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Travels in Alaska

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  741 ratings  ·  67 reviews
Take a trip to last century's Alaska through Muir's clean, easy-going, enthusiastic prose. He wrote the way he took pictures, with insight, attention, care and genuine feeling. It's a lovely look into a beautiful land and its inhabitants the way it used to be, told in a flowing narrative that is far less rushed than contemporary travel tales.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1915)
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Rex Fuller
A little embarrassed to say this is the first of Muir's books I've read. After all, this is a man with plants, animals, mountains, a glacier, trails, a wilderness, and a forest named after him, is the founder of the Sierra Club, and a true original. He is part of, arguably the founder of, an era when environmentalism was innocent love of nature.

To share his pure joy of being in the Alaskan bush is more than worth the effort of working through his archaic style. The anecdotes of what he experienc
Even today Alaska is one of the few unspoilt wildernesses in the world. This vast part of America still has glaciers, bears, eagles and wolves, and still has the capability of filling people with awe at the scenery. In the late nineteenth century, John Muir made a number of trips to Alaska. At this point the land was barely explored, and was relatively untouched. Travelling by boat to a variety of places to camp, from there he climbs high onto the pristine glaciers.

We read of his encounters wit
John Muir is amazing. He's like a nature-based superhero. Hiking for days with no food other than a pocketful of grain? Fun! Falling into glacial crevasses? Sure! Fending off hypothermia by doing jumping jacks all night? Of course! Snow blindness? Bring it on! And he does it all with a smile and an eagerness to do it all again tomorrow.

Reading this book was delightful and exhausting. Muir's descriptions of the Alaskan scenery and surroundings were wonderful and exuberant. He used "Yosemitic" as
I became aware of John Muir's extensive travels in Alaska while kayaking the Stikine River in 2008. I hadn't realized the founder of the Sierra Club had spent so much time in Southeast Alaska. When Ken Burn's 'National Parks' book/documentary came out last year, it further cemented my desire to dive into Muir's journals about his travels in Alaska. The coup di gras was reading 'The Only Kayak' by Kim Heacox. He further exposed me to Muir's writings that have inspired generations of intrepid adve ...more
Jason Mills
Apr 30, 2012 Jason Mills rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who can read.
A remarkable man writing about remarkable places in remarkable prose. John Muir, a Scot, was an advocate for the Great Outdoors, instrumental in the setting up of National Parks in the US, passionate about exploring the wilds of nature and passionate too in describing them. We find him striding fearlessly off to study his beloved rivers of ice, not sheltering from storms but rushing out in them, not shirking from danger but relishing it. So mad are his exploits that even the local Indians shake ...more
This certainly isn't a light read (it took me more than 2 weeks), but it is a good one. Reading about Muir's trip to Alaska while it was still relatively unknown is both interesting and exciting. He uses beautiful language to bring to life his surroundings.

There certainly is a lot of talk about glaciers and all of their grandeur. He really, really loved the glaciers. The amount of time dedicated to them is far more than necessary.

