The National Parks: America's Best Idea (2009) s01e02 Episode Script

The Last Refuge

MAN: One of the last jobs I had in Yellowstone was delivering the mail on snowmobile.
There I was in the world's first national park, and I remember going down into Hayden Valley.
There were bison crossing over the road--2,000-pound mammals crossing over the road, and it was so cold.
It was about 60 below zero.
And the bison, as they breathed, their exhalation would seem to crystallize in the air around them, and there were these sheets, these ropey stands of crystals kind of flowing down from their breath.
And I saw them, and they just moved their heads and were looking at me, and I remember thinking that if I had not been on that machine, I would have thought I had been thrust fully back into the Pleistocene, back into the Ice Age.
And I remember just stopping and turning it off because the only way you could hear was to turn that thing off, and I would turn it off, and I would listen, and I felt like this was the first day and this morning was the first time the sun had ever come up and the shadows that are being cast right now is the first time those shadows have ever been cast on the earth.
And I was all alone, but I felt I was in the presence of everything around me and I was never alone.
It was one of those moments when you get pulled outside of yourself into the environment around you, and I felt like I was just with the breath of the bison as they were exhaling and I was exhaling and they were inhaling.
It was all kind of flowing together, and I forgot completely about the mail.
All I was thinking of was that a single moment in a place as wild as Yellowstone, and most of the national parks, can last forever.
PETER COYOTE: In 1883, a young politician, the second son of a prominent New York City family, became alarmed about reports that the vast herds of buffalo that had once blanketed the Great Plains were quickly disappearing.
So he hurried west on the Northern Pacific Railroad and got off when he reached the heart of the badlands in the Dakota territory.
[Train whistle blows] His name was Theodore Roosevelt.
He was 24 years old, and he was afraid the buffalo would become extinct before he got the chance to shoot one.
He hired a local guide and endured days of rough travel by horseback until he finally came across a solitary buffalo bull, killed it, and then removed its head for shipment back to New York to be mounted on his wall.
MAN: Roosevelt loved to kill.
He liked to shoot quadrupeds.
At times he basically said he didn't trust Americans who wouldn't hunt, and he hinted that he didn't believe that Americans should have citizenship who weren't willing to kill a quadruped.
COYOTE: That first trip to the west, Roosevelt said later, was an important turning point for him.
Over the next several years, he would return again and again to take more hunting trips into the mountains, to ranch on the open plains, to build up his health and character by pursuing what he called "the strenuous life," to become, in his own words, "at heart as much a Westerner as I am an Easterner.
" Roosevelt would never lose his love of hunting, but in time he would learn that there were much bigger and more important trophies to pursue.
[Roaring] WOMAN: Our national parks are an idea, an idea based on generosity--not just for our own species, but for all species.
I think that is profoundly original in terms of a people that say, we value wild nature in place.
We are of this place.
And I think it's our own declaration of both independence and interdependence.
MAN: The great wilds of our country, once held to be boundless and inexhaustible, are being rapidly invaded and overrun in every direction, and everything destructible in them is being destroyed.
How far destruction may go is not easy to guess.
Every landscape, low and high, seems doomed to be trampled and harried.
John Muir.
COYOTE: As the 19th century entered its final decade, Americans began to take stock of what they had made of the continent they had been so busily subduing.
Only 50 years earlier, the nation's western border had been the spine of the Rocky Mountains.
Buffalo numbering in the tens of millions teemed on the Great Plains.
Vast forests had never heard the ring of an ax.
Indian peoples stilled controlled most of the west.
[Train whistle blowing] Now the nation stretched all the way to the Pacific.
Railroads had pushed into every corner of the country.
Indians had been systematically dispossessed from their homelands and forced onto reservations.
White settlements had sprung up in so many places that the director of the census of 1890 announced he could no longer find an American frontier.
The bountiful land Thomas Jefferson considered nature's nation had seemingly been conquered.
MAN: The moment that Americans start setting aside these national parks is also the moment of sort of the most explosive exploitation of so many elements of the national landscape.
It's the cutting down of the north woods at an extraordinary rate.
It's the destruction of the bison herds, the elimination of the passenger pigeons.
There is so much being destroyed in the name of progress in the United States in the late 19th century that the parks are a kind of reaction against that.
They are saying, if we keep going the way we're going, we're going to use it all up, and some of this is so beautiful, so essential to who we are as a people that we've got to put walls around these parts and protect them from ourselves.
COYOTE: By 1890, the United States has established 4 national parks: Yellowstone, the world's first; the high country of Yosemite; and two groves of big trees in California--General Grant and Sequoia.
The army had recently been placed in charge of protecting them all.
[Gunshot] Nonetheless, park wildlife were still routinely killed.
Cows and sheep still overgrazed park meadows.
Ancient forests were still endangered.
And tourists seemed intent on squandering the treasures a previous generation had bequeathed them.
The rk idea, not yet a quarter century old, still seemed an uncertain experiment.
The issues of what was permissible and proper for people who visited the parks were still unresolved.
But as a new century was about to dawn, a handful of Americans began to question the headlong rush that had caused so much devastation and saw in the national parks a seed of hope that at least some pristine places could be saved before it was too late.
Among them would be the young assemblyman from New York City who had gone west on a boyish impulse but who would mature into a president whose most lasting legacy was rescuing large portions of America from destruction.
MAN: Surely our people do not understand even yet the rich heritage that is theirs.
There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of giant sequoias and redwoods, the canyon of the Yellowstone, the canyon of the Colorado, the Three Tetons.
And our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children's children forever with their majestic beauty all unmarred.
DIFFERENT MAN: Dear reader, today I'm in the Yellowstone Park, and I wish I were dead.
The park is just a howling wilderness of 3,000 square miles, full of all imaginable freaks of a fiery nature.
I have been through the park in a buggy in the company of an adventurous old lady from Chicago and her husband, who disapproved of the scenery as being ungodly.
I fancy it scared them.
Rudyard Kipling.
COYOTE: In 1889, Rudyard Kipling, a young Englishman and aspiring writer, was making his first tour of the United States, financing the trip by writing dispatches for newspapers overseas.
Like many foreigners, Kipling could not resist stopping at Yellowstone, a place already known around the world as the wonderland.
Most visitors in those days were well-to-do, able to pay the $120 train fare across the continent to the remote northwestern corner of Wyoming and then $40 more for the 5-day stagecoach trip through the park known as the grand tour.
The first stop was the hotel at Mammoth Hot Springs, where everyone unpacked quickly and then rushed to buy souvenirs and post cards made by the park's resident photographer, Frank J.
Many guests were perfectly content to view the Mammoth Springs from the comfort of the hotel veranda, but some bought guide books and hiked up to the terraces for a closer look.
MAN AS RUDYARD KIPLING: I found a basin which some learned hotelkeeper has christened Cleopatra's Pitcher or Mark Antony's Whiskey Jug or something equally poetical.
I do not know the depth of that wonder.
The eye looked down into an abyss that communicated directly with the central fires of the earth.
The ground rings hollow as a kerosene tin, and someday the Mammoth Hotel, guests and all, will sink into the caverns below and be turned into a stalactite.
COYOTE: In the morning, the passengers loaded back into their assigned carriages and one by one set off toward the park's interior, spaced about every 500 yards to lessen the effects of dust that clung in the air, Kipling wrote, as dense as a fog.
He was bemused by his fellow tourists, especially the older woman from Chicago sitting next to him, who chewed gum and talked constantly, pontificating with her husband on everything they encountered, especially once they reached the first geyser area.
MAN AS RUDYARD KIPLING: The old lady, regarding the horrors of the fire holes, could only say "Good Lord!" at 30-second intervals.
Her husband talked aut the dreadful waste of steam power.
"And if," continued the old lady," if we find a thing "so dreadful as all that steam and sulfur allowed on the face "on the earth, mustn't we believe there is something "10,000 times more terrible below, "prepared for our destruction?" COYOTE: At noon, they stopped at a tent hotel, a place called Larry's, run by Larry Matthews, a friendly and loquacious Irishman known for lavishing special attention on his gentille guests.
MAN AS RUDYARD KIPLING: Larry enveloped us all in the golden glamour of his speech, 'ere we had descended.
