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A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf

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3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  531 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
Here is the adventure that started John Muir on a lifetime of discovery. Taken from his earliest journals, this book records Muir's walk in 1867 from Indiana across Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to the Gulf Coast. In his distinct and wonderful style, Muir shows us the wilderness, as well as the towns and people, of the South immediately after ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 26th 1998 by Mariner Books (first published June 1916)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Scott
Sep 19, 2011 Scott rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature, walks, 1910s
John Muir would have made the worst Boy Scout imaginable. Early in September 1867, “joyful and free” but woefully unprepared, he set out from Indianapolis, Indiana on a 1,000 mile walk that would take him down the rocky spine of the eastern seaboard across Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, to the Gulf coast of Florida. In his rucksack he carried little more more than a map, compass, comb, brush, towel, soap, and one change of underclothes. For entertainment and enlightenment he took ...more
Kirsti
Apr 21, 2014 Kirsti rated it really liked it
"They tell us that plants are perishable, soulless creatures, that only man is immortal, etc.; but this, I think, is something that we know very nearly nothing about."

Mr. Muir was a young man when he decided to walk a thousand miles to the Gulf of Mexico. "Don't do it," people told him. "You'll catch malaria." But he did it, and he caught malaria, and it took him several months to recover. He never did walk from Florida to the Amazon, as he had planned.

A very interesting journal. Muir describes
...more
Chris Tharrington
Oct 04, 2016 Chris Tharrington rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A self righteous pile of crap.
Carol-Anne
Jan 12, 2016 Carol-Anne rated it really liked it
John Muir walks to the Gulf of Mexico from Indianapolis via Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Once there he heads for Cuba. His interactions with people in a Post Civil War period were interesting - homes, food, slavery, plantations, robbers, racism etc. His journal not only provides observations of the flora he encounters but his views on environmentalism. A short and enjoyable read about his wanderings.
Katrina Dreamer
Aug 18, 2015 Katrina Dreamer rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
I appreciated reading this because it's just John Muir rambling in the countryside with an immense appreciation for and knowledge of the flora. There are some breathtaking passages. There are also several racist remarks that are off-putting...he did this journey shortly after the civil war and the general opinion of African-Americans at the time was less than stellar. I didn't expect that.
Shannon Dishon
Mar 15, 2014 Shannon Dishon rated it it was amazing
A book of poetry to botanists and nature-lovers alike
Valerie
I'm about halfway through this, and I'm finding problems with it that have little to do with the 'botanizing' which is the official purpose of the book. If the purpose of the book is to supply botanical information (much of which I could have provided myself with very little difficulty, having lived in more or less the same sort of environment further west), more drawings would be almost obligatory. Giving the Latin names for plants does NOT identify them to people who've seen them, but who have ...more
Donna
Jan 12, 2016 Donna rated it really liked it
So very interesting. Love the way John Muir writes.
Rock
Dec 04, 2016 Rock rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly lively narrative from an ostensible botanist. Interesting, too, to read a postbellum southern travelogue after having read several antebellum ones -- Muir is more harsh on the African-Americans than, say, Frederick Law Olmstead, though he also includes admissions from former slaveowners that their labor costs are much lower with "free" laborers, which was one of Olmstead's points. Interesting, too, to read Muir's rave reviews of Southern pine forests, since my main firsthand ...more
Jeff
Feb 23, 2016 Jeff rated it liked it

In 1867, after recovering from an industrial accident that left him temporarily blind, John Muir left Indiana for the Gulf of Mexico. Taking only a small sack, his possessions included a flower press, a change of underwear, a comb, a brush, a towel, soap, a flower press, and a few books: Burns poems, Miltonâs Paradise Lost and a small New Testament. Taking the train to the border, he set out walking through Kentucky, where he visited Monmouth Caves. When visiting an old Planter who questioned ta
...more
David Kessler
Oct 13, 2016 David Kessler rated it really liked it
John Muir, at age 29, takes a walk from Illinois to Florida in 1867 just after the ending of the American Civil War. This book is a good example of romantic writing. Mr Muir is into botany and in route he collects specimens. What a walk thru the hills and valleys of Kentucky, next Tennessee and onto to the pine hills of Georgia. He takes a ship to the very northernmost tip of the Florida coastline. Resumes the walk and so on.. A great story.
Tom Kepler
Nov 11, 2012 Tom Kepler rated it liked it
"Often I thought I would like to explore [New York City] if, like a lot of wild hills and valleys, it was clear of inhabitants."

