Where I Go: Hiking the Mountain That Almost Killed John Muir

Finding an Adventure Story and a Portal to the Past Beneath Mount Shasta

The great outdoor adventurer John Muir—who had skipped over glaciers in Alaska, surfed an avalanche, and gleefully rode a wildly swaying tree in a storm in the Sierras—lay in a hotel bed strewn with wildflowers. He gazed through the window at the majestic sight of Mount Shasta.

He had nearly died on the summit of that mountain the night before. A fierce blizzard had set in after he and mountain guide Jerome Fay reached it. A blinding deluge of snow obscured their route back, making a descent impossible.

They survived by lying …

Where I Go: The Nature Preserve of Memory  | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Where I Go: The Nature Preserve of Memory 

Torrey Pines—A Mythic Hike in My Childhood Imagination—Feels Fragile Now

Like a giant’s sandy belly rising up from the gentle chill of the ocean, Torrey Pines Natural Reserve was a mythic force in my childhood imagination. Yet during a recent …

Where I Go: Seeking Peace on the Upper Slopes of Mount Shasta | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Where I Go: Seeking Peace on the Upper Slopes of Mount Shasta

How Cycling (and Tandem Biking) Has Made My Rural Northern California 'Neighborhood' Home

“Lonely as God, and white as a winter moon, Mount Shasta starts up sudden and solitary from the heart of the great black forests of Northern California.”
—Joaquin Miller, from …

Where I Go: Atop San Francisco’s ‘Redwood Empire’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Where I Go: Atop San Francisco’s ‘Redwood Empire’

For Nearly 30 Years, I’ve Come to the City’s Highest Natural Point to Orient Myself

At 938 feet above sea level, Mount Davidson is the highest natural point in San Francisco. And for nearly 30 years, since I was a child, it has been my …

Nature Needs Greater Diversity—In Its Human Visitors

Drawing More Non-Whites Into Parks and Natural Areas Requires Changes in Access, Staffing, Recruitment—and Narratives

“Is nature only for white people?” was the deliberately provocative query that framed a Zócalo/Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County panel discussion. It was quickly dispensed with by the …

Hiking Wisconsin With ‘Ghosts’ of the Ice Age

A Scenic Trail Takes Me To Centuries Past, and Forward Into a Climate-Changed Future

In “Marshland Elegy,” an essay in A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold described a dawn wind slowly rolling a bank of fog across a Wisconsin marsh. “Like the white ghost …