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Travels in Alaska

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,167 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
In the late 1800s, John Muir made several trips to the pristine, relatively unexplored territory of Alaska, irresistibly drawn to its awe-inspiring glaciers and its wild menagerie of bears, bald eagles, wolves, and whales. Half-poet and half-geologist, he recorded his experiences and reflections in Travels in Alaska, a work he was in the process of completing at the time o ...more
Library Binding, 344 pages
Published January 1st 1915 by Reprint Services Corp
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Rex Fuller
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I thought I would completely enjoy this book, but I didn' all. This was a little on the painful side to get through. Primarily, it dealt with what Alaska looks like which isn't the detail I enjoy reading. I grew up in Alaska, so I'm already well acquainted with what it looks like. I wanted something a little more personable and a little less factual.
Wow! This man could brave anything, I believe! Throughout this short book, Muir walked and hiked and climbed (in some of the worst weather) more terrain than most of us walk in our lives. Muir was preparing this book for publication from his journals when he died, so much of what is in the now-published version would surely have been edited by him had he lived longer. Unfortunately, there were long stretches of the writing that I found less than engaging, though his use of metaphor is well done.
Dec 03, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
A relaxing read by Muir of his travels around Alaska
Jason Mills
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jan 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
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
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
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
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
John Muir took me by surprise, though I really shouldn’t have been so shocked. For some reason, I assumed this book would be dense, erudite, and difficult to read – but Muir wouldn’t have been the father of modern American conservation if his writing had been inaccessible. Indeed, Travels in Alaska is surprisingly readable, lyrically and beautifully written. While there’s no plot underlying this rambling travelogue, I found it to be nonetheless a fascinating and meditative reading experience.

Lexi Byers
Jan 11, 2016 rated it liked it
For Muir, Nature is the source of all that is spiritual in life. His writing emanates with the peace and beauty that he finds in the woods and wilderness. One reads his writings with a sense that somehow we are missing out on something precious in life by confining ourselves to what is known and safe.
Feb 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When can I leave for Alaska?
Muir paints a picture of Alaska that fans the flames of adventure and exploration!
Feb 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
enchanting descriptions of a wonderful place. how could one not want to spend time in this wonderful country after reading Muir's description of Alaska. just fantastic writing and a joy to read.
Eric Orchard
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I believe this is my favorite Muir book. It reads like a truly grand adventure combined with observation of nature at its most wild.
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think my expectations were way too high. John Muir is a legend, especially around these parts (in my Yukon home, a 2 hour drive from some of the stunning parts of coastal Alaska which are gorgeously, extensively, exhaustingly, ceaselessly detailed in this collection).

There are some significant victories in Muir's words. Muir is unquestionably a master of prose. His writing is absolutely stunning. Richly detailed, though poetic and emotive... Muir's passions are on full display. The first half
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had a difficult start with this book and found it a little hard to get into but I'm glad I persevered as I feel that I've got to go on a journey with an awesome bloke called John and met some fantastic characters along the way. I think what enthralled me the most was the different tribes that are met along the way and the various stories told by each of them. What surprised me the most was how easily they took to Christianity and how humbling it was that they felt and described themselves as m ...more
steven souder
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An eye opening read

I normally am a blood and guy's action guy. Taking the time to read this man's exploration and description of early Alaska through his eyes was enlightening to say the least. The birthing of Icebergs and the corruption of some tribes that had been introduced to Alcohol was a reminder of how far we have come in discovery and self destruction. SCS
Oct 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before photography was readily available, I can appreciate why naturalist John Muir's descriptive writing was so revered. But today, requiring five pages to describe one glacier makes for a slog of a read. His verbosity is a result of his vast wealth of knowledge, but some editing would've made this far more enjoyable.
Jake Leech
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I might be biased because I read this while vacationing in Alaska, but this was absolutely superb. Muir has an obvious, outsized love for the outdoors, strolls through adventure, and writes like a poet.

Listen, there are a couple of cons. This is 19th century prose, which can wear a little thin, and Muir knows more about geology than you do (especially moraines and the last glaciation). He also knows all of the scientific names of all of the trees. But this whole volume is only about 200-odd pag
Yulia Dibrovska
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I must recognize that my first thought was: such a boring book! But then I started kind of a journey with John Muir in wild places and really enjoyed all the marvelous descriptions of the Alaska life and nature!
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Interesting but you need to be a big history buff to really enjoy it.
Jo Ann
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful writing. Imagery made his love for the wild very evident.
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
A grand old adventure with John Muir, full of richly detailed descriptions of Alaskan nature and peoples lang syne.
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
Great descriptions.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ecstatic description of the flora and geology of Southeastern Alaska.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Redundant in description, compelling in events, detailed in creating a compelling picture of the landscape.
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John Muir (1838 – 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 and other wilderness areas. The S ...more
More about John Muir...
“Most people who travel look only at what they are directed to look at. Great is the power of the guidebook maker, however ignorant.” 43 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!” 6 likes
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