
cheerily and lives to a good old age. If you are 
as early a riser as he is, you may oftentimes see 
him come blinking out of his burrow to meet the 


first beams of the morning and take a sunbath on 
some favorite flat-topped boulder. Afterward, 
well warmed, he goes to breakfast in one of his 
garden hollows, eats heartily like a cow in clover 
until comfortably swollen, then goes a-visiting, 
and plays and loves and fights. 

In the spring of 1875, when I was exploring 
the peaks and glaciers about the head of the 
middle fork of the San Joaquin, I had crossed 
the range from the head of Owen River, and one 
morning, passing around a frozen lake where 
the snow was perhaps ten feet deep, I was sur- 
prised to find the fresh track of a woodchuck 
plainly marked, the sun having softened the sur- 
face. What could the animal be thinking of, 
coming out so early while all the ground was 
snow-buried? The steady trend of his track 
showed he had a definite aim, and fortunately it 
was toward a mountain thirteen thousand feet 
high that I meant to climb. So I followed to 
see if I could find out what he was up to. From 
the base of the mountain the track pointed 
straight up, and I knew by the melting snow 
that I was not far behind him. I lost the track 
on a crumbling ridge, partly projecting through 
the snow, but soon discovered it again. Well 
toward the summit of the mountain, in an open 
spot on the south side, nearly inclosed by disin- 
tegrating pinnacles among which the sun heat 
reverberated, making an isolated patch of warm 


climate, I found a nice garden, full of rock cress, 
phlox, silene, draba, etc., and a few grasses ; and 
in this garden I overtook the wanderer, enjoy- 
ing a fine fresh meal, perhaps the first of the 
season. How did he know the way to this 
one garden spot, so high and far off, and what 
told him that it was in bloom while yet the snow 
was ten feet deep over his den ? For this it 
would seem he would need more botanical, topo- 
graphical, and climatological knowledge than 
most mountaineers are possessed of. 

The shy, curious mountain beaver, Haplo- 
don, lives on the heights, not far from the 
woodchuck. He digs canals and controls the 
flow of small streams under the sod. And it is 
startling when one is camped on the edge of a 
sloping meadow near the homes of these indus- 
trious mountaineers, to be awakened in the still 
night by the sound of water rushing and gurg- 
ling under one's head in a newly formed canal. 
Pouched gophers also have a way of awakening 
nervous campers that is quite as exciting as the 
Haplodon's pain ; that is, by a series of firm up- 
ward pushes when they are driving tunnels and 
shoving up the dirt. One naturally cries out, 
" Who 's there ? " and then discovering the 
cause, " All right. Go on. Good-night," and 
goes to sleep again. 

The haymaking pika, bob-tailed spermophile, 
and wood-rat are also among the most interest- 


ing of the Sierra animals. The last Neotoma 
is scarcely at all like the common rat, is nearly 
twice as large, has a delicate, soft, hrownish fur, 
white on the belly, large ears thin and trans- 
lucent, eyes full and liquid and mild in ex- 
pression, nose blunt and squirrelish, slender 
claws sharp as needles, and as his limbs are 
strong he can climb about as well as a squirrel ; 
while no rat or squirrel has so innocent a look, 
is so easily approached, or in general expresses 
so much confidence in one's good intentions. 
He seems too fine for the thorny thickets he in- 
habits, and his big, rough hut is as unlike him- 
self as possible. No other animal in these 
mountains makes nests so large and striking in 
appearance as his. They are built of all kinds 
of sticks (broken branches, and old rotten moss- 
grown chunks and green twigs, smooth or 
thorny, cut from the nearest bushes), mixed with 
miscellaneous rubbish and curious odds and ends, 
bits of cloddy earth, stones, bones, bits of 
deer-horn, etc. : the whole simply piled in conical 
masses on the ground in chaparral thickets. 
Some of these cabins are five or six feet high, 
and occasionally a dozen or more are grouped 
together; less, perhaps, for society's sake than 
for advantages of food and shelter. 

Coming through deep, stiff chaparral in the 
heart of the wilderness, heated and weary in 
forcing a way, the solitary explorer, happening 


into one of these curious neotoma villages, is 
startled at the strange sight, and may imagine 
he is in an Indian village, and feel anxious as to 
the reception he will get in a place so wild. At 
first, perhaps, not a single inhabitant will be 
seen, or at most only two or three seated on the 
tops of their huts as at the doors, observing 
the stranger with the mildest of mild eyes. The 
nest in the centre of the cabin is made of grass 
and films of bark chewed to tow, and lined with 
feathers and the down of various seeds. The 
thick, rough walls seem to be built for defense 
against enemies fox, coyote, etc. as well as 
for shelter, and the delicate creatures in their big, 
rude homes, suggest tender flowers, like those of 
Salvia carduacea, defended by thorny involucres. 
Sometimes the home is built in the forks of 
an oak, twenty or thirty feet from the ground, 
and even in garrets. Among housekeepers who 
have these bushmen as neighbors or guests they 
are regarded as thieves, because they carry away 
and pile together everything transportable 
(knives, forks, tin cups, spoons, spectacles, 
combs, nails, kindling-wood, etc., as well as 
eatables of all sorts), to strengthen their fortifi- 
cations or to shine among rivals. Once, far 
back in the high Sierra, they stole my snow- 
goggles, the lid of my teapot, and my aneroid 
barometer; and one stormy night, when en- 
camped under a prostrate cedar, I was awakened 


by a gritting sound on the granite, and by the 
light of my fire I discovered a handsome neo- 
toma beside me, dragging away my ice-hatchet, 
pulling with might and main by a buckskin 
string on the handle. I threw bits of bark at 
him and made a noise to frighten him, but he 
stood scolding and chattering back at me, his fine 
eyes shining with an air of injured innocence. 

A great variety of lizards enliven the warm 
portions of the Park. Some of them are more 
than a foot in length, others but little larger 
than grasshoppers. A few are snaky and re- 
pulsive at first sight, but most of the species are 
handsome and attractive, and bear acquaintance 
well; we like them better the farther we see into 
their charming lives. Small fellow mortals, gen- 
tle and guileless, they are easily tamed, and have 
beautiful eyes, expressing the clearest innocence, 
so that, in spite of prejudices brought from cool, 
lizardless countries, one must soon learn to like 
them. Even the horned toad of the plains and 
foothills, called horrid, is mild and gentle, with 
charming eyes, and so are the snakelike species 
found in the underbrush of the lower forests. 
These glide in curves with all the ease and grace 
of snakes, while their small, undeveloped limbs 
drag for the most part as useless appendages. 
One specimen that I measured was fourteen 
inches long, and as far as I saw it made no use 
whatever of its diminutive limbs. 


Most of them glint and dart on the sunny 
rocks and across open spaces from bush to bush, 
swift as dragonflies and humming-birds, and 
about as brilliantly colored. They never make 
a long-sustained run, whatever their object, but 
dart direct as arrows for a distance of ten or 
twenty feet, then suddenly stop, and as suddenly 
start again. These stops are necessary as rests, 
for they are short-winded, and when pursued 
steadily are soon run out of breath, pant piti- 
fully, and may easily be caught where no retreat 
in bush or rock is quickly available. 

If you stay with them a week or two and be- 
have well, these gentle saurians, descendants of 
an ancient race of giants, will soon know and 
trust you, come to your feet, play, and watch 
your every motion with cunning curiosity. You 
will surely learn to like them, not only the 
bright ones, gorgeous as the rainbow, but the 
little ones, gray as lichened granite, and scarcely 
bigger than grasshoppers ; and they will teach 
you that scales may cover as fine a nature as 
hair or feathers or anything tailored. 

There are many snakes in the canons and 
lower forests, but they are mostly handsome and 
harmless. Of all the tourists and travelers who 
have visited Yosemite and the adjacent moun- 
tains, not one has been bitten by a snake of any 
sort, while thousands have been charmed by 
them. Some of them vie with the lizards in 


beauty of color and dress patterns. Only the 
rattlesnake is venomous, and he carefully keeps 
his venom ta himself as far as man is concerned, 
unless his life is threatened. 

Before I learned to respect rattlesnakes I 
killed two, the first on the San Joaquin plain. 
He was coiled comfortably around a tuft of 
bunch-grass, and I discovered him when he was 
between my feet as I was stepping over him. 
He held his head down and did not attempt to 
strike, although in danger of being trampled. 
At that time, thirty years ago, I imagined that 
rattlesnakes should be killed wherever found. I 
had no weapon of any sort, and on the smooth 
plain there was not a stick or a stone within 
miles ; so I crushed him by jumping on him, as 
the deer are said to do. Looking me in the 
face he saw I meant mischief, and quickly cast 
himself into a coil, ready to strike in defense. 
I knew he could not strike when traveling, 
therefore I threw handfuls of dirt and grass 
sods at him, to tease him out of coil. He held 
his ground a few minutes, threatening and strik- 
ing, and then started off to get rid of me. I 
ran forward and jumped on him ; but he drew 
back his head so quickly my heel missed, and 
he also missed his stroke at me. Persecuted, 
tormented, again and again he tried to get away, 
bravely striking out to protect himself ; but at 
last my heel came squarely down, sorely wound- 


ing him, and a few more brutal stampings 
crushed him. I felt degraded by the killing 
business, farther from heaven, and I made up 
my mind to try to be at least as fair and chari- 
table as the snakes themselves, and to kill no 
more save in self-defense. 

The second killing might also, I think, have 
been avoided, and I have always felt somewhat 
sore and guilty about it. I had built a little 
cabin in Yosemite, and for convenience in get- 
ting water, and for the sake of music and so- 
ciety, I led a small stream from Yosemite Creek 
into it. Running along the side of the wall it 
was not in the way, and it had just fall enough 
to ripple and sing in low, sweet tones, making 
delightful company, especially at night when I 
was lying awake. Then a few frogs came in 
and made merry with the stream, and one 
snake, I suppose to' catch the frogs. 

Returning from my long walks, I usually 
brought home a large handful of plants, partly 
for study, partly for ornament, and set them in 
a corner of the cabin, with their stems in the 
stream to keep them fresh. One day, when I 
picked up a handful that had begun to fade, I 
uncovered a large coiled rattler that had been 
hiding behind the flowers. Thus suddenly 
brought to light face to face with the rightful 
owner of the place, the poor reptile was desper- 
ately embarrassed, evidently realizing that he 


had no right in the cabin. It was not only fear 
that he showed, but a good deal of downright 
bashfulness and embarrassment, like that of a 
more than half honest person caught under sus- 
picious circumstances behind a door. Instead 
of striking or threatening to strike, though 
coiled and ready, he slowly drew his head down 
as far as he could, with awkward, confused kinks 
in his neck and a shamefaced expression, as if 
wishing the ground would open and hide him. 
I have looked into the eyes of so many wild 
animals that I feel sure I did not mistake the 
feelings of this unfortunate snake. I did not 
want to kill him, but I had many visitors, some 
of them children, and I oftentimes came in late 
at night ; so I judged he must die. 

Since then I have seen perhaps a hundred or 
more in these mountains, but I have never in- 
tentionally disturbed them, nor have they dis- 
turbed me to any great extent, even by accident, 
though in danger of being stepped on. Once, 
while I was on my knees kindling a fire, one 
glided under the arch made by my arm. He 
was only going away from the ground I had se- 
lected for a camp, and there was not the slight- 
est danger, because I kept still and allowed him 
to go in peace. The only time I felt myself in 
serious danger was when I was coming out of 
the Tuolumne Canon by a steep side canon to- 
ward the head of Yosemite Creek. On an 


earthquake talus, a boulder in my way presented 
a front so high that I could just reach the upper 
edge of it while standing on the next below it. 
Drawing myself up, as soon as my head was 
above the flat top of it I caught sight of a coiled 
rattler. My hands had alarmed him, and he 
was ready for me ; but even with this provoca- 
tion, and when my head came in sight within a 
foot of him, he did not strike. The last time I 
sauntered through the big canon I saw about 
two a day. One was not coiled, but neatly 
folded in a narrow space between two cobble- 
stones on the side of the river, his head below 
the level of them, ready to shoot up like a Jack- 
in-the-box for frogs or birds. My foot spanned 
the space above within an inch or two of his 
head, but he only held it lower. In making my 
way through a particularly tedious tangle of 
buckthorn, I parted the branches on the side of 
an open spot and threw my bundle of bread into 
it ; and when, with my arms free, I was pushing 
through after it, I saw a small rattlesnake drag- 
ging his tail from beneath my bundle. When 
he caught sight of me he eyed me angrily, and 
with an air of righteous indignation seemed to 
be asking why I had thrown that stuff on him. 
He was so small that I was inclined to slight 
him, but he struck out so angrily that I drew 
back, and approached the opening from the 
other side. But he had been listening, and 


when I looked through the brush I found him 
confronting me, still with a come-in-if-you-dare 
expression. In vain I tried to explain that I 
only wanted my bread ; he stoutly held the 
ground in front of it ; so I went back a dozen 
rods and kept still for half an hour, and when I 
returned he had gone. 

One evening, near sundown, in a very rough, 
boulder-choked portion of the canon, I searched 
long for a level spot for a bed, and at last was 
glad to find a patch of flood-sand on the river- 
bank, and a lot of driftwood close by for a camp- 
fire. But when I threw down my bundle, I 
found two snakes in possession of the ground. 
I might have passed the night even in this snake 
den without danger, for I never knew a single 
instance of their coming into camp in the night ; 
but fearing that, in so small a space, some late 
comers, not aware of my presence, might get 
stepped on when I was replenishing the fire, to 
avoid possible crowding I encamped on one of 
the earthquake boulders. 

There are two species of Crotalus in the Park, 
and when I was exploring the basin of Yosemite 
Creek I thought I had discovered a new one. I 
saw a snake with curious divided appendages on 
its head. Going nearer, I found that the strange 
headgear was only the feet of a frog. Cutting 
a switch, I struck the snake lightly until he dis- 
gorged the poor frog, or rather allowed it to 


back out. On its return to the light from one 
of the very darkest of death valleys, it blinked a 
moment with a sort of dazed look, then plunged 
into a stream, apparently happy and well. 

Frogs abound in all the bogs, marshes, pools, 
and lakes, however cold and high and isolated. 
How did they manage to get up these high 
mountains ? Surely not by jumping. Long and 
dry excursions through weary miles of boulders 
and brush would be trying to frogs. Most likely 
their stringy spawn is carried on the feet of ducks, 
cranes, and other waterbirds. Anyhow, they are 
most thoroughly distributed, and flourish fa- 
mously. What a cheery, hearty set they are, 
and how bravely their krink and tronk concerts 
enliven the rocky wilderness ! 

None of the high-lying mountain lakes or 
branches of the rivers above sheer falls had fish 
of any sort until stocked by the agency of man. 
In the high Sierra, the only river in which trout 
exist naturally is the middle fork of Kings River. 
There are no sheer falls on this stream ; some of 
the rapids, however, are so swift and rough, even 
at the lowest stage of water, that it is surprising 
any fish can climb them. I found trout in 
abundance in this fork up to seventy-five hundred 
feet. They also run quite high on the Kern. 
On the Merced they get no higher than Yosemite 
Valley, four thousand feet, all the forks of the 
river being barred there by sheer falls, and on 


the main Tuolumne they are stopped by a fall 
below Hetch-Hetchy, still lower than Yosemite. 
Though these upper waters are inaccessible to 
the fish, one would suppose their eggs might 
have been planted there by some means. Nature 
has so many ways of doing such things. In this 
case she waited for the agency of man, and now 
many of these hitherto fishless lakes and streams 
are full of fine trout, stocked by individual enter- 
prise, Walton clubs, etc., in great part under the 
auspices of the United States Fish Commission. 
A few trout carried into Hetch-Hetchy in a com- 
mon water-bucket have multiplied wonderfully 
fast. Lake Tenaya, at an elevation of over eight 
thousand feet, was stocked eight years ago by 
Mr. Murphy, who carried a few trout from Yo- 
semite. Many of the small streams of the east- 
ern slope have also been stocked with trout trans- 
ported over the passes in tin cans on the backs 
of mules. Soon, it would seem, all the streams 
of the range will be enriched by these lively fish, 
and will become the means of drawing thousands 
of visitors into the mountains. Catching trout 
with a bit of bent wire is a rather trivial business, 
but fortunately people fish better than they know. 
In most cases it is the man who is caught. 
Trout-fishing regarded as bait for catching men, 
for the saving of both body and soul, is impor- 
tant, and deserves all the expense and care be- 
stowed on it. 



TRAVELERS in the Sierra forests usually com- 
plain of the want of life. " The trees/' they 
say, " are fine, but the empty stillness is deadly ; 
there are no animals to be seen, no birds. We 
have not heard a song in all the woods." And 
no wonder ! They go in large parties with mules 
and horses ; they make a great noise ; they are 
dressed in outlandish, unnatural colors ; every 
animal shuns them. Even the frightened pines 
would run away if they could. But Nature- 
lovers, devout, silent, open-eyed, looking and lis- 
tening with love, find no lack of inhabitants in 
these mountain mansions, and they come to them 
gladly. Not to mention the large animals or the 
small insect people, every waterfall has its ouzel 
and every tree its squirrel or tamias or bird : 
tiny nuthatch threading the furrows of the bark, 
cheerily whispering to itself as it deftly pries off 
loose scales and examines the curled edges of 
lichens; or Clarke crow or jay examining the 
cones ; or some singer oriole, tanager, warbler 
- resting, feeding, attending to domestic affairs. 


Hawks and eagles sail overhead, grouse walk in 
happy flocks below, and song sparrows sing in 
every bed of chaparral. There is no crowding, 
to be sure. Unlike the low Eastern trees, those 
of the Sierra in the main forest belt average nearly 
two hundred feet in height, and of course many 
birds are required to make much show in them, 
and many voices to fill them. Nevertheless, the 
whole range, from foothills to snowy summits, is 
shaken into song every summer ; and though low 
and thin in winter, the music never ceases. 

The sage cock (Centrocercus urophasianus) 
is the largest of the Sierra game-birds and the 
king of American grouse. It is an admirably 
strong, hardy, handsome, independent bird, able 
with comfort to bid defiance to heat, cold, 
drought, hunger, and all sorts of storms, living 
on whatever seeds or insects chance to come in 
its way, or simply on the leaves of sage-brush, 
everywhere abundant on its desert range. In 
winter, when the temperature is oftentimes below 
zero, and heavy snowstorms are blowing, he sits 
beneath a sage bush and allows himself to be 
covered, poking his head now and then through 
the snow to feed on the leaves of his shelter. 
Not even the Arctic ptarmigan is hardier in brav- 
ing frost and snow and wintry darkness. When 
in full plumage he is a beautiful bird, with a 
long, firm, sharp-pointed tail, which in walking 
is slightly raised and swings sidewise back and 


forth with each step. The male is handsomely 
marked with black and white on the neck, back, 
and wings, weighs five or six pounds, and mea- 
sures about thirty inches in length. The female 
is clad mostly in plain brown, and is not so large. 
They occasionally wander from the sage plains 
into the open nut-pine and juniper woods, but 
never enter the main coniferous forest. It is 
only in the broad, dry, half-desert sage plains 
that they are quite at home, where the weather 
is blazing hot in summer, cold in winter. If any 
one passes through a flock, all squat on the gray 
ground and hold their heads low, hoping to es- 
cape observation ; but when approached within 
a rod or so, they rise with a magnificent burst of 
wing-beats, looking about as big as turkeys and 
making a noise like a whirlwind. 

On the 28th of June, at the head of Owen's 
Valley, I caught one of the young that was then 
just able to fly. It was seven inches long, of a 
uniform gray color, blunt-billed, and when cap- 
tured cried lustily in a shrill piping voice, clear 
in tone as a boy's small willow whistle. I have 
seen flocks of from ten to thirty or forty on the 
east margin of the Park, where the Mono Desert 
meets the gray foothills of the Sierra ; but since 
cattle have been pastured there they are becom- 
ing rarer every year. 

, Another magnificent bird, the blue or dusky 
grouse, next in size to the sage cock, is found all 


through the main forest belt, though not in great 
numbers. They like best the heaviest silver-fir 
woods near garden and meadow openings, where 
there is but little underbrush to cover the ap- 
proach of enemies. When a flock of these brave 
birds, sauntering and feeding on the sunny, flow- 
ery levels of some hidden meadow or Yosemite 
valley far back in the heart of the mountains, 
see a man for the first time in their lives, they 
rise with hurried notes of surprise and excitement 
and alight on the lowest branches of the trees, 
wondering what the wanderer may be, and show- 
ing great eagerness to get a good view of the 
strange vertical animal. Knowing nothing of 
guns, they allow you to approach within a half 
dozen paces, then quietly hop a few branches 
higher or fly to the next tree without a thought 
of concealment, so that you may observe them as 
long as you like, near enough to see the fine 
shading of their plumage, the feathers on their 
toes, and the innocent wonderment in their beau- 
tiful wild eyes. But in the neighborhood of 
roads and trails they soon become shy, and when 
disturbed fly into the highest, leafiest trees, and 
suddenly become invisible, so well do they know 
how to hide and keep still and make use of their 
protective coloring. Nor can they be easily dis- 
lodged ere they are ready to go. In vain the 
hunter goes round and round some tall pine or 
fir into which he has perhaps seen a dozen enter. 


gazing up through the branches, straining his 
eyes while his gun is held ready ; not a feather 
can he see unless his eyes have been sharpened 
by long experience and knowledge of the blue 
grouse's habits. Then, perhaps, when he is 
thinking that the tree must be hollow and that 
the birds have all gone inside, they burst forth 
with a startling whir of wing-beats, and after 
gaining full speed go skating swiftly away 
through the forest arches in a long, silent, wav- 
ering slide, with wings held steady. 

During the summer they are most of the time 
on the ground, feeding on insects, seeds, berries, 
etc., around the margins of open spots and rocky 
moraines, playing and sauntering, taking sun 
baths and sand baths, and drinking at little pools 
and rills during the heat of the day. In winter 
they live mostly in the trees, depending on buds 
for food, sheltering beneath dense overlapping 
branches at night and during storms on the lee- 
side of the trunk, sunning themselves on the 
southside limbs in fine weather, and sometimes 
diving into the mealy snow to flutter and wallow, 
apparently for exercise and fun. 

I have seen young broods running beneath the 
firs in June at a height of eight thousand feet 
above the sea. On the approach of danger, the 
mother with a peculiar cry warns the helpless 
midgets to scatter and hide beneath leaves and 
twigs, and even in plain open places it is almost 


impossible to discover them. In the meantime 
the mother feigns lameness, throws herself at 
your feet, kicks and gasps and flutters, to draw 
your attention from the chicks. The young are 
generally able to fly about the middle of July ; 
but even after they can fly well they are usually 
advised to run and hide and lie still, no matter 
how closely approached, while the mother goes 
on with her loving, lying acting, apparently as 
desperately concerned for their safety as when 
they were featherless infants. Sometimes, how- 
ever, after carefully studying the circumstances, 
she tells them to take wing ; and up and away 
in a blurry birr and whir they scatter to all points 
of the compass, as if blown up with gunpowder, 
dropping cunningly out of sight three or four 
hundred yards off, and keeping quiet until called, 
after the danger is supposed to be past. If you 
walk on a little way without manifesting any in- 
clination to hunt them, you may sit down at the 
foot of a tree near enough to see and hear the 
happy reunion. One touch of nature makes the 
whole world kin ; and it is truly wonderful how 
love-telling the small voices of these birds are, 
and how far they reach through the woods into 
one another's hearts and into ours. The tones 
are so perfectly human and so full of anxious 
affection, few mountaineers can fail to be touched 
by them. 

They are cared for until full grown. On the 



20th of August, as I was passing along the mar- 
gin of a garden spot on the head-waters of the 
San Joaquin, a grouse rose from the ruins of an 
old juniper that had been uprooted and brought 
down by an avalanche from a cliff overhead. 
She threw herself at my feet, limped and flut- 
tered and gasped, showing, as I thought, that 
she had a nest and was raising a second brood. 
Looking for the eggs, I was surprised to see a 
strong-winged flock nearly as large as the mo- 
ther fly up around me. 

Instead of seeking a warmer climate when the 
winter storms set in, these hardy birds stay all 
the year in the high Sierra forests, and I have 
never known them to suffer in any sort of wea- 
ther. Able to live on the buds of pine, spruce, 
and fir, they are forever independent in the 
matter of food supply, which gives so many of 
us trouble, dragging us here and there away 
from our best work. How gladly I would live 
on pine buds, however pitchy, for the sake of 
this grand independence! With all his superior 
resources, man makes more distracting difficulty 
concerning food than any other of the family. 

The mountain quail, or plumed partridge ( Ore- 
ortyx pictus plumiferus) is common in all the 
upper portions of the Park, though nowhere in 
numbers. He ranges considerably higher than 
the grouse in summer, but is unable to endure 
the heavy storms of winter. When his food is 


buried, he descends the range to the brushy 
foothills, at a height of from two thousand to 
three thousand feet above the sea; but like 
every true mountaineer, he is quick to follow 
the spring back into the highest mountains. I 
think he is the very handsomest and most inter- 
esting of all the American partridges, larger and 
handsomer than the famous Bob White, or even 
the fine California valley quail, or the Massena 
partridge of Arizona and Mexico. That he is 
not so regarded, is because as a lonely moun- 
taineer he is not half known. 

His plumage is delicately shaded, brown 
above, white and rich chestnut below and on the 
sides, with many dainty markings of black and 
white and gray here and there/while his beauti- 
ful head plume, three or four Inches long, nearly 
straight, composed of two feathers closely folded 
so as to appear as one, is worn jauntily slanted 
backward like a single feather in a boy's cap, 
giving him a very marked appearance. They 
wander over the lonely mountains in family 
flocks of from six to fifteen, beneath ceanothus, 
manzanita, and wild cherry thickets, and over 
dry sandy flats, glacier meadows, rocky ridges, 
and beds of Bryanthus around glacier lakes, 
especially in autumn, when the berries of the 
upper gardens are ripe, uttering low clucking 
notes to enable them to keep together. When 
they are so suddenly disturbed that they are 


afraid they cannot escape the danger by running 
into thickets, they rise with a fine hearty whir 
and scatter in the brush over an area of half a 
square mile or so, a few of them diving into 
leafy trees; But as soon as the danger is past, 
the parents with a clear piping note call them 
together again. By the end of July the young 
are two thirds grown and fly well, though only 
dire necessity can compel them to try their 
wings. In gait, gestures, habits, and general 
behavior they are like domestic chickens, but in- 
finitely finer, searching for insects and seeds, 
looking to this side and that, scratching among 
fallen leaves, jumping up to pull down grass 
heads, and clucking and muttering in low tones. 
Once when I was seated at the foot of a tree 
on the head-waters of the Merced, sketching, I 
heard a flock up the valley behind me, and by 
their voices gradually sounding nearer I knew 
that they were feeding toward me. I kept still, 
hoping to see them. Soon one came within 
three or four feet of me, without noticing me 
any more than if I were a stump or a bulging 
part of the trunk against which I was leaning, 
my clothing being brown, nearly like the bark. 
Presently along came another and another, and 
it was delightful to get so near a view of these 
handsome chickens perfectly undisturbed, ob- 
serve their manners, and hear their low peace- 
ful notes. At last one of them caught my eye, 


gazed in silent wonder for a moment, then ut- 
tered a peculiar cry, which was followed by a lot 
of hurried muttered notes that sounded like 
speech. The others, of course, saw me as soon 
as the alarm was sounded, and joined the won- 
der talk, gazing and chattering, astonished but 
not frightened. Then all with one accord ran 
back with the news to the rest of the flock. 
" What is it ? what is it ? Oh, you never saw 
the like," they seemed to be saying. " Not a 
deer, or a wolf, or a bear ; come see, come see." 
"Where? where?" "Down there by that 
tree." Then they approached cautiously, past 
the tree, stretching their necks, and looking up 
in turn as if knowing from the story told them 
just where I was. For fifteen or twenty minutes 
they kept coming and going, venturing within 
a few feet of me, and discussing the wonder in 
charming chatter. Their curiosity at last satis- 
fied, they began to scatter and feed again, going 
back in the direction they had come from; 
while I, loath to part with them, followed noise- 
lessly, crawling beneath the bushes, keeping 
them in sight for an hour or two, learning their 
habits, and finding out what seeds and berries 
they liked best. 

