Form and Content
My First Summer in the Sierra, John Muir’s reverent acclamation of the beauty of the wilderness and particularly the Yosemite Valley in California, is a dated journal account of the summer days that Muir spent as a supervisor for a sheep drive into the cooler High Sierra meadows. With the exception of a four-page explanation of the circumstances that brought him to the foothills of the Sierra, the book is, for the most part, a daily record of Muir’s activities, discoveries, and philosophic musings as he accompanied the sheep drive up from the San Joaquin Valley, the great central valley of California, to the permanent camp established at the head of Yosemite Valley.
Muir’s tone is enthusiastic, and he is clearly in awe of his natural surroundings. His ardent tributes to nature appear on every page. His entries also record detailed data relating to the flora and fauna that he observed. One also observes in Muir’s journal entries the beginning of his theory that the Sierra were formed by glacial action, a theory ridiculed by many in the scientific community of Muir’s day and since found to have merit.
Muir records that he avoided when he could the “hoofed locusts,” as he called the sheep that he saw as destroyers of the delicate ecosystem of the Sierra. He spent very little time with his human companions as well. When writing about people, Muir loses the ebullience that is characteristic of the bulk of the text, which...
(The entire section is 490 words.)