During this National Park Week, we celebrate and explore some of our most beautiful wilderness areas. The 19th-century pioneering photographer, Carleton A. Watkins (1829-1916), is credited with inspiring the national parks movement. He captured magnificent images—particularly those of the Yosemite Valley. In the same era, naturalist, environmental activist and author John Muir (1838-1914) explored Yosemite Valley in a state that bordered on ecstasy. Muir founded the Sierra Club and was ultimately recognized as the “father of the national parks.” In his book, My First Summer in the Sierra, he wrote poetically about the valley:
The snow on the high mountains is melting fast, and the streams are singing bank-full, swaying softly through the level meadows and bogs, quivering with sun spangles, swirling in potholes, resting in deep pools, leaping, shouting in wild, exulting energy over rough boulder dams, joyful, beautiful in all their forms. … Everything is perfectly clean and pure and full of divine lessons. … When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. One fancies a heart like our own must be beating in every crystal and cell, and we feel like stopping to speak to the plants and animals as fellow mountaineers.
Our documentary on Yosemite is screening on the national site of the National Parks Conservation Association. Take a look at the film here.