The valley quail is not a mountaineer, and 
seldom enters the Park except at a few of the 
lowest places on the western boundary. It be- 
longs to the brushy foothills and plains, orchards 


and wheatfields, and is a hundred times more 
numerous than the mountain quail. It is a 
beautiful bird, about the size of the Bob White, 
and has a handsome crest of four or five feathers 
an inch long, recurved, standing nearly erect at 
times or drooping forward. The loud calls of 
these quails in the spring Pe-check-ah, Pe- 
check-a, Hoy, Hoy are heard far and near over 
all the lowlands. They have vastly increased 
in numbers since the settlement of the country, 
notwithstanding the immense numbers killed 
every season by boys and pot-hunters as well as 
the regular leggined sportsmen from the towns ; 
for man's destructive action is more than coun- 
terbalanced by increased supply of food from 
cultivation, and by the destruction of their ene- 
mies coyotes, skunks, foxes, hawks, owls, etc. 
which not only kill the old birds, but plunder 
their nests. Where coyotes and skunks abound, 
scarce one pair in a hundred is successful in 
raising a brood. So well aware are these birds 
of the protection afforded by man, even now 
that the number of their wild enemies has been 
greatly diminished, that they prefer to nest near 
houses, notwithstanding they are so shy. Four 
or five pairs rear their young around our cottage 
every spring. One year a pair nested in a straw 
pile within four or five feet of the stable door, 
and did not leave the eggs when the men led the 
horses back and forth within a foot or two. For 


many seasons a pair nested in a tuft of pampas 
grass in the garden ; another pair in an ivy vine 
on the cottage roof, and when the young were 
hatched, it was interesting to see the parents get- 
ting the fluffy dots down. They were greatly 
excited, and their anxious calls and directions to 
their many babes attracted our attention. They 
had no great difficulty in persuading the young 
birds to pitch themselves from the main roof to 
the porch roof among the ivy, but to get them 
safely down from the latter to the ground, a 
distance of ten feet, was most distressing. It 
seemed impossible the frail soft things could avoid 
being killed. The anxious parents led them to 
a point above a spiraea bush, that reached nearly 
to the eaves, which they seemed to know would 
break the fall. Anyhow they led their chicks 
to this point, and with infinite coaxing and en- 
couragement got them to tumble themselves off. 
Down they rolled and sifted through the soft 
leaves and panicles to the pavement, and, strange 
to say, all got away unhurt except one that lay 
as if dead for a few minutes. When it re- 
vived, the joyful parents, with their brood fairly 
launched on the journey of life, proudly led 
them down the cottage hill, through the gar- 
den, and along an osage orange hedge into the 
cherry orchard. These charming birds even en- 
ter towns and villages, where the gardens are 
of good size and guns are forbidden, sometimes 


going several miles to feed, and returning every 
evening to their roosts in ivy or brushy trees 
and shrubs. 

Geese occasionally visit the Park, but never 
stay long. Sometimes on their way across the 
range, a flock wanders into Hetch-Hetchy or 
Yosemite to rest or get something to eat, and 
if shot at, are often sorely bewildered in seek- 
ing a way out. I have seen them rise from the 
meadow or river, wheel round in a spiral until a 
height of four or five hundred feet was reached, 
then form ranks and try to fly over the wall. 
But Yosemite magnitudes seem to be as deceptive 
to geese as to men, for they would suddenly find 
themselves against the cliffs not a fourth of the 
way to the top. Then turning in confusion, and 
screaming at the strange heights, they would try 
the opposite side, and so on until exhausted they 
were compelled to rest, and only after discover- 
ing the river canon could they make their escape. 
Large, harrow-shaped flocks may often be seen 
crossing the range in the spring, at a height of 
at least fourteen thousand feet. Think of the 
strength of wing required to sustain so heavy a 
bird in air so thin. At this elevation it is but 
little over half as dense as at the sea level. Yet 
they hold bravely on in beautifully dressed 
ranks, and have breath enough to spare for 
loud honking. After the crest of the Sierra is 
passed it is only a smooth slide down the sky to 


the waters of Mono, where they may rest as long 
as they like. 

Ducks of five or six species, among which are 
the mallard and wood duck, go far up into the 
heart of the mountains in the spring, and of 
course come down in the fall with the families 
they have reared. A few, as if loath to leave 
the mountains, pass the winter in the lower val- 
leys of the Park at a height of three thousand to 
four thousand feet, where the main streams are 
never wholly frozen over, and snow never falls to 
a great depth or lies long. In summer they are 
found up to a height of eleven thousand feet on 
all the lakes and branches of the rivers except 
the smallest, and those beside the glaciers in cum- 
bered with drifting ice and snow. I found mal- 
lards and wood ducks at Lake Tenaya, June 1, 
before the ice-covering was half melted, and a 
flock of young ones in Bloody Canon Lake, June 
20. They are usually met in pairs, never in large 
flocks. No place is too wild or rocky or solitary 
for these brave swimmers, no stream too rapid. 
In the roaring, resounding canon torrents, they 
seem as much at home as in the tranquil reaches 
and lakes of the broad glacial valleys. Aban- 
doning themselves to the wild play of the waters, 
they go drifting confidingly through blinding, 
thrashing spray, dancing on boulder-dashed 
waves, tossing in beautiful security on rougher 
water than is usually encountered by sea birds 
when storms are blowing. 


A mother duck with her family of ten little 
ones, waltzing round and round in a pot-hole 
ornamented with foam bells, huge rocks leaning 
over them, cascades above and below and beside 
them, made one of the most interesting bird 
pictures I ever saw. 

I have never found the great northern diver 
in the Park lakes. Most of them are inaccessible 
to him. He might plump down into them, but 
would hardly be able to get out of them, since, 
with his small wings and heavy body, a wide ex- 
panse of elbow room is required in rising. Now 
and then one may be seen in the lower Sierra 
lakes to the northward about Lassens Butte and 
Shasta, at a height of four thousand to five thou- 
sand feet, making the loneliest places lonelier 
with the wildest of wild cries. 

Plovers are found along the sandy shores of 
nearly all the mountain lakes, tripping daintily 
on the water's edge, picking up insects ; and it is 
interesting to learn how few of these familiar 
birds are required to make a solitude cheerful. 

Sandhill cranes are sometimes found in corn 
paratively small marshes, mere dots in the 
mighty forest. In such spots, at an elevation of 
from six thousand to eight thousand feet above 
the sea, they are occasionally met in pairs as 
early as the end of May, while the snow is still 
deep in the surrounding fir and sugar-pine 
woods. And on sunny days in autumn, large 


flocks may be seen sailing at a great height 
above the forests, shaking the crisp air into roll- 
ing waves with their hearty koor-r-r, koor-r-r, 
uck-uck, soaring in circles for hours together on 
their majestic wings, seeming to float without 
effort like clouds, eying the wrinkled landscape 
outspread like a map mottled with lakes and gla- 
ciers and meadows and streaked with shadowy 
canons and streams, and surveying every frog 
marsh and sandy flat within a hundred miles. 

Eagles and hawks are oftentimes seen above the 
ridges and domes. The greatest height at which 
I have observed them was about twelve thousand 
feet, over the summits of Mount Hoffman, in 
the middle region of the Park. A few pairs 
had their nests on the cliffs of this mountain, 
and could be seen every day in summer, hunting 
marmots, mountain beavers, pikas, etc. A pair 
of golden eagles have made their home in Yo- 
semite ever since I went there thirty years ago. 
Their nest is on the Nevada Fall Cliff, opposite 
the Liberty Cap. Their screams are rather 
pleasant to hear in the vast gulfs between the 
granite cliffs, and they help the owls in keeping 
the echoes busy. 

But of all the birds of the high Sierra, the 
strangest, noisiest, and most notable is the Clarke 
crow (Nucifraga columbiand). He is a foot 
long and nearly two feet in extent of wing, ashy 
gray in general color, with black wings, white 


tail, and a strong, sharp bill, with which he digs 
into the pine cones for the seeds on which he 
mainly subsists. He is quick, boisterous, jerky, 
and irregular in his movements and speech, 
and makes a tremendously loud and showy ad- 
vertisement of himself, swooping and diving 
in deep curves across gorges and valleys from 
ridge to ridge, alighting on dead spars, looking 
warily about him, and leaving his dry springy 
perches, trembling from the vigor of his kick as 
he launches himself for a new flight, screaming 
from time to time loud enough to be heard more 
than a mile in still weather. \ He dwells far back 
on the high stormbeaten margin of the forest, 
where the mountain pine, juniper, and hemlock 
grow wide apart on glacier pavements and domes 
and rough crumbling ridges, and the dwarf pine 
makes a low crinkled growth along the flanks 
of the Summit peaks. In so open a region, of 
course, he is well seen. Everybody notices him, 
and nobody at first knows what to make of him. 
One guesses he must be a woodpecker; another a 
crow or some sort of jay, another a magpie. He 
seems to be a pretty thoroughly mixed and fer- 
mented compound of all these birds, has all their 
strength, cunning, shyness, thievishness, and 
wary, suspicious curiosity combined and con- 
densed. He flies like a woodpecker, hammers 
dead limbs for insects, digs big holes in pine 
cones to get at the seeds, cracks nuts held be- 


tween his toes, cries like a crow or Stellar jay, 
but in a far louder, harsher, and more forbidding 
tone of voice, and besides his crow caws and 
screams, has a great variety of small chatter talk, 
mostly uttered in a fault-finding tone. Like the 
magpie, he steals articles that can be of no use to 
him. Once when I made my camp in a grove 
at Cathedral Lake, I chanced to leave a cake of 
soap on the shore where I had been washing, and 
a few minutes afterward I saw my soap flying 
past me through the grove, pushed by a Clarke 

In winter, when the snow is deep, the cones of 
the mountain pines are empty, and the juniper, 
hemlock, and dwarf pine orchard buried, he comes 
down to glean seeds in the yellow pine forests, 
startling the grouse with his loud screams. But 
even in winter, in calm weather, he stays in his 
high mountain home, defying the bitter frost. 
Once I lay snowbound through a three days' 
storm at the timber-line on Mount Shasta ; and 
while the roaring snow-laden blast swept by, one 
of these brave birds came to my camp, and began 
hammering at the cones on the topmost branches 
of half-buried pines, without showing the slight- 
est distress. I have seen Clarke crows feeding 
their young as early as June 19, at a height of 
more than ten thousand feet, when nearly the 
whole landscape was snow-covered. 

They are excessively shy, and keep away from 


the traveler as long as they think they are ob- 
served ; but when one goes on without seeming 
to notice them, or sits down and keeps still, their 
curiosity speedily gets the better of their cau- 
tion, and they come flying from tree to tree, 
nearer and nearer, and watch every motion. Few, 
I am afraid, will ever learn to like this bird, he is 
so suspicious and self-reliant, and his voice is so 
harsh that to most ears the scream of the eagle 
will seem melodious compared with it. Yet the 
mountaineer who has battled and suffered and 
struggled must admire his strength and endur- 
ance, the way he faces the mountain weather, 
cleaves the icy blasts, cares for his young, and 
digs a living from the stern wilderness. 

Higher yet than Nucifraga dwells the little 
dun-headed sparrow (Leucosticte tephrocotis). 
From early spring to late autumn he is to be 
found only on the snowy, icy peaks at the head 
of the glacier cirques and canons. His feeding 
grounds in spring are the snow sheets between 
the peaks, and in midsummer and autumn the 
glaciers. Many bold insects go mountaineering 
almost as soon as they are born, ascending the 
highest summits on the mild breezes that blow 
in from the sea every day during steady weather ; 
but comparatively few of these adventurers find 
their way down or see a flower bed again. Get- 
ting tired and chilly, they alight on the snow 
field? and glaciers, attracted perhaps by the 


glare, take cold, and die. There they lie as if 
on a white cloth purposely outspread for them, 
and the dun sparrows find them a rich and varied 
repast requiring no pursuit, bees and butter- 
flies on ice, and many spicy beetles, a perpetual 
feast, on tables big for guests so small, and in 
vast banqueting halls ventilated by cool breezes 
that ruffle the feathers of the fairy brownies. 
Happy fellows, no rivals come to dispute posses- 
sion with them. No other birds, not even hawks, 
as far as I have noticed, live so high. They 
see people so seldom, they flutter around the ex- 
plorer with the liveliest curiosity, and come down 
a little way, sometimes nearly a mile, to meet him 
and conduct him into their icy homes. 

When I was exploring the Merced group, 
climbing up the grand canon between the Merced 
and Red mountains into the fountain amphi- 
theatre of an ancient glacier, just as I was ap- 
proaching the small active glacier that leans back 
in the shadow of Merced Mountain, a flock of 
twenty or thirty of these little birds, the first I 
had seen, came down the canon to meet me, fly- 
ing low, straight toward me as if they meant to 
fly in my face. Instead of attacking me or pass- 
ing by, they circled round my head, chirping 
and fluttering for a minute or two, then turned 
and escorted me up the canon, alighting on the 
nearest rocks on either hand, and flying ahead a 
few yards at a time to keep even with me. 


I have not discovered their winter quarters. 
Probably they are in the desert ranges to the 
eastward, for I never saw any of them in Yo- 
semite, the winter refuge of so many of the 
mountain birds. 

Humming-birds are among the best and most 
conspicuous of the mountaineers, flashing their 
ruby throats in countless wild gardens far up 
the higher slopes, where they would be least 
expected. All one has to do to enjoy the com- 
pany of these mountain-loving midgets is to dis- 
play a showy blanket or handkerchief. 

The arctic bluebird is another delightful moun- 
taineer, singing a wild, cheery song and " carry- 
ing the sky on his back " over all the gray ridges 
and domes of the subalpine region. 

A fine, hearty, good-natured lot of woodpeck- 
ers dwell in the Park, and keep it lively all the 
year round. Among the most notable of these 
are the magnificent log cock (Ceophlceus pilea-- 
tus\ the prince of Sierra woodpeckers, and only 
second in rank, as far as I know, of all the wood- 
peckers of the world ; the Lewis woodpecker, 
large, black, glossy, that flaps and flies like a 
crow, does but little hammering, and feeds in 
great part on wild cherries and berries ; and the 
carpenter, who stores up great quantities of 
acorns in the bark of trees for winter use. The 
last-named species is a beautiful bird, and far 
more common than the others. In the woods 


of the West he represents the Eastern red-head. 
Bright, cheerful, industrious, not in the least shy, 
the carpenters give delightful animation to the 
open Sierra forests at a height of from three 
thousand to fifty-five hundred feet, especially in 
autumn, when the acorns are ripe. Then no 
squirrel works harder at his pine-nut harvest 
than these woodpeckers at their acorn harvest, 
drilling holes in the thick, corky bark of the 
yellow pine and incense cedar, in which to store 
the crop for winter use, a hole for each acorn, 
so nicely adjusted as to size that when the 
acorn, point foremost, is driven in, it fits so 
well that it cannot be drawn out without dig- 
.ging around it. Each acorn is thus carefully 
stored in a dry bin, perfectly protected from the 
weather, a most laborious method of stowing 
away a crop, a granary for each kernel. Yet 
the birds seem never to weary at the work, but 
go on so diligently that they seem determined to 
save every acorn in the grove. They are never 
seen eating acorns at the time they are storing 
them, and it is commonly believed that they 
never eat them or intend to eat them, but that 
the wise birds store them and protect them from 
the depredations of squirrels and jays, solely for 
the sake of the worms they are supposed to con- 
tain. And because these worms are too small 
for use at the time the acorns drop, they are 
shut up like lean calves and steers, each in a 


separate stall with abundance of food, to grow 
big and fat by the time they will be most wanted, 
that is, in winter, when insects are scarce and 
stall-fed worms most valuable. So these wood- 
peckers are supposed to be a sort of cattle-raisers, 
each with a drove of thousands, rivaling the ants 
that raise grain and keep herds of plant lice 
for milk cows. Needless to say the story is 
not true, though some naturalists, even, believe 
it. When Emerson was in the Park, having 
heard the worm story and seen the great pines 
plugged full of acorns, he asked (just to pump 
me, I suppose), " Why do the woodpeckers take 
the trouble to put acorns into the bark of the 
trees ? " " For the same reason," I replied, 
" that bees store honey and squirrels nuts." 
" But they tell me, Mr. Muir, that woodpeckers 
don't eat acorns." " Yes, they do," I said, " I 
have seen them eating them. During snow- 
storms they seem to eat little besides acorns. I 
have repeatedly interrupted them at their meals, 
and seen the perfectly sound, half-eaten acorns. 
They eat them in the shell as some people eat 
eggs." "But what about the worms?" "I 
suppose," I said, " that when they come to a 
wormy one they eat both worm and acorn. 
Anyhow, they eat the sound ones when they 
can't find anything they like better, and from 
the time they store them until they are used they 
guard them, and woe to the squirrel or jay 


caught stealing." Indians, in times of scarcity, 
frequently resort to these stores and chop them 
out with hatchets; a bushel or more may be 
gathered from a single cedar or pine. 

The common robin, with all his familiar notes 
and gestures, is found nearly everywhere through- 
out the Park, in shady dells beneath dogwoods 
and maples, along the flowery banks of the 
streams, tripping daintily about the margins of 
meadows in the fir and pine woods, and far be- 
yond on the shores of glacier lakes and the 
slopes of the peaks. How admirable the consti- 
tution and temper of this cheery, graceful bird, 
keeping glad health over so vast and varied a 
range. In all America he is at home, flying 
from plains to mountains, up and down, north 
and south, away and back, with the seasons and 
supply of food. Oftentimes in the High Sierra, 
as you wander through the solemn woods, awe- 
stricken and silent, you will hear the reassur- 
ing voice of this fellow wanderer ringing out 
sweet and clear as if saying, " Fear not, fear 
not. Only love is here." In the severest soli- 
tudes he seems as happy as in gardens and apple 

The robins enter the Park as soon as the snow 
melts, and go on up the mountains, gradually 
higher, with the opening flowers, until the top- 
most glacier meadows are reached in June and 
July. After the short summer is done, they 


descend like most other summer visitors in con- 
cord with the weather, keeping out of the first 
heavy snows as much as possible, while lingering 
among the frost-nipped wild cherries on the 
slopes just below the glacier meadows. Thence 
they go to the lower slopes of the forest region, 
compelled to make haste at times by heavy all- 
day storms, picking up seeds or benumbed in- 
sects by the way ; and at last all, save a few that 
winter in Yosemite valleys, arrive in the vine- 
yards and orchards and stubble-fields of the low- 
lands in November, picking up fallen fruit and 
grain, and awakening old-time memories among 
the white-headed pioneers, who cannot fail to 
recognize the influence of so homelike a bird. 
They are then in flocks of hundreds, and make 
their way into the gardens of towns as well as 
into the parks and fields and orchards about the 
bay of San Francisco, where many of the wan- 
derers are shot for sport and the morsel of meat 
on their breasts. Man then seems a beast of 
prey. Not even genuine piety can make the 
robin-killer quite respectable. Saturday is the 
great slaughter day in the bay region. Then 
the city pot-hunters, with a rag-tag of boys, go 
forth to kill, kept in countenance by a sprinkling 
of regular sportsmen arrayed in self-conscious 
majesty and leggins, leading dogs and carrying 
hammerless, breech-loading guns of famous 
makers. Over the fine landscapes the killing 


goes forward with shameful enthusiasm. After 
escaping countless dangers, thousands fall, big 
bagfuls are gathered, many are left wounded to 
die slowly, no Red Cross Society to help them. 
Next day, Sunday, the blood and leggins vanish 
from the most devout of the bird-butchers, who 
go to church, carrying gold-headed canes instead 
of guns. After hymns, prayers, and sermon 
they go home to feast, to put God's song birds 
to use, put them in their dinners instead of in 
their hearts, eat them, and suck the pitiful little 
drumsticks. It is only race living on race, to 
be sure, but Christians singing Divine Love need 
not be driven to such straits while wheat and 
apples grow and the shops are full of dead cattle. 
Song birds for food ! Compared with this, mak- 
ing kindlings of pianos and violins would be 
pious economy. 

The larks come in large flocks from the hills 
and mountains in the fall, and are slaughtered 
as ruthlessly as the robins. Fortunately, most 
of our song birds keep back in leafy hidings, 
and are comparatively inaccessible. 

The water ouzel, in his rocky home amid 
foaming waters, seldom sees a gun, and of all 
the singers I like him the best. He is a plainly 
dressed little bird, about the size of a robin, with 
short, crisp, but rather broad wings, and a tail 
of moderate length, slanted up, giving him, with 
his nodding, bobbing manners, a wrennish look. 


He is usually seen fluttering about in the spray 
of falls and the rapid cascading portions of the 
main branches of the rivers. These are his fa- 
vorite haunts ; but he is often seen also on com- 
paratively level reaches and occasionally on the 
shores of mountain lakes, especially at the be- 
ginning of winter, when heavy snowfalls have 
blurred the streams with sludge. Though not a 
water-bird in structure, he gets his living in the 
water, and is never seen away from the immedi- 
ate margin of streams. He dives fearlessly into 
rough, boiling eddies and rapids to feed at the 
bottom, flying under water seemingly as easily 
as in the air. Sometimes he wades in shallow 
places, thrusting his head under from time to 
time in a nodding, frisky way that is sure to 
attract attention. His flight is a solid whir of 
wing-beats like that of a partridge, and in going 
from place to place along his favorite string of 
rapids he follows the windings of the stream, 
and usually alights on some rock or snag on the 
bank or out in the current, or rarely on the dry 
limb of an overhanging tree, perching like a tree 
bird when it suits his convenience. He has the 
oddest, neatest manners imaginable, and all his 
gestures as he flits about in the wild, dashing 
waters bespeak the utmost cheerfulness and con- 
fidence. He sings both winter and summer, in 
all sorts of weather, a sweet, fluty melody, 
rather low, and much less keen and accentuated 


than from the brisk vigor of his movements one 
would be led to expect. 

How romantic and beautiful is the life of this 
brave little singer on the wild mountain streams, 
building his round bossy nest of moss by the 
side of a rapid or fall, where it is sprinkled and 
kept fresh and green by the spray ! No wonder 
he sings well, since all the air about him is music ; 
every breath he draws is part of a song, and he 
gets his first music lessons before he is born; 
for the eggs vibrate in time with the tones of the 
waterfalls. Bird and stream are inseparable, 
songful and wild, gentle and strong, the bird 
ever in danger in the midst of the stream's mad 
whirlpools, yet seemingly immortal. And so I 
might go on, writing words, words, words; but 
to what purpose? Go see him and love him, 
and through him as through a window look into 
Nature's warm heart. 



" Gome let 's to the fields, the meads, and the mountains, 
The forests invite us, the streams and the fountains." 

Carlyle, Translations, vol. iii. 

THE joyful, songful streams of the Sierra are 
among the most famous and interesting in the 
world, and draw the admiring traveler on and on 
through their wonderful canons, year after year, 
unwearied. After long wanderings with them, 
tracing them to their fountains, learning their 
history and the forms they take in their wild 
works and ways throughout the different seasons 
of the year, we may then view them together in 
one magnificent show, outspread over all the range 
like embroidery, their silvery branches interlacing 
on a thousand moiintains, singing their way home 
to the sea : the small rills, with hard roads to 
travel, dropping from ledge to ledge, pool to 
pool, like chains of sweet-toned bells, slipping 
gently over beds of pebbles and sand, resting in 
lakes, shining, spangling, shimmering, lapping the 
shores with whispering ripples, and shaking over- 


leaning bushes and grass; the larger streams 
and rivers in the canons displaying noble purity 
and beauty with ungovernable energy, rushing 
down smooth inclines in wide foamy sheets fold 
over fold, springing up here and there in mag- 
nificent whirls, scattering crisp clashing spray for 
the sunbeams to iris, bursting with hoarse rever- 
berating roar through rugged gorges and boulder 
dams, booming in falls, gliding, glancing with 
cool soothing murmuring, through long forested 
reaches richly embowered, filling the grand 
canons with glorious song, and giving life to all 
the landscape. 

The present rivers of the Sierra are still young, 
and have made but little mark as yet on the 
grand canons prepared for them by the ancient 
glaciers. Only a very short geological time ago 
they all lay buried beneath the glaciers they 
drained, singing in low smothered or silvery 
ringing tones in crystal channels, while the sum- 
mer weather melted the ice and snow of the sur- 
face or gave showers. At first only in warm 
weather was any part of these buried rivers dis- 
played in the light of day ; for as soon as frost 
prevailed the surface rills vanished, though the 
streams beneath the ice and in the body of it 
flowed on all the year. 

When, toward the close of the glacial period, 
the ice mantle began to shrink and recede from 
the lowlands, the lower portions of the rivers were 


developed, issuing from cavelike openings on the 
melting margin and growing longer as the ice 
withdrew ; while for many a century the tributa- 
ries and upper portions of the trunks remained 
covered. In the fullness of time these also were 
set free in the sunshine, to take their places in 
the newborn landscapes ; each tributary with its 
smaller branches being gradually developed like 
the main trunks, as the climatic changes went on. 
At first all of them were muddy with glacial 
detritus, and they became clear only after the 
glaciers they drained had receded beyond lake 
basins in which the sediments were dropped. 

