Does today’s visitor trekking Yosemite National Park find it much different from what John Muir encountered a century ago? Thomas and Geraldine Vale retrace Muir’s path, based upon journal descriptions of his activities and experiences during his first summer in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. From the foothills through Yosemite Valley and on up to the Tuolumne Meadows, the Vales follow the present roads and trails that crossed Muir’s route, imagining his reaction to the landscape while reflecting on the natural world in both his time and ours.
Illustrated with drawings by John Muir and drawings and photos by the Vales, Walking with Muir across Yosemite emphasizes that current visitors to Yosemite—indeed to any national park—can still experience the solitude, wildness, and romanticism of nature. They believe, however, that this modern exploration would benefit from a national parks policy that actively promotes nature study and encourages a more profound interaction between humans and the natural world.
Rolling green hills dotted with Holstein cows, red barns, and blue silos. The Great Lakes ports at Superior, Ashland, and Kenosha. A Polish wedding dance or a German biergarten in Milwaukee. The dappled quiet of the Chequamagon forest. A weatherbeaten but tidy town hall at the intersection of two county trunk highways. Ojibwa families gathering wild rice into canoes. The boat ride through the Dells. The upland ridges of the Driftless Area, falling away into hidden valleys. . . .
These are images of Wisconsin's land and life, images that evoke a strong sense of place. This book, Wisconsin Land and Life, is an exploration of place, a series of original essays by Wisconsin geographers that offers an introduction to the state's natural environment, the historical processes of its human habitation, and the ways that nature and people interact to create distinct regional landscapes. To read it is to come away with a sweeping view of Wisconsin's geography and history: the glaciers that carved lakes and moraines; the soils and climate that fostered the prairies and great northern pine forests; the early Native Americans who began to shape the landscape and who established forest trails and river portages; the successive waves of Europeans who came to trade in furs, mine for lead and iron, cut the white pines, establish farms, work in the lumber and paper mills, and transform spent wheatfields into pasture for dairy cattle.
Readers will learn, too, about the platting and naming of Wisconsin's towns, the establishment of county and township governments, the growth of urban neighborhoods and parishes, the role of rivers, railroads, and religion in shaping the state's growth, and the controversial reforestation of the cutover lands that eventually transformed hardscrabble farms and swamps into a sportsman's paradise.
Abundantly illustrated with photos and maps, this book will richly reward anyone who wishes to learn more about the land and life of the place we know as Wisconsin.