And the tent with the rude trestle table became a palace, the rough fare became delicacies of Delmonico's, and we, the abashed recipients of Larry's imperial bounty.
It was only later that I discovered that I had paid shillings for tinned beef, biscuits, and beer.
COYOTE: Like the other establishments within the park, Larry's encouraged touris to believe that all the water in Yellowstone was impregnated with sulfur and therefore unfit for drinking.
It was untrue, but it boosted sales of mineral water and beer at the inflated price of 50 cents a bottle and created roadsides littered with empties.
When the parade of stagecoaches reached the lower geyser basin, the tourists encamped for two nig"Qs at the Fire Hole Hotel, or later, the more luxurious Fountain Hotel, built at a cost of $100,000 and capable of handling 350 guests, complete with electric lights, steam heat, and hot baths fed by one of the thermal springs.
The next two days of the grand tour were devoted exclusively to visiting the spectacular array of geysers and thermal pools and fumaroles, the largest concentration of them in the world.
Tourists would peer down the throat of gaping holes in the ground, taking their chances that a geyser was not about to erupt in their face.
They marveled at the beauty of translucent pools of turquoise water, washed pieces of linen in Handkerchief Pool, which turned the cloth white as snow.
MAN AS RUDYARD KIPLING: They are guarded by soldiers who patrol with loaded six-shooters in order that the tourists may not bring up fence-rails and sink them in a pool or chip the fretted tracery of the formations with a geological hammer or, walking where the crust is too thin, foolishly cook himself.
COYOTE: No visit to Yellowstone was considered complete without seeing Old Faithful go off on schedule.
MAN AS RUDYARD KIPLING: All the young ladies remarked that it was elegant and betook themselves to writing their names in the bottoms of shallow pools.
Nature fixes the insult indelibly, and the after-years will learn that Hattie, Sadie, Mamie, Sophie, and so forth have taken out their hairpins and scrawled in the face of Old Faithful.
COYOTE: The last night in the park was spent at a hotel near the majestic Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
The view from its edge was considered the inspirational grand finale.
Even the cynical Rudyard Kipling was impressed.
MAN AS RUDYARD KIPLING: All I can say is that without warning or preparation, I looked into a gulf 1,700 feet deep with eagles and fish hawks circling far below, and the sides of that gulf were one wild welter of color--crimson, emerald, cobalt, ocher, amber, honey splashed with port wine, snow white, vermillion, lemon, and silver-gray in wide washes.
So far below that no sound of its strife could reach us, the Yellowstone River ran, a finger-wide strip of jade green.
Now I know what it is to sit enthroned amid the clouds of sunset.
COYOTE: The final day consisted of a stagecoach ride back to the start of the tour, lunch once more at Larry's, shouting out the names of their home states and countries to passing wagons filled with fresh loads of tourists heading into the park, dinner at the hotel at Mammoth Hot Springs, then on to the train waiting at the station to carry them and their memories away.
MAN AS RUDYARD KIPLING: "And to think," said the old lady from Chicago, "that this showplace has been going "on all these days, and none of we ever saw it.
" Rudyard Kipling.
MAN: Those first few years--and maybe this was OK because there were so few visitors--but it was just wide open.
Those early visitors trying to figure out how besto enjoy Yellowstone were very quickly teaching the managers what wasn't gonna work.
Nobody knew how to act in a national park.
It hadn't been decided yet.
COYOTE: Having created the national parks, Congress had not seen fit to provide some kind of authority to oversee them, and in 1886, it even refused to appropriate any money whatsoever.
General Phillip Sheridan had been forced to send the U.
Cavalry into Yellowstone simply to maintain some semblance of order.
By the 1890s, this temporary arrangement had become permanent.
Up to 4 troops of cavalry were stationed at the newly constructed Fort Yellowstone near the Mammoth Hot Springs.
SCHULLERY: I think the odds are really good that if the army hadn't been sent in, Yellowstone wouldn't have made it.
Writing your name on things was such proud tradition that people would put their address, too, and the soldiers could just very simply go out and write them all down, head back to the hotel, and look through the hotel registers and find these people and drag them by the collar back out so they could spend some time scrubbing their name off.
COYOTE: The army was expected to patrol 2 million acres on horseback, doing their best to stop poachers and vandals and campers careless with their fires.
But the troopers were hampered by the fact that the federal park existed in a legal no man's land.
Usually their only recourse was a warning, or in the most serious cases, expulsion from the park.
Army engineers built and improved the roads and bridges that guided travel within the park to the places tourists wanted to see, while leaving major portions of Yellowstone a roadless and totally wild expanse.
With the tourists gone, the cavalrymen found themselves holed up in small cabins scattered around the park, patrolling for poachers on skis in frigid temperatures and lethal snowstorms.
Frederick Remington, when he visited and traveled with the soldiers in Yellowstone, said that they were very fond of saying that Yellowstone had 3 seasons: July, August, and winter, and they hated it.
COYOTE: Men were lost transporting mail from one isolated outpost to another.
They died in avalanches.
Some may have been killed by poachers, who were often better equipped and more experienced at maneuvering through the back country in deep snow.
MAN: In my last report, I noted the death of Private Matthews of Troop B, 6th Cavalry, while on detached service for the mail.
A most thorough search for his remains was continued for almost 6 months after his disappearance.
His body was found early in June.
It was evident that he became lost and while in that condition became crazed and perished from the cold.
Captain George Anderson.
COYOTE: The cavalry was also in charge of the nation's 3 other national parks--General Grant, Sequoia, and the high country surrounding Yosemite.
Each spring, troops stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco would make the 2-week, 250-mile ride to the Sierras and patrol the 3 parks during the summer season.
Some of them were African Americans, the celebrated buffalo soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cavalry who had made a name for themselves in the Indian wars.
Their commander was Captain Charles Young, born into slavery in Kentucky, whose father had escaped bondage during the Civil War to enlist in the Union Army.
Young followed his father's example of military service, becoming the third black man to graduate from West Point and the first to be put in charge of a national park.
JOHNSON: Iyou're an enlisted man and then you see an African American officer--an officer-- that stays in your mind, and it also sparks a fire in your own sense of self-worth, your own sense of what is possible in this world, because you might say to yourself, "If he could do "that, maybe I could do that as well.
" So he was a walking inspiration to the enlisted men in the 9th and 10th Cavalry.
COYOTE: As superintendent of Sequoia, Young directed his men to complete the first wagon road into the Giant Forest.
They accomplished more in one summer than had been done in the 3 previous years combined.
They built the first trail to Mt.
Whitney, the highest peak in the west, and erected fences around the big trees to prevent vandalism by visitors.
JOHNSON: So the early parks--Yellowstone, Sequoia, and Yosemite--you had to have park protectors because otherwise, people would be going into those areas doing what they've always done--cutting trees down, you know, for firewood, or shooting the game, shooting the deer to feed their family.
How do you tell someone who's just trying to keep their children fed, not hungry, that it's illegal now to shoot the game in Yosemite or in Sequoia National Park? And that would be a difficult proposition if you were a white soldier, but when you add that overlay of race, which is no overlay at all, and you have an African American, a colored man, giving orders to people who are not used to taking orders from anyone who looks like me, then you have the beginning of a very interesting day.
COYOTE: Like their counterparts at Yellowstone, the troops in California had to operate without clear legal authority and therefore invented techniques to protect their parks.
When they collected travelers' rifles upon entry and only returned them when the visitors left, the wildlife began to come back.
Sheep herders defiantly bringing their flocks into the park's alpine meadows had been openly scornful of the troops, once they realized that the army had no power of criminal arrest and prosecution.
The soldiers then came up with a creative solution.
JOHNSON: It was a standard rule.
You find the sheep that are grazing illegally in the park, and you move the sheep out to the eastern boundary of the park.
You find the sheepherders, and you move them out the western boundary of the park.
Now, the park in those days was 1,500 square miles, so by the time the sheep and the sheep herders were reunited, well, let's just say the season was done, and if you have a business and your business is herding sheep and that happens to you more than once or twice, you don't come back, and I think that was a pretty effective way of dealing with illegal grazing in the park.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: For many years, the military have guarded the great Yellowstone Park, and now they are guarding the Yosemite.
They found it a desert as far as underbrush, grass, and flowers were concerned, but in two years, the skin of the mountains is healthy again.