This early history is clearly explained by the 
present rivers of southeastern Alaska. Of those 
draining glaciers that discharge into arms of the 
sea, only the rills on the surface of the ice, and 
upboiling, eddying, turbid currents in the tide 
water in front of the terminal ice wall, are visible. 
Where glaciers, in the first stage of decadence, 
have receded from the shore, short sections of 
the trunks of the rivers that are to take their 
places may be seen rushing out from caverns 
and tunnels in the melting front, rough, roar- 
ing, detritus-laden torrents, foaming and tum- 
bling over outspread terminal moraines to the 
sea, perhaps without a single bush or flower to 
brighten their raw, shifting banks. Again, in 
some of the warmer canons and valleys from 
which the trunk glaciers have been melted, the 


main trunks of the rivers are well developed, and 
their banks planted with fine forests, while their 
upper branches, lying high on the snowy moun- 
tains, are still buried beneath shrinking residual 
glaciers ; illustrating every stage of development, 
from icy darkness to light, and from muddiness 
to crystal clearness. 

Now that the hard grinding sculpture work of 
the glacial period is done, the whole bright band 
of Sierra rivers run clear ah* the year, except when 
the snow is melting fast in the warm spring 
weather, and during extraordinary winter floods 
and the heavy thunderstorms of summer called 
cloud-bursts. Even then they are not muddy 
above the foothill mining region, 'unless the mo- 
raines have been loosened and the vegetation de- 
stroyed by sheep ; for the rocks of the upper 
basins are clean, and the most able streams find 
but little to carry save the spoils of the forests, 
trees, branches, flakes of bark, cones, leaves, 
pollen dust, etc., with scales of mica, sand 
grains, and boulders, which are rolled along the 
bottom of the steep parts of the main channels. 
Short sections of a few of the highest tributaries 
heading in glaciers are of course turbid with 
finely ground rock mud, but this is dropped in 
the first lakes they enter. 

On the northern "part of the range, mantled 
with porous fissured volcanic rocks, the fountain 
waters sink and flow below the surface for con- 


siderable distances, groping their way in the 
dark like the draining streams of glaciers, and 
at last bursting forth in big generous springs, 
filtered and cool and exquisitely clear. Some of 
the largest look like lakes, their waters welling 
straight up from the bottom of deep rock basins 
in quiet massive volume giving rise to young 
rivers. Others issue from horizontal clefts in 
sheer bluffs, with loud tumultuous roaring that 
may be heard half a mile or more. Magnificent 
examples of these great northern spring foun- 
tains, twenty or thirty feet deep and ten to 
nearly a hundred yards wide, abound on the 
main branches of the Feather, Pitt, McCloud, 
and Fall rivers. 

The springs of the Yosemite Park, and the 
high Sierra in general, though many times more 
numerous, are comparatively small, oozing from 
moraines and snowbanks in thin, flat irregular 
currents which remain on the surface or near it, 
the rocks of the south half of the range being 
mostly flawless impervious granite ; and since 
granite is but slightly soluble, the streams are 
particularly pure. Nevertheless, though they 
are all clear, and in the upper and main central 
forest regions delightfully lively and cool, they 
vary somewhat in color and taste as well as tem- 
perature, on account of differences, however 
slight, in exposure, and in the rocks and vegeta- 
tion with which they come in contact. Some 


are more exposed than others to winds and sun- 
shine in their falls and thin plumelike cascades ; 
the amount of dashing, mixing, and airing the 
waters of each receive varies considerably ; and 
there is always more or less variety in the kind 
and quantity of the vegetation they flow through, 
and in the time they lie in shady or sunny lakes 
and bogs. 

The water of one of the branches of the north 
fork of Owens River, near the southeastern boun- 
dary of the Park, at an elevation of ninety-five 
hundred feet above the sea, is the best I ever 
found. It is not only delightfully cool and 
bright, but brisk, sparkling, exhilarating, and so 
positively delicious to the taste that a party of 
friends I led to it twenty-five years ago still 
praise it, and refer to it as " that wonderful 
champagne water ; " though, comparatively, the 
finest wine is a coarse and vulgar drink. The 
party camped about a week in a pine grove on 
the edge of a little round sedgy meadow through 
which the stream ran bank full, and drank its 
icy water on frosty mornings, before breakfast, 
and at night about as eagerly as in the heat of 
the day ; lying down and taking massy draughts 
direct from the brimming flood, lest the touch 
of a cup might disturb its celestial flavor. On 
one of my excursions I took pains to trace this 
stream to its head springs. It is mostly derived 
from snow that lies in heavy drifts and avalanche 


heaps on or near the axis of the range. It flows 
first in flat sheets over coarse sand or shingle 
derived from a granite ridge and the metamor- 
phic slates of Red Mountain. Then, gathering 
its many small branches, it runs through beds of 
moraine material, and a series of lakelets and 
meadows and frosty juicy bogs bordered with 
heathworts and linked together by short bould- 
ery reaches. Below these, growing strong with 
tribute drawn from many a snowy fountain on 
either side, the glad stream goes dashing and 
swirling through clumps of the white-barked 
pine, and tangled willow and alder thickets en- 
riched by the fragrant herbaceous vegetation 
usually found about them. And just above the 
level camp meadow it is chafed and churned and 
beaten white over and over again in crossing a 
talus of big earthquake boulders, giving it a 
very thorough airing. But to what the peculiar 
indefinable excellence of this water is due I don't 
know ; for other streams in adjacent canons are 
aired in about the same way, and draw traces of 
minerals and plant essences from similar sources. 
The best mineral water yet discovered in the 
Park flows from the Tuolumne soda springs, 
on the north side of the Big Meadow. Moun- 
taineers like it and ascribe every healing virtue 
to it, but in no way can any of these waters be 
compared with the Owens River champagne. 
It is a curious fact that the waters of some 


of the Sierra lakes and streams are invisible, 
or nearly so, under certain weather conditions. 
This is noticed by mountaineers, hunters, and 
prospectors, wide-awake, sharp-eyed observers, 
little likely to be fooled by fine whims. One of 
these mountain men, whom I had nursed while a 
broken leg was mending, always gratefully re- 
ported the wonders he found. Once, returning 
from a trip on the head waters of the Tuolumne, 
he came running eagerly, crying : " Muir, I Ve 
found the queerest lake in the mountains ! It 's 
high up where nothing grows ; and when it isn't 
shiny you can't see it, and you walk right into it 
as if there was nothing there. The first you 
know of that lake you are in it, and get tripped 
up by the water, and hear the splash." The 
waters of Illilouette Creek are nearly invisible in 
the autumn ; so that, in following the channel, 
jumping from boulder to boulder after a shower, 
you will frequently drag your feet in the appar- 
ently surfaceless pools. 

Excepting a few low, warm slopes, fountain 
snow usually covers all the Yosemite Park from 
November or December to May, most of it until 
June or July, while on the coolest parts of the 
north slopes of the mountains, at a height of 
eleven to thirteen thousand feet, it is perpetual. 
It seldom lies at a greater depth than two or 
three feet on the lower margin, ten feet over the 
middle forested region, or fifteen to twenty feet 


in the shadowy canons and cirques among the 
peaks of the Summit, except where it is drifted, 
or piled in avalanche heaps at the foot of long 
converging slopes to form perennial fountains. 

The first crop of snow crystals that whitens 
the mountains and refreshes the streams usually 
falls in September or October, in the midst of 
charming Indian summer weather, often while 
the goldenrods and gentians are in their prime ; 
but these Indian summer snows, like some of the 
late ones that bury the June gardens, vanish in 
a day or two, and garden work goes on with ac- 
celerated speed. The grand winter storms that 
load the mountains with enduring fountain snow 
seldom set in before the end of November. The 
fertile clouds, descending, glide about and hover 
in brooding silence, as if thoughtfully examining 
the forests and streams with reference to the 
work before them; then small flakes or single 
crystals appear, glinting and swirling in zigzags 
and spirals ; and soon the thronging feathery 
masses fill the sky and make darkness like 
night, hurrying wandering mountaineers to their 
winter quarters. The first fall is usually about 
two to four feet deep. Then, with intervals of 
bright weather, not very cold, storm succeeds 
storm, heaping snow on snow, until from thirty 
to fifty or sixty feet has faUen ; but on account 
of heavy settling and compacting, and the waste 
from evaporation and melting, the depth in the 


middle region, as stated above, rarely exceeds 
ten feet. Evaporation never wholly ceases, even 
in the coldest weather, and the sunshine between 
storms melts the surface more or less. Waste 
from melting also goes on at the bottom from 
summer heat stored in the rocks, as is shown by 
the rise of the streams after the first general 
storm, and their steady sustained flow all winter. 
In the deep sugar-pine and silver-fir woods, up 
to a height of eight thousand feet, most of the 
snow lies where it falls, in one smooth universal 
fountain, until set free in the streams. But in the 
lighter forests of the two-leaved pine, and on the 
bleak slopes above the timber line, there is much 
wild drifting during storms accompanied by high 
winds, and for a day or two after they have 
fallen, when the temperature is low, and the snow 
dry and dusty. Then the trees, bending in the 
darkening blast, roar like feeding lions ; the 
frozen lakes are buried ; so also are the streams, 
which now flow in dark tunnels, as if another 
glacial period had come. On high ridges, where 
the winds have a free sweep, magnificent over- 
curling cornices are formed, which, with the ava- 
lanche piles, last as fountains almost all summer ; 
and when an exceptionally high wind is blowing 
from the north, the snow, rolled, drifted, and 
ground to dust, is driven up the converging 
northern slopes of the peaks and sent flying for 
miles in the form of bright wavering banners, 


displayed in wonderful clearness and beauty 
against the sky. 

The greatest storms, however, are usually fol- 
lowed by a deep, peculiar silence, especially pro- 
found and solemn in the forests ; and the noble 
trees stand hushed and motionless, as if under a 
spell, until the morning sunbeams begin to sift 
through their laden spires. Then the snow, 
shifting and falling from the top branches, strikes 
the lower ones in succession, and dislodges bossy 
masses all the way down. Thus each tree is en- 
veloped in a hollow conical avalanche of fairy 
fineness, silvery white, irised on the outside ; 
while the relieved branches spring up and wave 
with startling effect in the general stillness, as if 
moving of their own volition. These beautiful 
tree avalanches, hundreds of which may be seen 
falling at once on fine mornings after storms, 
pile their snow in raised rings around correspond- 
ing hollows beneath the trees, making the forest 
mantle somewhat irregular, but without greatly 
influencing its duration and the flow of the 

The large storm avalanches are most abundant 
on the Summit peaks of the range. They de- 
scend the broad, steep slopes, as well as narrow 
gorges and couloirs, with grand roaring and 
booming, and glide in graceful curves out on 
the glaciers they so bountifully feed. 

Down in the main canons of the middle region 


broad masses are launched over the brows of 
cliffs three or four thousand feet high, which, 
worn to dust by friction in falling so far through 
the air, oftentimes hang for a minute or two in 
front of the tremendous precipices like gauzy 
half-transparent veils, gloriously beautiful when 
the sun is shining through them. Most of the 
canon avalanches, however, flow in regular chan- 
nels, like the cascades of tributary streams. 
When the snow first gives way on the upper 
slopes of their basins a dull muffled rush and 
rumble is heard, which, increasing with heavy 
deliberation, seems to draw rapidly nearer with 
appalling intensity of tone. Presently the wild 
flood comes in sight, bounding out over bosses 
and sheer places, leaping from bench to bench, 
spreading and narrowing and throwing off clouds 
of whirling diamond dust like a majestic foamy 
cataract. Compared with cascades and falls, 
avalanches are short-lived, and the sharp clashing 
sounds so common in dashing water are usually 
wanting ; but in their deep thunder tones and 
pearly purple-tinged whiteness, and in dress, 
gait, gestures, and general behavior, they are 
much alike. 

Besides these common storm avalanches there 
are two other kinds, the annual and the century, 
which still further enrich the scenery, though 
their influence on fountains is comparatively small. 
Annual avalanches are composed of heavy com* 


pacted snow which has been subjected to frequent 
alternations of frost and thaw. They are devel- 
oped on canon and mountain sides, the greater 
number of them, at elevations of from nine to 
ten thousand feet, where the slopes are so in- 
clined that the dry snows of winter accumulate 
and hold fast until the spring thaws sap their 
foundations and make them slippery. Then away 
in grand style go the ponderous icy masses, 
adorned with crystalline spray without any 
cloudy snow dust ; some of the largest descend- 
ing more than a mile with even, sustained energy 
and directness like thunderbolts. The grand cen- 
tury avalanches, that mow wide swaths through 
the upper forests, occur on shady mountain sides 
about ten to twelve thousand feet high, where, 
under ordinary conditions, the snow accumulated 
from winter to winter lies at rest for many years, 
allowing trees fifty to a hundred feet high to 
grow undisturbed on the slopes below them. On 
their way through the forests they usually make 
a clean sweep, stripping off the soil as well as the 
trees, clearing paths two or three hundred yards 
wide from the timber line to the glacier meadows, 
and piling the uprooted trees, head downward, 
in windrows along the sides like lateral moraines. 
Scars and broken branches on the standing trees 
bordering the gaps record the side depth of the 
overwhelming flood ; and when we come to count 
the annual wood rings of the uprooted trees, we 


learn that some of these colossal avalanches occur 
only once in about a century, or even at still 
wider intervals. 

Few mountaineers go far enough, during the 
snowy months, to see many avalanches, and 
fewer still know the thrilling exhilaration of rid- 
ing on them. In all my wild mountaineering I 
have enjoyed only one avalanche ride ; and the 
start was so sudden, and the end came so soon, 
I thought but little of the danger that goes with 
this sort of travel, though one thinks fast at such 
times. One calm, bright morning in Yosemite, 
after a hearty storm had given three or four feet 
of fresh snow to the mountains, being eager to 
see as many avalanches as possible, and gain 
wide views of the peaks and forests arrayed in 
their new robes, before the sunshine had time to 
change or rearrange them, I set out early to 
climb by a side canon to the top of a command- 
ing ridge a little over three thousand feet above 
the valley. On account of the looseness of the 
snow that blocked the canon I knew the climb 
would be trying, and estimated it might require 
three or four hours. But it proved far more 
difficult than I had foreseen. Most of the way I 
sank waist-deep, in some places almost out of 
sight ; and after spending the day to within half 
an hour of sundown in this loose, baffling snow 
work, I was still several hundred feet below the 
summit. Then my hopes were reduced to get- 


ting up in time for the sunset, and a quick, 
sparkling home-going beneath the stars. But I 
was not to get top views of any sort that day ; 
for deep trampling near the canon head, where 
the snow was strained, started an avalanche, and 
I was swished back down to the foot of the 
canon as if by enchantment. The plodding, 
wallowing ascent of about a mile had taken all 
day, the undoing descent perhaps a minute. 
When the snow suddenly gave way, I instinc- 
tively threw myself on my back and spread my 
arms, to try to keep from sinking. Fortunately, 
though the grade of the canon was steep, it was 
not interrupted by step levels or precipices big 
enough to cause outbounding or free plunging. 
On no part of the rush was I buried. I was only 
moderately imbedded on the surface or a little 
below it, and covered with a hissing back-stream- 
ing veil of dusty snow particles; and as the 
whole mass beneath or about me joined in the 
flight I felt no friction, though tossed here and 
there, and lurched from side to side. And when 
the torrent swedged and came to rest, I found 
myself on the top of the crumpled pile, without 
a single bruise or scar. Hawthorne says that 

o / 

steam has spiritualized travel, notwithstanding 
the smoke, friction, smells, and clatter of boat 
and rail riding. This flight in a milky way of 
snow flowers was the most spiritual of all my 
travels ; and, after many years, the mere thought 
of it is still an exhilaration. 


In the spring, after all the avalanches are 
down and the snow is melting fast, it is glorious 
to hear the streams sing out on the mountains. 
Every fountain swelling, countless rills hurry 
together to the rivers at the call of the sun, 
beginning to run and sing soon after sunrise, in- 
creasing until toward sundown, then gradually 
failing through the cold frosty hours of the 
night. Thus the volume of the upper rivers, 
even in flood time, is nearly doubled during the 
day, rising and falling as regularly as the tides 
of the sea. At the height of flood, in the warm- 
est June weather, they seem fairly to shout for 
joy, and clash their upleaping waters together 
like clapping of hands ; racing down the canons 
with white manes flying in glorious exuberance 
of strength, compelling huge sleeping boulders 
to wake up and join in the dance and song to 
swell their chorus. 

Then the plants also are in flood ; the hidden 
sap singing into leaf and flower, responding as 
faithfully to the call of the sun as the streams 
from the snow, gathering along the outspread 
roots like rills in their channels on the moun- 
tains, rushing up the stems of herb and tree, 
swirling in their myriad cells like streams in pot- 
holes, spreading along the branches and break- 
ing into foamy bloom, while fragrance, like a 
finer music, rises and flows with the winds. 

About the same may be said of the spring 


gladness of blood when the red streams surge 
and sing in accord with the swelling plants and 
rivers, inclining animals and everybody to travel 
in hurrahing crowds like floods, while exhilarat- 
ing melody in color and fragrance, form and 
motion, flows to the heart through all the quick- 
ening senses. 

In early summer the streams are in bright 
prime, running crystal clear, deep and full, but 
not overflowing their banks, about as deep 
through the night as the day, the variation so 
marked in spring being now too slight to be 
noticed. Nearly all the weather is cloudless sun- 
shine, and everything is at its brightest, lake, 
river, garden, and forest, with all their warm, 
throbbing life. Most of the plants are in full 
leaf and flower ; the blessed ousels have built 
their mossy huts, and are now singing their 
sweetest songs on spray-sprinkled ledges beside 
the waterfalls. 

In tranquil, mellow autumn, when the year's 
work is about done, when the fruits are ripe, 
birds and seeds out of their nests, and all the 
landscape is glowing like a benevolent counte- 
nance at rest, then the streams are at their lowest 
ebb, their wild rejoicing soothed to thought- 
ful calm. All the smaller tributaries whose 
branches do not reach back to the perennial 
fountains of the Summit peaks shrink to whis- 
pering, tinkling currents. The snow of their 


basins gone, they are now fed only by small mo- 
raine springs, whose waters are mostly evapo- 
rated in passing over warm pavements, and in 
feeling their way from pool to pool through the 
midst of boulders and sand. Even the main 
streams are so low they may be easily forded, 
and their grand falls and cascades, now gentle 
and approachable, have waned to sheets and webs 
of embroidery, falling fold over fold in new and 
ever changing beauty. 

Two of the most songful of the rivers, the 
Tuolumne and Merced, water nearly all the Park, 
spreading their branches far and wide, like broad- 
headed oaks ; and the highest branches of each 
draw their sources from one and the same foun- 
tain on Mount Lyell, at an elevation of about 
thirteen thousand feet above the sea. The crest 
of the mountain, against which the head of the 
glacier rests, is worn to a thin blade full of joints, 
through which a part of the glacial water flows 
southward, giving rise to the highest trickling 
affluents of the Merced ; while the main drain- 
age, flowing northward, gives rise to those of the 
Tuolumne. After diverging for a distance of 
ten or twelve miles, these twin rivers flow in a 
general westerly direction, descending rapidly 
for the first thirty miles, and rushing in glorious 
apron cascades and falls from one Yosemite valley 
to another. Below the Yosemites they descend 
in gray rapids and swirling, swaying reaches, 


through the chaparral-clad canons of the foot- 
hills and across the golden California plain, to 
their confluence with the San Joaquin, where, 
after all their long wanderings, they are only 
about ten miles apart. 

The main canons are from fifty to seventy 
miles long, and from two to four thousand feet 
deep, carved in the solid flank of the range. 
Though rough in some places and hard to travel, 
they are the most delightful of roads, leading 
through the grandest scenery, full of life and 
motion, and offering most telling lessons in earth 
sculpture. The walls, far from being unbroken, 
featureless cliffs, seem like ranges of separate 
mountains, so deep and varied is their sculp- 
ture ; rising in lordly domes, towers, round- 
browed outstanding headlands, and clustering 
spires, with dark, shadowy side canons between. 
But, however wonderful in height and mass and 
fineness of finish, no anomalous curiosities are 
presented, no "freaks of nature." All stand 
related in delicate rhythm, a grand glacial rock 

Among the most interesting and influential 
of the secondary features of canon scenery are 
the great avalanche taluses, that lean against the 
walls at intervals of a mile or two. In the mid- 
dle Yosemite region they are usually from three 
to five hundred feet high, and are made up of 
huge, angular, well-preserved, unshifting boul- 


ders, overgrown with gray lichens, trees, shrubs, 
and delicate flowering plants. Some of the 
largest of the boulders are forty or fifty feet 
cube, weighing from five to ten thousand tons ; 
and where the cleavage joints of the granite are 
exceptionally wide apart a few blocks may be 
found nearly a hundred feet in diameter. These 
wonderful boulder piles are distributed through- 
out all the canons of the range, completely chok- 
ing them in some of the narrower portions, and 
no mountaineer will be likely to forget the sav- 
age roughness of the roads they make. Even 
the swift, overbearing rivers, accustomed to sweep 
everything out of their way, are in some places 
bridled and held in check by them. Foaming, 
roaring, in glorious majesty of flood, rushing off 
long rumbling trains of ponderous blocks with- 
out apparent effort, they are not able to move 
the largest, which, withstanding all assaults for 
centuries, are left at rest in the channels like isl- 
ands, with gardens on their tops, fringed with 
foam below, with flowers above. 

On some points concerning the origin of these 
taluses I was long in doubt. Plainly enough 
they were derived from the cliffs above them, 
the size of each talus being approximately mea- 
sured by a scar on the wall, the rough angular 
surface of which contrasts with the rounded, 
glaciated, unfractured parts. I saw also that, 
instead of being slowly accumulated material, 


weathered off, boulder by boulder, in the ordi- 
nary way, almost every talus had been formed 
suddenly, in a single avalanche, and had not been 
increased in size during the last three or four 
centuries ; for trees three or four hundred years 
old were growing on them, some standing at the 
top close to the wall, without a bruise or broken 
branch, showing that scarcely a single boulder 
had fallen among them since they were planted. 
Furthermore, all the taluses throughout the range 
seemed, by the trees and lichens growing on 
them, to be of the same age. All the phenomena 
pointed straight to a grand ancient earthquake. 
But I left the question open for years, and went on 
from canon to canon, observing again and again ; 
measuring the heights of taluses throughout 
the range on both flanks, and the variations in 
the angles of their surface slopes ; studying the 
way their boulders were assorted and related 
and brought to rest, and the cleavage joints of 
the cliffs from whence they were derived, cautious 
about making up my mind. Only after I had 
seen one made did all doubt as to their formation 

In Yosemite Valley, one morning about two 
o'clock, I was aroused by an earthquake ; and 
though I had never before enjoyed a storm of this 
sort, the strange, wild thrilling motion and rum- 
bling could not be mistaken, and I ran out of my 
cabin, near the Sentinel Rock, both glad and 


frightened, shouting, " A noble earthquake ! " 
feeling sure I was going to learn something. 
The shocks were so violent and varied, and suc- 
ceeded one another so closely, one had to balance 
in walking as if on the deck of a ship among the 
waves, and it seemed impossible the high cliffs 
should escape being shattered. In particular, I 
feared that the sheer-fronted Sentinel Eock, 
which rises to a height of three thousand feet, 
would be shaken down, and I took shelter back 
of a big pine, hoping I might be protected from 
outbounding boulders, should any come so far. 
I was now convinced that an earthquake had 
been the maker of the taluses, and positive 
proof soon came. It was a calm moonlight night, 
and no sound was heard for the first minute or 
two save a low muffled underground rumbling 
and a slight rustling of the agitated trees, as if, 
in wrestling with the mountains, Nature were 
holding her breath. Then, suddenly, out of the 
strange silence and strange motion there came a 
tremendous roar. The Eagle Rock, a short dis- 
tance up the valley, had given way, and I saw it 
falling in thousands of the great boulders I had 
been studying so long, pouring to the valley 
floor in a free curve luminous from friction, 
making a terribly sublime and beautiful spec- 
tacle, an arc of fire fifteen hundred feet span, 
as true in form and as steady as a rainbow, in the 
midst of the stupendous roaring rock storm. The 


sound was inconceivably deep and broad and ear- 
nest, as if the whole earth, like a living creature, 
had at last found a voice and were calling to her 
sister planets. It seemed to me that if all the 
thunder I ever heard were condensed into one 
roar it would not equal this rock roar at the 
birth of a mountain talus. Think, then, of the 
roar that arose to heaven when all the thousands 
of ancient canon taluses throughout the length 
and breadth of the range were simultaneously 
given birth. 

The main storm was soon over, and, eager to 
see the new-born talus, I ran up the valley in the 
moonlight and climbed it before the huge blocks, 
after their wild fiery flight, had come to complete 
rest. They were slowly settling into their places, 
chafing, grating against one another, groaning, 
and whispering ; but no motion was visible ex- 
cept in a stream of small fragments pattering 
down the face of the cliff at the head of the 
talus. A cloud of dust particles, the smallest of 
the boulders, floated out across the whole breadth 
of the valley and formed a ceiling that lasted 
until after sunrise ; and the air was loaded with 
the odor of crushed Douglas spruces, from a 
grove that had been mowed down and mashed 
like weeds. 

Sauntering about to see what other changes 
had been made, I found the Indians in the middle 
of the valley, terribly frightened, of course, fear- 


ing the angry spirits of the rocks were trying to 
kill them. The few whites wintering in the val- 
ley were assembled in front of the old Hutchings 
Hotel, comparing notes and meditating flight to 
steadier ground, seemingly as sorely frightened as 
the Indians. It is always interesting to see people 
in dead earnest, from whatever cause, and earth- 
quakes make everybody earnest. Shortly after 
sunrise, a low blunt muffled rumbling, like distant 
thunder, was followed by another series of 
shocks, which, though not nearly so severe as 
the first, made the cliffs and domes tremble like 
jelly, and the big pines and oaks thrill and swish 
and wave their branches with startling effect. 
Then the groups of talkers were suddenly hushed, 
and the solemnity on their faces was sublime. 
One in particular of these winter neighbors, a 
rather thoughtful, speculative man, with whom I 
had often conversed, was a firm believer in the 
cataclysmic origin of the valley; and I now 
jokingly remarked that his wild tumble-do wn- 
and-engulf ment hypothesis might soon be proved, 
since these underground rumblings and shakings 
might be the forerunners of another Yosemite- 
making cataclysm, which would perhaps double 
the depth of the vaUey by swallowing the floor, 
leaving the ends of the wagon roads and trails 
three or four thousand feet in the air. Just then 
came the second series of shocks, and it was fine 
to see how awfully silent and solemn he became. 