In September of 1867, age 29, John Muir set out for a walking tour of the South, which extended to Cuba and eventually ended in California. Visiting home in Wisconsin, Muir traveled by train to Jeffersonville, Indiana, crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky, and started walking.

Not a book designed by Muir, this narrative was prepared by William Frederic Bade and copyright
...more
Laura
Oct 10, 2016 Laura rated it it was ok
Wanted to read because Muir is so famous, but I'm not sure this was the best of his books to pick up first. A bit dry for me.
Robin
John Muir, for whom writing was not an easy task, chose not to publish this work during his lifetime. He had not yet applied his patient and painstaking editing and rewriting process to this early journal. Two years after Muir’s death, literary executor William Frederic Bade published this account, the first of Muir’s posthumous books. The first eight chapters are taken directly from Muir’s travel journals from the years 1867 – 1869: his walk through Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, ...more
James McGregor
Mar 15, 2015 James McGregor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The book chronicles the transformation of a practical young man with a burdened conscience into a naturalist at peace with himself and his mission. It is an extraordinarily revealing account of self-transformation by a man of great fame and significance in American thinking about nature, but a person, too, of great charm, insight and literary skill.
Though it isn't entirely clear, it seems that John Muir avoided the draft during the American Civil War by going to Canada for the duration. At the
...more
Alan
Nov 02, 2014 Alan rated it really liked it
Good, interesting account of not finishing his botany, chemistry and geology studies at U Wisconsin, which his cheap Scottish father would not pay for. Leaving out his Canadian escape of the draft in 1863, Muir walked south, in 1866 or 67. He slept outside, under trees, often in cemeteries which combined great trees and comfortable grounds. In western Virginia I think or North Carolina he ran into some Rebel troops who had not disbanded, but they took him for an herbalist (he did carry lots of ...more
Meredith
1867 -
"My plan was simply to push on in a general southward directions by the wildest, leafiest, and least trodden way I could find, promising the greatest extent of virgin forest" pg 1

"The fashionable Hotel grounds are in exact parlor taste, with many a beautiful plant cultivated to deformity, and arranged in geometrical beds, the whole pretty affair a laborious failure side by side with Divine beauty" pg 7

"....Nature is ever at work to reclaim, and to make them look as if the foot of man had
...more
Suzan Powers
Nov 07, 2013 Suzan Powers rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
John Muir's second book which makes adventurous reading if you love the natural world and history of the US! His descriptions of land formations, flora and fauna are wonderfully scientific and uniquely his at the same time! I get the books with his original illustrations and old photographs so it is authentic. Muir leaves his family and homestead in Wisconsin after getting his degree from the U. of Wisconsin at Madison and sets off on a journey to Cuba through the South right after the Civil ...more
Elise
Apr 24, 2016 Elise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
Good for what ails me. A delight to read- Muir is so contagiously enthusiastic about pretty much everything. It made me pull out the tree identification book and figure out what's been living in my mom's backyard so long. He made his incredible journey without so much as a blanket or a canteen! amazing.

Also there's some wonderful cultural anthropology flowing around the botany. This is a legit diary written during is travels through the south in 1867. Think there might be some racial commentary
...more
Anthony
Jan 12, 2012 Anthony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Muir's recounting of a post-Civil War journey from Indiana to Florida and his reflections as a botanist, wanderer, and thinker. This is a quick read and not excessively weighed down with botanical references. I would've liked to read more about his seabound voyage from Florida to New York as well as a follow-trip from New York to California (via the 'isthmus,' though Muir provides no information about the crossing which itself would be notable since the panama's completion didn't come until ...more
Maggie
May 13, 2012 Maggie rated it liked it
Rating 3.5. I enjoyed this book which was composed by John Muir from notes he had made while on his travels. Although the name of the book would suggest he had traveled only to the Gulf Coast, in fact, he also traveled to Cuba and California, including the Yosemite Valley. Those two portions of the book were more interesting to me than his original walk. This man was not only a traveler, biologist, budding ecologist, and writer, but also a very brave one to travel so far into areas totally ...more
David Sasaki
Jul 27, 2016 David Sasaki rated it really liked it
I discovered this book by reading Peter Jenkins' A Walk Across America. In 1999, I was convinced that I would do my own walk across America, though in opposite direction -- from West to East. I wanted to know how Muir inspired Jenkins' journey, just like Jenkins inspired my own.

