Reading John Muir has filled me with enchanted visions of mountains and wildness. So today I drove 12 miles north to the nearest high point, the 867-foot Occoneechee Mountain, and walked its trails. Tall trees block most of the sky in our area, so it was refreshing to see a vista after scrabbling up the white, flaky cliffs on the northeast side of the "mountain."
I thought of Muir and his joy in the wilderness, of living on bread and tea and sleeping on beds of pine needles and cedar boughs while exploring the Yosemite. His idea of freedom was radically different from ours - we tend to think of freedom as having enough money to purchase whatever we happen to want. Muir's freedom was that of time and experience, not comfort.
He pitied the constraints his friends placed on themselves. When his friend Professor Butler came to the Yosemite Valley, Muir tried to convince him to camp in the High Sierra. But the professor only had two days to spend in the region and Muir bade him goodbye.
"I'm glad I'm not great enough to be missed in the busy world," Muir writes. " ... I scrambled home through the Indian Canyon gate, rejoicing, pitying the poor Professor and General, bound by clocks, almanacs, orders, duties, etc., and compelled to dwell with lowland care and dust and din, where Nature is covered and her voice smothered, while the poor, insignificant wanderer enjoys the freedom and glory of God's wilderness."