His belief in the existence of a mysterious abyss, 
into which the suspended floor of the valley and 
all the domes and battlements of the walls might 
at any moment go roaring down, mightily 
troubled him. To cheer and tease him into 
another view of the case, I said : " Come, cheer 
up ; smile a little and clap your hands, now that 
kind Mother Earth is trotting us on her knee to 
amuse us and make us good." But the well- 
meant joke seemed irreverent and utterly failed, 
as if only prayerful terror could rightly belong to 
the wild beauty-making business. Even after all 
the heavier shocks were over, I could do nothing 
to reassure him. On the contrary, he handed 
me the keys of his little store, and, with a com- 
panion of like mind, fled to the lowlands. In 
about a month he returned ; but a sharp shock 
occurred that very day, which sent him flying 

The rocks trembled more or less every day for 
over two months, and I kept a bucket of water 
on my table to learn what I could of the move- 
ments. The blunt thunder-tones in the depths 
of the mountains were usually followed by sudden 
jarring, horizontal thrusts from the northward, 
often succeeded by twisting, up jolting movements. 
Judging by its effects, this Yosemite, or Inyo 
earthquake, as it is sometimes called, was gentle 
as compared with the one that gave rise to the 
grand talus system of the range and did so much 


for the canon scenery. Nature, usually so delib- 
erate in her operations, then created, as we have 
seen, a new set of features, simply by giving the 
mountains a shake, changing not only the high 
peaks and cliffs, but the streams. As soon as 
these rock avalanches fell every stream began to 
sing new songs ; for in many places thousands of 
boulders were hurled into their channels, rough- 
ening and half damming them, compelling the 
waters to surge and roar in rapids where before 
they were gliding smoothly. Some of the streams 
were completely dammed, driftwood, leaves, etc., 
filling the interstices between the boulders, thus 
giving rise to lakes and level reaches ; and these, 
again, after being gradually filled in, to smooth 
meadows, through which the streams now silently 
meander; while at the same time some of the 
taluses took the places of old meadows and groves. 
Thus rough places were made smooth, and smooth 
places rough. But on the whole, by what at 
first sight seemed pure confusion and ruin, the 
landscapes were enriched ; for gradually every 
talus, however big the boulders composing it, 
was covered with groves and gardens, and made 
a finely proportioned and ornamental base for the 
sheer cliffs. In this beauty work, every boulder 
is prepared and measured and put in its place 
more thoughtfully than are the stones of temples. 
If for a moment you are inclined to regard these 
taluses as mere draggled, chaotic dumps, climb 


to the top of one of them, tie your mountain 
shoes firmly over the instep, and with braced 
nerves run down without any haggling, puttering 
hesitation, boldly jumping from boulder to boul- 
der with even speed. You wiU then find your 
feet playing a tune, and quickly discover the 
music and poetry of rock piles, a fine lesson ; 
and ah 1 nature's wildness tells the same story. 
Storms of every sort, torrents, earthquakes, cata- 
clysms, " convulsions of nature," etc., however 
mysterious and lawless at first sight they may 
seem, are only harmonious notes in the song of 
creation, varied expressions of God's love. 



THE Big Tree (Sequoia gigantea) is Nature's 
forest masterpiece, and, so far as I know, the 
greatest of living things. It belongs to an 
ancient stock, as its remains in old rocks show, 
and has a strange air of other days about it, a 
thoroughbred look inherited from the long ago 
the auld lang syne of trees. Once the genus 
was common, and with many species flourished in 
the now desolate Arctic regions, in the interior of 
North America, and in Europe, but in long, event- 
ful wanderings from climate to climate only two 
species have survived the hardships they had to 
encounter, the gigantea and semper virens, the 
former now restricted to the western slopes of 
the Sierra, the other to the Coast Mountains, and 
both to California, excepting a few groves of 
Redwood which extend into Oregon. The Pacific 
Coast in general is the paradise of conifers. 
Here nearly all of them are giants, and display 
a beauty and magnificence unknown elsewhere. 
The climate is mild, the ground never freezes, 


and moisture and sunshine abound all the 
year. Nevertheless it is not easy to account for 
the colossal size of the Sequoias. The largest 
are about three hundred feet high and thirty feet 
in diameter. Who of all the dwellers of the 
plains and prairies and fertile home forests of 
round-headed oak and maple, hickory and elm, 
ever dreamed that earth could bear such growths, 
trees that the familiar pines and firs seem to 
know nothing about, lonely, silent, serene, with 
a physiognomy almost godlike ; and so old, thou- 
sands of them still living had already counted 
their years by tens of centuries when Columbus 
set sail from Spain and were in the vigor of youth 
or middle age when the star led the Chaldean 
sages to the infant Saviour's cradle ! As far as 
man is concerned they are the same yesterday, 
to-day, and forever, emblems of permanence. 

No description can give any adequate idea of 
their singular majesty, much less of their beauty. 
Excepting the sugar-pine, most of their neigh- 
bors with pointed tops seem to be forever shout- 
ing Excelsior, while the Big Tree, though soaring 
above them all, seems satisfied, its rounded head, 
poised lightly as a cloud, giving no impression 
of trying to go higher. Only in youth does it 
show like other conifers a heavenward yearning, 
keenly aspiring with a long quick-growing top. 
Indeed the whole tree for the first century or two, 
or until a hundred to a hundred and fifty feet 


high, is arrowhead in form, and, compared with 
the solemn" rigidity of age, is as sensitive to the 
wind as a squirrel tail. The lower branches are 
gradually dropped as it grows older, and the 
upper ones thinned out until comparatively few 
are left. These, however, are developed to great 
size, divide again and again, and terminate in 
bossy rounded masses of leafy branchlets, while 
the head becomes dome-shaped. Then poised in 
fullness of strength and beauty, stern and solemn 
in mien, it glows with eager, enthusiastic life, 
quivering to the tip of every leaf and branch 
and far-reaching root, calm as a granite dome, 
the first to feel the touch of the rosy beams of 
the morning, the last to bid the sun good-night. 
Perfect specimens, unhurt by running fires or 
lightning, are singularly regular and symmetrical 
in general form, though not at all conventional, 
showing infinite variety in sure unity and har- 
mony of plan. The immensely strong, stately 
shafts, with rich purplish brown bark, are free of 
limbs for a hundred and fifty feet or so, though 
dense tufts of sprays occur here and there, pro- 
ducing an ornamental effect, while long parallel 
furrows give a fluted columnar appearance. It 
shoots forth its limbs with equal boldness in every 
direction, showing no weather side. On the old 
trees the main branches are crooked and rugged, 
and strike rigidly outward mostly at right angles 
from the trunk, but there is always a certain 


measured restraint in their reach which keeps 
them within bounds. No other Sierra tree has 
foliage so densely massed or outline so finely, 
firmly drawn and so obediently subordinate to 
an ideal type. A particularly knotty, angular, 
ungovernable-looking branch, five to eight feet in 
diameter and perhaps a thousand years old, may 
occasionally be seen pushing out from the trunk 
as if determined to break across the bounds of the 
regular curve, but like all the others, as soon as the 
general outline is approached the huge limb dis- 
solves into massy bosses of branchlets and sprays, 
as if the tree were growing beneath an invisible 
bell glass against the sides of which the branches 
were moulded, while many small, varied depar- 
tures from the ideal form give the impression of 
freedom to grow as they like. 

Except in picturesque old age, after being 
struck by lightning and broken by a thousand 
snowstorms, this regularity of form is one of the 
Big Tree's most distinguishing characteristics. 
Another is the simple sculptural beauty of the 
trunk and its great thickness as compared with its 
height and the width of the branches, many of 
them being from eight to ten feet in diameter at a 
height of two hundred feet from the ground, and 
seeming more like finely modeled and sculptured 
architectural columns than the stems of trees, 
while the great strong limbs are like rafters sup- 
porting the magnificent dome head. 


The root system corresponds in magnitude 
with the other dimensions of the tree, forming 
a flat far-reaching spongy network two hundred 
feet or more in width without any taproot, and 
the instep is so grand and fine, so suggestive of 
endless strength, it is long ere the eye is released 
to look above it. The natural swell of the roots, 
though at first sight excessive, gives rise to but- 
tresses no greater than are required for beauty 
as well as strength, as at once appears when you 
stand back far enough to see the whole tree in 
its true proportions. The fineness of the taper 
of the trunk is shown by its thickness at great 
heights a diameter of ten feet at a height of 
two hundred being, as we have seen, not un- 
common. Indeed the boles of but few trees hold 
their thickness as well as Sequoia. Resolute, 
consummate, determined in form, always beheld 
with wondering admiration, the Big Tree always 
seems unfamiliar, standing alone, unrelated, with 
peculiar physiognomy, awfully solemn and ear- 
nest. Nevertheless, there is nothing alien in its 
looks. The Madrona, clad in thin, smooth, red 
and yellow bark and big glossy leaves, seems, in 
the dark coniferous forests of Washington and 
Vancouver Island, like some lost wanderer from 
the magnolia groves of the South, while the 
Sequoia, with all its strangeness, seems more at 
home than any of its neighbors, holding the 
best right to the ground as the oldest, strong- 


est inhabitant. One soon becomes acquainted 
with new species of pine and fir and spruce as 
with friendly people, shaking their outstretched 
branches like shaking hands, and fondling their 
beautiful little ones ; while the venerable abori- 
ginal Sequoia, ancient of other days, keeps you 
at a distance, taking no notice of you, speaking 
only to the winds, thinking only of the sky, 
looking as strange in aspect and behavior among 
the neighboring trees as would the mastodon or 
hairy elephant among the homely bears and deer. 
Only the Sierra Juniper is at all like it, stand- 
ing rigid and unconquerable on glacial pave- 
ments for thousands of years, grim, rusty, silent, 
uncommunicative, with an air of antiquity about 
as pronounced as that so characteristic of Sequoia. 
The bark of full grown trees is from one to 
two feet thick, rich cinnamon brown, purplish on 
young trees and shady parts of the old, forming 
magnificent masses of color with the underbrush 
and beds of flowers. Toward the end of winter 
the trees themselves bloom while the snow is 
still eight or ten feet deep. The pistillate 
flowers are about three eighths of an inch long, 
pale green, and grow in countless thousands 
on the ends of the sprays. The staminate are 
still more abundant, pale yellow, a fourth of an 
inch long ; and when the golden pollen is ripe 
they color the whole tree and dust the air and 
the ground far and near. 


The cones are bright grass-green in color, 
about two and a half inches long, one and a half 
wide, and are made up of thirty or forty strong, 
closely packed, rhomboidal scales with four to 
eight seeds at the base of each. The seeds are 
extremely small and light, being only from an 
eighth to a fourth of an inch long and wide, in- 
cluding a filmy surrounding wing, which causes 
them to glint and waver in falling and enables 
the wind to carry them considerable distances 
from the tree. 

The faint lisp of snowflakes as they alight is 
one of the smallest sounds mortal can hear. The 
sound of falling Sequoia seeds, even when they 
happen to strike on flat leaves or flakes of bark, 
is about as faint. Very different is the bumping 
and thudding of the f ailing cones. Most of them 
are cut off by the Douglas squirrel and stored 
for the sake of the seeds, small as they are. In 
the calm Indian summer these busy harvesters 
with ivory sickles go to work early in the morning, 
as soon as breakfast is over, and nearly all day 
the ripe cones fall in a steady pattering, bumping 
shower. Unless harvested in this way they dis- 
charge their seeds and remain on the trees for 
many years. In fruitful seasons the trees are 
fairly laden. On two small specimen branches 
one and a half and two inches in diameter I 
counted four hundred and eighty cones. No 
other California conifer produces nearly so many 


seeds, excepting perhaps its relative, the Red- 
wood of the Coast Mountains. Millions are 
ripened annually by a single tree, and the product 
of one of the main groves in a fruitful year would 
suffice to plant all the mountain ranges of the 

The dense tufted sprays make snug nesting 
places for birds, and in some of the loftiest, leaf- 
iest towers of verdure thousands of generations 
have been reared, the great solemn trees shedding 
off flocks of merry singers every year from nests, 
like the flocks of winged seeds from the cones. 

The Big Tree keeps its youth far longer than 
any of its neighbors. Most silver firs are old in 
their second or third century, pines in their fourth 
or fifth, while the Big Tree growing beside them 
is still in the bloom of its youth, juvenile in every 
feature at the age of old pines, and cannot be 
said to attain anything like prime size and beauty 
before its fifteen hundredth year, or under favor- 
able circumstances become old before its three 
thousandth. Many, no doubt, are much older 
than this. On one of the Kings River giants, 
thirty-five feet and eight inches in diameter ex- 
clusive of bark, I counted upwards of four thou- 
sand annual wood-rings, in which there was no 
trace of decay after ah 1 these centuries of moun- 
tain weather. There is no absolute limit to the 
existence of any tree. Their death is due to ac- 
cidents, not, as of animals, to the wearing out of 


organs. Only the leaves die of old age, their 
fall is foretold in their structure ; but the leaves 
are renewed every year and so also are the other 
essential organs wood, roots, bark, buds. 
Most of the Sierra trees die of disease. Thus 
the magnificent silver firs are devoured by fungi, 
and comparatively few of them live to see their 
three hundredth birth year. But nothing hurts 
the Big Tree. I never saw one that was sick or 
showed the slightest sign of decay. It lives on 
through indefinite thousands of years until 
burned, blown down, undermined, or shattered 
by some tremendous lightning stroke. No ordi- 
nary bolt ever seriously hurts Sequoia. In all my 
walks I have seen only one that was thus killed out- 
right. Lightning, though rare in the California 
lowlands, is common on the Sierra. Almost every 
day in June and July small thunderstorms re- 
fresh the main forest belt. Clouds like snowy 
mountains of marvelous beauty grow rapidly in 
the calm sky about midday and cast cooling 
shadows and showers that seldom last more than 
an hour. Nevertheless these brief, kind storms 
wound or kill a good many trees. I have seen 
silver firs two hundred feet high split into long 
peeled rails and slivers down to the roots, leav- 
ing not even a stump, the rails radiating like 
the spokes of a wheel from a hole in the ground 
where the tree stood. But the Sequoia, instead 
of being split and slivered, usually has forty or 


fifty feet of its brash knotty top smashed off in 
short chunks about the size of cord-wood, the 
beautiful rosy red ruins covering the ground in 
a circle a hundred feet wide or more. I never 
saw any that had been cut down to the ground 
or even to below the branches except one in the 
Stanislaus Grove, about twelve feet in diameter, 
the greater part of which was smashed to frag- 
ments, leaving only a leafless stump about sev- 
enty-five feet high. It is a curious fact that all 
the very old Sequoias have lost their heads by 
lightning. " All things come to him who waits." 
But of ah 1 living things Sequoia is perhaps the 
only one able to wait long enough to make sure 
of being struck by lightning. Thousands of 
years it stands ready and waiting, offering its 
head to every passing cloud as if inviting its fate, 
praying for heaven's fire as a blessing ; and when 
at last the old head is off, another of the same 
shape immediately begins to grow on. Every 
bud and branch seems excited, like bees that have 
lost their queen, and tries hard to repair the dam- 
age. Branches that for many centuries have 
been growing out horizontally at once turn up- 
ward and all their branchlets arrange themselves 
with reference to a new top of the same peculiar 
curve as the old one. Even the small subordi- 
nate branches halfway down the trunk do their 
best to push up to the top and help in this curi- 
ous head-making. 


The great age of these noble trees is even more 
wonderful than their huge size, standing bravely 
up, millennium in, millennium out, to all that 
fortune may bring them, triumphant over tem- 
pest and fire and time, fruitful and beautiful, 
giving food and shelter to multitudes of small 
fleeting creatures dependent on their bounty. 
Other trees may claim to be about as large or as 
old : Australian Gums, Senegal Baobabs, Mexican 
Taxodiums, English Yews, and venerable Lebanon 
Cedars, trees of renown, some of which are from 
ten to thirty feet in diameter. We read of oaks 
that are supposed to have existed ever since the 
creation, but strange to say I can find no definite 
accounts of the age of any of these trees, but 
only estimates based on tradition and assumed 
average rates of growth. No other known tree 
approaches the Sequoia in grandeur, height and 
thickness being considered, and none as far as I 
know has looked down on so many centuries or 
opens such impressive and suggestive views into 
history. The majestic monument of the Kings 
River Forest is, as we have seen, fully four thou- 
sand years old, and measuring the rings of annual 
growth we find it was no less than twenty-seven 
feet in diameter at the beginning of the Christian 
era, while many observations lead me to expect 
the discovery of others ten or twenty centuries 
older. As to those of moderate age, there are 
thousands, mere youths as yet, that 


the light that shone 
On Mahomet's uplifted crescent, 
On many a royal gilded throne 
And deed forgotten in the present, 

.* . . saw the age of sacred trees 
And Druid groves and mystic larches, 
And saw from forest domes like these 
The builder bring his Gothic arches." 

Great trees and groves used to be venerated as 
sacred monuments and halls of council and wor- 
ship. But soon after the discovery of the Cala- 
veras Grove one of the grandest trees was cut 
down for the sake of a stump ! The laborious 
vandals had seen " the biggest tree in the world," 
then, forsooth, they must try to see the biggest 
stump and dance on it. 

The growth in height for the first two centu- 
ries is usually at the rate of eight to ten inches a 
year. Of course all very large trees are old, but 
those equal in size may vary greatly in age on 
account of variations in soil, closeness or open- 
ness of growth, etc. Thus a tree about ten feet 
in diameter that grew on the side of a meadow 
was, according to my own count of the wood- 
rings, only two hundred and fifty-nine years old 
at the time it was felled, while another in the 
same grove, of almost exactly the same size but 
less favorably situated, was fourteen hundred and 
forty years old. The Calaveras tree cut for a 
dance floor was twenty-four feet in diameter and 
only thirteen hundred years old, another about 
the same size was a thousand years older. 



The following Sequoia notes and measurements 
are copied from my notebooks : 

Feet. Inches. 
















1 3-4 




8 inside bark 

i 6 feet in diameter at height of 200 feet. 
* 7 feet in diameter at height of 200 feet. 

Height in 










28 1-2 

























1825 1 

2150 2 



over 4000 

Little, however, is to be learned in confused, 
hurried tourist trips, spending only a poor noisy 
hour in a branded grove with a guide. You 
should go looking and listening alone on long 
walks through the wild forests and groves in all 
the seasons of the year. In the spring the winds 
are balmy and sweet, blowing up and down over 
great beds of chaparral and through the woods 
now rich in softening balsam and rosin and the 


scent of steaming earth. The sky is mostly sun- 
shine, oftentimes tempered by magnificent clouds, 
the breath of the sea built up into new mountain 
ranges, warm during the day, cool at night, good 
flower-opening weather. The young cones of 
the Big Trees are showing in clusters, their flower 
time already past, and here and there you may 
see the sprouting of their tiny seeds of the pre- 
vious autumn, taking their first feeble hold of the 
ground and unpacking their tender whorls of 
cotyledon leaves. Then you will naturally be led 
on to consider their wonderful growth up and up 
through the mountain weather, now buried in 
snow bent and crinkled, now straightening in 
summer sunshine like uncoiling ferns, shooting 
eagerly aloft in youth's joyful prime, and tower- 
ing serene and satisfied through countless years of 
calm and storm, the greatest of plants and all 
but immortal. 

Under the huge trees up come the small plant 
people, putting forth fresh leaves and blossoming 
in such profusion that the hills and valleys 
would still seem gloriously rich and glad were 
all the grand trees away. By the side of melt- 
ing snowbanks rise the crimson sarcodes, round- 
topped and massive as the Sequoias themselves, 
and beds of blue violets and larger yellow ones 
with leaves curiously lobed; azalea and saxi- 
frage, daisies and lilies on the mossy banks of 
the streams ; and a little way back of them, be- 


neath the trees and on sunny spots on the hills 
around the groves, wild rose and rubus, spiraea 
and ribes, mitella, tiarella, campanula, monar- 
della, forget-me-not, etc., many of them as 
worthy of lore immortality as the famous Scotch 
daisy, wanting only a Burns to sing them home 
to all hearts. 

In the midst of this glad plant work the birds 
are busy nesting, some singing at their work, 
some silent, others, especially the big pileated 
woodpeckers, about as noisy as backwoodsmen 
building their cabins. Then every bower in the 
groves is a bridal bower, the winds murmur 
softly overhead, the streams sing with the birds, 
while from far-off waterfalls and thunder-clouds 
come deep rolling organ notes. 

In summer the days go by in almost constant 
brightness, cloudless sunshine pouring over the 
forest roof, while in the shady depths there is the 
subdued light of perpetual morning. The new 
leaves and cones are growing fast and make a 
grand show, seeds are ripening, young birds 
learning to fly, and with myriads of insects glad 
as birds keep the air whirling, joy in every wing- 
beat, their humming and singing blending with 
the gentle ah-ing of the winds ; while at even- 
ing every thicket and grove is enchanted by the 
tranquil chirping of the blessed hylas, the sweet- 
est and most peaceful of sounds, telling the very 
heart-joy of earth as it rolls through the heavens. 


In the autumn the sighing of the winds is 
softer than ever, the gentle ah-ah-ing filling the 
sky with a fine universal mist of music, the birds 
have little to say, and there is no appreciable stir 
or rustling among the trees save that caused by 
the harvesting squirrels. Most of the seeds are 
ripe and away, those of the trees mottling the 
sunny air, glinting, glancing through the midst 
of the merry insect people, rocks and trees, 
everything alike drenched in gold light, heaven's 
colors coming down to the meadows and groves, 
making every leaf a romance, air, earth, and 
water in peace beyond thought, the great brood- 
ing days opening and closing in divine psalms of 

Winter comes suddenly, arrayed in storms, 
though to mountaineers silky streamers on the 
peaks and the tones of the wind give sufficient 
warning. You hear strange whisperings among 
the tree-tops, as if the giants were taking coun- 
sel together. One after another, nodding and 
swaying, calling and replying, spreads the news, 
until all with one accord break forth into glori- 
ous song, welcoming the first grand snowstorm 
of the year, and looming up in the dim clouds 
and snowdrifts like lighthouse towers in flying 
scud and spray. Studying the behavior of the 
giants from some friendly shelter, you will see 
that even in the, glow of their wildest enthusiasm, 
when the storm roars loudest, they never lose 


their god-like composure, never toss their arms 
or bow or wave like the pines, but only slowly, 
solemnly nod and sway, standing erect, making 
no sign of strife, none of rest, neither in aUiance 
nor at war with the winds, too calmly, uncon- 
sciously noble and strong to strive with or bid 
defiance to anything. Owing to the density of 
the leafy branchlets and great breadth of head 
the Big Tree carries a much heavier load of 
snow than any of its neighbors, and after a 
storm, when the sky clears, the laden trees are 
a glorious spectacle, worth any amount of cold 
camping to see. Every bossy limb and crown 
is solid white, and the immense height of the 
giants becomes visible as the eye travels the 
white steps of the colossal tower, each relieved 
by a mass of blue shadow. 

In midwinter the forest depths are as fresh 
and pure as the crevasses and caves of glaciers. 
Grouse, nuthatches, a few woodpeckers, and 
other hardy birds dwell in the groves all winter, 
and the squirrels may be seen every clear day 
frisking about, lively as ever, tunneling to their 
stores, never coming up empty-mouthed, diving 
in the loose snow about as quickly as ducks in 
water, while storms and sunshine sing to each 

One of the noblest and most beautiful of the 
late winter sights is the blossoming of the Big Tree 
like gigantic goldenrods and the sowing of their 


pollen over all the forest and the snow-covered 
ground a most glorious view of Nature's im- 
mortal virility and flower-love. 

One of my own best excursions among the 
Sequoias was made in the autumn of 1875, when 
I explored the then unknown or little known 
Sequoia region south of the Mariposa Grove for 
comprehensive views of the belt, and to learn 
what I could of the peculiar distribution of the 
species and its history in general. In particular 
I was anxious to try to find out whether it had 
ever been more widely distributed since the gla- 
cial period ; what conditions favorable or other- 
wise were affecting it ; what were its relations to 
climate, topography, soil, and the other trees 
growing with it, etc. ; and whether, as was gen- 
erally supposed, the species was nearing extinc- 
tion. I was already acquainted in a general way 
with the northern groves, but excepting some 
passing glimpses gained on excursions into the 
high Sierra about the head-waters of Kings and 
Kern rivers I had seen nothing of the south end 
of the belt. 

