Monday, August 11, 2014

Finding John Muir's Glacial Meadow

In his "My First Summer in the Sierra" an elderly Muir published his memoirs and edited journal entries from his 1869 four month saunter as a 33 year-old shepherd tending his "hooved locusts" across the northern reaches of what would become Yosemite National Park. In no small part the rich experiences Muir had on this youthful and exuberant round trip across the "Range of Light" created the Muir we know as well as the park and park system he helped create. Since reading this book as a 19 year-old Army private on my first visit to Yosemite in 1968 I have been curious where his "glacier meadow camp north of Soda Springs" was. It was generally believed to be the unofficially-named "Delaney Meadow" on Delaney Creek named after the man who owned the sheep Muir was in charge of. But I saw on the map a much larger meadow that better fitted the dimensions Muir gave: 1.5 miles long by a quarter mile wide. So I set off from Tuolumne Meadows in early August 2014 to ground-truth both meadows and see what they could tell me. After struggling through a tangle of downed lodgepole pines for the half mile between the two meadows I emerged at the larger one. I soon saw that Mt Dana cannot be seen from here and Muir clearly describes seeing the moon rise over Dana from his camp. So Muir's camp is indeed the lower meadow where Dana is seen. I did, however, discover for myself what Muir had surely found out, that the upper meadow is incredibly beautiful and worth every effort to get there. Enjoy these images of my meadow meanderings! P.S.: If you left click on the first image you get a filmstrip you can click to view the next or any slide you want.

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