Blessings on Uncle Sam's soldiers.
They have done their job well, and every pine tree is waving its arm for joy.
COYOTE: No one was more thankful for the army's presence than John Muir, for whom the Sierra Nevada was the range of light--mountains, he wrote, "that were throbbing "and pulsing with the heartbeats of God.
" WOMAN: I think John Muir understood, as perhaps no one else has, how essential beauty is--natural beauty is to us.
Without beauty, we have no, kind of, lubrication of the human spirit.
We would just be dead, and that's really what drove him.
That's what fueled him.
COYOTE: Clambering ecstatically over the mountainsides, Muir had become a self-taught expert in glaciers, a keen observer and lover of everything he encountered, from the tiniest specks of lichen on a rock to the mighty sequoias.
And through his magazine articles, he had emerged as a wilderness prophet, a nationally kno voice for preserving the last remaining vestiges of America's virgin forests and unspoiled lands.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: Mere destroyers--tree killers, wool and mutton men, spreading death and confusion in the fairest groves and gardens ever planted.
Let the government hasten to cast them out and make an end of them.
Any fool can destroy trees.
They cannot run away.
And if they could, they would still be destroyed--chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides.
Through all the wonderful, eventful centuries since Christ's time and long before that, God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods, but he cannot save them frofools.
Only Uncle Sam can do that.
COYOTE: Yosemite's high country had been designated a national park in 1890, but the valley itself remained under the control of a California state commission and their political appointees, a group of "blundering, plundering, moneymaking vote sellers," Muir said.
He wanted it all transferred back to the federal government.
Only then, he believed, would it be safe from ruin.
In 1892, to help promote Yosemite's protection, Muir and a small group of prominent Californians formed a new organization.
They called it the Sierra Club.
Muir enthusiastically agreed to serve as its president, hoping, he said, that "we will be able to do something "for wildness and make the mountains glad.
" [Scattered applause] MAN: In the 19th century, when the census bureau would do its census, it would draw a line that's the frontier line, and proudly say it marches westward, and their definition of it had this wonderful phrase.
It would say, in the last 10 years, this many million of acres have been "redeemed from wilderness by "the hand of man.
" "Redeemed from wilderness by the hand of man.
" In other words, a virgin forest is redeemed when it's cut down.
A beautiful mountain stream is redeemed when the miners are turned loose in it.
That symbolized what our view of nature was as we were rushing across the continent.
That's totally the opposite of what John Muir would say.
Wilderness isn't redeemed by man.
Man is redeemed by wilderness.
MAN: To know you are the first to set foot in homes that have been deserted for centuries is a strange feeling.
It is as though unseen eyes watched, wondering what aliens were invading their sanctuaries and why.
The dust of centuries filled the rooms and rose in thick clouds at every movement.
Al Wetherill.
COYOTE: A few months before Rudyard Kipling visited Yellowstone, cowboys searching for stray cattle in southwestern Colorado, along the edge of a high plateau known as Mesa Verde, came upon the ruins of an ancient city tucked into the side of a cliff.
Using a tree trunk and their lariats, they improvised a ladder and descended for a closer look.
MAN AS AL WETHERILL: It was like treading holy ground to go into those peaceful-looking homes of a vanished people.
Things were arranged in the rooms as if people might just have been out visiting somewhere.
COYOTE: In quick succession, they soon came across even more ruins nestled into the remote canyon walls of Mesa Verde and gave names to them all.
Cliff Palace.
Spruce Tree House.
Balcony House.
It was the largest concentration ever found of the cliff dwellings--built, occupied, and then mysteriously deserted nearly a thousand years earlier by the ancestors of some of the modern Pueblo Indians of the southwest.
MAN AS AL WETHERILL: We knew that if we did not break into that charmed world, someone else would sometime--someone who might not love and respect those emblems of antiquity as we did.
COYOTE: The cowboys who discovered the ruins were the Wetherills--5 brothers from a family of Quakers who had moved to Colorado from Kansas 8 years earlier.
The oldest was Richard, who encouraged them all to spend every free moment digging among the ruins, hoping to sell their discoveries to museums in big cities.
MAN AS AL WETHERILL: We had started in as just ordinary pothunters, but as work progressed along that sort of questionable business, we developed quite a bit of scientific knowledge by careful work and comparisons.
COYOTE: One day a stranger showed up, a young Swedish nobleman with an interest in archaeology-- Gustaf Nordenskiold.
When the Wetherills showed him the ruins, his enthusiasm, one of the brothers remembered, increased almost beyond his control.
For two months, from sunup to sundown, he kept the Wetherill brothers busy, teaching them more scientific methods.
He showed them how to use a mason's trowel instead of a spade, digging slowly and carefully to reveal a relic without damaging it.
He insisted on labeling and photographing everything and often saved items that no other archaeologist of the time would have kept-- wood ash from fire pits, dust and trash from the floors, even dried pieces of human excrement that one day might help determine what the ancient Puebloans had been eating so long ago.
In all, he amassed hundreds of items which he intended to ship home to Sweden.
But when his pack animals, loaded down with artifacts, reached the railway station in Durango, Nordenskiold was immediately arrested.
MAN: The basic problem was, this foreigner is stealing our relics, our bowls, our pots, and we're not gonna allow that.
It's all right for we Americans to steal them, but it's not all right for those foreigners to do it.
Gustaf's lawyer asked the judge, under what law are we arresting him? And there was no law.
There was no law at all, so they couldn't stop him.
They couldn't stop anybody, and that probably sparked some interest--why isn't there a law? COYOTE: Nordenskiold was released and got to take his huge shipment home to Scandinavia, where he published the first scientific study of the cliff dwellers.
But the controversy had brought worldwide attention to Mesa Verde and to the fact that its treasures were completely unprotected.
MAN: We have seen the Indian and the game retreat before the white man and the cattle and beheld the tide of immigration move forward which threatens before long to leave no portion of our vast territory unbroken by the farmer's plow or untrodden by his flocks.
There is one spot left--a single rock about which this tide will break and past which it will sweep, leaving it undefiled by the unsightly traces of civilization.
Here in this Yellowstone Park, the large game of the west may be preserved from extermination in this, their last refuge.
George Bird Grinnell.
COYOTE: By the 1890s, few Americans understood as keenly as George Bird Grinnell, the editor and owner of "Forest and Stream" magazine, how fearful the price had been for the nation's relentless expansion across the continent.
Raised on the estate of the famous painter and naturalist John James Audubon at the north end of Manhattan, Grinnell could remember spotting a bald eagle from his bedroom window and watching immense flocks of passenger pigeons darkening the sky from horizon to horizon as they passed overhead.
Traveling across Kansas, he had once encountered a buffalo herd so vast that his train was forced to stop for 3 hours while the beasts crossed the tracks.
He had hunted elk in Nebraska when elk could still be found on the plains, ridden with the Pawnees in a great buffalo chase as the Indians brought down their prey with bows and arrows.
Now all that and so much more suddenly seemed gone or on the verge of disappearing.
Passenger pigeons had been so systematically killed that a bird once numbering in the hundreds of millions had been reduced to a handful, and soon the death of a solitary bird in a Cincinnati zoo would bring an end to the species' existence.
The hide-hunters had been equally effective with the buffalo.
By the mid-1880s, the last of the great free-roaming herds had been slaughtered.
Now the only wild herd left in the country was in Yellowstone National Park, estimated at only a few hundred animals.
MAN AS GEORGE BIRD GRINNELL: For 4 centuries, we have been killing and marketing game, destroying it as rapidly and as thoroughly as we knew how, and making no provision toward replacing the supply.
We are just beginning to ask one another how we may preserve the little that remains for ourselves and our children.
COYOTE: Grinnell regularly used the pages of "Forest and Stream" to try to point Americans in a new direction.
It wasn't that he was against hunting.
In fact, he loved to hunt.
Grinnell just feared that without wise management, there would be nothing left for hunters to shoot.
He proposed the creation of a new organization aimed at stopping the heedless killing of wild birds, "in honor," Grinnell wrote, "of the man who did more to "teach Americans about birds of their own land than any other "who ever lived.
" He named the group The Audubon Society.
And when Grinnell published a mildly critical review of Theodore Roosevelt's book chronicling his own western adventures, the young author burst into Grinnell's office to confront him.