It's a good read but expect the book to drag. I recommend it if o
The great American naturalist describes three trips to Alaska -- 1878, 1880, and 1890. It seems his motto was "carpe diem," because he never wasted a moment in which he could possibly hike, observe, measure, or sketch. He also took substantial risks to see as much as he can. He canoed through ice fields; he weathered the Alaskan rain forest without Gore-Tex; he trekked 20+ miles a day over mountains and glaciers. I was kind of gratified when, towards the end of the memoir, he recounts first near ...more
While this is on the whole not a gripping tale, John Muir's descriptions of his experiences exploring, charting, studying, and appreciating south-eastern Alaska's glaciers should be read by anyone contemplating cruising the Inland Passage. I wish I'd read it before our 2008 cruise. John Muir is clearly a character, with no fear, a complete adoration of nature and of God, and a heart for all the creatures of a place, including (but probably not especially) the people. Heading to Alaska again soon ...more
While there can be no doubt about John Muir's expertise in his field I did not find myself enjoying this book. That doesn't mean it isn't worth reading, simply that it wasn't of interest to me. The author spends probably 80% of his time describing what he sees: the sights, sounds, and smells of every form of flora and fauna that exists along his path. He spends some small amount of time describing the people that he encounters but it is apparent that Mr. Muir thinks more of the natural world tha ...more
Eric Orchard
I believe this is my favorite Muir book. It reads like a truly grand adventure combined with observation of nature at its most wild.
Jennifer Zartman
I picked up this book after reading several other Alaskan adventures, and I didn't enjoy it quite as much. Muir's disregard for safety considerations for himself and others shocked me--it's only by the grace of God that he lived to tell his tale. He possessed incredible luck as well as strength and stamina, and he oozes enthusiasm for glaciers, for plants, and for the wilderness. He describes the scenery with poetic zeal, and includes lists (sometimes lengthy) of every type of flower and tree th ...more
I've been reading this book, a couple pages at a time, for about 10 years. It's so incredibly beautiful and is what inspired a trip to Alaska in 1999. I don't care about a plot or anything else when I read it...I just like to suck it in like the clean Alaskan air.
Eugene Miya
Muir did (by his accounting) 4 Alaskan trips. This book is all about SE (skipping Unalaska (SW) and Barrow (far N) except to refer to them in his 4th trip). I'd say that had I read this book years earlier, I would have been less prepared. 15 field seasons working and a recent AK ferry trip from Whittier to Bellingham) helped orient the island geography of SE and the vegetation. It's quite interesting that Muir had people not believe in glaciers in the 1870s. And tourism in this part of the terri ...more
John Muir suffered from an acute cough for months so he decided to sleep on glaciers in Alaska to cure him. This book is not as good as his books on Yosemite, but it is a fascinating read. I do, however, feel I must speak to the racist feel of the book. At the time, he was probably progressive on his views on the natives, but in current days, he feels very narrow-minded. He speaks of how kind they are to their children ot because he believed them to be incapable as many others did at the time, b ...more
When can I leave for Alaska?
Muir paints a picture of Alaska that fans the flames of adventure and exploration!
Wonderful prose. I had no trouble with Muir's writing and I strongly disagree with those who call it archaic. (Repetitive? Maybe). Nor do I take issue with the Christian elements. In fact, the the spiritual and the natural merge in this book in a way that many have tried but Muir succeeds. I very much regret not taking up Muir's works earlier in my life. My family's roots, like Muir's, are with the Scottish settlers of the northern great lakes region and I was raised to hold the north woods with ...more
This was a journal of John Muir's journeys to Alaska to explore and document glaciers and other aspects of nature. It was interesting. It contained Chinook Indian words I learned as a child. He had a few scary experiences but these didn't seem to deter him. Judging from his writings he could hike and climb endlessly with little more than a hunk of bread to fortify him. He talked of the Native people and praised their family values as well as discussing their lapses with alcoholic binges. Sometim ...more
Travels in Alaska -
It was a bit difficult to read due to the fact that he is so good at describing the places he went that I was to fall asleep; I was happy & at peace reading such beautiful adventures. John Muir is my idol, so I may be a bit biased, because I am bound to love everything he writes. Although, this is the first of his books I have read; mostly just studied his life in school, etc.
Muir exams Alaska and all of its bergs (ice bergs, glaciers) by hiring Native dwellers (Native Am
Muir's writing is refreshing; his writing is so filled with adjectives and descriptions that his experience in Alaska can become alive to the readers.

While today many of us (me included) rely on cameras to collect our memories and the experiences of our journeys/travels, Muir used his senses and his memory to immortalize his experience and at last, pen and paper, to tell us the story of his adventure. Thus, his writing expresses all the feelings he sensed during this experience, instead of being
Marc Cappelletti
Nov 24, 2008 Marc Cappelletti rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has ever been outside.
It's not so much Muir's prose which moves me most, although it is stirring, it's his mindset and the unbelievable level in which he was in tune with the world around him.