Nearly all my mountaineering has been done 
on foot, carrying as little as possible, depending 
on camp-fires for warmth, that so I might be light 
and free to go wherever my studies might lead. 
On this Sequoia trip, which promised to be 
long, I was persuaded to take a small wild mule 
with me to carry provisions and a pair of blan- 


kets. The friendly owner of the animal, having 
noticed that I sometimes looked tired when I 
came down from the peaks to replenish my bread 
sack, assured me that his " little Brownie mule " 
was just what I wanted, tough as a knot, per- 
fectly untirable, low and narrow, just right for 
squeezing through brush, able to climb like a 
chipmunk, jump from boulder to boulder like a 
wild sheep, and go anywhere a man could go. 
But tough as he was and accomplished as a 
climber, many a time in the course of our journey 
when he was jaded and hungry, wedged fast in 
rocks or struggling in chaparral like a fly in a 
spiderweb, his troubles were sad to see, and I 
wished he would leave me and find his way home 

We set out from Yosemite about the end of 
August, and our first camp was made in the well- 
known Mariposa Grove. Here and in the adjacent 
pine woods I spent nearly a week, carefully exam- 
ining the boundaries of the grove for traces of its 
greater extension without finding any. Then I 
struck out into the majestic trackless forest to the 
southeastward, hoping to find new groves or traces 
of old ones in the dense silver fir and pine woods 
about the head of Big Creek, where soil and cli- 
mate seemed most favorable to their growth, but 
not a single tree or old monument of any sort came 
to light until I climbed the high rock called 
Wamellow by the Indians. Here I obtained tell- 


ing views of the fertile forest-filled basin of the 
upper Fresno. Innumerable spires of the noble 
yellow pine were displayed rising above one an- 
other on the braided slopes, and yet nobler sugar 
pines with superb arms outstretched in the rich 
autumn light, while away toward the southwest, 
on the verge of the glowing horizon, I discov- 
ered the majestic dome-like crowns of Big Trees 
towering high over all, singly and in close grove 
congregations. There is something wonderfully 
attractive in this king tree, even when beheld 
from afar, that draws us to it with indescrib- 
able enthusiasm; its superior height and mas- 
sive smoothly rounded outlines proclaiming its 
character in any company ; and when one of 
the oldest attains full stature on some com- 
manding ridge it seems the very god of the 
woods. I ran back to camp, packed Brownie, 
steered over the divide and down into the heart 
of the Fresno Grove. Then choosing a camp 
on the side of a brook where the grass was good, 
I made a cup of tea, and set off free among the 
brown giants, glorying in the abundance of new 
work about me. One of the first special things 
that caught my attention was an extensive land- 
slip. The ground on the side of a stream had 
given way to a depth of about fifty feet and 
with all its trees had been launched into the bot- 
tom of the stream ravine. Most of the trees 
pines, firs, incense cedar, and Sequoia were still 


standing erect and uninjured, as if unconscious 
that anything out of the common had happened. 
Tracing the ravine alongside the avalanche, I 
saw many trees whose roots had been laid bare, 
and in one instance discovered a Sequoia about 
fifteen feet in diameter growing above an old 
prostrate trunk that seemed to belong to a 
former generation. This slip had occurred seven 
or eight years ago, and I was glad to find that 
not only were most of the Big Trees uninjured, 
but that many companies of hopeful seedlings 
and saplings were growing confidently on the 
fresh soil along the broken front of the ava- 
lanche. These young trees were already eight or 
ten feet high, and were shooting up vigorously, 
as if sure of eternal life, though young pines, 
firs, and libocedrus were runing a race with them 
for the sunshine with an even start. Farther 
down the ravine I counted five hundred and 
thirty-six promising young Sequoias on a bed of 
rough bouldery soil not exceeding two acres in 

The Fresno Big Trees covered an area of 
about four square miles, and while wandering 
about surveying the boundaries of the grove, 
anxious to see every tree, I came suddenly on a 
handsome log cabin, richly embowered and so 
fresh and unweathered it was still redolent of 
gum and balsam like a newly felled tree. Stroll- 
ing forward, wondering who could have built it, 


I found an old, weary-eyed, speculative, gray- 
haired man on a bark stool by the door, reading 
a book. The discovery of his hermitage by a 
stranger seemed to surprise him, but when I ex- 
plained that I was only a tree-lover sauntering 
along the mountains to study Sequoia, he bade 
me welcome, made me bring my mule down to a 
little slanting meadow before his door and camp 
with him, promising to show me his pet trees 
and many curious things bearing on my studies. 
After supper, as the evening shadows were 
falling, the good hermit sketched his life in the 
mines, which in the main was like that of most 
other pioneer gold-hunters a succession of in- 
tense experiences full of big ups and downs like 
the mountain topography. Since " '49 " he had 
wandered over most of the Sierra, sinking in- 
numerable prospect holes like a sailor making 
soundings, digging new channels for streams, 
sifting gold-sprinkled boulder and gravel beds 
with unquenchable energy, life's noon the mean- 
while passing unnoticed into late afternoon shad- 
ows. Then, health and gold gone, the game 
played and lost, like a wounded deer creeping 
into this forest solitude, he awaits the sundown 
call. .How sad the undertones of many a life 
here, now the noise of the first big gold battles 
has died away ! How many interesting wrecks 
lie drifted and stranded in hidden nooks of the 
gold region ! Perhaps no other range contains 


the remains of so many rare and interesting men. 
The name of my hermit friend is John A. Nelder, 
a fine kind man, who in going into the woods has 
at last gone home ; for he loves nature truly, and 
realizes that these last shadowy days with scarce a 
glint of gold in them are the best of all. Birds, 
squirrels, plants get loving, natural recognition, 
and delightful it was to see how sensitively he 
responds to the silent influences of the woods. 
His eyes brightened as he gazed on the trees that 
stand guard around his little home; squirrels 
and mountain quail came to his call to be fed, 
and he tenderly stroked the little snowbent sap- 
ling Sequoias, hoping they yet might grow 
straight to the sky and rule the grove. One of 
the greatest of his trees stands a little way back of 
his cabin, and he proudly led me to it, bidding me 
admire its colossal proportions and measure it to 
see if in all the forest there could be another so 
grand. It proved to be only twenty-six feet in 
diameter, and he seemed distressed to learn that 
the Mariposa Grizzly Giant was larger. I tried 
to comfort him by observing that his was the taller, 
finer formed, and perhaps the more favorably 
situated. Then he led me to some noble ruins, 
remnants of gigantic trunks of trees that he sup- 
posed must have been larger than any now 
standing, and though they had lain on the damp 
ground exposed to fire and the weather for cen- 
turies, the wood was perfectly sound. Sequoia 


timber is not only beautiful in color, rose red 
when fresh, and as easily worked as pine, but 
it is almost absolutely unperishable. Build a 
house of Big Tree logs on granite and that house 
will last about as long as its foundation. In- 
deed fire seems to be the only agent that has 
any appreciable effect on it. From one of these 
ancient trunk remnants I cut a specimen of the 
wood, which neither in color, strength, nor 
soundness could be distinguished from speci- 
mens cut from living trees, although it had cer- 
tainly lain on the damp forest floor for more than 
three hundred and eighty years, probably more 
than thrice as long. The time in this instance 
was determined as follows : When the tree from 
which the specimen was derived fell it sunk itself 
into the ground, making a ditch about two 
hundred feet long and five or six feet deep; 
and in the middle of this ditch, where a part 
of the fallen trunk had been burned, a silver 
fir four feet in diameter and three hundred and 
eighty years old was growing, showing that the 
Sequoia trunk had lain on the ground three 
hundred and eighty years plus the unknown time 
that it lay before the part whose place had been 
taken by the fir was burned out of the way, and 
that which had elapsed ere the seed from which 
the monumental fir sprang fell into the prepared 
soil and took root. Now because Sequoia trunks 
are never wholly consumed in one forest fire and 


these fires recur only at considerable intervals, 
and because Sequoia ditches, after being cleared, 
are often left unplanted for centuries, it becomes 
evident that the trunk remnant in question may 
have been on the ground a thousand years or 
more. Similar vestiges are common, and to- 
gether with the root-bowls and long straight 
ditches of the fallen monarchs, throw a sure light 
back on the post-glacial history of the species, 
bearing on its distribution. One of the most in- 
teresting features of this grove is the apparent 
ease and strength and comfortable independ- 
ence in which the trees occupy their place in 
the general forest. Seedlings, saplings, young 
and middle-aged trees are grouped promisingly 
around the old patriarchs, betraying no sign of 
approach to extinction. On the contrary, all 
seem to be saying, " Everything is to our mind 
and we mean to live forever." But, sad to tell, 
a lumber company was building a large mill and 
flume near by, assuring widespread destruction. 
In the cones and sometimes in the lower portion 
of the trunk and roots there is a dark gritty sub- 
stance which dissolves readily in water and yields 
a magnificent purple color. It is a strong astrin- 
gent, and is said to be used by the Indians as a big 
medicine. Mr. Nelder showed me specimens of 
ink he had made from it, which I tried and found 
good, flowing freely and holding its color well. 
Indeed everything about the tree seems constant. 


With these interesting trees, forming the largest 
of the northern groves, I stopped only a week, 
for I had far to go before the fall of the snow. 
The hermit seemed to cling to me and tried to 
make me promise to winter with him after the 
season's work was done. Brownie had to be got 
home, however, and other work awaited me, 
therefore I could only promise to stop a day or 
two on my way back to Yosemite and give him 
the forest news. 

The next two weeks were spent in the wide 
basin of the San Joaquin, climbing innumer- 
able ridges and surveying the far-extending sea 
of pines and firs. But not a single Sequoia 
crown appeared among them all, nor any trace 
of a fallen trunk, until I had crossed the south 
divide of the basin, opposite Dinky Creek, one of 
the northmost tributaries of Kings River. On 
this stream there is a small grove, said to have 
been discovered a few years before my visit by 
two hunters in pursuit of a wounded bear. Just 
as I was fording one of the branches of Dinky 
Creek I met a shepherd, and when I asked him 
whether he knew anything about the Big Trees of 
the neighborhood he replied, " I know all about 
them, for I visited them only a few days ago and 
pastured my sheep in the grove." He was fresh 
from the East, and as this was his first summer in 
the Sierra I was curious to learn what impression 
the Sequoias had made on him. When I asked 


whether it was true that the Big Trees were 
really so big as people say, he warmly replied, 
" Oh, yes sir, you bet. They 're whales. I never 
used to believe half I heard about the awful size of 
California trees, but they 're monsters and no mis- 
take. One of them over here, they tell me, is the 
biggest tree in the whole world, and I guess it is, 
for it 's forty foot through and as many good 
long paces around." He was very earnest, and in 
fullness of faith offered to guide me to the grove 
that I might not miss seeing this biggest tree. 
A fair measurement four feet from the ground, 
above the main swell of the roots, showed a 
diameter of only thirty-two feet, much to the 
young man's disgust. " Only thirty-two feet," 
he lamented, "only thirty-two, and I always 
thought it was forty ! " Then with a sigh of 
relief, " No matter, that 's a big tree, anyway ; 
no fool of a tree, sir, that you can cut a plank 
out of thirty feet broad, straight-edged, no bark, 
all good wood, sound and solid. It would make 
the brag white pine planks from old Maine look 
like laths." A good many other fine specimens 
are distributed along three small branches of the 
creek, and I noticed several thrifty moderate- 
sized Sequoias growing on a granite ledge, appar- 
ently as independent of deep soil as the pines and 
firs, clinging to seams and fissures and sending 
their roots far abroad in search of moisture. 
The creek is very clear and beautiful, gliding 


through tangles of shrubs and flower beds, gay 
bee and butterfly pastures, the grove's own 
stream, pure Sequoia water, flowing all the year, 
every drop filtered through moss and leaves and 
the myriad spongy rootlets of the giant trees. 
One of the most interesting features of the grove 
is a small waterfall with a flowery, ferny, clear 
brimming pool at the foot of it. How cheerily 
it sings the songs of the wilderness, and how 
sweet its tones ! You seem to taste as well as 
hear them, while only the subdued roar of the 
river in the deep canon reaches up into the grove, 
sounding like the sea and the winds. So charm- 
ing a fall and pool in the heart of so glorious a 
forest good pagans would have consecrated to 
some lovely nymph. 

Hence down into the main Kings River canon, 
a mile deep, I led and dragged and shoved my 
patient, much-enduring mule through miles and 
miles of gardens and brush, fording innumerable 
streams, crossing savage rock slopes and taluses, 
scrambling, sliding through gulches and gorges, 
then up into the grand Sequoia forests of the 
south side, cheered by the royal crowns displayed 
on the narrow horizon. In a day and a half we 
reached the Sequoia woods in the neighborhood 
of the old Thomas' Mill Flat. Thence striking 
off northeastward I found a magnificent forest 
nearly six miles long by two in width, composed 
mostly of Big Trees, with outlying groves as far 


east as Boulder Creek. Here five or six days 
were spent, and it was delightful to learn from 
countless trees, old and young, how comfortably 
they were settled down in concordance with cli- 
mate and soil and their noble neighbors. 

Imbedded in these majestic woods there are 
numerous meadows, around the sides of which 
the Big Trees press close together in beautiful 
lines, showing their grandeur openly from the 
ground to their domed heads in the sky. The 
young trees are still more numerous and exu- 
berant than in the Fresno and Dinky groves, 
standing apart in beautiful family groups, or 
crowding around the old giants. For every ven- 
erable lightning-stricken tree, there is one or 
more in all the glory of prime, and for each of 
these, many young trees and crowds of saplings. 
The young trees express the grandeur of their 
race in a way indefinable by any words at my 
command. When they are five or six feet in 
diameter and a hundred and fifty feet high, they 
seem like mere baby saplings as many inches in 
diameter, their juvenile habit and gestures com- 
pletely veiling their real size, even to those who, 
from long experience, are able to make fair ap- 
proximation in their measurements of common 
trees. One morning I noticed three airy, spiry, 
quick-growing babies on the side of a meadow, 
the largest of which I took to be about eight 
inches in diameter. On measuring it, I found to 


my astonishment it was five feet six inches in 
diameter, and about a hundred and forty feet 

On a bed of sandy ground fifteen yards square, 
which had been occupied by four sugar pines, 
I counted ninety-four promising seedlings, an 
instance of Sequoia gaining ground from its 
neighbors. Here also I noted eighty-six young 
Sequoias from one to fifty feet high on less than 
half an acre of ground that had been cleared and 
prepared for their reception by fire. This was a 
small bay burned into dense chaparral, showing 
that fire, the great destroyer of tree life, is some- 
times followed by conditions favorable for new 
growths. Sufficient fresh soil, however, is fur- 
nished for the constant renewal of the forest by 
the fall of old trees without the help of any other 
agent, burrowing animals, fire, flood, landslip, 
etc., for the ground is thus turned and stirred 
as well as cleared, and in every roomy, shady hol- 
low beside the walls of upturned roots many 
hopeful seedlings spring up. 

The largest, and as far as I know the oldest, of 
all the Kings River trees that I saw is the ma- 
jestic stump, already referred to, about a hundred 
and forty feet high, which above the swell of the 
roots is thirty-five feet and eight inches inside the 
bark, and over four thousand years old. It was 
burned nearly half through at the base, and I 
spent a day in chopping off the charred surface, 


cutting into the heart, and counting the wood- 
rings with the aid of a lens. I made out a little 
over four thousand without difficulty or doubt, 
but I was unable to get a complete count, owing 
to confusion in the rings where wounds had been 
healed over. Judging by what is left of it, this 
was a fine, tall, symmetrical tree nearly forty feet 
in diameter before it lost its bark. In the last 
sixteen hundred and seventy-two years the in- 
crease in diameter was ten feet. A short distance 
south of this forest lies a beautiful grove, now 
mostly included in the General Grant National 
Park. I found many shake-makers at work in 
it, access to these magnificent woods having been 
made easy by the old mill wagon road. The Park 
is only two miles square, and the largest of its 
many fine trees is the General Grant, so named 
before the date of my first visit, twenty-eight years 
ago, and said to be the largest tree in the world, 
though above the craggy bulging base the dia- 
meter is less than thirty feet. The Sanger Lum- 
ber Company owns nearly all the Kings River 
groves outside the Park, and for many years the 
mills have been spreading desolation without any 

One of the shake-makers directed me to an 
"old snag biggeren Grant." It proved to be a 
huge black charred stump thirty-two feet in dia- 
meter, the next in size to the grand monument 
mentioned above. 


I found a scattered growth of Big Trees ex- 
tending across the main divide to within a short 
distance of Hyde's Mill, on a tributary of Dry 
Creek. The mountain ridge on the south side of 
the stream was covered from base to summit with 
a most superb growth of Big Trees. What a 
picture it made ! In all my wide forest wanderings 
I had seen none so sublime. Every tree of all 
the mighty host seemed perfect in beauty and 
strength, and their majestic domed heads, rising 
above one another on the mountain slope, were 
most imposingly displayed, like a range of bossy 
upswelling cumulus clouds on a calm sky. 

In this glorious forest the mill was busy, form- 
ing a sore, sad centre of destruction, though small 
as yet, so immensely heavy was the growth. 
Only the smaller and most accessible of the trees 
were being cut. The logs, from three to ten or 
twelve feet in diameter, were dragged or rolled 
with long strings of oxen into a chute and sent 
flying down the steep mountain side to the mill 
flat, where the largest of them were blasted into 
manageable dimensions for the saws. And as 
the timber is very brash, by this blasting and 
careless felling on uneven ground, half or three 
fourths of the timber was wasted. 

I spent several days exploring the ridge and 
counting the annual wood rings on a large num- 
ber of stumps in the clearings, then replenished 
my bread sack and pushed on southward. All 


the way across the broad rough basins of the 
Kaweah and Tule rivers Sequoia ruled supreme, 
forming an almost continuous belt for sixty or 
seventy miles, waving up and down in huge 
massy mountain billows in compliance with the 
grand glacier-ploughed topography. 

Day after day, from grove to grove, canon to 
canon, I made a long, wavering way, terribly 
rough in some places for Brownie, but cheery 
for me, for Big Trees were seldom out of sight. 
We crossed the rugged, picturesque basins of 
Redwood Creek, the North Fork of the Kaweah, 
and Marble Fork gloriously forested, and full of 
beautiful cascades and falls, sheer and slanting, 
infinitely varied with broad curly foam fleeces 
and strips of embroidery in which the sunbeams 
revel. Thence we climbed into the noble forest 
on the Marble and Middle Fork Divide. After 
a general exploration of the Kaweah basin, this 
part of the Sequoia belt seemed to me the finest, 
and I then named it " the Giant Forest." It ex- 
tends, a magnificent growth of giants grouped in 
pure temple groves, ranged in colonnades along 
the sides of meadows, or scattered among the 
other trees, from the granite headlands overlook- 
ing the hot foothills and plains of the San Joaquin 
back to within a few miles of the old glacier 
fountains at an elevation of 5000 to 8400 feet 
above the sea. 

When I entered this sublime wilderness the 


day was nearly done, the trees with rosy, glowing 
countenances seemed to be hushed and thought- 
ful, as if waiting in conscious religious dependence 
on the sun, and one naturally walked softly and 
awe-stricken among them. I wandered on, meet- 
ing nobler trees where all are noble, subdued in 
the general calm, as if in some vast hall pervaded 
by the deepest sanctities and solemnities that sway 
human souls. At sundown the trees seemed to 
cease their worship and breathe free. I heard 
the birds going home. I too sought a home for 
the night on the edge of a level meadow where 
there is a long, open view between the evenly 
ranked trees standing guard along its sides. 
Then after a good place was found for poor 
Brownie, who had had a hard, weary day sliding 
and scrambling across the Marble Canon, I made 
my bed and supper and lay on my back looking 
up to the stars through pillared arches finer far 
than the pious heart of man, telling its love, ever 
reared. Then I took a walk up the meadow to 
see the trees in the pale light. They seemed still 
more marvelously massive and tall than by day, 
heaving their colossal heads into the depths of 
the sky, among the stars, some of which appeared 
to be sparkling on their branches like flowers. 
I built a big fire that vividly illumined the huge 
brown boles of the nearest trees and the little 
plants and cones and fallen leaves at their feet, 
keeping up the show until I fell asleep to dream 


of boundless forests and trail-building for 

Joyous birds welcomed the dawn ; and the 
squirrels, now their food cones were ripe and 
had to be quickly gathered and stored for winter, 
began their work before sunrise. My tea-and- 
bread-crumb breakfast was soon done, and leav- 
ing jaded Brownie to feed and rest I sauntered 
forth to my studies. In every direction Sequoia 
ruled the woods. Most of the other big conifers 
were present here and there, but not as rivals or 
companions. They only served to thicken and 
enrich the general wilderness. Trees of every 
age cover craggy ridges as well as the deep mo- 
raine-soiled slopes, and plant their magnificent 
shafts along every brookside and meadow. Bogs 
and meadows are rare or entirely wanting in 
the isolated groves north of Kings River ; here 
there is a beautiful series of them lying on the 
broad top of the main dividing ridge, imbedded 
in the very heart of the mammoth woods as if 
for ornament, their smooth, plushy bosoms kept 
bright and fertile by streams and sunshine. 

Resting awhile on one of the most beautiful of 
them when the sun was high, it seemed impossible 
that any other forest picture in the world could 
rival it. There lay the grassy, flowery lawn, three 
fourths of a mile long, smoothly outspread, bask- 
ing in mellow autumn light, colored brown and 
yellow and purple, streaked with Hues of green 


along the streams, and ruffled here and there with 
patches of ledum and scarlet vaccinium. Around 
the margin there is first a fringe of azalea and 
willow bushes, colored orange yellow, enlivened 
with vivid dashes of red cornel, as if painted. 
Then up spring the mighty walls of verdure 
three hundred feet high, the brown fluted pil- 
lars so thick and tall and strong they seem fit to 
uphold the sky ; the dense foliage, swelling for- 
ward in rounded bosses on the upper half, vari- 
ously shaded and tinted, that of the young trees 
dark green, of the old yellowish. An aged 
lightning-smitten patriarch standing a little for- 
ward beyond the general line with knotty arms 
outspread was covered with gray and yellow 
lichens and surrounded by a group of saplings 
whose slender spires seemed to lack not a single 
leaf or spray in their wondrous perfection. Such 
was the Kaweah meadow picture that golden 
afternoon, and as I gazed every color seemed to 
deepen and glow as if the progress of the fresh 
sun-work were visible from hour to hour, while 
every tree seemed religious and conscious of the 
presence of God. A free man revels in a scene 
like this and time goes by unmeasured. I stood 
fixed in silent wonder or sauntered about shift- 
ing my points of view, studying the physiog- 
nomy of separate trees, and going out to the 
different color patches to see how they were put 
on and what they were made of, giving free ex- 


pression to my joy, exulting in Nature's wild im- 
mortal vigor and beauty, never dreaming any 
other human being was near. Suddenly the 
spell was broken by dull bumping, thudding 
sounds, and a man and horse came in sight at 
the farther end of the meadow, where they 
seemed sadly out of place. A good big bear or 
mastodon or megatherium would have been more 
in keeping with the old mammoth forest. Never- 
theless, it is always pleasant to meet one of our 
own species after solitary rambles, and I stepped 
out where I could be seen and shouted, when the 
rider reined in his galloping mustang and waited 
my approach. He seemed too much surprised 
to speak until, laughing in his puzzled face, I 
said I was glad to meet a fellow mountaineer in 
so lonely a place. Then he abruptly asked, 
"What are you doing? How did you get 
here ? " I explained that I came across the 
canons from Yosemite and was only looking at 
the trees. " Oh then, I know," he said, greatly 
to my surprise, " you must be John Muir." He 
was herding a band of horses that had been 
driven up a rough trail from the lowlands to feed 
on these forest meadows. A few handfuls of 
crumb detritus was all that was left in my bread 
sack, so I told him that I was nearly out of pro- 
vision and asked whether he could spare me a 
little flour. " Oh yes, of course you can have 
anything I Ve got," he said. " Just take my 


track and it will lead you to my camp in a big 
hollow log on the side of a meadow two or three 
miles from here. I must ride after some strayed 
horses, but I '11 be back before night ; in the 
mean time make yourself at home." He galloped 
away to the northward, I returned to my own 
camp, saddled Brownie, and by the middle of the 
afternoon discovered his noble den in a fallen 
Sequoia hoUowed by fire a spacious loghouse 
of one log, carbon-lined, centuries old yet sweet 
and fresh, weather proof, earthquake proof, 
likely to outlast the most durable stone castle, 
and commanding views of garden and grove 
grander far than the richest king ever enjoyed. 
Brownie found plenty of grass and I found 
bread, which I ate with views from the big 
round, ever-open door. Soon the good Samaritan 
mountaineer came in, and I enjoyed a famous 
rest listening to his observations on trees, ani- 
mals, adventures, etc., while he was busily pre- 
paring supper. In answer to inquiries concern- 
ing the distribution of the Big Trees he gave 
a good deal of particular information of the 
forest we were in, and he had heard that the 
species extended a long way south, he knew not 
how far. I wandered about for several days 
within a radius of six or seven miles of the camp, 
surveying boundaries, measuring trees, and 
climbing the highest points for general views. 
From the south side of the divide I saw telling 


ranks of Sequoia-crowned headlands stretching 
far into the hazy distance, and plunging vaguely 
down into profound canon depths foreshadowing 
weeks of good work. I had now been out on 
the trip more than a month, and I began to fear 
my studies would be interrupted by snow, for 
winter was drawing nigh. " Where there is n't 
a way make a way," is easily said when no way 
at the time is needed, but to the Sierra explorer 
with a mule traveling across the canon lines of 
drainage the brave old phrase becomes heavy 
with meaning. There are ways across the Sierra 
graded by glaciers, well marked, and followed 
by men and beasts and birds, and one of them 
even by locomotives ; but none natural or artifi- 
cial along the range, and the explorer who 
would thus travel at right angles to the glacial 
ways must traverse canons and ridges extending 
side by side in endless succession, roughened 
by side gorges and gulches and stubborn chapar- 
ral, and defended by innumerable sheer-fronted 
precipices. My own ways are easily made in any 
direction, but Brownie, though one of the tough- 
est and most skillful of his race, was oftentimes 
discouraged for want of hands, and caused end- 
less work. Wild at first, he was tame enough 
now ; and when turned loose he not only refused 
to run away, but as his troubles increased came 
to depend on me in such a pitiful, touching way, 
I became attached to him and helped him as if 


he were a good-natured boy in distress, and then 
the labor grew lighter. Bidding good-by to the 
kind Sequoia cave-dweller, we vanished again in 
the wilderness, drifting slowly southward, Se- 
quoias on every ridge-top beckoning and point- 
ing the way. 

In the forest between the Middle and East 
forks of the Kaweah, I met a great fire, and as 
fire is the master scourge and controller of the 
distribution of trees, I stopped to watch it and 
learn what I could of its works and ways with 
the giants. It came racing up the steep chapar- 
ral-covered slopes of the East Fork canon with 
passionate enthusiasm in a broad cataract of 
flames, now bending down low to feed on the 
green bushes, devouring acres of them at a 
breath, now towering high in the air as if look- 
ing abroad to choose a way, then stooping to 
feed again, the lurid flapping surges and the 
smoke and terrible rushing and roaring hiding 
all that is gentle and orderly in the work. But 
as soon as the deep forest was reached the un- 
governable flood became calm like a torrent en- 
tering a lake, creeping and spreading beneath 
the trees where the ground was level or sloped 
gently, slowly nibbling the cake of compressed 
needles and scales with flames an inch high, ris- 
ing here and there to a foot or two on dry twigs 
and clumps of small bushes and brome grass. 
Only at considerable intervals were fierce bonfires 


lighted, where heavy branches broken off by 
snow had accumulated, or around some vener- 
able giant whose head had been stricken off by 

I tethered Brownie on the edge of a little 
meadow beside a stream a good safe way off, and 
then cautiously chose a camp for myself in a big 
stout hollow trunk not likely to be crushed by 
the fall of burning trees, and made a bed of 
ferns and boughs in it. The night, however, and 
the strange wild fireworks were too beautiful and 
exciting to allow much sleep. There was no 
danger of being chased and hemmed in, for in 
the main forest belt of the Sierra, even when 
swift winds are blowing, fires seldom or never 
sweep over the trees in broad all-embracing 
sheets as they do in the dense Rocky Moun- 
tain woods and in those of the Cascade Moun- 
tains of Oregon and Washington. Here they 
creep from tree to tree with tranquil deliberation, 
allowing close observation, though caution is re- 
quired in venturing around the burning giants 
to avoid falling limbs and knots and fragments 
from dead shattered tops. Though the day was 
best for study, I sauntered about night after 
night, learning what I could and admiring the 
wonderful show vividly displayed in the lonely 
darkness, the ground-fire advancing in long 
crooked lines gently grazing and smoking on the 
close-pressed leaves, springing up in thousands 


of little jets of pure flame on dry tassels and 
twigs, and tall spires and flat sheets with jagged 
flapping edges dancing here and there on grass 
tufts and bushes, big bonfires blazing in perfect 
storms of energy where heavy branches mixed 
with small ones lay smashed together in hundred 
cord piles, big red arches between spreading 
root-swells and trees growing close together, 
huge fire-mantled trunks on the hill slopes glow- 
ing like bars of hot iron, violet-colored fire run- 
ning up the tall trees, tracing the furrows of the 
bark in quick quivering rills, and lighting magnifi- 
cent torches on dry shattered tops, and ever and 
anon, with a tremendous roar and burst of light, 
young trees clad in low - descending feathery 
branches vanishing in one flame two or three 
hundred feet high. 

