Gentle Wilderness   THE SIERRA NEVADA

Photographs by  RICHARD KAUFFMAN              Text from   JOHN MUIR

                             Edited by   DAVID BROWER

                             SIERRA CLUB   SAN FRANCISCO

                                   copyright 1967

from the foreword . . .

 

    If you believe nostalgia serves a purpose, you don't mind enjoying it now and then. Before knowing that it served a purpose and when very young, I stumbled across John Muir's My First Summer in the Sierra and began to feel nostalgic about a place I had not yet known, in particular the approaches to Yosemite and the high country above it. Muir's own sense of discovery was so vivid as to instill a sense of already having been there.

    Nearly a century after Muir's first summer, Richard Kauffman has come along with color camera instead of notebook to recapture the feeling of discovery and the vividness in what Muir was to call the Range of Light. Here is the Sierra the way Muir saw it, the way others have seen it confirmed in First Summer; and here is the place I myself have felt at home in for nearly half a century, whether for only a week or two at a time, or a month or a year or two -- the way it was then and is now. . . .

    One of the purposes of the Sierra Club is to keep some nostalgia alive that is devoid of futility, to gather together people who know how important it is that there should always be some land wild and free. They are needed to counter the rationalizations of the highway builders, the dam and logging-road builders, who would slice through and dismember the Sierra Wilderness, all for a variety of reasons that may apply some place else but that ought not be applied here. The purpose of this book is to remind everyone we can that neither California nor the rest of America is rich enough to lose any more of the Gentle Wilderness, nor poor enough to need to. . . .

More than anything, we hope the series will do something lasting for wilderness. Man needs to save enough of it, what he knows viscerally is enough without waiting for all the statistics. Man can safely assume that for all his shortcomings, he is bright enough to carry on his civilization on the 95 per cent or so of the land he has already disrupted. He is wise enough to recognize that he will not have a bright land, nor really serve himself well, if he hurries to disrupt that last five per cent on the pretext that progress will otherwise cease. It won't. It will cease, however, if we cannot be kind enough to tomorrow's men to leave for them, in big wilderness, a chance to seek answers to questions we have not yet learned how to ask.

 

DAVID BROWER 

Executive Director, Sierra Club                               
                 

Berkeley, California
November 1, 1964

 

THE WILDNESS WITHIN US