The two men turned the awkward moment into the beginning of a lasting friendship and together formed the Boone and Crockett Club to promote what they called "the manly "sport of hunting.
" DUNCAN: But Grinnell had other, larger issues in mind that he wanted to steer Teddy Roosevelt toward, and I think over time he became something of a mentor to Roosevelt, of taking this energetic guy, this guy who was a political star, a rising political star, and gradually pointing him in directions that were clearly in Roosevelt's heart but needed that little tilt from George Bird Grinnell to bring them to fruition.
COYOTE: As president of the new club, Theodore Roosevelt was increasingly drawn into Grinnell's battles, including the longstanding crusade to keep Yellowstone as pristine as possible.
It was a constant fight.
There were repeated attempts in Congress to reduce the park's size or open it up to greater commercial exploitation.
Roosevelt helped defeat them all.
But despite those successes, there was still no federal law giving Yellowstone's caretakers clear authority to protect its wildlife, including its dwindling herd of wild buffalo.
On March 13, 1894, two troopers out on patrol in Yellowstone heard shots in the distance and hurried in that direction.
[Gunshot] Soon they came across several buffalo carcasses.
A man was hunched over one of them, so busily skinning it that he didn't realize the troopers were there until one of them was beside him with a drawn gun.
The poacher was Edgar Howell, and he had been methodically killing as many buffalos as he could, planning to haul out their heads for sale to a Montana taxidermist.
As luck would have it, a reporter named Emerson Hough on assignment for "Forest and Stream," was also in the park with a photographer to do an article about Yellowstone in the winter.
When the poacher bragged that the worst punishment he could receive for his crime was expulsion from the park and the loss of only 26 dollars' worth of equipment, Hough realized he had stumbled onto a great story and quickly telegraphed it to Grinnell in New York City.
Grinnell knew just what to do with it.
SCHULLERY: Grinnell just pulled out all the stops.
He ran the story in "Forest and Stream.
" He was in contact with everybody he knew who might be able to wake up, you know, the sleeping giant, the American public, and make them care about this, and he succeeded.
COYOTE: Within a week, legislation was working its way through Congress, authorizing regulations that would finally protect the park, its geysers, and its wildlife.
On May 7, 1894, less than two months after Howell's capture, President Grover Cleveland signed the bill into law.
[Birds chirping] SCHULLERY: George Bird Grinnell and Theodore Roosevelt and the other defenders of Yellowstone were thinking in ecosystem terms before anybody was using the term.
They saw places like Yellowstone as reservoirs.
They used the term "reservoir.
" It was a reservoir for wildlife.
I think if the opportunity presend by the capture of Howell had been missed, we would have lost the bison.
They were so close to gone.
MAN: Gentlemen, why in heaven's name this haste? You have time enough.
Why sacrifice the present to the future, fancying that you will be happier when your fields teem with wealth and your cities with people? In Europe, we have cities wealthier and more populous than yours, and we are not happy.
You dream of your posterity, but your posterity will look back to yours as the golden age and envy those who first burst into this silent, splendid nature, who first lifted up their axes upon these tall trees and lined these waters with busy wharves.
Why, then, seek to complete, in a few decades, what took the other nations of the world thousands of years? Why, in your hurry to subdue and utilize nature, squander her splendid gifts? You have opportunity such as mankind has never had before and may never have again.
Lord James Bryce.
MAN: The first duty of the human race is to control the earth it lives upon.
The first principle of conservation is development, the use of natural resources now existing on this continent for the benefit of the people who live here now.
Gifford Pinchot.
COYOTE: Gifford Pinchot was a graduate of Yale who had studied forestry in Germany and France and returned as the first American to declare himself a professional forester.
He and John Muir had met in 1896 and in the beginning enjoyed each other's company, camping together on the rim of the Grand Canyon.
But while the two men agreed that America's forests were being rapaciously destroyed, they ultimately parted company on the solution.
Muir considered forests sacred.
He wanted them treated as parks with logging, grazing, and hunting prohibited.
Pinchot didn't agree.
He wanted forests protected, too, but he believed the best way to do it was to manage their use, not leave them alone.
His favorite saying was "the greatest good "for the greatest number.
" MAN AS JOHN MUIR: Much is said on questions of this kind about the greatest good for the greatest number, but the greatest number is too often found to be number one.
It is never the greatest number in the common meaning of the term that makes the greatest noise and stir on questions mixed with money.
Complaints are made in the name of poor settlers and miners, while the wealthy corporations are kept carefully hidden in the background.
Let right, commendable industry be fostered, but as to these Goths and Vandals of the wilderness who are spreading black death in the fairest woods God ever made, let the government up and at 'em.
CRONON: We often tell stories about the origins of the American conservation movement by setting John Muir and Gifford Pinchot in counterpoint with each other.
Often in those stories, John Muir is the hero and Gifford Pinchot is the villain.
In fact, they represent, I think, two sides of one coin.
Muir is the figure who celebrates the sacred in nature--the wildness, the otherness of nature, that which we need to protect if we are not to contaminate things that are nonhuman with our own human agendas.
Pinchot, on the other hand, is about a conservation that celebrates sustainability.
It's about keeping the roots of our material lives in the natural world in such a way that we don't destroy nature as we use nature for our own livelihood.
COYOTE: Congress and the administration of President Grover Cleveland sided with Pinchot, who was appointed the nation's chief forester.
National forests would become part of the Department of Agriculture, used and managed like a crop, not preserved like a temple.
But if Muir could not prevail on the future of all national forests, he tried to salvage at least a partial victory by protecting one forest as a national park.
It was in western Washington state within sight of the cities of Seattle and Tacoma, the ancient homeland of nearly a dozen Indian tribes, including the Cowlitz, Nisqually, Puyallup, and Yakima, who called it Tahoma, the big mountain where the waters begin.
White settlers called it Mount Rainier.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: Altogether, this is the richest subalpine garden I ever found, a perfect floral elysium.
The icy dome needs not a man's care, but unless the reserve is guarded, the flower bloom will soon be killed, and nothing of the forest will be left but black stump monuments.
COYOTE: A broad coalition, including the Sierra Club, the National Geographic Society, and the Northern Pacific Railroad, worked hard with Muir for more than 5 years, and on March 2, 1899, Mount Rainier became the nation's fifth national park.
MAN: When on the streets I meet young girls and matrons with their kindly faces and see the egrets in their bonnets and hats, I cannot help feeling that these daughters of Eve do not know how these feathers were obtained.
These plumes only grow while the bird is rearing its young, and I believe that if most of the women who wear them knew they were obtained by shooting the mother on her nest, they would be ashamed to keep them, even in secret, much less to display them on the public streets.
John F.
COYOTE: For centuries, the naon's greatest breeding ground for its most beautiful plumed birds was southern Florida, where the fresh waters of Lake Okeechobee drained slowly toward the Gulf of Mexico, through cypress swamps and mangrove forests and the biggest saw grass marsh in the world, the Everglades.
But by 1900, the long plumes of the great white and snowy egrets had become more valuable per ounce thagold, and nearly 95% of Florida's shorebirds had been killed by plume hunters.
More than 5 million birds a year were perishing to satisfy the demand of the latest fashion trend--using bird feathers to decorate women's hats.
Strolling the streets of New York for part of an afternoon, one ornithologist counted 542 feathered hats, representing 40 different species.
Some hats included an entire stuffed bird.
MAN AS GEORGE BIRD GRINNELL: Fashion decrees feathers, and feathers it is.
This condition of affairs must be something of a shock to the leaders of the Audubon Society, who were sanguine enough to believe that the moral idea represented by their movement would be enough to influence society at large.
George Bird Grinnell.
COYOTE: The Audubon Society had done its best to try to persuade women not to buy such hats, even promoted the sale of featherless hats called Audubonetts decorated with ribbons.
It didn't work, and the millenary industry, based principally in New York City, used its influence in Congress to defeat a series of national laws aimed at stopping the slaughter.
Then an unlikely champion stepped forward.
LACEY: We have a wireless telegraph, a thornless cactus, a seedless orange, and a coreless apple.
Let us now have a birdless hat.
John F.
COYOTE: As the Republican party began fracturing at the start of the 20th century into a progressive wing and a group of die-hard conservatives known as Stand-Pat Republicans, Representative John F.