One of the most impressive and beautiful 
sights was made by the great fallen trunks lying 
on the hillsides all red and glowing like colossal 
iron bars fresh from a furnace, two hundred 
feet long some of them, and ten to twenty feet 
thick. After repeated burnings have consumed 
the bark and sap wood, the sound charred surface, 
being full of cracks and sprinkled with leaves, 
is quickly overspread with a pure, rich, furred, 
ruby glow almost flameless and smokeless, pro- 
ducing a marvelous effect in the night. Another 
grand and interesting sight are the fires on the 
tops of the largest living trees flaming above the 


green branches at a height of perhaps two hun- 
dred feet, entirely cut off from the ground-fires, 
and looking like signal beacons on watch towers. 
From one standpoint I sometimes saw a dozen or 
more, those in the distance looking like great 
stars above the forest roof. At first I could not 
imagine how these Sequoia lamps were lighted, 
but the very first night, strolling about waiting 
and watching, I saw the thing done again and 
again. The thick, fibrous bark of old trees is 
divided by deep, nearly continuous furrows, the 
sides of which are bearded with the bristling ends 
of fibres broken by the growth swelling of the 
trunk, and when the fire comes creeping around 
the feet of the trees, it runs up these bristly fur- 
rows in lovely pale blue quivering, bickering rills 
of flame with a low, earnest whispering sound to 
the lightning-shattered top of the trunk, which, 
in the dry Indian summer, with perhaps leaves 
and twigs and squirrel-gnawed cone-scales and 
seed-wings lodged in it, is readily ignited. These 
lamp-lighting rills, the most beautiful fire streams 
I ever saw, last only a minute or two, but the big 
lamps burn with varying brightness for days and 
weeks, throwing off sparks like the spray of a 
fountain, while ever and anon a shower of red 
coals comes sifting down through the branches, 
followed at times with startling effect by a big 
burned-off chunk weighing perhaps half a ton. 
The immense bonfires where fifty or a hundred 


cords of peeled, split, smashed wood has been 
piled around some old giant by a single stroke of 
lightning is another grand sight in the night. 
The light is so great I found I could read com- 
mon print three hundred yards from them, 
and the illumination of the circle of onlooking 
trees is indescribably impressive. Other big fires, 
roaring and booming like waterfalls, were blaz- 
ing on the upper sides of trees on hillslopes, 
against which limbs broken off by heavy snow 
had rolled, while branches high overhead, tossed 
and shaken by the ascending air current, seemed 
to be writhing in pain. Perhaps the most start- 
ling phenomenon of all was the quick death of 
childlike Sequoias only a century or two of age. 
In the midst of the other comparatively slow and 
steady fire work one of these tall, beautiful sap- 
lings, leafy and branchy, would be seen blazing 
up suddenly, all in one heaving, booming, pas- 
sionate flame reaching from the ground to the 
top of the tree and fifty to a hundred feet or 
more above it, with a smoke column bending for- 
ward and streaming away on the upper, free- 
flowing wind. To burn these green trees a 
strong fire of dry wood beneath them is required, 
to send up a current of air hot enough to distill 
inflammable gases from the leaves and sprays ; 
then instead of the lower limbs gradually catch- 
ing fire and igniting the next and next in succes- 
sion, the whole tree seems to explode almost simul- 


taneously, and with awful roaring and throbbing 
a round, tapering flame shoots up two or three 
hundred feet, and in a second or two is quenched, 
leaving the green spire a black, dead mast, bris- 
tled and roughened with down-curling boughs. 
Nearly all the trees that have been burned 
down are lying with their heads uphill, because 
they are burned far more deeply on the upper 
side, on account of broken limbs rolling down 
against them to make hot fires, while only leaves 
and twigs accumulate on the lower side and 
are quickly consumed without injury to the tree. 
But green, resinless Sequoia wood burns very 
slowly, and many successive fires are required to 
burn down a large tree. Fires can run only at 
intervals of several years, and when the ordinary 
amount of firewood that has rolled against the 
gigantic trunk is consumed, only a shallow scar 
is made, which is slowly deepened by recurring 
fires until far beyond the centre of gravity, and 
when at last the tree falls, it of course falls uphill. 
The healing folds of wood layers on some of the 
deeply burned trees show that centuries have 
elapsed since the last wounds were made. 

When a great Sequoia falls, its head is smashed 
into fragments about as small as those made by 
lightning, which are mostly devoured by the first 
running, hunting fire that finds them, while the 
trunk is slowly wasted away by centuries of fire 
and weather. One of the most interesting fire 


actions on the trunk is the boring of those great 
tunnel-like hollows through which horsemen may 
gallop. All of these famous hollows are burned 
out of the solid wood, for no Sequoia is ever 
hollowed by decay. When the tree falls the brash 
trunk is often broken straight across into sections 
as if sawed ; into these joints the fire creeps, 
and, on account of the great size of the broken 
ends, burns for weeks or even months without 
being much influenced by the weather. After 
the great glowing ends fronting each other have 
burned so far apart that their rims cease to burn, 
the fire continues to work on in the centres, and 
the ends become deeply concave. Then heat be- 
ing radiated from side to side, the burning goes 
on in each section of the trunk independent of 
the other, until the diameter of the bore is so 
great that the heat radiated across from side to 
side is not sufficient to keep them burning. It 
appears, therefore, that only very large trees can 
receive the fire-auger and have any shell rim left. 
Fire attacks the large trees only at the ground, 
consuming the fallen leaves and humus at their 
feet, doing them but little harm unless consider- 
able quantities of fallen limbs happen to be piled 
about them, their thick mail of spongy, unpitchy, 
almost unburnable bark affording strong protec- 
tion. Therefore the oldest and most perfect 
unscarred trees are found on ground that is 
nearly level, while those growing on hillsides, 


against which falling branches roll, are always 
deeply scarred on the upper side, and as we have 
seen are sometimes burned down. The saddest 
thing of all was to see the hopeful seedlings, 
many of them crinkled and bent with the pres- 
sure of winter snow, yet bravely aspiring at the 
top, helplessly perishing, and young trees, per- 
fect spires of verdure and naturally immortal, 
suddenly changed to dead masts. Yet the sun 
looked cheerily down the openings in the forest 
roof, turning the black smoke to a beautiful 
brown, as if all was for the best. 

Beneath the smoke-clouds of the suffering 
forest we again pushed southward, descending a 
side-gorge of the East Fork canon and climbing 
another into new forests and groves not a whit 
less noble. Brownie, the meanwhile, had been 
resting, while I was weary and sleepy with almost 
ceaseless wanderings, giving only an hour or two 
each night or day to sleep in my log home. 
Way-making here seemed to become more and 
more difficult, " impossible," in common phrase, 
for four-legged travelers. Two or three miles 
was all the day's work as far as distance was con- 
cerned. Nevertheless, just before sundown we 
found a charming camp ground with plenty of 
grass, and a forest to study that had felt no fire 
for many a year. The camp hollow was evi- 
dently a favorite home of bears. On many of 
the trees, at a height of six or eight feet, their 


autographs were inscribed in strong, free, flow- 
ing strokes on the soft bark where they had stood 
up like cats to stretch their limbs. Using both 
hands, every claw a pen, the handsome curved 
lines of their writing take the form of remark- 
ably regular interlacing pointed arches, produ- 
cing a truly ornamental effect. I looked and 
listened, half expecting to see some of the writers 
alarmed and withdrawing from the unwonted 
disturbance. Brownie also looked and listened, 
for mules fear bears instinctively and have a very 
keen nose for them. When I turned him loose, 
instead of going to the best grass, he kept 
cautiously near the camp-fire for protection, but 
was careful not to step on me. The great starry 
night passed away in deep peace and the rosy 
morning sunbeams were searching the grove ere 
I awoke from a long, blessed sleep. 

The breadth of the Sequoia belt here is about 
the same as on the north side of the river, ex- 
tending, rather thin and scattered in some places, 
among the noble pines from near the main forest 
belt of the range well back towards the frosty 
peaks, where most of the trees are growing on 
moraines but little changed as yet. 

Two days' scramble above Bear Hollow I en- 
joyed an interesting interview with deer. Soon 
after sunrise a little company of four came to my 
camp in a wild garden imbedded in chaparral, 
and after much cautious observation quietly 


began to eat breakfast with me. Keeping per- 
fectly still I soon had their confidence, and they 
came so near I found no difficulty, while admir- 
ing their graceful manners and gestures, in 
determining what plants they were eating, thus 
gaining a far finer knowledge and sympathy 
than comes by killing and hunting. 

Indian summer gold with scarce a whisper of 
winter in it was painting the glad wilderness in 
richer and yet richer colors as we scrambled 
across the South canon into the basin of the 
Tule. Here the Big Tree forests are still more 
extensive, and furnished abundance of work in 
tracing boundaries and gloriously crowned ridges 
up and down, back and forth, exploring, study- 
ing, admiring, while the great measureless day? 
passed on and away uncounted. But in the 
calm of the camp-fire the end of the season 
seemed near. Brownie too often brought snow- 
storms to mind. He became doubly jaded, 
though I never rode him, and always left him in 
camp to feed and rest while I explored. The in- 
vincible bread business also troubled me again ; 
the last mealy crumbs were consumed, and grass 
was becoming scarce even in the roughest rock- 
piles, naturally inaccessible to sheep. One after- 
noon, as I gazed over the rolling bossy Sequoia 
billows stretching interminably southward, seek- 
ing a way and counting how far I might go 
without food, a rifle shot rang out sharp and 


clear. Marking the direction I pushed gladly on, 
hoping to find some hunter who could spare a 
little food. Within a few hundred rods I struck 
the track of a shod horse, which led to the camp 
of two Indian shepherds. One of them was 
cooking supper when I arrived. Glancing curi- 
ously at me he saw that I was hungry, and gave 
me some mutton and bread, and said encour- 
agingly as he pointed to the west, " Putty soon 
Indian come, heap speak English." Toward 
sundown two thousand sheep beneath a cloud of 
dust came streaming through the grand Sequoias 
to a meadow below the camp, and presently the 
English-speaking shepherd came in, to whom I 
explained my wants and what I was doing. 
Like most white men, he could not conceive how 
anything other than gold could be the object 
of such rambles as mine, and asked repeatedly 
whether I had discovered any mines. I tried to 
make him talk about trees and the wild animals, 
but unfortunately he proved to be a tame Indian 
from the Tule Reservation, had been to school, 
claimed to be civilized, and spoke contemptuously 
of " wild Indians," and so of course his inherited 
instincts were blurred or lost. The Big Trees, 
he said, grew far south, for he had seen them in 
crossing the mountains from Porterville to Lone 
Pine. In the morning he kindly gave me a 
few pounds of flour, and assured me that I would 
get plenty more at a sawmill on the South Fork 


if I reached it before it was shut down for the 

Of all the Tule basin forest the section on the 
North Pork seemed the finest, surpassing, I think, 
even the Giant Forest of the Kaweah. South- 
ward from here, though the width and general 
continuity of the belt is well sustained, I thought 
I could detect a slight falling off in the height 
of the trees and in closeness of growth. All the 
basin was swept by swarms of hoofed locusts, 
the southern part over and over again, until not 
a leaf within reach was left on the wettest bogs, 
the outer edges of the thorniest chaparral beds, 
or even on the young conifers, which, unless 
under the stress of dire famine, sheep never 
touch. Of course Brownie suffered, though I 
made diligent search for grassy sheep-proof spots. 
Turning him loose one evening on the side of a 
carex bog, he dolefully prospected the desolate 
neighborhood without finding anything that even 
a starving mule could eat. Then, utterly dis- 
couraged, he stole up behind me while I was bent 
over on my knees making a fire for tea, and in 
a pitiful mixture of bray and neigh, begged for 
help. It was a mighty touching prayer, and I 
answered it as well as I could with half of what 
was left of a cake made from the last of the 
flour given me by the Indians, hastily passing it 
over my shoulder, and saying, " Yes, poor fellow, 
I know, but soon you '11 have plenty. To-mor- 


row down we go to alfalfa and barley/' speaking 
to him as if he were human, as through stress 
of trouble plainly he was. After eating his por- 
tion of bread he seemed content, for he said no 
more, but patiently turned away to gnaw leaf- 
less ceanothus stubs. Such clinging, confiding 
dependence after all our scrambles and adven- 
tures together was very touching, and I felt con- 
science-stricken for having led him so far in so 
rough and desolate a country. " Man," says 
Lord Bacon, " is the god of the dog." So, also, 
he is of the mule and many other dependent fel- 
low mortals. 

Next morning I turned westward, determined 
to force a way straight to pasture, letting Se- 
quoia wait. Fortunately ere we had struggled 
down through half a mile of chaparral we heard a 
mill whistle, for which we gladly made a bee 
line. At the sawmill we both got a good meal, 
then taking the dusty lumber road pursued our 
way to the lowlands. The nearest good pasture 
I counted might be thirty or forty miles away. 
But scarcely had we gone ten when I noticed a 
little log cabin a hundred yards or so back from 
the road, and a tall man straight as a pine 
standing in front of it observing us as we came 
plodding down through the dust. Seeing no sign 
of grass or hay, I was going past without stopping, 
when he shouted, " Travelin' ? " Then drawing 
nearer, " Where have you come from ? I did n't 


notice you go up." I replied I had come through 
the woods from the north, looking at the trees. 
" Oh, then, you must be John Muir. Halt, 
you're tired; come and rest and I'll cook for 
you." Then I explained that I was tracing the 
Sequoia belt, that on account of sheep my mule 
was starving, and therefore must push on to the 
lowlands. " No, no," he said, " that corral over 
there is full of hay and grain. Turn your mule 
into it. I don't own it, but the fellow who does 
is hauling lumber, and it will be all right. He 's 
a white man. Come and rest. How tired you 
must be ! The Big Trees don't go much farther 
south, nohow. I know the country up there, have 
hunted all over it. Come and rest, and let your 
little doggone rat of a mule rest. How in heavens 
did you get him across the canons roll him ? or 
carry him ? He 's poor, but he '11 get fat, and 
I '11 give you a horse and go with you up the 
mountains, and while you 're looking at the trees 
I '11 go hunting. It will be a short job, for the 
end of the Big Trees is not far." Of course I 
stopped. No true invitation is ever declined. 
He had been hungry and tired himself many a 
time in the Kocky Mountains as well as in the 
Sierra. Now he owned a band of cattle and 
lived alone. His cabin was about eight by ten 
feet, the door at one end, a fireplace at the other, 
and a bed on one side fastened to the logs. 
Leading me in without a word of mean apology, 


he made me lie down on the bed, then reached 
under it, brought forth a sack of apples and ad- 
vised me to keep " chawing " at them until he 
got supper ready. Finer, braver hospitality I 
never found in all this good world so often 
called selfish. 

Next day with hearty, easy alacrity the moun- 
taineer procured horses, prepared and packed pro- 
visions, and got everything ready for an early 
start the following morning. Well mounted, 
we pushed rapidly up the South Fork of the 
river and soon after noon were among the giants 
once more. On the divide between the Tule 
and Deer Creek a central camp was made, and 
the mountaineer spent his time in deer-hunting, 
while with provisions for two or three days I ex- 
plored the woods, and in accordance with what I 
had been told soon reached the southern extrem- 
ity of the belt on the South Fork of Deer Creek. 
To make sure, I searched the woods a consider- 
able distance south of the last Deer Creek grove, 
passed over into the basin of the Kern, and 
climbed several high points commanding extensive 
views over the sugar-pine woods, without seeing a 
single Sequoia crown in all the wide expanse to 
the southward. On the way back to camp, how- 
ever, I was greatly interested in a grove I discov- 
ered on the east side of the Kern River divide, 
opposite the North Fork of Deer Creek. The 
height of the pass where the species crossed over 


is about 7000 feet, and I heard of still another 
grove whose waters drain into the upper Kern 
opposite the Middle Fork of the Tule. 

It appears, therefore, that though the Sequoia 
belt is two hundred and sixty miles long, most of 
the trees are on a section to the south of Kings 
River only about seventy miles in length. But 
though the area occupied by the species increases 
so much to the southward, there is but little 
difference in the size of the trees. A diameter 
of twenty feet and height of two hundred and 
seventy-five is perhaps about the average for 
anything like mature and favorably situated 
trees. Specimens twenty-five feet in diameter 
are not rare, and a good many approach a height 
of three hundred feet. Occasionally one meets 
a specimen thirty feet in diameter, and rarely one 
that is larger. The majestic stump on Kings 
River is the largest I saw and measured on the 
entire trip. Careful search around the bound- 
aries of the forests and groves and in the gaps 
of the belt failed to discover any trace of the 
former existence of the species beyond its present 
limits. On the contrary, it seems to be slightly 
extending its boundaries ; for the outstanding 
stragglers, occasionally met a mile or two from 
the main bodies, are young instead of old monu- 
mental trees. Ancient ruins and the ditches 
and root-bowls the big trunks make in falling 
were found in all the groves, but none outside 


of them. We may therefore conclude that the 
area covered by the species has not been dimin- 
ished during the last eight or ten thousand 
years, and probably not at all in post-glacial 
times. For admitting that upon those areas 
supposed to have been once covered by Sequoia 
every tree may have fallen, and that fire and the 
weather had left not a vestige of them, many 
of the ditches made by the fall of the ponder- 
ous trunks, weighing five hundred to nearly a 
thousand tons, and the bowls made by their up- 
turned roots would remain visible for thousands 
of years after the last remnants of the trees had 
vanished. Some of these records would doubt- 
less be effaced in a comparatively short time by 
the inwashing of sediments, but no inconsider- 
able part of them would remain enduringly en- 
graved on flat ridge tops, almost wholly free 
from such action. 

In the northern groves, the only ones that at 
first came under the observation of students, there 
are but few seedlings and young trees to take the 
places of the old ones. Therefore the species 
was regarded as doomed to speedy extinction, as 
being only an expiring remnant vanquished in 
the so-called struggle for life, and shoved into 
its last strongholds in moist glens where con- 
ditions are exceptionally favorable. But the 
majestic continuous forests of the south end of 
the belt create a very different impression. Here, 


as we have seen, no tree in the forest is more 
enduringly established. Nevertheless it is often- 
times vaguely said that the Sierra climate is 
drying out, and that this oncoming, constantly 
increasing drought will of itself surely extinguish 
King Sequoia, though sections of wood-rings 
show that there has been no appreciable change 
of climate during the last forty centuries. Fur- 
thermore, that Sequoia can grow and is growing 
on as dry ground as any of its neighbors or rivals, 
we have seen proved over and over again. " Why, 
then," it will be asked, " are the Big Tree groves 
always found on well-watered spots?" Simply 
because Big Trees give rise to streams. It is a 
mistake to suppose that the water is the cause of 
the groves being there. On the contrary, the 
groves are the cause of the water being there. 
The roots of this immense tree fill the ground, 
forming a sponge which hoards the bounty of the 
clouds and sends it forth in clear perennial 
streams instead of allowing it to rush headlong 
in short-lived destructive floods. Evaporation is 
also checked, and the air kept still in the shady 
Sequoia depths, while thirsty robber winds are 
shut out. 

Since, then, it appears that Sequoia can and 
does grow on as dry ground as its neighbors and 
that the greater moisture found with it is an 
effect rather than a cause of its presence, the 
notions as to the former greater extension of 


the species and its near approach to extinction, 
based on its supposed dependence on greater 
moisture, are seen to be erroneous. Indeed, all 
my observations go to show that in case of pro- 
longed drought the sugar pines and firs would 
die before Sequoia. Again, if the restricted and 
irregular distribution of the species be interpreted 
as the result of the desiccation of the range, 
then, instead of increasing in individuals toward 
the south, where the rainfall is less, it should 

If, then, its peculiar distribution has not been 
governed by superior conditions of soil and 
moisture, by what has it been governed? Sev- 
eral years before I made this trip, I noticed that 
the northern groves were located on those parts 
of the Sierra soil-belt that were first laid bare 
and opened to preemption when the ice-sheet 
began to break up into individual glaciers. And 
when I was examining the basin of the San 
Joaquin and trying to account for the absence of 
Sequoia, when every condition seemed favorable 
for its growth, it occurred to me that this remark- 
able gap in the belt is located in the channel of 
the great ancient glacier of the San Joaquin and 
Kings River basins, which poured its frozen 
floods to the plain, fed by the snows that fell on 
more than fifty miles of the Summit peaks of the 
range. Constantly brooding on the question, I 
next perceived that the great gap in the belt to 


the northward, forty miles wide, between the 
Stanislaus and Tuolumne groves, occurs in the 
channel of the great Stanislaus and Tuolumne 
glacier, and that the smaller gap between the 
Merced and Mariposa groves occurs in the chan- 
nel of the smaller Merced glacier. The wider 
the ancient glacier, the wider the gap in the 
Sequoia belt, while the groves and forests attain 
their greatest development in the Kaweah and 
Tule River basins, just where, owing to topo- 
graphical conditions, the region was first cleared 
and warmed, while protected from the main ice- 
rivers, that flowed past to right and left down 
the Kings and Kern valleys. In general, where 
the ground on the belt was first cleared of ice, 
there the Sequoia now is, and where at the same 
elevation and time the ancient glaciers lingered, 
there the Sequoia is not. What the other condi- 
tions may have been which enabled the Sequoia 
to establish itself upon these oldest and warm- 
est parts of the main soil-belt I cannot say. I 
might venture to state, however, that since the 
Sequoia forests present a more and more ancient 
and long established aspect to the southward, the 
species was probably distributed from the south 
toward the close of the glacial period, before the 
arrival of other trees. About this branch of the 
question, however, there is at present much fog, 
but the general relationship we have pointed out 
between the distribution of the Big Tree and the 


ancient glacial system is clear. And when we 
bear in mind that all the existing forests of the 
Sierra are growing on comparatively fresh mo- 
raine soil, and that the range itself has been 
recently sculptured and brought to light from 
beneath the ice -mantle of the glacial winter, 
then many lawless mysteries vanish, and harmo- 
nies take their places. 

But notwithstanding all the observed phe- 
nomena bearing on the post-glacial history of 
this colossal tree, point to the conclusion that it 
never was more widely distributed on the Sierra 
since the close of the glacial epoch ; that its 
present forests are scarcely past prime ; if, in- 
deed, they have reached prime ; that the post- 
glacial day of the species is probably not half 
done ; yet, when from a wider outlook the vast 
antiquity of the genus is considered, and its 
ancient richness in species and individuals, com- 
paring our Sierra giant and Sequoia sempervi- 
rens of the coast, the only other living species, 
with the many fossil species already discovered, 
and described by Heer and Lesquereux, some of 
which flourished over large areas around the 
Arctic Circle, and in Europe and our own terri- 
tories, during tertiary and cretaceous times, 
then, indeed, it becomes plain that our two sur- 
viving species, restricted to narrow belts within 
the limits of California, are mere remnants of 
the genus both as to species and individuals, and 


that they probably are verging to extinction. 
But the verge of a period beginning in cretaceous 
times may have a breadth of tens of thousands 
of years, not to mention the possible existence of 
conditions calculated to multiply and reextend 
both species and individuals. No unfavorable 
change of climate, so far as I can see, no disease, 
but only fire and the axe and the ravages of 
flocks and herds threaten the existence of these 
noblest of God's trees. In Nature's keeping 
they are safe, but through man's agency de- 
struction is making rapid progress, while in the 
work of protection only a beginning has been 
made. The Mariposa Grove belongs to and is 
guarded by the State ; the General Grant and 
Sequoia National Parks, established ten years 
ago, are efficiently guarded by a troop of cavalry 
under the direction of the Secretary of the In- 
terior ; so also are the small Tuolumne and Mer- 
ced groves, which are included in the Yosemite 
National Park, while a few scattered patches and 
fringes, scarce at all protected, though belonging 
to the national government, are in the Sierra 
Forest Reservation. 

Perhaps more than half of all the Big Trees 
have been sold^ and are now in the hands of 
speculators and mill men. Even the beautiful 
little Calaveras Grove of ninety trees, so histori- 
cally interesting from its being the first dis- 
covered, is now owned, together with the much 


larger South or Stanislaus Grove, by a lumber 

Far the largest and most important section 
of protected Big Trees is in the grand Sequoia 
National Park, now easily accessible by stage from 
Visalia. It contains seven townships and ex- 
tends across the whole breadth of the magnificent 
Kaweah basin. But large as it is, it should be 
made much larger. Its natural eastern boundary 
is the high Sierra, and the northern and southern 
boundaries, the Kings and Kern rivers, thus in- 
cluding the sublime scenery on the headwaters of 
these rivers and perhaps nine tenths of all the 
Big Trees in existence. Private claims cut and 
blotch both of the Sequoia parks as well as all 
the best of the forests, every one of which the 
government should gradually extinguish by pur- 
chase, as it readily may, for none of these hold- 
ings are of much value to their owners. Thus 
as far as possible the grand blunder of selling 
would be corrected. The value of these forests 
in storing and dispensing the bounty of the 
mountain clouds is infinitely greater than lumber 
or sheep. To the dwellers of the plain, depend- 
ent on irrigation, the Big Tree, leaving all its 
higher uses out of the count, is a tree of life, a 
never-failing spring, sending living water to the 
lowlands all through the hot, rainless summer. 
For every grove cut down a stream is dried up. 
Therefore, all California is crying, "Save the 


trees of the fountains," nor, judging by the 
signs of the times, is it likely that the cry will 
cease until the salvation of all that is left of 
Sequoia gigantea is sure. 



THE forests of America, however slighted by 
man, must have been a great delight to God ; 
for they were the best he ever planted. The 
whole continent was a garden, and from the be- 
ginning it seemed to be favored above all the 
other wild parks and gardens of the globe. To 
prepare the ground, it was rolled and sifted in 
seas with infinite loving deliberation and fore- 
thought, lifted into the light, submerged and 
warmed over and over again, pressed and crum- 
pled into folds and ridges, mountains, and hills, 
subsoiled with heaving volcanic fires, ploughed 
and ground and sculptured into scenery and 
soil with glaciers and rivers, every feature 
growing and changing from beauty to beauty, 
higher and higher. And in the fullness of time 
it was planted in groves, and belts, and broad, 
exuberant, mantling forests, with the largest, 
most varied, most fruitful, and most beautiful 
trees in the world. Bright seas made its border, 
with wave embroidery and icebergs ; gray des- 
erts were outspread in the middle of it, mossy 


tundras on the north, savannas on the south, 
and blooming prairies and plains; while lakes 
and rivers shone through all the vast forests and 
openings, and happy birds and beasts gave 
delightful animation. Everywhere, everywhere 
over all the blessed continent, there were beauty 
and melody and kindly, wholesome, f oodf ul abun- 

These forests were composed of about five 
hundred species of trees, all of them in some way 
useful to man, ranging in size from twenty-five 
feet in height and less than one foot in dia- 
meter at the ground to four hundred feet in 
height and more than twenty feet in diameter, 
lordly monarchs proclaiming the gospel of 
beauty like apostles. For many a century after 
the ice-ploughs were melted, nature fed them and 
dressed them every day, working like a man, a 
loving, devoted, painstaking gardener ; fingering 
every leaf and flower and mossy furrowed bole ; 
bending, trimming, modeling, balancing; paint- 
ing them with the loveliest colors ; bringing over 
them now clouds with cooling shadows and 
showers, now sunshine ; fanning them with gentle 
winds and rustling their leaves ; exercising them 
in every fibre with storms, and pruning them ; 
loading them with flowers and fruit, loading 
them with snow, and ever making them more 
beautiful as the years rolled by. Wide-branch- 
ing oak and elm in endless variety, walnut and 


maple, chestnut and beech, ilex and locust, touch- 
ing limb to limb, spread a leafy translucent can- 
opy along the coast of the Atlantic over the 
wrinkled folds and ridges of the Alleghanies, 
a green billowy sea in summer, golden and purple 
in autumn, pearly gray like a steadfast frozen 
mist of interlacing branches and sprays in leaf- 
less, restful winter. 

