Enjoyment enough to kill

  My first view of the High Sierra, first view looking down into Yosemite, the death song of Yosemite Creek, and its flight over the vast cliff, each one of these is of itself enough for a great life-long landscape fortune - a most memorable of days - enjoyment enough to kill if that were possible ...

To shorten the return journey I was tempted to glissade down what appeared to be a snow-filled ravine, which was very steep. All went well until I reached a bluish spot which proved to be ice, on which I lost control of myself and rolled into a gravel talus at the foot without a scratch.

Just as I got up, I heard a loud fierce scream, uttered in an exulting, diabolical tone of voice which startled me, as if an enemy, having seen me fall, was glorying in my death. Then suddenly two ravens came swooping from the sky and alighted on the jag of a rock within a few feet of me, evidently hoping that I had been maimed and that they were going to have a feast.

But as they stared at me, studying my condition, impatiently waiting for bone-picking time, I saw what they were up to and shouted, "Not yet, not yet!"

*From The Wild Muir


Even though he might be parboiled by hot springs while stranded on a high-mountain ridge (during a snowstorm and while wearing no coat, no less), crushed by an iceberg, trapped in a glacial crevasse, or perilously climbing to the top of a 500-foot cone of ice behind Yosemite Falls, John Muir lived for fun in the outdoors. In this delightful little book, The Wild Muir: Twenty-two of John Muir's Greatest Adventures, his best death-defying accounts have been collected and introduced by Lee Stetson, who regularly dramatizes Muir's excellent exploits for audiences at Yosemite National Park. Readers will be hard put to pick a favorite quote from the man whose curiosity was only matched by his physical courage. Returning from an ice cliff, Muir concludes that he had a "glorious time enjoying triumphant exhilaration followed by dull weariness. Hereafter, I'll try to keep from such extravagant nerve-straining places." Luckily for us who read him almost a century later, Muir couldn't keep his word.

Yosemite Association, Box 545, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389, 1994: Paper, 211 pages with illustrations by Fiona King; $9.95.

*Betsy Marston

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