Lacey of Oskaloosa, Iowa, counted himself with those opposed to change.
But when it came to defending wildlife or saving America's remaining unspoiled lands, Lacey's definition of conservative placed him not only outside his fellow Stand-Patters but in the vanguard of even the most progressive politicians of the day.
LACEY: The first settlers found this continent a storehouse of energy and national wealth, but we have not been content with using these resources.
We have wasted them as reckless prodigals.
For more than 300 years, destruction was called improvement.
Mankind must conserve the resources of nature, or the world will, at no distant day, become as barren as a sucked orange.
COYOTE: It had been Lacey, working with George Bird Grinnell and Theodore Roosevelt, who pushed through the bill that finally gave government officials the tools they needed to protect America's last wild buffalo herd in Yellowstone.
Now, after years of ceaseless effort, he won passage of another landmark, the Lacey Bird and Game Act of 1900.
Soon, government agents were confiscating huge shipments of bird skins and feathers.
But the Lacey Act did not put an end to plume hunting entirely, especially in the lawless Everglades.
5 years after the bill's passage, a game warden was murdered by poachers.
3 years after that, another one was gunned down.
Some people began thinking that the uniquely abundant array of wildlife in southern Florida would never be safe unless the Everglades itself was set aside, like Yellowstone, as a national park.
LACEY: The attempt to preserve and restore some of the wildlife of America is no longer looked upon as a fad or idle sentiment.
We have given an awful exhibition of slaughter and destruction which may serve as a warning to all mankind.
Let us now give an example of wise conservation of what remains of the gifts of nature.
COYOTE: As America moved into a new century, a new word-- conservation--had crept into the nation's vocabulary.
Now a new president would turn the word into a movement.
MAN: Like all Americans, I like big things--big prairies, big forests and mountains, big wheat fields, railroads, and herds of cattle, too.
Big factories, steamboats, and everything else.
CRONON: I think it's hard to exaggerate the significance of Theodore Roosevelt in the history of American conservation.
He creates a presidency when he arrives in the White House that sets in motion most of the conservation agendas that will define the first half of the 20th century.
MAN: The key to Teddy Roosevelt's leadership was his passion, his audacity, the fact that he was an inspiring public speaker and enjoyed leading the country.
He was a person who turned the country in a different direction where conservation was concerned.
COYOTE: In the spring of 1903, Theodore Roosevelt once again boarded a train headed west, and on April 8, he stepped off at the Northern Pacific railroad terminal just outside of Yellowstone National Park.
He was no longer the scrawny and inexperienced Easterner cowboys had laughed at and called "four-eyes" 20 years earlier.
He was a national hero, the leader of the Rough Riders in the war with Spain, a former governor of New York state, President William McKinley's running mate in 1900, and now, following McKinley's assassination in 1901, the youngest president in United States history.
MAN: The president unites in himself powers and qualities that rarely go together the qualities of a man of action with those of a scholar and writer the instincts and accomplishments of the best breeding and culture with the broadest democratic sympathies.
He is doubtless the most vital man on the continent, if not on the planet, today.
John Burroughs.
COYOTE: Not since Thomas Jefferson a century earlier had there been an American president with greater interest in the natural world.
JENKINSON: Roosevelt began his life as a naturalist.
He formed Theodore Roosevelt's Natural History Museum as a child, and he was a taxidermist.
He would find snakes and mice and other creatures and sometimes store them in the refrigerator, the icebox of his family.
Several maids quit over this.
The house smelled of taxidermy.
He had formaldehyde everywhere.
This was a young boy who was fascinated by the idea of the museum and nature, but all of this is preliminary.
It wasn't until he went out to Dakota in 1883 that Roosevelt really started to understand what was at stake in the debate about the future of nature in this country.
COYOTE: "When I hear about the destruction of a species," he said, "I feel just as if the works "of some great writer had perished.
" JENKINSON: I think it can be said that Roosevelt invented the national wildlife refuge system.
This was done by executive order alone.
A national park needs to be voted on by a majority in two houses of Congress.
Roosevelt said to his attorney general Philander Knox, "Is there anything that would prevent me "from naming Pelican Island on the Indian River in Florida "a national bird sanctuary?" and Knox, the Attorney General, said, "No, nothing.
" And so Roosevelt said, "I do declare it.
" COYOTE: When Roosevelt arrived in Yellowstone, he was in the middle of a national tour unprecedented in its ambition.
14,000 grueling miles.
25 states.
150 towns and cities.
More than 200 speeches in the space of 8 weeks.
From the day he left Washington, he had been looking forward to some time off in Yellowstone, and immediately upon his arrival, he set off on horseback with the Army's acting park superintendent as his host, leaving the rest of the presidential entourage behind, including his staff, his Secret Service men, his physician, and all the reporters covering the trip.
"As far as the world at large is concerned," his private secretary told the press, "The president will be lost.
" Only John Burroughs, the popular nature writer, was allowed to come along.
The summer tourist season was still two months away, so Roosevelt had Yellowstone essentially to himself.
He loved every minute of it.
He delighted in seeing so many animals-- herds of mule deer anwhitetails and pronghorn antelope, flocks of bighorn sheep.
He watched an eagle swoop down to try to capture a yearling elk, saw cougars feasting on the carcasses of their prey, spent 4 hours one afternoon looking through his field glasses, trying to count all the elk within sight, ultimately estimating them to number 3,000.
On Easter morning, the President of the United States insisted on leaving the campsite entirely on his own.
He tramped 18 miles over rough ground in order to sneak up to within 50 yards of another elk herd, sat down on a rock, and gazed rapturously upon them while he ate his lunch of hardtack and sardines.
One morning, President Roosevelt was shaving, and he had lathered up his face with shaving cream, and he was shaving himself in the wilderness with a little mirror, when somebody came in and said, "There are bighorn sheep out there "and they're coming down this cliff.
" So, Roosevelt said, "By Godfrey, I have to see that," and he jumps up with half of his face clean-shaven and the other half full of lather and runs out into nature to see the bighorn sheep coming down this nearly sheer cliff.
And Burroughs said, "What kind of president is this?" He's just an overgrown boy who's so enthusiastic about nature that it infects everyone around him with a new enthusiasm for the natural world.
COYOTE: Roosevelt was witnessing firsthand the results of the wildlife protection bill he and George Bird Grinnell and Congressman John Lacey had worked so hard to pass.
The game animals were now much more numerous, he assured Burroughs, than when he had last visited the park 12 years earlier.
Still, the president was itching to shoot something.
SCHULLERY: Roosevelt will always baffle people who don't hunt because he both loved animals and loved hunting them, and in Yellowstone, what he really wanted to do was shoot a mountain lion.
At the time, park managers were killing predators.
It was something that was going on anyway.
And so to Roosevelt's mind, "Well, why not me?" COYOTE: The president's advisers thought killing any animal in a national park would be bad politics and quietly dissuaded him.
In all, Roosevelt spent two weeks in Yellowstone including several days traveling in a horse-drawn sleigh to the park's interior, still covered in some places by up to 6 feet of snow.
He saw the Norris geyser basin and Old Faithful and skied to the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
But these wonders held only passing interest to him compared to the park's wildlife.
In addition to the larger animals, he recorded sightings of pine squirrels and snowshoe hares and scores of different birds, including a pygmy owl, the first he had ever seen.
"He responded with boyish glee," Burroughs wrote.
"I think the president was as pleased "as if we had bagged some big game.
" At one point, Roosevelt sees a mouse that he thinks is new to science, so he jumps off the sleigh and grabs it with his hand and kills it and then stuffs it.
MAN AS JOHN BURROUGHS: While we all went fishing in the afternoon, the president skinned his mouse and prepared the pelt for Washington.
It was done as neatly as a professed taxidermist would have done it.
This was the only game the president killed in the park.
John Burroughs.
COYOTE: On April 24, at the end of Roosevelt's visit, the entire population of the town of Gardiner, Montana, gathered at the park's north entrance for a special ceremony.
A new arch to welcome visitors to Yellowstone was under construction, and the president had agreed to speak at the laying of the arch's cornerstone.
For the occasion, Roosevelt reluctantly changed out of his camping clothes, put on a business suit, and rode through town to the awaiting crowd.
