John Muir: Conservationist & Walker of the California Landscape

"I stood for a while at the lookout, taking in the state of California. For a moment, it all made sense. No wonder Muir stayed here. No wonder he came up with a powerful and personal philosophy about conservation. He walked the state. More than once. He knew the details, from rock to plant to person and up to mountain top. He attached a significance to the story of the land itself that few others could. He inserted himself into that story bodily, intellectually, and spiritually, beginning in his second day in the state." -- Alex McInturff, California Transect, 2009

Do you walk often? How does walking influence your understanding of the landscape, cityscape, or neighborhood around you? How is walking different from driving, biking, or taking a bus? What can it teach us about patience, progression, life?


  1. I love to walk ... and yes, I do it often. When we drive or even ride a bike, we tend to miss all the small stuff, like the beauty of a mushroom pushing through a pile of leaves or an insect making a home. Every patch of earth has its own story and we'll miss that if we aren't right there, looking and experiencing. Your quote about John Muir reminded me of my first visit to Muir Woods. It was foggy that day, allowing us to experience the forest in a wonderful way. Thanks for bringing that memory to my mind.

  2. I try to walk at least 5 miles a day, but during term time (I'm a Welsh language tutor) that's mostly to the bus stop and back. This (nearly) daily walk keeps me in touch with the turning seasons - first lesser celandines today! When I'm not teaching, I like to get into the woods as often as I can. No huge redwoods around here, but some lovely patches of sessile oak, hazel coppice, and scrubby blackthorn.

    Muir is one of my favourite writers, and reading him is great way of recharging the spiritual batteries, especially when the weather's not so good. His accounts of climbing trees during storms have stuck with me during recent months - though I'm not as brave as him!

  3. Yes, I remember discovering how different my experience of my walk home from school in high school was compared with a bike ride. I noticed everything so much more and appreciated it.

    Yes, I agree that reading Muir is like "recharging the spiritual batteries"--what a great way to put it!

    Thanks for reading and commenting!


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