“The mountains are calling and I must go.” Isn’t that a great quote? If you aren’t familiar with this famous quote or don’t know it is from John Muir, well shame on you. Muir is one of the fathers of the National Parks. He fought to preserve Yosemite and even took President Theodore Roosevelt camping in the park. Muir is best known for being a strong environmentalist, but he was also a philosopher and acclaimed writer. I can only imagine what he would have to say about the state of the environment today and specifically the grossly overcrowded Yosemite Valley.
I’ve always been a big fan of John Muir. I’m also partial to Edward Abbey, who I would say is kind of like the John Muir of the Southwest. Although, Abbey is probably more famous for his writing. Abbey had some controversial beliefs and from what I’ve read was probably not the greatest role model; but his love of the Southwest is well documented. I also greatly enjoyed a few of his books including The Monkey Wrench Gang and Black Sun.
Back to that fantastic quote, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” I feel that has applied to me many times in my life. In fact, I’d say I feel that way quite often, I just can’t satisfy that desire these days. I guess I’d change the quote to “The mountains are calling and I’d sure like to go, but I think I’ll wait a couple more years.” I’ve written before about the fact that my wife and I are waiting for our kids to get a little older before we go on any grand adventures across the country with our children. In the meantime, we’ve enjoyed cruises and winter trips to Florida.
Ashley doesn’t like hiking as much as I do, that’s alright though. I’m trying to get my 5-year-old son, Noah, into hiking, so that he will eventually want to explore long, scenic trails with me. In a few years I plan on taking my family back out west to some of my favorite National Parks. Neither a very long flight nor a super long drive with our children sounds the slightest big enjoyable at this time. Things will get better though.
I’m content reading and writing about the National Parks for now. I also have plenty of photos that can transport me back to some of the awesome trails I’ve hiked and sights I’ve seen. I can also read passages from my book, my blog, or other blogs to appease my passion for the parks.
Even though I’m happy where I am with my family, that doesn’t mean I don’t get bitten by the travel bug on occasion. In those situations I start planning and researching for future trips, reminisce about past adventures, or try to be outside and enjoy some of our local treasures. Fall is a great time for hiking, so I’ll try to get out more with Noah in the coming months before Western New York turns into the frozen tundra this winter.
I’d like to return to Muir’s quote one more time, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” Muir loved all things wild, especially Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada range. I feel the same way. As much as I love waterfalls, canyons, and beaches; I love the mountains most. The Olympic Mountains, Tetons, and the different mountain ranges in Yellowstone have a special place in my heart. As do Muir’s mountains in Yosemite. It’s not only the National Parks; I’ve also had great times in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and the Adirondacks among others. I just think mountains have so much to offer. There are colorful mountain meadows, alpine lakes, summit views, wildlife, and that fresh mountain air. I can nearly taste it just thinking about it.
I also typically find mountains to be the most photogenic of nature’s natural wonders. I admit there can be exceptions (especially depending on the light at the time), but I’d normally give mountains the edge over canyons and water (lakes, rivers, waterfalls).
I’ll end this post with a few more quotes from John Muir:
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
“The world’s big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.”
“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”
“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
“Going to the mountains is going home.”
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into the trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”