I am often asked who is my idol, who pushes me, encourages me, to which I would be likely to answer-athletes like Kjersti Buaas, Aimee Fuller and the likes. However, if you were to ask me, who is my inspiration and why, I think can think of a seemingly unlikely character that, without falter, inspires me in every meaning of the word.
They say, empowered women, empower women and I firmly believe that I look up to women to guide me to go bigger, ride harder and be a better version of myself. BUT, when it comes to inspiration, why I continue to pursue freeride, why I will not succumb to the societal pressures to fulfill the normal life of a 25yr old, and listen to the call of the mountains, it has to be John Muir.
So, who is John Muir, well thanks to the wonder of the internet, here is a little description of this incredible environmental warrior:
“John Muir (April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914) also known as “John of the Mountains”, was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, glaciologist and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books describing his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada, have been read by millions. His activism has helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and many other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he founded, is a prominent American conservation organization.”
John felt most at home in the mountains, a man who famously was never able to sit still for long, felt the mountains call him. A call to action that he rightly understood as his duty to protect the environment, nature and all the grandeur of the landscape around him.
Muir has been called the “patron saint of the American wilderness” and its “archetypal free spirit.” “As a dreamer and activist, his eloquent words changed the way Americans saw their mountains, forests, seashores, and deserts”,-Gretel Ehrlich. He not only led the efforts to protect forest areas and have some designated as national parks, but his writings presented “human culture and wild nature as one of humility and respect for all life.
Muir seems to understand what nature is trying to communicate to us; in a time before civilization was able to fully grasp the importance of championing environmental protection measures.
Above all what inspires me about Muir was his ethereal, magical and just damn right amazing use of the English language. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the mountain man himself. These quotes can sooth an intrepid travelers soul, just what your inner nomad needs to hear:
- Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
- The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.
- In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.
- When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.
- Rocks and waters, etc., are words of God, and so are men. We all flow from one fountain Soul. All are expressions of one Love.
- Storms of every sort, torrents, earthquakes, cataclysms, ‘convulsions of nature,’ etc., however mysterious and lawless at first sight they may seem, are only harmonious notes in the song of creation, varied expressions of God’s love.
- Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us, God.
- How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!
- Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
- The mountains are calling and I must go.
Although John, who was raised deeply religious as was normal in his native Scotland, he grew to expand upon his beliefs about “God” and how the idea of a prime maker relates to nature. I understand how it may be hard for some to relate and many find it a little uncomfortable to mention God, or any names indeed that suggest a religious orientation. However, when thinking of all of nature’s awesome power, the mountains in all their glory, one can’t help but sit back and contemplate a little.
So, there you have it guys, I hope you found this short piece interesting and that you too can find some comfort in the immortal words of John Muir. I find whenever I am feeling a little melancholy for the mountains, his words match perfectly to any feelings of longing, he helps he slowly turn those feelings to a sense of belonging, we all are indeed, part of the grand picture. It is up to us to understand how we fit in and how we plan to use our influence to protect what we hold so dear. . . . . Nature and the mountains.