Anyone who saw Ken Burns’ documentary on America’s National Parks knows the pioneering name of John Muir. The Scottish-born naturalist was a tireless adventurer and early advocate of wilderness preservation, particularly in the mountains of California. He devoted most of his life to saving the great Western forests, founding the Sierra Club and petitioning the US Congress to create a National Park Service that would protect the Yosemite Valley and create Sequoia National Park. He wrote about nature with a fervor that bordered on religious ecstasy, moving beyond the transcendentalism of his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson to a biocentric perspective on the world – one which challenged the enormous conceit of mankind.
About the area just north of San Francisco that’s since been named in his honor, Muir wrote: This is the best tree-lover’s monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world. He wasn’t exaggerating. Muir Woods is one of the world’s last remaining ancient coast redwood forests and to spend a day hiking the trails here is to connect to nature with an unavoidable reverence – and imagine the infinite.