Instead, Muir left me with a greater appreciation for nature and nature writing. I can see the effect as I read back over old journals -- the entries around this time are much more descriptive of the nature around me. Af
...more
Meghan Burgess
Nov 09, 2012 Meghan Burgess rated it really liked it
"A Thousand-Mile walk to the Gulf" is a story of a man that walked to the Gulf of Mexico from Indianapolis. He kept a journal of the plants he saw and studied on his way to the gulf. He traveled through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and through Florida until he hit the coast of the Gulf. He explored Mammoth Cave (one of my favorite parts of the book). When he reached the Gulf it was October 23, 1867. He had started on November 1, 1867. It had taken him almost two months ...more
David Ward
A Thousand Mile Walk To The Gulf by John Muir (Houghton Miflin 1998) (Biography). First published in 1916, this is the first journal kept by botanist and naturalist John Muir, a Scotsman who at the age of twenty-nine left his home in Indiana in 1867 heading south to see what he could see. This is a record of his observations of the people and plant material that he encountered as he walked through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida. Though both readable and informative, Muir is not an aut ...more
Kristofer Petersen-Overton
Unlike Muir's other writings, this was written as his personal journal and so not originally intended for publication. It has a kind of straightforwardness I found less enjoyable as prose but interesting as a documentation of his impressions untarnished upon reflection. Perhaps most fascinating are Muir's observations of the immediate post-Civil War south, replete with roving bandits (Muir faces some close calls), idle fields, ruined homes, and several discussions about slavery with his hosts. ...more
Tyler
Feb 03, 2013 Tyler rated it really liked it
A very interesting book that delves into the character of the most celebrated naturalist in US history. The fact that this was just a series of journal entries meant that chapters tended to have fairly repetitive points on the changing of the flora in different regions but since it's a short read it's well worth reading through the few paragraphs inundated with latin terms for plant life. Overall a very interesting read that makes me want to take in first hand much of what Muir saw in this ...more
Teresa
Jan 20, 2012 Teresa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I sort of feel like singing after reading this book. If all of his writings are like this one, John Muir has an eye on the world unequaled in the Glass Half Full crowd.

Nothing gets this guy down. Sleeping outside with just a rock for a pillow and going for days without food is just one more of the beauteous ways that Man experiences God's Creation.

It's an extremely quick read--a journal of Mr Muir's travels from Indiana WALKING to Florida carrying, seemingly, just a change of underclothes, a b
...more
Gwen
Oct 21, 2014 Gwen rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
"If you are traveling for health, play truant to doctors and friends, fill your pocket with biscuits, and hide in the hills of the Hollow, lave in its waters, tan in its golds, bask in its flower-shine, and your baptisms will make you a new creature indeed. Or, choke in the sediments of society, so tired of the world, here will your hard doubts disappear, your carnal incrustations melt off, and your soul breathe deep and free in God’s shoreless atmosphere of beauty and love."
Wanda
Apr 05, 2014 Wanda rated it it was amazing
What can be said about John Muir that hasn't already been said. He profoundly shaped our understanding and need to preserve America's wilderness.

"A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf" was his first book and chronicles his walk to the Gulf of Mexico shortly after the Civil War ended. His passion and excitement for nature was thought-provoking to me. Reading "A Thousand-Mile Walk" has made me admire Muir even more.
Christiane
Aug 25, 2010 Christiane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I wanted to like it more but I became bogged down in descriptions of flowers and trees. Then when something really exciting happened like getting swept away crossing a river, or encountering alligators, he just mentions it in passing. It's also hard to get past the casual racism of the times (written in 1867) when he makes remarks like "The negroes are easy-going and merry, making a great deal of noise and doing little work."
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John Muir (/mjʊər/; April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914) was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park ...more
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“The world, we are told, was made especially for man — a presumption not supported by all the facts.” 442 likes
“On no subject are our ideas more warped and pitiable than on death. ... Let children walk with nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life, and that the grave has no victory, for it never fights.” 173 likes
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