"Our good ship also seemed like a thing of life, its great iron heart beating on through calm and storm, a truly noble spectacle. But think of the hearts of these whales, beating warm against the sea, day and night, through dark and light, on and on for centuries; how red the blood must rush and gurgle in and out, bucketfuls, b
Done. Lovely as the writing was, it got repetitive, and I was bored at times. Then I realized that the book predated cheap and easy photography, and I wondered if anyone is writing naturalist books of the sort anymore and I felt a little bad.

Overall, I'm still glad I read it. Though the portraits of the Alaska tribes were sad and concerning. I truly hope the chiefs and others who spoke and welcomed Muir and his companions were self aware about their self effacement and humility. I have some hope
Sarah Hoaglan
I was uncertain about reading this book at first, because I'm usually not much of a travel/nonfiction fan, but once I dove in the author had me mesmerized. I found the descriptions of Alaska, its natives and the glaciers that Muir discovered beautiful and easy to follow. He has a way with words and way with making nature breath taking and awe inspiring just with the written word. I also loved the way he tied his love of God in with his love of nature. This is a wonderful book for anyone interest ...more
Reading John Muir is inspiring for sure, and appalling in many ways. Today, many people are concerned about having the best gear for their short visits to nature, and around the turn of the century, Muir was jovial to have any gear at all for his long journeys. Soaked, malnurished, and likely dehydrated, Muir explored some of the most unforgiving terrain in North America. Sleeping on devil's club, and prefering a night under Auroras to a warm cabin, Muir describes an insatiable appetite for unde ...more
John Muir is awesome. It is hard for me to fathom what it would be like to travel to Alaska only 30-some years after Seward purchased it from Russia. Sure there was a bit of traffic from Yukon gold findings (I just finished Call of the Wild, which takes place about the same time), but for the most part Muir was exploring uncharted and pristine wilderness. The kind of environment he was born to write about.

Travels in Alaska is much heavier into geology than My First Summer in the Sierra, as the p
Scott White
One of my favorites by Muir. Documenting his travels, in part, with the Harriman expedition into Alaska, and confronting some of the idiotic narrow views early 'wilderness' explorers from the states had. Also just a wonderfully written adventure by the man most responsible for the founding of our national park system.
John Muir has transformed the way in which I interact with Nature as I have read his works in the last two years. His writing style is can be a bit difficult to get into. It is flowery and almost biblical in its descriptions, probably owing to the fact that he had memorized both the Old and New Testaments before his teen years. It is in language with that epic tone that he describes his appreciation and observations of the natural world, infusing his writing with inspired passages detailing his ...more
Muir's writings about his trips to study Alaska's glaciers. The quintessential outdoorsman, most of the time he hiked up the glaciers with not much more than his ice axe, and perhaps a small bit of food. On longer excursions, he brought a sled, and always a thirst for knowledge and beauty, both of which he found in abundance. I found his descriptions of the Native American villages even more fascinating the glaciers.

This was a great book to read before going to sleep. Slower paced, with lyrical
I checked out this book because I watch that show on tv where the families in Alaska and they have a short summer and they are always trying to hunt for food, or fish for food. John Muir describes so well how Alaska was and for the most part still is.
Appreciated by a cruiser to Alaska

Kindle version. I would have enjoyed some maps of the areas visited or a few of Muir's sketches from his travels.
Helen Mccarthy
John Muir is a wonderful and poetic writer as well as a great observer of nature and the environment. In this book he tells of his explorations of the tidewater glaciers in the Inland Passage and Glacier Bay of Alaska. I particularly enjoyed this book because I was recently in those same places. The retreat of the glaciers was much swifter then than the process that continues today. Muir also describes his adventures while exploring the glaciers, often without other companions. He was fearless, ...more
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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 a ...more
More about John Muir...
My First Summer in the Sierra Nature Writings: The Story of My Boyhood and Youth / My First Summer in the Sierra / The Mountains of California / Stickeen / Essays The Mountains of California The Wilderness World of John Muir A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf

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“Most people who travel look only at what they are directed to look at. Great is the power of the guidebook maker, however ignorant.” 32 likes
“But think of the hearts of these whales, beating warm against the sea, day and night, through dark and light, on and on for centuries; how the red blood must rush and gurgle in and out, bucketfuls, barrelfuls at a beat!” 3 likes
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