To the southward stretched dark, level-topped 
cypresses in knobby, tangled swamps, grassy 
savannas in the midst of them like lakes of light, 
groves of gay, sparkling spice-trees, magnolias 
and palms, glossy-leaved and blooming and shin- 
ing continually. To the northward, over Maine 
and Ottawa, rose hosts of spiry, rosiny ever- 
greens, white pine and spruce, hemlock and 
cedar, shoulder to shoulder, laden with purple 
cones, their myriad needles sparkling and shim- 
mering, covering hills and swamps, rocky head- 
lands and domes, ever bravely aspiring and 
seeking the sky ; the ground in their shade now 
snow-clad and frozen, now mossy and flowery ; 
beaver meadows here and there, full of lilies and 
grass ; lakes gleaming like eyes, and a silvery 
embroidery of rivers and creeks watering and 
brightening all the vast glad wilderness. 

Thence westward were oak and elm, hickory 
and tupelo, gum and liriodendron, sassafras 
and ash, linden and laurel, spreading on ever 
wider in glorious exuberance over the great fer- 


tile basin of the Mississippi, over damp level 
bottoms, low dimpling hollows, and round dot- 
ting hills, embosoming sunny prairies and cheery 
park openings, half sunshine, half shade ; while 
a dark wilderness of pines covered the region 
around the Great Lakes. Thence still west- 
ward swept the forests to right and left around 
grassy plains and deserts a thousand miles wide : 
irrepressible hosts of spruce and pine, aspen and 
willow, nut-pine and juniper, cactus and yucca, 
caring nothing for drought, extending undaunted 
from mountain to mountain, over mesa and 
desert, to join the darkening multitudes of 
pines that covered the high Eocky ranges and the 
glorious forests along the coast of the moist and 
balmy Pacific, where new species of pine, giant 
cedars and spruces, silver firs and Sequoias, kings 
of their race, growing close together like grass 
in a meadow, poised their brave domes and 
spires in the sky, three hundred feet above the 
ferns and the lilies that enameled the ground ; 
towering serene through the long centuries, 
preaching God's forestry fresh from heaven. 

Here the forests reached their highest devel- 
opment. Hence they went wavering northward 
over icy Alaska, brave spruce and fir, poplar and 
birch, by the coasts and the rivers, to within 
sight of the Arctic Ocean. American forests ! 
the glory of the world ! Surveyed thus from 
the east to the west, from the north to the south, 


they are rich beyond thought, immortal, immea- 
surable, enough and to spare for every feeding, 
sheltering beast and bird, insect and son of 
Adam ; and nobody need have cared had there 
been no pines in Norway, no cedars and deodars 
on Lebanon and the Himalayas, no vine-clad 
selvas in the basin of the Amazon. With such 
variety, harmony, and triumphant exuberance, 
even nature, it would seem, might have rested 
content with the forests of North America, and 
planted no more. 

So they appeared a few centuries ago when 
they were rejoicing in wildness. The Indians 
with stone axes could do them no more harm 
than could gnawing beavers and browsing 
moose. Even the fires of the Indians and the 
fierce shattering lightning seemed to work to- 
gether only for good in clearing spots here and 
there for smooth garden prairies, and openings 
for sunflowers seeking the light. But when the 
steel axe of the white man rang out on the 
startled air their doom was sealed. Every tree 
heard the bodeful sound, and pillars of smoke 
gave the sign in the sky. 

I suppose we need not go mourning the buf- 
faloes. In the nature of things they had to give 
place to better cattle, though the change might 
have been made without barbarous wickedness. 
Likewise many of nature's five hundred kinds 
of wild trees had to make way for orchards 


and cornfields. In the settlement and civiliza- 
tion of the country, bread more than timber or 
beauty was wanted; and in the blindness of 
hunger, the early settlers, claiming Heaven as 
their guide, regarded God's trees as only a larger 
kind of pernicious weeds, extremely hard to get 
rid of. Accordingly, with no eye to the future, 
these pious destroyers waged interminable forest 
wars ; chips flew thick and fast ; trees in their 
beauty fell crashing by millions, smashed to confu- 
sion, and the smoke of their burning has been ris- 
ing to heaven more than two hundred years. After 
the Atlantic coast from Maine to Georgia had 
been mostly cleared and scorched into melan- 
choly ruins, the overflowing multitude of bread 
and money seekers poured over the Alleghanies 
into the fertile middle West, spreading ruthless 
devastation ever wider and farther over the rich 
valley of the Mississippi and the vast shadowy 
pine region about the Great Lakes. Thence still 
westward, the invading horde of destroyers called 
settlers made its fiery way over the broad Rocky 
Mountains, felling and burning more fiercely 
than ever, until at last it has reached the wild 
side of the continent, and entered the last of 
the great aboriginal forests on the shores of the 

Surely, then, it should not be wondered at 
that lovers of their country, bewailing its bald- 
ness, are now crying aloud, " Save what is left of 


the forests ! " Clearing has surely now gone far 
enough ; soon timber will be scarce, and not a 
grove will be left to rest in or pray in. The 
remnant protected will yield plenty of timber, a 
perennial harvest for every right use, without 
further diminution of its area, and will continue 
to cover the springs of the rivers that rise in the 
mountains and give irrigating waters to the dry 
valleys at their feet, prevent wasting floods and 
be a blessing to everybody forever. 

Every other- civilized nation in the world has 
been compelled to care for its forests, and so 
must we if waste and destruction are not to go on 
to the bitter end, leaving America as barren as Pal- 
estine or Spain. In its calmer moments, in the 
midst of bewildering hunger and war and rest- 
less over-industry, Prussia has learned that the 
forest plays an important part in human progress, 
and that the advance in civilization only makes it 
more indispensable. It has, therefore, as shown 
by Mr. Pinchot, refused to deliver its forests to 
more or less speedy destruction by permitting 
them to pass into private ownership. But the 
state woodlands are not allowed to lie idle. On 
the contrary, they are made to produce as much 
timber as is possible without spoiling them. In 
the administration of its forests, the state right- 
eously considers itself bound to treat them as a 
trust for the nation as a whole, and to keep in 
view the common good of the people for all time* 


In France no government forests have been 
sold since 1870. On the other hand, about one 
half of the fifty million francs spent on forestry 
has been given to engineering works, to make 
the replanting of denuded areas possible. The 
disappearance of the forests in the first place, it 
is claimed, may be traced in most cases directly 
to mountain pasturage. The provisions of the 
Code concerning private woodlands are substan- 
tially these : no private owner may clear his 
woodlands without giving notice to the govern- 
ment at least four months in advance, and the 
forest service may forbid the clearing on the 
following grounds, to maintain the soil on 
mountains, to defend the soil against erosion and 
flooding by rivers or torrents, to insure the ex- 
istence of springs or watercourses, to protect the 
dunes and seashore, etc. A proprietor who has 
cleared his forest without permission is subject to 
heavy fine, and in addition may be made to re- 
plant the cleared area. 

In Switzerland, after many laws like our own 
had been found wanting, the Swiss forest school 
was established in 1865, and soon after the fed- 
eral forest law was enacted, which is binding 
over nearly two thirds of the country. Under 
its provisions, the cantons must appoint and pay 
the number of suitably educated foresters re- 
quired for the fulfillment of the forest law ; and 
in the organization of a normally stocked forest, 


the object of first importance must be the cut- 
ting each year of an amount of timber equal to 
the total annual increase, and no more. 

The Russian government passed a law in 1888, 
declaring that clearing is forbidden in protected 
forests, and is allowed in others " only when its 
effects will not be to disturb the suitable rela- 
tions which should exist between forest and agri- 
cultural lands." 

Even Japan is ahead of us in the management of 
her forests. They cover an area of about twenty- 
nine million acres. The feudal lords valued the 
woodlands,, and enacted vigorous protective laws ; 
and when, in the latest civil war, the Mikado gov- 
ernment destroyed the feudal system, it declared 
the forests that had belonged to the feudal lords to 
be the property of the state, promulgated a forest 
law binding on the whole kingdom, and founded 
a school of forestry in Tokio. The forest service 
does not rest satisfied with the present proportion 
of woodland, but looks to planting the best forest 
trees it can find in any country, if likely to be 
useful and to thrive in Japan. 

In India systematic forest management was 
begun about forty years ago, under difficulties 
presented by the character of the country, the 
prevalence of running fires, opposition from lum- 
bermen, settlers, etc. not unlike those which 
confront us now. Of the total area of government 
forests, perhaps seventy million acres, fifty-five 


million acres have been brought under the con- 
trol of the forestry department, a larger area 
than that of all our national parks and reserva- 
tions. The chief aims of the administration are 
effective protection of the forests from fire, an 
efficient system of regeneration, and cheap trans- 
portation of the forest products ; the results so 
far have been most beneficial and encouraging. 

It seems, therefore, that almost every civilized 
nation can give us a lesson on the management 
and care of forests. So far our government has 
done nothing effective with its forests, though 
the best in the world, but is like a rich and 
foolish spendthrift who has inherited a magnifi- 
cent estate in perfect order, and then has left his 
fields and meadows, forests and parks, to be sold 
and plundered and wasted at will, depending on 
their inexhaustible abundance. Now it is plain 
that the forests are not inexhaustible, and that 
quick measures must be taken if ruin is to be 
avoided. Year by year the remnant is growing 
smaller before the axe and fire, while the laws 
in existence provide neither for the protection 
of the timber from destruction nor for its use 
where it is most needed. 

As is shown by Mr. E. A. Bowers, formerly 
Inspector of the Public Land Service, the foun- 
dation of our protective policy, which has never 
protected, is an act passed March 1, 1817, which 
authorized the Secretary of the Navy to reserve 


lands producing live-oak and cedar, for the sole 
purpose of supplying timber for the navy of the 
United States. An extension of this law by 
the passage of the act of March 2, 1831, pro- 
vided that if any person should cut live-oak or 
red cedar trees or other timber from the knds of 
the United States for any other purpose than the 
construction of the navy, such person should pay 
a fine not less than triple the value of the timber 
cut, and be imprisoned for a period not exceeding 
twelve months. Upon this old law, as Mr. Bowers 
points out, having the construction of a wooden 
navy in view, the United States government has 
to-day chiefly to rely in protecting its timber 
throughout the arid regions of the West, where 
none of the naval timber which the law had in 
mind is to be found. 

By the act of June 3, 1878, timber can be 
taken from public lands not subject to entry under 
any existing laws except for minerals, by bona 
fide residents of the Rocky Mountain states and 
territories and the Dakotas. Under the tim- 
ber and stone act, of the same date, land in the 
Pacific States and Nevada, valuable mainly for 
timber, and unfit for cultivation if the timber is 
removed, can be purchased for two dollars and 
a half an acre, under certain restrictions. By 
the act of March 3, 1875, all land-grant and 
right-of-way railroads are authorized to take tim- 
ber from the public lands adjacent to their lines 


for construction purposes ; and they have taken 
it with a vengeance, destroying a hundred times 
more than they have used, mostly by allowing 
fires to run in the woods. The settlement laws, 
under which a settler may enter lands valuable for 
timber as well as for agriculture, furnish another 
means of obtaining title to public timber. 

With the exception of the timber culture act, 
under which, in consideration of planting a few 
acres of seedlings, settlers on the treeless plains 
got 160 acres each, the above is the only legisla- 
tion aiming to protect and promote the planting 
of forests. In no other way than under some 
one of these laws can a citizen of the United 
States make any use of the public forests. To 
show the results of the timber-planting act, it 
need only be stated that of the thirty-eight mil- 
lion acres entered under it, less than one million 
acres have been patented. This means that less 
than fifty thousand acres have been planted with 
stunted, woebegone, almost hopeless sprouts of 
trees, while at the same time the government has 
allowed millions of acres of the grandest forest 
trees to be stolen or destroyed, or sold for nothing. 
Under the act of June 3, 1878, settlers in Col- 
orado and the Territories were allowed to cut tim- 
ber for mining and educational purposes from 
mineral land, which in the practical West means 
both cutting and burning anywhere and every- 
where, for any purpose, on any sort of public land. 


Thus, the prospector, the miner, and mining 
and railroad companies are allowed by law to 
take all the timber they like for their mines and 
roads, and the forbidden settler, if there are no 
mineral lands near his farm or stock-ranch, or 
none that he knows of, can hardly be expected to 
forbear taking what he needs wherever he can 
find it. Timber is as necessary as bread, and no 
scheme of management failing to recognize and 
properly provide for this want can possibly be 
maintained. In any case, it will be hard to teach 
the pioneers that it is wrong to steal government 
timber. Taking from the government is with 
them the same as taking from nature, and their 
consciences flinch no more in cutting timber from 
the wild forests than in drawing water from a 
lake or river. As for reservation and protec- 
tion of forests, it seems as silly and needless to 
them as protection and reservation of the ocean 
would be, both appearing to be boundless and 

The special land agents employed by the Gen- 
eral Land Office to protect the public domain 
from timber depredations are supposed to collect 
testimony to sustain prosecution and to superin- 
tend such prosecution on behalf of the gov- 
ernment, which is represented by the district 
attorneys. But timber thieves of the Western 
class are seldom convicted, for the good reason 
that most of the jurors who try such cases are 


themselves as guilty as those on trial. The effect 
of the present confused, discriminating, and un- 
just system has been to place almost the whole 
population in opposition to the government ; and 
as conclusive of its futility, as shown by Mr. 
Bowers, we need only state that during the seven 
years from 1881 to 1887 inclusive, the value of 
the timber reported stolen from the government 
lands was $36,719,935, and the amount recov- 
ered was $478,073, while the cost of the ser- 
vices of special agents alone was $455,000, to 
which must be added the expense of the trials. 
Thus for nearly thirty-seven million dollars' worth 
of timber the government got less than nothing ; 
and the value of that consumed by running fires 
during the same period, without benefit even to 
thieves, was probably over two hundred millions 
of dollars. Land commissioners and Secretaries 
of the Interior have repeatedly called attention 
to this ruinous state of affairs, and asked Con- 
gress to enact the requisite legislation for rea- 
sonable reform. But, busied with tariffs, etc., 
Congress has given no heed to these or other 
appeals, and our forests, the most valuable and 
the most destructible of all the natural resources 
of the country, are being robbed and burned 
more rapidly than ever. The annual appropria- 
tion for so-called " protection service " is hardly 
sufficient to keep twenty-five timber agents in 
the field, and as far as any efficient protection 


of timber is concerned these agents themselves 
might as well be timber. 1 

That a change from robbery and ruin to a per- 
manent rational policy is urgently needed nobody 
with the slightest knowledge of American forests 
will deny. In the East and along the northern 
Pacific coast, where the rainfall is abundant, 
comparatively few care keenly what becomes of 
the trees so long as fuel and lumber are not no- 
ticeably dear. But in the Rocky Mountains and 
California and Arizona, where the forests are in- 
flammable, and where the fertility of the low- 
lands depends upon irrigation, public opinion is 
growing stronger every year in favor of perma- 
nent protecton by the federal government of all 
the forests that cover the sources of the streams. 
Even lumbermen in these regions, long accus- 
tomed to steal, are now willing and anxious to buy 
lumber for their mills under cover of law : some 
possibly from a late second growth of honesty, but 
most, especially the small mill-owners, simply be- 
cause it no longer pays to steal where all may not 
only steal, but also destroy, and in particular be- 
cause it costs about as much to steal timber for 
one mill as for ten, and, therefore, the ordinary 
lumberman can no longer compete with the large 
corporations. Many of the miners find that 
timber is already becoming scarce and dear on 

1 A change for the better, compelled by public opinion, is mow 
going on, 1901. 


the denuded hills around their mills, and they, 
too, are asking for protection of forests, at least 
against fire. The slow-going, unthrifty farmers, 
also, are beginning to realize that when the tim- 
ber is stripped from the mountains the irrigating 
streams dry up in summer, and are destructive in 
winter; that soil, scenery, and everything slips 
off with the trees : so of course they are coming 
into the ranks of tree-friends. 

Of all the magnificent coniferous forests 
around the Great Lakes, once the property of 
the United States, scarcely any belong to it now. 
They have disappeared in lumber and smoke, 
mostly smoke, and the government got not one 
cent for them ; only the land they were growing 
on was considered valuable, and two and a half 
dollars an acre was charged for it. Here and 
there in the Southern States there are still con- 
siderable areas of timbered government land, but 
these are comparatively unimportant. Only the 
forests of the West are significant in size and 
value, and these, although still great, are rapidly 
vanishing. Last summer, of the unrivaled red- 
wood forests of the Pacific Coast Range, the 
United States Forestry Commission could not 
find a single quarter-section that remained in the 
hands of the government. 1 

1 The State of California recently appropriated two hundred and 
fifty thousand dollars to buy a block of redwood land near Santa 
Cruz for a state park. A much larger national park should be made 
in Humboldt or Mendocino county. 


Under the timber and stone act of 1878, 
which might well have been called the " dust 
and ashes act," any citizen of the United States 
could take up one hundred and sixty acres of 
timber land, and by paying two dollars and a 
half an acre for it obtain title. There was some 
virtuous effort made with a view to limit the op- 
erations of the act by requiring that the pur- 
chaser should make affidavit that he was entering 
the land exclusively for his own use, and by not 
allowing any association to enter more than one 
hundred and sixty acres. Nevertheless, under 
this act wealthy corporations have fraudulently 
obtained title to from ten thousand to twenty 
thousand acres or more. The plan was usually 
as follows : A mill company, desirous of getting 
title to a large body of redwood or sugar-pine 
land, first blurred the eyes and ears of the land 
agents, and then hired men to enter the land 
they wanted, and immediately deed it to the 
company after a nominal compliance with the 
law ; false swearing in the wilderness against the 
government being held of no account. In one 
case which came under the observation of Mr. 
Bowers, it was the practice of a lumber company 
to hire the entire crew of every vessel which 
might happen to touch at any port in the red- 
wood belt, to enter one hundred and sixty acres 
each and immediately deed the land to the com- 
pany, in consideration of the company's paying 


all expenses and giving the jolly sailors fifty dol- 
lars apiece for their trouble. 

By such methods have our magnificent red- 
woods and much of the sugar-pine forests of the 
Sierra Nevada been absorbed by foreign and resi- 
dent capitalists. Uncle Sam is not often caUed 
a fool in business matters, yet he has sold mil- 
lions of acres of timber land at two dollars and 
a half an acre on which a single tree was worth 
more than a hundred dollars. But this priceless 
land has been patented, and nothing can be done 
now about the crazy bargain. According to the 
everlasting law of righteousness, even the fraud- 
ulent buyers at less than one per cent of its 
value are making little or nothing, on account 
of fierce competition. The trees are felled, and 
about half of each giant is left on the ground to be 
converted into smoke and ashes ; the better half 
is sawed into choice lumber and sold to citizens 
of the United States or to foreigners : thus rob- 
bing the country of its glory and impoverishing 
it without right benefit to anybody, a bad, 
black business from beginning to end. 

The redwood is one of the few conifers that 
sprout from the stump and roots, and it declares 
itself willing to begin immediately to repair the 
damage of the lumberman and also that of the 
forest-burner. As soon as a redwood is cut down 
or burned it sends up a crowd of eager, hopeful 
shoots, which, if allowed to grow, would in a 


few decades attain a height of a hundred feet, 
and the strongest of them would finally become 
giants as great as the original tree. Gigantic 
second and third growth trees are found in the 
redwoods, forming magnificent temple-like circles 
around charred ruins more than a thousand years 
old. But not one denuded acre in a hundred is 
allowed to raise a new forest growth. On the 
contrary, all the brains, religion, and superstition 
of the neighborhood are brought into play to 
prevent a new growth. The sprouts from the 
roots and stumps are cut off again and again, 
with zealous concern as to the best time and 
method of making death sure. In the clearings 
of one of the largest mills on the coast we found 
thirty men at work, last summer, cutting off red- 
wood shoots " in the dark of the moon," claiming 
that all the stumps and roots cleared at this 
auspicious time would send up no more shoots. 
Anyhow, these vigorous, almost immortal trees 
are killed at last, and black stumps are now their 
only monuments over most of the chopped and 
burned areas. 

The redwood is the glory of the Coast Range. 
It extends along the western slope, in a nearly 
continuous belt about ten miles wide, from be- 
yond the Oregon boundary to the south of Santa 
Cruz, a distance of nearly four hundred miles, and 
in massive, sustained grandeur and closeness of 
growth surpasses all the other timber woods of the 


world. Trees from ten to fifteen feet in diame- 
ter and three hundred feet high are not uncom- 
mon, and a few attain a height of three hundred 
and fifty feet or even four hundred, with a 
diameter at the base of fifteen to twenty feet or 
more, while the ground beneath them is a gar- 
den of fresh, exuberant ferns, lilies, gaultheria, 
and rhododendron. This grand tree, Sequoia 
sempervirens, is surpassed in size only by its near 
relative, Sequoia gigantea, or Big Tree, of the 
Sierra Nevada, if, indeed, it is surpassed. The 
sempervirens is certainly the taller of the two. 
The gigantea attains a greater girth, and is 
heavier, more noble in port, and more sublimely 
beautiful. These two Sequoias are all that are 
known to exist in the world, though in former 
geological times the genus was common and had 
many species. The redwood is restricted to the 
Coast Range, and the Big Tree to the Sierra. 

As timber the redwood is too good to live. 
The largest sawmills ever built are busy along 
its seaward border, " with all the modern im- 
provements," but so immense is the yield per 
acre it will be long ere the supply is exhausted. 
The Big Tree is also, to some extent, being made 
into lumber. It is far less abundant than the red- 
wood, and is, fortunately, less accessible, extend- 
ing along the western flank of the Sierra in a 
partially interrupted belt, about two hundred and 
fifty miles long, at a height of from four to eight 



thousand feet above the sea. The enormous logs, 
too heavy to handle, are blasted into manageable 
dimensions with gunpowder. A large portion of 
the best timber is thus shattered and destroyed, 
and, with the huge, knotty tops, is left in ruins 
for tremendous fires that kiU every tree within 
their range, great and small. Still, the species is 
not in danger of extinction. It has been planted 
and is flourishing over a great part of Europe, 
and magnificent sections of the aboriginal forests 
have been reserved as national and State parks, 
the Mariposa Sequoia Grove, near Yosemite, 
managed by the State of California, and the 
General Grant and Sequoia national parks on the 
Kings, Kaweah, and Tule rivers, efficiently 
guarded by a small troop of United States cav- 
alry under the direction of the Secretary of the 
Interior. But there is not a single specimen of 
the redwood in any national park. Only by gift 
or purchase, so far as I know, can the govern- 
ment get back into its possession a single acre of 
this wonderful forest. 

The legitimate demands on the forests that 
have passed into private ownership, as well as 
those in the hands of the government, are increas- 
ing every year with the rapid settlement and up- 
building of the country, but the methods of lum- 
bering are as yet grossly wasteful. In most mills 
only the best portions of the best trees are used, 
while the ruins are left on the ground to feed 


great fires, which kill much of what is left of the 
less desirable timber, together with the seedlings, 
on which the permanence of the forest depends. 
Thus every mill is a centre of destruction far 
more severe from waste and fire than from use. 
The same thing is true of the mines, which con- 
sume and destroy indirectly immense quantities 
of timber with their innumerable fires, acciden- 
tal or set to make open ways, and often without 
regard to how far they run. The prospector 
deliberately sets fires to clear off the woods just 
where they are densest, to lay the rocks bare and 
make the discovery of mines easier. Sheep- 
owners and their shepherds also set fires every- 
where through the woods in the fall to facilitate 
the march of their countless flocks the next sum- 
mer, and perhaps in some places to improve the 
pasturage. The axe is not yet at the root of 
every tree, but the sheep is, or was before the 
national parks were established and guarded by 
the military, the only effective and reliable arm of 
the government free from the blight of politics. 
Not only do the shepherds, at the driest time of 
the year, set fire to everything that will burn, 
but the sheep consume every green leaf, not 
sparing even the young conifers, when they are 
in a starving condition from crowding, and they 
rake and dibble the loose soil of the mountain 
sides for the spring floods to wash away, and 
thus at last leave the ground barren. 


Of all the destroyers that infest the woods, 
the shake-maker seems the happiest. Twenty or 
thirty years ago, shakes, a kind of long, board- 
like shingles split with a mallet and a f row, were 
in great demand for covering barns and sheds, 
and many are used still in preference to common 
shingles, especially those made from the sugar- 
pine, which do not warp or crack in the hottest 
sunshine. Drifting adventurers in California, 
after harvest and threshing are over, oftentimes 
meet to discuss their plans for the winter, and their 
talk is interesting. Once, in a company of this 
kind, I heard a man say, as he peacefully smoked 
his pipe : " Boys, as soon as this job 's done 
I 'm goin' into the duck business. There 's big 
money in it, and your grub costs nothing. Tule 
Joe made five hundred dollars last winter on 
mallard and teal. Shot 'em on the Joaquin, tied 
'em in dozens by the neck, and shipped 'em to 
San Francisco. And when he was tired wading 
in the sloughs and touched with rheumatiz, he 
just knocked off on ducks, and went to the Con- 
tra Costa hills for dove and quail. It 's a mighty 
good business, and you 're your own boss, and 
the whole thing 's fun." 

