A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf
EPUB EBook by John Muir
EBook DescriptionJohn Muir would have made the worst Boy Scout imaginable. A Thousand- EPUBMile Walk to the Gulf EPUB EBook 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 Burn’s poems, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and a small New Testament. He carried precious little cash, no matches, and not even a canteen. Night after night he slept in the dirt beside the road and awoke the following morning drenched through by the dew. He bathed in blackwater streams, begged for some of his food, and when hospitality and funds failed, he camped in cemeteries. Some days he walked more than forty miles without dinner or supper, unable to find a family that would agree to take him in. But none of these discomforts discouraged him in the least from pursuing his course south on his long “glorious” botanical walk to the sea.
High in the Cumberland mountains of Tennessee, where primitive homesteads were “far apart and uninhabited, orchards and fences in ruins — sad marks of war,” he slipped between small bands of guerillas infesting the mountains, presenting himself to thieves as nothing more than a poor herb doctor. When more civilised men inquired “Young man, what are you doing here?” Muir replied that he was looking at plants.... “I love all kinds of plants, and I came down here to these Southern states to get acquainted with as many of them as possible.”
What did he meet? Spanish moss, live oaks, magnolias, pineapples, and palmettos — all novel and wonderful to the twenty-nine year old Muir who had never spent much time outside a northern clime. He writes about these plants and dozens of other species in exultant tones that contrast poignantly with his descriptions of the dirt and poverty that mark the human residents who live along the paths he followed. For Muir, civilisation seemed necessary only to provide him with the food he needed to continue his long walk among the pine forests, swamps, and sand hills. Nature was clean, abundant, and harmonious, the exact opposite of many of the human settlements he encountered; download; if only he could overcome his need of daily bread, he vowed he would turn his back on civilisation forever.
But Muir wasn’t entirely a misanthrope. In fact, his book is a charming read that entertains as much with its unstudied descriptions of Reconstruction Era Southerners as with its detailed observations the region’s flora. Unlike most of the other books published under his name, A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf was never finally edited by Muir for publication. What we read is William Frederic Badè’s edition of the journal Muir kept as he walked to the sea. The final chapters, dealing with California, are drawn from other sources, and show Muir’s penchant for prose in its full bloom and glory. But most of A Thousand Mile Walk is far more temperate, and for that reason has proved to be one of my favourites. Like this book? Read online this: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Mile 1.
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