The rock formations of Yosemite National Park, the Three Brothers, Half Dome, El Capitan tower over every individual. It can get creepy to think how vain one is in this natural antiquity. Or you feel free. "The whole world was before me and I had a lot of time, so it didn't seem important to me which wilderness I hiked into first," says John Muir, describing this feeling in his book Yosemite, published in 1912. They are memories of an old man of early exploration. They are now available in German for the first time. In 1868 Muir, who is considered the founding father of the national park idea, first hiked Yosemite, later he spent several years in the California wilderness.

Muir was born in Dunbar, Scotland in 1838 into a strictly Christian family who emigrated to the United States a few years later.

Muir shook off the narrowness of church doctrine, but its sacred vocabulary became a central part of his descriptions of nature.

At the Yosemite waterfall, for example, “the rainbows add up, bathing everything in a divine light”; in the canyons at Nevada Falls, Muir sees a “mill of the gods in which whole mountains could be ground”.

Almost childish associations

White-bearded like Rip Van Winkle and based on the ethos of the transcendentalists, Muir became the archetype of American nature conservation. His mental teachers were Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Emerson, who introduced the metaphor of the “transparent eyeball” in his essay “Nature” (1836), which he wanted to become under the impression of the wilderness; Thoreau, who in “Walden” (1854) celebrated the frugal seclusion of self-management.

So it is not surprising that Muir also feels spirituality among Yosemite's stars.

He wanders under mammoth sequoias, slides on his hands and feet over slippery rock, walks along gorges "at high water and full moon", tasting the wild growth.

His prose is most alive when it indulges and allows itself almost childlike associations.

"The forehead of El Capitan was adorned with long drifts of snow like hair," writes Muir about the huge ledge over the Yosemite Valley.

Out and about with Theodore Roosevelt

It is striking how hard Muir wrote with his ear - probably also an expression of a feeling of the inadequacy of mere words to do justice to the spectacle. As early as 1872 he had noted in frustration: “No amount of verbiage can ever get a soul to 'know' these mountains. A day in the mountains is better than a truckload of books. ”Because the sounds of this wilderness are easier to convey than its face, the Yosemite waterfall sings with the“ fullest and most powerful ”voice at Muir and becomes“ concertmaster of this ”in spring glamorous orchestra ”, whose symphony is carried by the canyon streams that“ swept through the lowlands with a deep bass whirling ”. Even the forest becomes an instrument: “If you want to hear the sound of individual needles, you should climb a tree in windy weather.Each needle is carefully tuned and does not make a wrong sound. "

Keywords: john muir, time, sounds, wilderness, book, german, yosemite park, full moon, seclusion, memories, yosemite: walks, henry david thoreau, one, world, irritation