Another of the company, a bushy-bearded fel- 
low, with a trace of brag in his voice, drawled 
out : " Bird business is well enough for some, but 
bear is my game, with a deer and a California 
lion thrown in now and then for change. There 's 


always market for bear grease, and sometimes 
you can sell the hams. They 're good as hog 
hams any day. And you are your own boss in 
my business, too, if the bears ain't too big and 
too many for you. Old grizzlies I despise, 
they want cannon to kill 'em; but the blacks 
and browns are beauties for grease, and when 
once I get 'em just right, and draw a bead on 
'em, I fetch 'em every time." Another said he 
was going to catch up a lot .of mustangs as 
soon as the rains set in, hitch them to a gang- 
plough, and go to farming on the San Joaquin 
plains for wheat. But most preferred the shake 
business, until something more profitable and as 
sure could be found, with equal comfort and 

With a cheap mustang or mule to carry a pair 
of blankets, a sack of flour, a few pounds of 
coffee, and an axe, a frow, and a cross-cut saw, 
the shake-maker ascends the mountains to the 
pine belt where it is most accessible, usually 
by some mine or mill road. Then he strikes off 
into the virgin woods, where the sugar pine, king 
of all the hundred species of pines in the world 
in size and beauty, towers on the open sunny 
slopes of the Sierra in the fullness of its glory. 
Selecting a favorable spot for a cabin near a 
meadow with a stream, he, unpacks his animal 
and stakes it out on the meadow. Then he 
chops into one after another of the pines, until 


he finds one that he feels sure will split freely, cuts 
this down, saws off a section four feet long, splits 
it, and from this first cut, perhaps seven feet in 
diameter, he gets shakes enough for a cabin and 
its furniture, walls, roof, door, bedstead, table, 
and stool. Besides his labor, only a few pounds 
of nails are required. Sapling poles form the 
frame of the airy building, usually about six feet 
by eight in size, on which the shakes are nailed, 
with the edges overlapping. A few bolts from the 
same section that the shakes were made from are 
split into square sticks and built up to form a 
chimney, the inside and interspaces being plas- 
tered and filled in with mud. Thus, with abun- 
dance of fuel, shelter and comfort by his own 
fireside are secured. Then he goes to work saw- 
ing and splitting for the market, tying the shakes 
in bundles of fifty or a hundred. They are four 
feet long, four inches wide, and about one fourth 
of an inch thick. The first few thousands he 
sells or trades at the nearest mill or store, getting 
provisions in exchange. Then he advertises, in 
whatever way he can, that he has excellent sugar- 
pine shakes for sale, easy of access and cheap. 

Only the lower, perfectly clear, free-splitting 
portions of the giant pines are used, perhaps 
ten to twenty feet from a tree two hundred and 
fifty in height; all the rest is left a mass of 
ruins, to rot or to feed the forest fires, while thou- 
sands are hacked deeply and rejected in proving 


the grain. Over nearly all of the more acces- 
sible slopes of the Sierra and Cascade moun- 
tains in southern Oregon, at a height of from 
three to six thousand feet above the sea, and for 
a distance of about six hundred miles, this waste 
and confusion extends. Happy robbers ! dwell- 
ing in the most beautiful woods, in the most 
salubrious climate, breathing delightful odors 
both day and night, drinking cool living water, 
roses and lilies at their feet in the spring, 
shedding fragrance and ringing bells as if cheer- 
ing them on in their desolating work. There is 
none to say them nay. They buy no land, pay 
no taxes, dwell in a paradise with no forbidding 
angel either from Washington or from heaven. 
Every one of the frail shake shanties is a centre 
of destruction, and the extent of the ravages 
wrought in this quiet way is in the aggregate 

It is not generally known that, notwithstand- 
ing the immense quantities of timber cut every 
year for foreign and home markets and mines, 
from five to ten times as much is destroyed as is 
used, chiefly by running forest fires that only the 
federal government can stop. Travelers through 
the West in summer are not likely to forget the fire- 
work displayed along the various railway tracks. 
Thoreau, when contemplating the destruction of 
the forests on the east side of the continent, said 
that soon the country would be so bald that every 


man would have to grow whiskers to hide its 
nakedness, but he thanked God that at least the 
sky was safe. Had he gone West he would 
have found out that the sky was not safe ; for all 
through the summer months, over most of the 
mountain regions, the smoke of mill and forest 
fires is so thick and black that no sunbeam can 
pierce it. The whole sky, with clouds, sun, 
moon, and stars, is simply blotted out. There is 
no real sky and no scenery. Not a mountain is 
left in the landscape. At least none is in sight 
from the lowlands, and they all might as well be 
on the moon, as far as scenery is concerned. 

The half-dozen transcontinental railroad com- 
panies advertise the beauties of their lines in gor- 
geous many-colored folders, each claiming its as 
the u scenic route." "The route of superior 
desolation " the smoke, dust, and ashes route 
would be a more truthful description. Every 
train rolls on through dismal smoke and bar- 
barous, melancholy ruins; and the companies 
might well cry in their advertisements : " Come ! 
travel our way. Ours is the blackest. It is the 
only genuine Erebus route. The sky is black 
and the ground is black, and on either side there 
is a continuous border of black stumps and logs 
and blasted trees appealing to heaven for help as 
if still half alive, and their mute eloquence is most 
interestingly touching. The blackness is perfect. 
On account of the superior skill of our workmen, 


advantages of climate, and the kind of trees, 
the charring is generally deeper along our line, 
and the ashes are deeper, and the confusion and 
desolation displayed can never be rivaled. No 
other route on this continent so fully illustrates 
the abomination of desolation." Such a claim 
would be reasonable, as each seems the worst, 
whatever route you chance to take. 

Of course a way had to be cleared through the 
woods. But the felled timber is not worked up 
into firewood for the engines and into lumber for 
the company's use ; it is left lying in vulgar con- 
fusion, and is fired from time to time by sparks 
from locomotives or by the workmen camping 
along the line. The fires, whether accidental or 
set, are allowed to run into the woods as far as 
they may, thus assuring comprehensive destruc- 
tion. The directors of a line that guarded 
against fires, and cleared a clean gap edged with 
living trees, and fringed and mantled with the 
grass and flowers and beautiful seedlings that 
are ever ready and willing to spring up, might 
justly boast of the beauty of their road ; for na- 
ture is always ready to heal every scar. But 
there is no such road on the western side of the 
continent. Last summer, in the Rocky Moun- 
tains, I saw six fires started by sparks from a 
locomotive within a distance of three miles, and 
nobody was in sight to prevent them from spread- 
ing. They might run into the adjacent forests 


and burn the timber from hundreds of square 
miles ; not a man in the State would care to 
spend an hour in fighting them, as long as his 
own fences and buildings were not threatened. 

Notwithstanding all the waste and use which 
have been going on unchecked like a storm for 
more than two centuries, it is not yet too late 
though it is high time for the government 
to begin a rational administration of its for- 
ests. About seventy million acres it still owns, 
enough for all the country, if wisely used. 
These residual forests are generally on mountain 
slopes, just where they are doing the most good, 
and where their removal would be followed by 
the greatest number of evils; the lands they 
cover are too rocky and high for agriculture, and 
can never be made as valuable for any other crop 
as for the present crop of trees. It has been 
shown over and over again that if these moun- 
tains were to be stripped of their trees and 
underbrush, and kept bare and sodless by hordes 
of sheep and the innumerable fires the shepherds 
set, besides those of the millmen, prospectors, 
shake-makers, and all sorts of adventurers, both 
lowlands and mountains would speedily become 
little better than deserts, compared with their 
present beneficent fertility. During heavy rain- 
falls and while the winter accumulations of snow 
were melting, the larger streams would swell into 
destructive torrents, cutting deep, rugged-edged 


gullies, carrying away the fertile humus and soil 
as well as sand and rocks, filling up and over- 
flowing their lower channels, and covering the 
lowland fields with raw detritus. Drought and 
barrenness would follow. 

In their natural condition, or under wise man- 
agement, keeping out destructive sheep, prevent- 
ing fires, selecting the trees that should be cut for 
lumber, and preserving the young ones and the 
shrubs and sod of herbaceous vegetation, these for- 
ests would be a never failing fountain of wealth 
and beauty. The cool shades of the forest give 
rise to moist beds and currents of air, and the sod 
of grasses and the various flowering plants and 
shrubs thus fostered, together with the network 
and sponge of tree roots, absorb and hold back 
the rain and the waters from melting snow, 
compelling them to ooze and percolate and flow 
gently through the soil in streams that never 
dry. All the pine needles and rootlets and 
blades of grass, and the fallen, decaying trunks 
of trees, are dams, storing the bounty of the 
clouds and dispensing it in perennial life-giving 
streams, instead of allowing it to gather suddenly 
and rush headlong in short-lived devastating 
floods. Everybody on the dry side of the con- 
tinent is beginning to find this out, and, in view 
of the waste going on, is growing more and 
more anxious for government protection. The 
outcries we hear against forest reservations come 


mostly from thieves who are wealthy and steal 
timber by wholesale. They have so long been 
allowed to steal and destroy in peace that any 
impediment to forest robbery is denounced as a 
cruel and irreligious interference with "vested 
rights/' likely to endanger the repose of all 
ungodly welfare. 

Gold, gold, gold ! How strong a voice that 
metal has ! 

" O wae for the siller, it is sae preva'lin' ! " 

Even in Congress a sizable chunk of gold, care- 
fully concealed, will outtalk and outfight all the 
nation on a subject like forestry, well smothered 
in ignorance, and in which the money interests of 
only a few are conspicuously involved. Under 
these circumstances, the bawling, blethering ora- 
torical stuff drowns the voice of Qod himself. 
Yet the dawn of a new day in forestry is break- 
ing. Honest citizens see that only the rights of 
the government are being trampled, not those 
of the settlers. Only what belongs to all alike 
is reserved, and every acre that is left should be 
held together under the federal government as a 
basis for a general policy of administration for 
the public good. The people will not always be 
deceived by selfish opposition, whether from lum- 
ber and mining corporations or from sheepmen 
and prospectors, however cunningly brought for- 
ward underneath fables and gold. 

Emerson says that things refuse to be misman- 


aged long. An exception would seem to be 
found in the case of our forests, which have 
been mismanaged rather long, and now come 
desperately near being like smashed eggs and 
spilt milk. Still, in the long run the world does 
not move backward. The wonderful advance 
made in the last few yeajs, in creating four na- 
tional parks in the West, and thirty forest reser- 
vations, embracing nearly forty million acres ; 
and in the planting of the borders of streets and 
highways and spacious parks in all the great 
cities, to satisfy the natural taste and hunger 
for landscape beauty and righteousness that God 
has put, in some measure, into every human 
being and animal, shows the trend of awakening 
public opinion. The making of the far-famed 
New York Central Park was opposed by even, 
good men, with misguided pluck, perseverance, 
and ingenuity ; but straight right won its way, and 
now that park is appreciated. So we confidently 
believe it will be with our great national parks and 
forest reservations. There will be a period of 
indifference on the part of the rich, sleepy with 
wealth, and of the toiling millions, sleepy with 
poverty, most of whom never saw a forest ; a 
period of screaming protest and objection from 
the plunderers, who are as unconscionable and 
enterprising as Satan. But light is surely com- 
ing, and the friends of destruction will preach 
and bewail in vain. 


The United States government has always 
been proud of the welcome it has extended to 
good men of every nation, seeking freedom and 
homes and bread. Let them be welcomed still 
as nature welcomes them, to the woods as well as 
to the prairies and plains. No place is too good 
for good men, and still there is room. They are 
invited to heaven, and may well be allowed in 
America. Every place is made better by them. 
Let them be as free to pick gold and gems from 
the hills, to cut and hew, dig and plant, for homes 
and bread, as the birds are to pick berries from 
the wild bushes, and moss and leaves for nests. 
The ground will be glad to feed them, and the 
pines will come down from the mountains for 
their homes as willingly as the cedars came from 
Lebanon for Solomon's temple. Nor will the 
woods be the worse for this use, or their benign 
influences be diminished any more than the sun is 
diminished by shining. Mere destroyers, how- 
ever, tree-killers, wool and mutton men, spread- 
ing death and confusion in the fairest groves 
and gardens ever planted, let the government 
hasten to cast them out and make an end of them. 
For it must be told again and again, and be burn- 
ingly borne in mind, that just now, while pro- 
tective measures are being deliberated languidly, 
destruction and use are speeding on faster and 
farther every day. The axe and saw are in- 
sanely busy, chips are flying thick as snowflakes, 


and every summer thousands of acres of priceless 
forests, with their underbrush, soil, springs, cli- 
mate, scenery, and religion, are vanishing away 
in clouds of smoke, while, except in the national 
parks, not one forest guard is employed. 

All sorts of local laws and regulations have 
been tried and found wanting, and the costly 
lessons of our own experience, as well as that of 
every civilized nation, show conclusively that the 
fate of the remnant of our forests is m the 
hands of the federal government, and that if the 
remnant is to be saved at all, it must be saved 

Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot 
run away ; and if they could, they would still 
be destroyed, chased and hunted down as 
long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their 
bark hides, branching horns, or magnificent bole 
backbones. Few that fell trees plant them ; nor 
would planting avail much towards getting back 
anything like the noble primeval forests. During 
a man's life only saplings can be grown, in the 
place of the old trees tens of centuries old 
that have been destroyed. It took more than 
three thousand years to make some of the trees 
in these Western woods, trees that are still 
standing in perfect strength and beauty, waving 
and singing in the mighty forests of the Sierra. 
Through all the wonderful, eventful centuries 
since Christ's time and long before that 


God has cared for these trees, saved them from 
drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand 
straining, leveling tempests and floods ; but he 
cannot save them from fools, only Uncle Sam 
can do that. 



ADENOSTEMA f asciculatum,heath- 
like shrub, its influence on the 
physiognomy of Sierra land- 
scapes, 142. 

Age of trees, pine, 69, 104, 107, 
108, 114, 275 ; libocedrus, 118 ; 
jumper, 124; fir, 275, 276; 
sequoia, 260, 275-280, 297, 299. 

Alaska, plants and animals of, 

Alpenglow, 74. 

Apple, wild, 22, 23. 

Aspen, 131. 

Aster, 164. 

Avalanches, snow, 27, 251-255; 
rock, 140, 259. 

Azalea, 146, 181, 303. 

Axe clearings, 101. 

Bear-hunters, 353 ; Duncan, 179 ; 

David Brown and his dog 

Sandy, 181. 
Bears, 28, 52, 57, 144, 314; food 

of Sierra, 172 ; interviews with 

174, 177; tracks, 178; and 

sheep, 185. 
Beaver, 16, 25, 53. 
Beaver, mountain, 201. 
Beaver meadows, 23, 37. 
Birds, of the Yosemite Park, 


Blackberries, 24. 
Bogs, 139, 166. 
Brodisea, 23, 155. 
Bryanthus, 148. 

California, floweriness of, 137. 
Calochortus, 23, 145. 
Calypso borealis, 7, 23. 
Camassia, 156. 
Campanula, 282. 
Camping, 56, 133, 161, 163. 
Canon, the Grand, of the Colorado, 

35 ; Yellowstone, 49 ; Merced, 

259 ; Tuolumne, 259. 
Cafions of the Sierra, 83. 
Cassiope, 147. 
Cathedral Peak, 90. 
Ceanothus, 145. 

Cedar, incense, 116 ; red, 123, 273. 
Chamsebatia foliolosa, a forest 

carpet, 143. 

Chaparral, 142, 144, 146. 
Cherry, 23, 146. 
Chestnut, 22. 
Chinquapin, 146. 
Chipmunk, 196. 
Climates of the Sierra, 138, 160, 

161, 164. 
Clintonia, 18, 23. 
Clouds, 77, 164, 276, 281. 
Colds, 133. 
Coyote, 194. 
Crow, Clarke, 228. 
Crystals, 161. 
Currants, 24. 
Cypripedium, 156. 

Daisy, 94, 149. 
Danger, 28, 57, 133, 184, 208. 
Deer, 189, 315. 
Deserts, 6. 
De Soto, 71. 

Diver, great northern, 227. 
Dog, Carlo, 175 ; Sandy, 181. 
Dogwood, flowering, 22, 130. 
Douglas, David, in forests of Ore- 
gon, 110. 

Duck-hunters, 353. 
Ducks, 226. 
Dwarf willow, 94. 

Eagle, 228. 

Earthquake, 261; ancient, 265; 
taluses, formation of, 260 ; influ- 
ence on cation scenery, 265. 



Emerson, his visit to Yosemite and 
the Mariposa Grove of Big 
Trees, 131, 235. 

Eriogonum, 149, 166. 

Erythronium, 23, 31. 

Farm lands of Washington and 
Oregon, 24, 25. 

Ferns, 149, 160; Woodwardia, 
149; Pteris, 150; Pellsea, five 
species of, 151 ; Cryptogramme, 
151; Phegopteris, 151; Cheil- 
anthes, three species of, 152 ; 
Adiantum, two species, 152. 

Fir. See Silver fir. 

Floods, 256. 

Floral cascades, 159. 

Flower beds of the Sierra, 142. 

Flowers, of pine, spruce, fir, and 
hemlock, 168, 169; sequoia, 

Forest fires, 297, 307, 335, 352, 

Forest picture, 302. 

Forest Reservations, Rocky Moun- 
tain, 15 ; Pacific Coast, 19, 31, 
34; opposition to, 24, 360; 
wildness of, 24. 

Forest Reserve, Black Hills, 13 ; 
Bitter Root, 16 ; Flathead, 17 ; 
Sierra, 31 ; Grand Canon, 34. 

Forest sepulchres, 64. 

Forests, growing interest in, 2, 5, 
33 ; of the Cascade Mountains, 
22 ; fossil, 60 ; of the Yellow- 
stone Park, 67 ; Sierra, 80, 98- 
136 ; Giant, of the Kaweah, 300 ; 
of the Tule River, 318 ; Ameri- 
can, 331 ; destruction of, 336, 
344 ; influence on streams, 337, 
346, 359 ; management of, 337- 
365; redwood (Sequoia semper- 
virens), 347-352. 

Fountains of the Sierra, 241, 245. 

Fritillaria, 23, 156. 

Frogs, 211. 

Frost crystals, 165. 

Gardens, wild, of California, 5 ; 
the East, 6; Alaska, 7 ; Black 
Hills, 14 ; Rocky Mountains, 
18, 19 ; Cascade Mountains, 23, 
30; Sierra, 137-142; forest 
155 ; cliff, 157 ; wall, 159 ; pot- 

hole, shadow, alpine, 160 ; win- 
ter, 161; meadow, 163; sky, 
Mono, and tree, 167. 

Gaultheria, 23, 350. 

Geese, 225. 

General Grant National Park and 
tree, 298. 

Gentians, 94, 142, 164. 

Geyser basins, 43, 44. 

Geyser craters, 46. 

Geysers, 38, 41, 43, 53 ; distribu- 
tion of, 55. 

Giants of Sierra forests, 108; 
Western, 116. 

Glacial action, 84, 92, 96, 138. 

Glacial and post-glacial denuda- 
tion, 84, 89. 

Glacial period, 64, 65, 78, 96, 242. 

Glacier lakes, 78, 95. 

Glacier landscapes, 65, 91. 

Glacier meadows, 37, 163. 

Glacier monuments, 84. 

Glacier pavements, 83, 84-86. 

Glacier sparrow, 231. 

Glaciers, 19, 30, 64, 78 ; of the 
Sierra, 95 ; ancient Tuolumne. 

Goat, wild, 24, 29. 

Gold, influence of, 11, 361. 

Goldenrods, 17, 142, 164. 

Gray, Asa, 33. 

Great Basin, the, 94. 

Grouse, 215. 

Hackmatack, 18. 

Hawks, 228. 

Hay den, F. V., his work exploring 
the Yellowstone region, and get- 
ting it set apart as a national 
park, 39. 

Hazel, 23, 146. 

Hazel Green, 81. 

Heathworts, 23, 147. 

Hemlock, mountain, 125, 170. 

Home-going, 98. 

Honeysuckle, 142, 147. 

Hooker, Sir Joseph, 33. 

Hothouses, natural, 161. 

Hot springs, 38, 41, 43, 54. 

Huckleberries, 24. 

Hulsea, 167. 

Hunters and trappers, 51, 58. 

Indian summer, 165, 283, 316. 


Indians, 24, 51, 263; their or- 
chards, 105 ; hunting grounds, 
14, 122, 193 ; tame, 317. 

Johnson, Dr., on the trees of Scot- 
land, 108. 

Joliet and Father Marquette on 
the upper Mississippi, 71. 

Juniper, western, 123, 273. 

Lakes, McDonald, 18 ; Avalanche, 
19 ; Yellowstone, 47, 70 ; Mono, 
94 , Tahoe, 48 ; Tenaya, 86. 

Landscapes, new, 3 ; changes in, 
4 ; of the Sierra, 87. 

Landslip, 287. 

Larch, western, 18 ; Lyall, 18. 

Lark, meadow, 238. 

La Salle, 71. 

Lewis and Clark, 28. 

Library, geological, 59. 

Light, 82, 165. 

Lightning, 276. 

Lilies, 23, 153, 155, 350. 

Linnsea borealis and companions, 
18, 50. 

Lizards, 204. 

Log houses, 288, 305, 320. 

Loggers, 29. 

Lumbering in the Sierra, 100. 

Man, influence on landscapes, 4. 

Manzanita, 143. 

Maple, 22, 130. 

Mariposa tulip, 155. 

Marmot, 17, 199. 

Meadows, glacier, 37, 163 ; in se- 
quoia woods, 296, 302. 

Monardella, 282. 

Moneses, 18. 

Monument, the Glacier, 87. 

Mosses, 22. 

Mt. Rainier, 30; Amethyst, 60, 
73 ; Washburn, 66 ; Dana, 90, 
93; Lyell, McClure, Gibbs, 
90 ; Hoffman, 161. 

Mountaineering, 285, 306. 

Mountains, the Western, 2 ; new, 
4; Cascade, 19; Olympic, 19; 
Rocky, 12-18, 37, 38 ; Sierra, 

Mud, 44. 

Mule, Brownie, 285, 295, 301 ; his 
prayer, 318. 

Names, 58. 

Nature, 56, 73, 97, 332; labora- 
tories of, 44. 
Night air, 133. 
Nights, 165. 
Nuts, pine, 103. 

Oaks, California black, 128 ; gold- 

cup live-oak, 128. 
Orchids, 23, 156. 
Ousel, water, 29, 52, 238. 
Owens River water, 246. 

Parks, national, of the West, 12 ; 
Mt. Rainier, 30; Yellowstone, 
37 ; Yosemite, 76 ; animals of, 
172, 201; birds, 213; General 
Grant and Sequoia, 298, 328, 
329 ; management of, 40, 351. 

Petrified forests, 38, 60. 

Phlox, 94. 

Pika, 162, 201. 

Pine, yellow, 13, 112, 115 ; con- 
torted, lodge-pole, Murray, two- 
leaved, tamarack, 15, 18, 67, 
68, 83, 121, 122 ; mountain, 18, 
108; Sabine, 102; hard cone 
(attenuata), 103 ; dwarf, 106 ; 
sugar, 100, 109 ; nut, 105 ; white, 
68, 105. 

Plover, 227. 

Plum, 23. 

Polemonium, alpine, 167. 

Poplar, 130. 

Primrose, shrubby, 147. 

Prospectors, 289, 352. 

Pyrola, 18. 

Quail, mountain, 219 ; valley, 222. 

Railroads in western forests, 357. 

Rain, 26. 

Raspberries, 24. 

Rat, wood, 201. 

Rattlesnakes, 28, 57, 206. 

Redwood, 100, 268. 

Reservations. See Forest Reserva- 

Rhododendron, 23, 146, 350. 

Ribes, 282. 

River, the Yellowstone, 48 ; Mis- 
sissippi, 71 ; Columbia, 73 ; 
Missouri, 73; Colorado, 73; 



Tuolumne, 95, 258 ; Merced, 95, 

258 ; San Joaquin, 95. 
Rivers, 37 ; Sierra, 242. 
Riverside trees, 130. 
Robin, 236. 
Rock ferns, 149. 
Rose, 23, 147, 282. 
Rubus, 147. 

Sage-cock, 214. 

Salmon berries, 24. 

Sandhill crane, 227. 

Sanger Lumber Co., 298. 

Sarcodes, 281. 

Sawmills, in sequoia woods, 292, 
298, 299, 319, 351. 

Scenery, habit, 2, 3 ; best, care- 
killing, 17 ; canon, 259, 266. 

Seed collectors, 101. 

Seeds of conifers, 120. 

Sequoia ditches, 291. 

Sequoia gigantea, 268 ; cones, 
274; age, 275; death, 276; 
groves in spring, 281 ; summer, 
282; autumn, 283; winter, 
283; studies, 285; seedlings, 
297; young trees, 288, 296; 
oldest, 297 ; size of, 294, 322 ; 
durability of wood, 291 ; gum, 
292 ; groves of Yosemite Park, 
109 ; Mariposa Grove, 286, 328 ; 
Fresno Grove, 287-292 ; Dinky 
Grove, 293 ; forests of Kings 
River, 295 ; Kaweah and Tule 
river basins, 300, 314, 316 ; dis- 
tribution of, 322, 325 ; perma- 
nence of the species, 323 ; in- 
fluence on streams, 324, 329. 

Shake-makers, 298, 353. 

Sheep, wild, 194 ; hoofed locusts, 
317, 318, 352. 

Shepherds, 33, 185, 293, 317. 

Sierra climate, change of, 324. 

Silex pavements, 46. 

Silver fir, alpine, 31, 68, 170; 
magnificent, 83, 118, 170 ; 
white, noble, grand, and 
lovely, 119, 170. 

Snow, 26, 247. 

Snow avalanches, 251. 

Snow plant (Sarcodes), 156, 281. 

Snowstorms, 249, 283. 

Soil, 65, 67 ; moraine, 100, 138 ; 

crystal, 140, 161; earthquake 

boulder, 140, 259. 
Sparrow, the glacier, 231. 
Spiraea, 142. 
Spiritual world, the, 74. 
Springs, 244, 245 ; soda, 247. 
Spruce, Engelmann, 14, 68 ; Doug- 
las, 19, 22, 68, 100, 116 ; Sitka, 

170. ' 
Squirrels, 19, 52, 192, 194, 274, 


Storms, 267. 
Streams of the Sierra, 241, 246, 

248 ; in spring, 256 ; in summer 

and autumn, 257. 
Sunflowers, crystal, 162. 
Swamps, 7. 

Talus, earthquake, 140, 259. 

Tamarack, 18. 

Thoreau, his description of the 
pistillate flowers of the white 
pine, 169; on the destruction 
of trees and shrubs, 356. 

Torreya, 131. 

Tourists, 21, 27, 53. 

Trapper, 57. 

Travel, modern, 1, 50, 56. 

Tree flowers, 168; how best to 
see them, 165. 

Tree gardens, 167. 

Trout, 18, 48, 67, 211. 

Tumion, 131. 

Tundra, Alaska, 7. 

Vaccinium, 18, 94, 148. 

Valley, Central, of California, 5, 


Violets, 142, 281. 
Volcanic cones, 30, 94. 
Volcanic rocks, 60. 
Volcanic storms, 61. 
Volcanoes, 30 ; mud, 51. 

Water, action of, on soilbeds, 138. 
Water, Owens River, 246. 
Waterfalls, Yellowstone, 49 ; Ka- 
weah, 300. 

Wildness, 2 ; unchangeable, 4. 
Willow, dwarf, 94. 
Wind, action of, on soilbeds, 139. 
Woodchuck, 199. 
Woodpeckers, 233, 282. 
Wood-rat, 201. 

Electrotyped and printed by H. O. Houghton <5r Cf* 
Cambridge, Mass., U.S.A. 



Our riatinal parks' 

230 p 
fl 953 

Jan 2 1912 | Hail