We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.
~John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra
I’m by nature and nurture an optimist, despite much evidence to the contrary, an optimist who loves to travel to all sorts of places: lake, ocean, desert. But when I’m in the mountains, it’s as if I were a jigsaw puzzle missing one small piece; a picture complete as is, but reaching its full beauty when that one piece is in place.
I don’t go to France for mountains. My s-i-l and b-i-l live in the ancient forest of the Vosges, hilly and peaceful (except during hunting season.) On this trip, however, during one of our patented driving trips of exploration, we ended in the Haute (High) Vosges. The road twisted, turned, and climbed and with each turn, my spirits rose and my heart and soul filled.
If you’ve visited Germany’s Black Forest, you know the Haute Vosges.
There is great similarity between the Vosges and the corresponding range of the Black Forest on the other side of the Rhine: both lie within the same degrees of latitude, have similar geological formations and are characterized by forests on their lower slopes, above which are open pastures and rounded summits of a rather uniform altitude; furthermore, both exhibit steeper slopes towards the Rhine and a more gradual descent on the other side.
Here are some of the views above the village of Kruth that kindled my enthusiasm, made my nerves quiver, and filled every pore and cell.
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 away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
~John Muir, The Mountains of California
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.
~John Muir, Our National Parks
I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.