He watched as the cornerstone was carefully put into place, then climbed to a rough platform on the stonework of the incomplete pillar and began to speak.
MAN AS THEODORE ROOSEVELT: The Yellowstone Park is something absolutely unique in the world, so far as I know.
This park was created and is now administered for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.
The scheme of its preservation is noteworthy in its essential democracy.
The only way that the people as a whole can secure to themselves and their children the enjoyment in perpetuity of what the Yellowstone park has to give is by assuming ownership in the name of the nation and jealously safeguarding and preserving the scenery, the forests, and the wild creatures.
JENKINSON: Roosevelt argued that the parks are a democratic experience.
That was his essential argument about the national parks, that the rich people always have their playgrounds, they know how to amuse themselves, and that America as a classless society or at least a society that would like to be classless needs to have places where regular human beings can go and stand side by side with the rich and privileged and enjoy the same experience and not be made to feel that they are somehow less.
And so his primary argument was that the national parks are a democratic experiment in nature.
COYOTE: Before he got back on the train to resume his trip, Roosevelt also deliberately quoted from the act of Congress that had made Yellowstone the world's first national park-- "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.
" Later, when the arch was finally completed, that phrase would be permanently carved into its mantle so that everyone who entered Yellowstone would be reminded of why the park was there and for whom.
JOHNSON: I remember the first time I arrived in Yellowstone, I got off the bus right outside the north entrance, where there's that wonderful stone arch that says "For the benefit and enjoyment of the people.
" It doesn't say, "For the benefit and enjoyment "of some of the people, or a few of the people.
" It says, "All of the people," and for me, that meant democracy, and for me, that meant I was welcome, and I stepped outside, and as I was stepping down onto the ground, there was bison, a 2,000-pound animal walking by, and there was no one else around.
The bison was just strolling by.
And I looked up at the driver and I said, "Does this happen all the time?" and he looked at me and said, "All the time.
" And I said to myself, "I've arrived," and I can't imagine being in any other place, and to be honest with you, once I stepped off that bus, I never got back on.
[Whistle blows] COYOTE: Two weeks after leaving Yellowstone, Roosevelt's whirlwind tour brought him to Arizona's Grand Canyon for a brief stop on the way from New Mexico to southern California.
Roosevelt had never before seen the Grand Canyon, and he was overwhelmed by the vista from the south rim.
He longed to spend more time there, but his schedule permitted only this quick visit and a few remarks to the crowd that had gathered to greet him.
MAN AS THEODORE ROOSEVELT: I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it in your own interest and in the interest of the country.
Keep this great wonder of nature as it now is.
Leave it as it is.
You cannot improve it.
The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.
What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you as one of the great sights which every American, if he can travel at all, should see.
JENKINSON: The great statement in this speech is "Leave it as it is.
"The ages have been at work on it "and man can only mar it.
" Nothing has ever been said about the national parks as fine as that.
The idea for Roosevelt was that humans have an itch to change things but the beauty of the Grand Canyon is when you look at it and you see nothing that humans have constructed.
It's a magnificent thing that he said, and if that were the one wilderness statement of American life, I believe it's greater than Thoreau.
I believe that it's greater than John Muir.
"Leave it as it is.
The ages have been at work on it "and man can only mar it" should be the motto in front of every national park in the country.
And if you think that this was said by a man on a 14,000-mile trip in which he gave 262 speeches more or less off the top of his head on seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, you realize what presidential greatness can be.
COYOTE: Then Roosevelt was gone and by the next day, he was whistle-stopping his way through California, giving 2 to 3 speeches a day, attending banquets and dinners in his honor, presiding at dedications and groundbreakings, setting the frenetic pace that had become his hallmark.
[Bird cawing] MAN AS JOHN MUIR: Nothing can be done well at a speed of 40 miles a day.
Far more time should be taken.
Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer.
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
COYOTE: By 1903, John Muir was 65 and more famous than ever.
Mountain peaks and canyons, campsites and glaciers now bore his name.
Magazine editors besieged him with requests for articles.
The Sierra Club he had founded was growing steadily, and the hikes he personally led into the mountains were always the club's most heavily attended.
People loved to hear him preach his deeply held gospel that salvation could be found through immersion in the natural world.
WOMAN: John Muir was there, mounted on the horse which he rode now and then, when no woman would accept the loan of it.
He was rapt, entranced.
He threw up his arms in a grand gesture.
"This is the morning of creation," he cried.
"The whole thing is beginning now.
" "The mountains are singing together.
" Harriet Monroe.
COYOTE: For nearly a decade now, he had been struggling to have the Yosemite Valley given back to the federal government and made part of the larger Yosemite National Park.
But nothing he seemed to say or do had proven successful.
Things remained at a standstill in the spring of 1903, as Muir prepared to leave his home in Martinez, California, and embark on a trip to Europe and Asia with some friends.
Suddenly, his plans changed.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: An influential man from Washington wants to make a trip into the Sierra with me, and I might be able to do some forest good, in freely talking around the campfire.
COYOTE: It was the president, still working his way up through California, asking Muir to accompany him during a visit to Yosemite.
"I do not want anyone with me but you," Roosevelt had written.
"I want to drop politics absolutely "and just be out in the open with you.
" Muir realized this was the opportunity of a lifetime.
He purchased a brand-new woolen suit for the occasion and hurried to join the presidential entourage.
On May 15, they set off for the Mariposa Grove of big trees in a flurry of activity.
A long caravan of wagons filled with staff and dignitaries, a detachment of 30 buffalo soldiers riding along as escorts.
Muir soon found himself seated in the president's coach along with the governor of California, the Secretary of the Navy, the Surgeon General, two college presidents, and Roosevelt's personal secretary.
It was hardly the trip he had been promised, but Muir tried his best to squeeze in words to the president and governor about the issue of making all of Yosemite a national park.
In the grove of mighty sequoias, the president's group paused, as all tourists did, for a snapshot at the famous Wawona tunnel tree, and later, they posed for an official photograph, lined up along the base of the Grizzly Giant, the oldest and most famous sequoia in Yosemite, estimated to be 2,700 years old and boasting a single branch that was 6 1/2 feet in diameter.
Then the troops, the phalanx of reporters and photographers, and virtually all of the official party headed back to the Wawona Hotel, where a series of receptions and a grand dinner were scheduled in the president's honor that evening.
None of them knew that Roosevelt had no intention of attending.
Instead, he remained behind with only John Muir and a few park employees, who started preparing a camp at the base of one of the sequoias, part of a secret plan Roosevelt had hatched to allow him time alone with the trees and the man who considered them sacred.
They built a fire and sat around it, eating a simple supper, talking as twilight enveloped them, getting to know one another in the glow of the blaze.
MAN AS THEODORE ROOSEVELT: The night was clear, and in the darkening aisles of the great sequoia grove, the majestic trunks, beautiful in color and symmetry, rose around us like the pillars of a mightier cathedral than ever was conceived even by the fervor of the Middle Ages.
Hermit thrushes sang beautifully in the evening.
JENKINSON: And Muir said, "I fell in love with this Theodore Roosevelt.
" I mean, he actually used those words.
"You can't resist this man.
I fell in love with him.
" Roosevelt, interestingly enough, came back and complained a little bit about Muir and said, "He doesn't know his bird songs.
" Roosevelt's an ornithologist.
He knows everything there is to know about birds.
But Muir also got one off on Roosevelt.
He said to him, "Mr.
President, "when are you going to get over this infantile need you have "to kill animals?" Roosevelt would not have taken that from any other human being.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: I had a perfectly glorious time with the president and the mountains.
I never before had a more interesting, hearty, and manly companion.
I stuffed him pretty well regarding the timber thieves and other spoilers of the forest.
COYOTE: Long after sundown, with no tent and only a pile of army blankets, the two men finally went to sleep.
[Owl hooting] [Horse whinnying] COYOTE: The next morning at 6:30, they saddled up for the long ride to Yosemite Valley, with the guide under strict orders from the president to avoid at all costs the Wawona Hotel and the delegation of officials he had jilted the night before.
In the high country near Glacier Point, with its spectacular panorama of the valley and its waterfalls arrayed at their feet, they stopped and once more made camp at a spot their guide-- Charlie Leidig--had picked out.
