Nineteenth century poet, essayist and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, who gave more than 1,000 public lectures throughout the U.S., captured in one sentence what it means to be out in nature. “The landscape belongs to the person who looks at it,” he declared. It was a sentiment enthusiastically endorsed by outdoorsman and environmentalist John Muir, famous for his love and defense of Yosemite National Park.
Emerson and Muir met, in fact, in Yosemite in 1871. Although Muir was 33 and Emerson was in his late 60’s, they clicked and became friends. At Mariposa Grove, before the giant trees, Muir had encouraged Emerson to linger, saying, “You yourself are a Sequoia. Stop and get acquainted with your big brethren.” They had spent several days together and corresponded thereafter. “I have everywhere testified to my friends, who should also be yours,” Emerson wrote in 1872, “my happiness in finding you—the right man in the right place—in your mountain tabernacle.”
Muir was unable to convince Emerson to stay in the grove that day and watched him as he rode away with his entourage. Muir felt somehow saddened, a first for him in his beloved Yosemite. “But there remained many a forest to wander through, many a mountain and glacier to cross,” he noted in his writings. Seventeen years later, John Muir visited Emerson in Concord, Massachusetts. “I stood beside his grave under a pine tree on the hill above Sleepy Hollow. He had gone to higher Sierras.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson said many interesting things, and one of his most profound statements was “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Who are you? Who do want to be? You may just find the answer on a luxury private tour of Yosemite National Park, where perhaps you’ll feel the spirits of a famous American poet and his friend, an adventurous outdoorsman.