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portrait of John Muir, conservationist, naturalist, writer, mountaineer

The Coniferous Forests & Bigtrees of the Sierra Nevada --Out of print; a few scuffed copies left.
by John Muir.

Although known for his contributions to the understanding of Yosemite Valley's geologic origin and for his conservation work, botany was always Muir's first love, and he produced wonderful writings on Sierra trees. These are both descriptive of the trees' features and appreciative of their beauty and place in nature. The magnificent bigtree, also known as sequoia or Sierra redwood, assumes an important part in this. Special, too, is the insert on "A Wind Storm in the Forests of the Yuba" in which Muir ventured out into the windy day, instead of "crouching deprecatingly beneath a roof", climbed into the upper branches of a tall douglas-fir, "to get my ear close to the aeolian music of its topmost needles", then swayed about in arcs of 20 to 30 degrees.

Period engravings are added to the text. 40 pages.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-027-4. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-027-0. Covers scuffed; limited stock Order #: VIST0027 paper$3.95


The Hummingbird of the California Waterfalls
by John Muir.

Reprinted from 1878. This has been called "the finest bird biography ever written". Muir's "waterfall hummingbird" is the water-ouzel, of course, now also called the dipper. Although Muir buffs and birders already know this, even they will enjoy reading or re-reading the story of this little bobber. Some might have seen this little bird, but without this article have not yet enjoyed the flyer/swimmer fully. As Muir's portrayal shows, much of the bird's intrigue is its physical elusiveness while remaining visually accessible. Enjoy this little story and enjoy this little bird. Foreword by former Chief Park Naturalist, Yosemite National Park. Period illustrations. 24 pages.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-019-3. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-019-5. Order #: VIST0019 paper$3.95





In the Heart of the California Alps: a near view of the High Sierra in 1872

by John Muir.

Account of the ascent of Mount Ritter, October, 1872. Record of one of Muir's finest mountain rambles and of the first ascent, a solo one, of this mountain in the Mammoth Lakes country of the eastern Sierra Nevada. Combines natural observations with the adventures and philosophical musings of a nearly fatal climb. Made from a base camp with three artists who were left sketching on the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River. An illustration of Mt. Ritter by one of these artists, William Keith, is included. Drawings by Muir are also included, as well as other period illustrations. Foreword by former Yosemite Chief Park Naturalist. 24 pages.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-026-6. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-026-3. Order #: VIST0026 paper$3.95





A Rival of the Yosemite: The Caon of the South Fork of King's River, California

by John Muir.

As they had at Yosemite, Muir and his editor launched a campaign to get Kings Canyon set aside as a national park (some wanted to call it John Muir National Park), advising the law-givers to "make haste before it is too late". This writing was to be the stimulus. The park was not established, however, until 1940, when it was called Kings Canyon National Park. Muir's text is primarily descriptive, but as usual he includes personal adventures, in this case including a close encounter with a grizzly bear. Arguments for establishing the park are included, such as blocking grazing, lumbering, and mining. Text was reviewed by former Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park Chief Park Naturalist and foreword is by former Yosemite Chief Park Naturalist. Period engravings, with map showing proposed park boundary. 24 pages.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-010-X. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-010-2.  Order #: VIST0010 paper$3.95



Sierra Big Trees

 Out of print.
by John Muir.

In 1875 Muir made a tremendous exploration of the southern Sierra Nevada to survey the range of the giant sequoia. That trip may remain the most comprehensive single look at the tree yet, and this book tells his findings. It is an appreciative report of this tree, "very god of the woods". Muir describes the tree's range and its botanical characteristics, muses about the age it can attain, notes the effect of lightning strikes, and shares his several-days observation of a forest fire among them: "huge fire-mantled trunks on the hill slopes glowing like bars of hot iron." Foreword by former Yosemite Chief Park Naturalist. Period engravings. 80 pages.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-069-X. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-069-0. Paper covers, some scuffing. No inventory. Order #: VIST0069 paper$6.95


The Wild Sheep

by John Muir.

Here the early naturalist-writer glorifies the mountain sheep, or bighorn, of the Sierra Nevada. In Muir's time (1881 is the date of this writing), sheep were still to be seen on his High Sierra rambles. He notes the distribution of sheep and their various species as well as their physical characteristics, and he also describes their mountain home where they lived, "the happy wanderers, perhaps relishing the beauty as well as the taste of the lovely flora on which they feed." But as always his finest sections are where he describes the sheep themselves and how they move about on cliff walls, fine four-legged mountaineers. Today, park and wildlife agencies are reestablishing populations of wild sheep in the Sierra Nevada and elsewhere, and we may thank Muir in part for this, as his writing helped keep our appreciation alive for them. Reviewed by Chief Park Naturalists at Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Period engravings. 32 pages.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-017-7. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-017-1. Order #: VIST0017 paper$3.95

LEE STETSON AS JOHN MUIR: See and hear John Muir "live" as Lee Stetson recreates John Muir memories and writings via CDs and live shows. For information, go to http://www/

A little note about a near-John Muir experience: Your website author and principal of, Bill Jones, was once a Yosemite naturalist. At that time he prepared a slide show and narrative from John Muir's writings and presented it at naturalist programs in the park and sent it out in taped from to some organizations for the program at one of their meetings. From this exposure he was invited to be the speaker at the John Muir Society annual banquet in Martinez, California. This was circa early 1960s, before establishment of the John Muir National Historical Site. He gave his talk and then listened to townsfolk speak of memories of John Muir that they had heard from old-timers. There were tales of how Muir, who was overseeing a farming operation at the time, would be the first one in the morning to the train dock to retrieve the best shipping pallets before anyone else got there and of having great wine-filled evenings with a friend. Because the trip was a distance from Yosemite, it was necessary for Bill not only to travel there but to stay overnight. No organization had money to support this, however. Instead, Yosemite National Park provided a vehicle and Bill was put up in the John Muir house itself, then owned by the Sax family, who had bought it with retirement funds, and were doing what they could to make it presentable after years of neglect. It was their hope that it would be preserved at some level of government. Thus, after the banquet Bill had the experience of sleeping in John Muir's bedroom and next morning breakfasting in the house's big kitchen as well as climbing up into the cupola to see the same fields that John Muir once did. A trip to the nearby family gravesite was also had, with reminiscences of the meanings of this man.


click to view above VistaBooks Publishing title on VistaBooks Publishing Yellowstone & Grand Teton page.


THE YOSEMITE IN WINTER: an 1892 account.
click to view above VistaBooks Publishing title on VistaBooks Publishing Yosemite page.

STICKEEN: an adventure with a dog and a glacier.

click to view above title on VistaBooks Publishing Northwest page.

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