|Circling Storm, Angeles Forest II ©2013 Katherine Kean |
oil on linen 6 x 6 inches
"Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature's sources never fail." John Muir, Our National Parks
Living on the edge of a National Forest, and the steepest mountains in the US, I am often reminded of John Muir, the "Father of the National Parks" and a person who considered the mountains his true home. Muir Woods in Northern California is well know and more locally is Muir Peak (elevation 4688') in Angeles National Forest north of Altadena.
On a Sierra Club Outing, author Albert Palmer tells of a conversation he had with John Muir on the trail. He asked Muir, "someone told me you did not approve of the word "hike" Is that so? His blue eyes flashed, and with his Scotch accent he replied: " I don't like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains - not hike! Do you know the origin of that word 'saunter?' It's a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, 'A la sainte terre,' 'To the Holy Land.' And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not 'hike' through them." - John Muir, as quoted by Albert W. Palmer, The Mountain Trail and its Message (1911) pages 27-28 - excerpted in A Parable of Sauntering .