MAN AS CHARLIE LEIDIG: Around the campfire, Roosevelt and Muir talked far into the night regarding Muir's glacial theory of the formation of Yosemite Valley.
They also talked a great deal about the protection of forests in general and Yosemite in particular.
I heard them discussing the setting aside of other areas in the United States for park purposes.
There was some difficulty in their campfire conversation because both men wanted to do the talking.
COYOTE: They awoke the next morning, covered by a light snow that had fallen in the high country during the night.
Rather than feeling inconvenienced, the president couldn't have been more delighted.
"We slept in a snowstorm last night," he exclaimed to the crowds that had been patiently waiting for him on the valley floor.
"This," he said, "has been the grandest day of my life.
" After camping one more night alone with Muir, the president was picked up and escorted back to the train station for the resumption of his cross-country tour.
And when he spoke at the state capital in Sacramento a day later, Roosevelt's words sounded as if they could have come from the lips of John Muir.
MAN AS THEODORE ROOSEVELT: Lying out at night under those sequoias was lying in a temple built by no hand of man.
A temple grander than any human architect could by any possibility build, and I hope for the preservation of the groves of giant trees simply because it would be a shame to our civilization to let them disappear.
They are monuments in themselves.
I want them preserved.
We are not building this country of ours for a day.
It is to last through the ages.
COYOTE: Within 3 years, the California legislature and United States Congress approved the transfer of the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa big trees back to the federal government.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: I am now an experienced lobbyist.
My political education is complete.
Have attended the legislature, made speeches, explained, exhorted, persuaded every mother's son of the legislators, newspaper reporters, d everybody else who would listen to me.
And now that the fight is finished and my education as a politician and lobbyist is finished, I am almost finished myself.
COYOTE: Yosemite National Park now encompassed almost everything Muir had been fighting for.
"Sound the timbrel," he wrote a friend, "and let every Yosemite tree and stream rejoice.
" JOHNSON: I remember one day I was walking in the Cook's Meadow, which is the meadow in the central part of Yosemite Valley, and there was a woman there, and she was just looking up and around her and she just kept saying, "Oh.
Oh, my.
"Oh, my.
" I looked at her, I said, "Ma'am, are you all right?" She said, "Yes, I'm just fine.
I just--oh.
" I didn't have to talk to her about the transcendent experience.
She was having one, and it wasn't a transcendent experience because it was a national park.
It was transcendent because it was Yosemite Valley.
But because it had become a national park, she could have that transcendent experience.
And that's commonplace in Yosemite.
And where else can you get an experience like that? [Bird cawing] WOMAN: In other parts of the world, there are certain areas that are preserved because some rich nobleman out of the goodness of his heart decided to decree it.
But in the United States, you don't have to be dependent on some rich guy being generous to you.
To me that's what national parks mean.
It's a symbol of democracy, democracy when it works well.
At its best.
COYOTE: Back in 1870, a 15-year-old boy in Kansas was idly reading the newspaper that had been used to wrap his lunch.
He came across an article about a mysterious sunken lake in Oregon and he vowed to visit it one day.
It would take William Gladstone Steel 15 years to get there.
MAN AS WILLIAM STEEL: Imagine a vast mountain, 6 by 7 miles through, at an elevation of 8,000 feet with the top removed and the inside hollowed out, then filled with the clearest water in the world, and you have a perfect representation of Crater Lake.
COYOTE: When a volcanic eruption witnessed by the ancestors of the Klamath Indians blew the top off a mountain peak in the Cascades 7,700 years ago, the hole that was left began slowly filling with each year's rainfall and snowmelt.
The result was Crater Lake-- at 1,942 feet, the deepest lake in America.
Because it is filled almost entirely by snowfall, the lake is also the world's clearest.
An 8-inch disc lowered into its sky-blue waters is still visible 142 feet below the surface.
William Steel resolved that it should be protected forever, just like Yellowstone and the other parks.
That quest took him another 17 years of tireless promotion and lobbying before he finally succeeded in 1902, when Crater Lake became the nation's sixth national park.
And it had all happened because of this accidental lunchtime reading 32 years earlier.
DUNCAN: The parks, they're the greatest spots on earth, wonderful natural places, but the story of national parks really isn't a story about the place.
It's--it's the story of people who fell in love with those places, people who became so devoted to them that they wanted to do anything they could to save them.
SMITH: Richard Wetherill.
He's broadening out from Mesa Verde.
He wants to make people aware that we have such a treasure, such a heritage here, and yet here's this cowboy.
A cowboy, and we all know what cowboys are.
We read in our dime novels.
They can't be doing anything scholarly.
COYOTE: Despite his lack of formal education, Richard Wetherill wanted to be taken seriously as an archaeologist.
He had left Mesa Verde and began scouring the Southwest in search of other ruins.
His journey took him from Colorado to Utah and Arizona and finally to New Mexico, to a place called Chaco Canyon.
another eerily silent set of ruins left behind by the ancient Puebloans.
With walls of remarkable workmanship, some rising 5 stories, Pueblo Bonito, the biggest ruin, contained remnants of an enclosed plaza, 35 circular kivas, more than 2 acres honeycombed by 650 rooms, connected by small passageways and doors.
The religious and cultural hub of the civilization that had dominated the surrounding region between 850 A.
and 1200 A.
By itself, Pueblo Bonito was several times larger than anything at Mesa Verde and it sat in the midst of an array of nearly a dozen other significant ruins.
Wetherill moved there with his wife Marietta, filed a homestead claim, and hired nearly 100 Navajos to help with the excavations.
Though Wetherill tried to carry on his work as carefully and scientifically as possible, professional archaeologists still dismissed him as a pothunter.
And as the relics he was unearthing reached eastern museums, 50,000 pieces of turquoise, 10,000 pieces of pottery, 5,000 stone implements, and much more, they clamored for the government to do something to stop him.
SMITH: Richard Wetherill was very careful identifying everything he found.
He was ahead of the professional archaeologists, which is an oxymoron at that time, but he was ahead of them, and I think they were jealous of him.
There's a snobbishness.
Educated Easterners can't believe that a western cowboy could possibly be doing these things.
COYOTE: For his part, Wetherill said, he would gladly turn over any portions of Chaco Canyon if the federal government would simply do something to protect them.
But the criticism of Wetherill's work would not go away.
[Bird cawing] COYOTE: Meanwhile, back at Mesa Verde, the ruins Wetherill had first discovered were in danger.
Thieves, pot hunters, and tourists were flocking to the site, looting the artifacts, damaging the ancient strucres, sometimes even setting off sticks of dynamite simply to frighten awa the rattlesnakes.
Now a new group had taken up the cause of protecting its treasures.
WOMAN: Mesa Verde seems to be set apart for a park, and to make and keep it as such is the aim of the Colorado Cliff Dwellings Association of Women.
Virginia McClurg.
COYOTE: Virginia McClurg was a well-known lecturer with a seemingly boundless determination to leave her mark on the world.
She gathered a group of women into the Colorado Cliff Dwellings Association, organized petitions, wrote personal letters to the president, held rummage sales, and solicited 10-cent contributions from other women's groups across the country.
And it was working.
Support for protecting Mesa Verde had become a national cause.
But just when Congress seemed ready to act, it became clear to those around her that Virginia McClurg had a different vision of how Mesa Verde should be preserved.
WOMAN AS VIRGINIA McCLURG: I do not see why this small and compact tract in the proposed park should not be under the protective care of a body of 125 women with hereditary membership who know more about the matter and care about the matter than anyone else.
Virginia became so engrossed in it that it suddenly was not our park as a nation, it was her park.
COYOTE: Twice McClurg even negotiated leases between her group and the Ute Indians only to have the federal government remind her that private citizens cannot make treaties.
The uproar she created threatened to derail the bill in Congress at the very moment it seemed headed for passage.
Even some of her closest allies now suspected that Virginia McClurg had lost sight of the real goal.
Lucy Peabody, the association's vice regent, had preferred to get results rather than grab headlines.
She believed that only as a national park could Mesa Verde be properly saved for future generations, and now felt compelled to resign from the association.
With her went many other members, including some of the group's most nationally prominent women.
McClurg, once the darling of the press, found herself disparaged in newspaper editorials.
SMITH: There was a sadness in all this.
At the moment of your greatest achievement, you lose it.
