John Muir Wasn't Much of a Camper

Saturday, November 24, 2018

John Muir wasn't much of a camper. This may come as a surprise to many outdoor enthusiasts. Muir is obviously well-known as a naturalist, preservationist, and as an activist. He's also widely known for his extended hiking adventures and climbing exploits in the California Sierras, and in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Despite the countless hours he spent wandering in the backcountry, Muir apparently spent very little time trying to hone his camping skills. After his death in 1914, C. Hart Merriam published a memorial to his longtime friend in the January 1917 edition of the Sierra Club Bulletin. In the article the renowned ornithologist recalled some of the adventures he had shared with Muir over the years. Though fully acknowledging the wealth of information Muir had collected on the natural world, Merriam thought very little of his camping skills, stating that “in spite of having spent a large part of his life in the wilderness, he knew less about camping than almost any man I have ever camped with.” In fact, Muir’s habit of not packing the proper gear almost cost him his life on several occasions. You can read about one such incident on Mount Shasta, as well as Muir's important contributions to hiking in my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

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