The Grand Tetons. If you’ve never seen them, you have no idea just how truly stupendous they are in person. They are so tall and massive compared to all of the other mountains and peaks around them, they can be seen for at least 125 miles (201 km) on a clear day. Even the word “grand” doesn’t do them justice, as they totally dominate the skyline in both Idaho and Wyoming for — seemingly — forever.
If I have any claim to make of my childhood, this is it. Southeastern Idaho and the sections around there — where the Grand Tetons are always looming on the horizon — are the stomping grounds of my youth. They are the place that I’ve always considered home, and the place that I’ve always tried to get back to as an adult.
In the latter part of the 19th century, the famous naturalist and preservationist, John Muir, wrote the following letter to his sister — which includes the entirety of his famous quote (highlighted in yellow):
Dear Sister Sarah:John Muir — September 3, 1873
I have just returned from the longest and hardest trip I have ever made in the mountains, having been gone over five weeks. I am weary, but resting fast; sleepy, but sleeping deep and fast; hungry, but eating much. For two weeks I explored the glaciers of the summits east of here, sleeping among the snowy mountains without blankets and with but little to eat on account of its being so inaccessible. After my icy experiences it seems strange to be down here in so warm and flowery a climate.
I will soon be off again, determined to use all the season in prosecuting my researches–will go next to Kings River a hundred miles south, then to Lake Tahoe and adjacent mountains, and in winter work in Oakland with my pen.
The Scotch are slow, but some day I will have the results of my mount mountain studies in a form in which you all will be able to read and judge of them. In the mean time I write occasionally for the Overland Monthly, but neither these magazine articles nor my first book will form any finished part of the scientific contribution that I hope to make. . . . The mountains are calling and I must go, and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.
My love to you all, David and the children and Mrs. Galloway who though shut out from sunshine yet dwells in Light. I will write again when I return from Kings River Canyon. The leaf sent me from China is for Cecelia.
Farewell, with love everlasting
Even though Muir was writing about his beloved mountains in what is now Yosemite National Park in California, his words resonate for me in the same way about the area in and around the Grand Tetons… an area that I hope to soon call home again.
The backside of the Grand Tetons
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