Renowned conservationist and naturalist John Muir once described Grandfather Mountain as “the face of all Heaven come to Earth.”
Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, celebrated Grandfather’s natural splendor during his Sept. 25, 1898, visit. Now, Grandfather Mountain is returning the favor.
John Muir Day will take place Sunday, Sept. 25, offering free admission to Sierra Club members.
“John Muir visited Grandfather Mountain in late September of 1898,” said Mickey Shortt, director of education and natural resources for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that oversees the Linville nature preserve and travel attraction. “While here, he seemed most impressed by the diversity of trees in the deciduous forest around Grandfather and the endless ridges that came into view from the peaks.”
As such, Grandfather Mountain is inviting Sierra Club members to visit the park “to honor the work and legacy of Muir and the organization he founded,” Shortt said.
Lisa McWherter, outings leader for the Wenoca Group of the Sierra Club, can see why Muir was so impressed, calling Grandfather Mountain an “unusually beautiful area.”
Muir, on the hand, wasn’t quite as succinct. Just prior to his visit, he’d been ill with a bronchial cough for months, but wrote to his wife after climbing Grandfather, “The air has healed me. I think I could walk 10 miles and not be tired.”
And according to an article in American Museum Journal, Muir wrote of the view from the top, saying, “I couldn’t hold in and began to jump about and sing and glory in it all.”
The visit also came during a considerably active period in Muir’s career.
“The time he was at Grandfather Mountain was actually pretty significant … because it was just after he founded the Sierra Club, and the creation of the National Parks was just getting off the ground,” said Jesse Pope, executive director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. “For him to come to Grandfather Mountain and recognize its significance, compared to all the national treasures and wonders of the Western United States, I think that says a lot of about the diversity and landscape of Grandfather Mountain.”
Muir’s endorsement, as it were, isn’t something that Grandfather’s naturalist staff takes lightly.
“Our mission is to inspire conservation, and I think that’s what John Muir was all about,” Shortt said. “He wanted to protect places so future generations could enjoy them. That’s the intent with our (educational) programs — to leave visitors with something that moves them to care about the resources across the country and also in their backyard.”
Muir’s legacy is shared among the Sierra Club’s approximately 2.4 million members and supporters. As a way of honoring their commitment to conservation, on Sept. 25, Grandfather Mountain will grant free admission to Sierra Club members with valid proof of membership.
For more information on Grandfather Mountain and John Muir Day, as well as additional events and programming, visit www.grandfather.com, or call (828) 733-2013. For more information on the Sierra Club, visit www.sierraclub.org.
The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call (800) 468-7325, or visit www.grandfather.com to plan a trip.
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