John Muir was another name that interested me from the PBS show “Our National Parks.” Finding A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf in our local bookstore, however, presented a big challenge. Eventually, my brother-in-law found it for me in Asheville, North Carolina.
Originally published in 1916, the text has remained intact but several different introductions have appeared in subsequent editions. The book is a compilation of journal entries from John Muir in 1867 while passing through Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. He also ventures to Cuba and New York City on his journey back and then forward to California.
Traveling primarily by foot and occasionally by boat, Muir records his observations of plants, animals and people he encounters along the way. He frequently sleeps outside and because of his outdoor travels in the oppressive Southern heat, contracts malaria and is waylaid for several months.
I found this book fascinating. Muir traveled alone with few supplies and hardly any money. He was not afraid to approach someone to ask for help or a meal or a bed for the night. He delighted in finding Spanish Moss (Tillandsia) which I found amusing as I’ve seen it for most of my life and consider it a nuisance – although it is pretty hanging from the trees.
The book is very easy to read and Muir’s way of “speaking” in his journal is quaint and interesting. I look forward to reading his other books, namely My First Summer in the Sierra and Travels in Alaska. As the founder of the Sierra Club, Muir leaves a legacy in his printed word and in the organization known for conservation.