I--I think it's a normal reaction.
This becomes so possessive with her that to have it within your grasp, right there, and it's gone.
COYOTE: On June 29, 1906, President Roosevelt signed the law creating Mesa Verde National Park, the first of its kind, meant to celebrate not majestic natural scenery but a prehistoric culture and its people.
With Mesa Verde protected, anger over Richard Wetherill's excavations at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico boiled over and set in motion events that would change the course of park history.
SMITH: The bill for Mesa Verde was just for Mesa Verde, buwhat about the other ruins? There's sites all over the Southwest, and the same thing's happening there.
COYOTE: Once more, Representative John F.
Lacey came to the rescue of places nowhere near and nothing like his native Iowa.
He sponsored a new bill to make any unauthorized disturbance of any prehistoric ruin a federal crime.
The act for the preservation of American antiquities also granted the president of the United States an extraordinary power: the exclusive authority without any Congressional approval to set aside places that would be called not national parks but national monuments.
MAN: John F.
Lacey gave the president the greatest power a president could ever have for the preservation of nature, which allowed the president to do something as simple as pick up a pen and declare an area of the public domain a national monument, and since Teddy Roosevelt happened to be the president at the time, was that a gift or what? Bully.
Teddy Roosevelt picked up that pen and started creating national monuments and the country would never be the same again.
COYOTE: Roosevelt quickly put his new powers to use.
He proclaimed the first national monumt, a unique mass of grooved rock sacred to several Indian tribes rising nearly 900 feet above the plains of eastern Wyoming.
It was called Devil's Tower.
Then he named El Morro National Monument in New Mexico, a rock abutment bearing prehistoric Indian petroglyphs as well as the inscriptions of early Spanish expeditions that had come north from Mexico 300 years earlier and founded a colony 15 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.
And on March 11, 1907, he did exactly what Richard Wetherill had wanted and created Chaco Canyon National Monument.
Roosevelt would also use the antiquities act to protect an endangered grove of coastal redwoods north of San Francisco named in honor of the man who had first introduced Roosevelt to the giant trees-- Muir Woods.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: The man of science, the naturalist, too often loses sight of the essential oneness of all living beings in seeking to classify them in kingdoms, orders, species, etc.
While the eye of the poet, the seer, never closes on the kinship of all God's creatures.
And his heart ever beats in sympathy with great and small alike as Earth-borne companions and fellow mortals equally dependent on Heaven's eternal love.
COYOTE: In 1905, John Muir's life had been beset by sorrow.
His devoted life Louie died of lung cancer and he buried her next to her parents near an orchard on their farm.
President Roosevelt, who had lost his first wife as a young man, and then found solace in the open spaces of the west, sent his personal condolences.
"Get out among the mountains and trees, friend," he wrote.
"They will do more for you than either man or woman could.
" But the aging mountaineer went instead to the deserts of Arizona, where it was hoped his daughter Helen might recover from pneumonia.
In his grief, he began expring the surrounding area and discovered that in fact he was, once again, in a majestic forest, only this one was 200 million years old and all of the trees had long ago fossilized into solid rock.
It was the petrified forest.
EHRLICH: I think parks represent the wildness inside us.
They're the place where we can be lonely, where we can experience solitude.
They're a place we go to as refuge, as sanctuary.
It's a place we go out to to come back in.
It's the only place perhaps left in many people's lives where that's possible.
COYOTE: Soon, Muir was himself again, sometimes taking total strangers on long walks through the tumbled and broken stone trees.
In what he now called "these enchanted carboniferous forests," he loved nothing more than to sit near the trunk of a petrified tree and inspect it minutely with a magnifying glass.
But even this forest was endangered.
Scavengers used dynamite to blow up large logs in hopes of finding amethyst crystals inside them.
Boxcar loads of petrified wood were being shipped east to be made into tabletops and mantelpieces.
An enormous stone crusher was being constructed to pulverize the logs for use as industrial abrasives.
For years, John F.
Lacey had been trying to protect the area by making it a national park.
Congress would not go along.
But John Muir knew somebody who now could save his enchanted forest with a stroke of his pen.
President Roosevelt invoked the antiquities act again, and Petrified Forest National Monument was created.
MAN AS THEODORE ROOSEVELT: There is nothing more practical than the preservation of beauty, than the preservation of anything that appeals to the higher emotions of mankind.
I believe we are past the stage of national existence when we could look on complacently at thendividual who skinned the land and was content for the sake of 3 years' profit for himself to leave a desert for the children of those who were to inherit the soil.
JENKINSON: If government doesn't protect the weakest elements of humanity and the weakest elements of nature the whole game is lost.
That was an incredible breakthrough for a man who grew up in a profoundly Republican household in an age of J.
Morgan and John Rockefeller.
There's a paradox at the very center of American life.
We are meant to be the most materially happy, wealthiest, most privileged people who ever lived on Earth.
That's one version of the American dream.
We are also Thoreau's Americans and Jefferson's Americans, and Roosevelt's Grand Canyon Americans.
We want that, and somehow we've gotten it into our heads that we can have both, and maybe we can.
But Roosevelt understood that we can only have both if we severely restrain our acquisitive energies for some parts of this continent.
That's the key.
UDALL: We used to talk about Teddy Roosevelt having distance in his eyes and that's what's important, is to have this strong, powerful part of our heritage vivid so that people can understand it and appreciate it.
COYOTE: Before his presidency was over, he would create 5 new national parks, 51 federal bird sanctuaries, 4 national game refuges, 18 national monuments, and more than 100 million acres worth of national forests.
Now Roosevelt wanted one more national park added to his list, the place he had urged the citizens of Arizona to leave as it is-- the grandest canyon on Earth.
Developers were already erecting buildings, miners were filing claims, and ranchers were grazing cattle all along the south rim.
But even Theodore Roosevelt could not persuade Congress to act.
Local sentiment and vested interests were just too powerful.
The president looked for some way, any way to prevent the canyon from becoming another commercialized Niagara Falls.
He found his solution in the antiquities act.
CRONON: It was written basically to try to prevent the destruction of Indian archaeological sites in the American southwest, the idea being that there were people going in and robbing these graves, and that that needed to be stopped.
And so a law is written that says the president can very quickly set aside a tract of land as a national monument, and that's a fairly narrow purpose.
But there were no restrictions in the law, and Teddy Roosevelt quite quickly realized that you could set aside land for reasons other than archaeology, and the great beneficiary of that law would be the Grand Canyon.
COYOTE: The wording of the antiquities act referred to protection of so-called "objects of historic and scientific interest," and though it had contemplated only small-sized parcels, up to then, no more than 5,000 acres, it did not absolutely restrict the number of acres a president could set aside.
On January 11, 1908, declaring the Grand Canyon "an object of unusual scientific interest, "being the greatest eroded canyon "within the United States," Roosevelt set aside 806,400 acres as a national monument.
It would not enjoy the same protections as a national park, but it was a step in the right direction.
Politicians in Arizona were outraged and threatened to challenge Roosevelt in court.
Members of Congress complained that the president had overstepped his authority.
He ignored them all.
UDALL: A lot of Westerners, powerful Westerners, Congressmen, senators, were opposed and critical and that was part of Teddy Roosevelt's power, that he could overwhelm the wishes of local people and dared to do it.
JENKINSON: Well, there was furor.
There is always furor when these things happen.
But Roosevelt understood that short-term controversy over nature leads to long-term benefit.
Roosevelt's view was that an intact environment is infinitely more valuable spiritually and economically than an extracted one.
UDALL: But history always vindicates, always vindicates what they did.
There's not a single person in Arizona today who would say the Grand Canyon was a mistake.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: The very first reservation that ever was made in this world, the garden of Eden, contained only one tree.
The smallest reservation that ever was made.
Yet no sooner was it made than it was attacked by everybody in the world-- the devil, one woman, and one man.
This has been the history of every reservation that has been made since that time, that is, as soon as a reservation is once created, then the thieves and the devil and his relations come forward to attack it.
DUNCAN: He said, "Nothing dollarable is safe" and it's like this insight into human beings, but particularly Americans.
He understood this relentless grasp of American commerce.
It wants to reach into everything.
And he realized that if a dollar value could be attached to, in his mind, a sacred place, it was vulnerable.
COYOTE: Since the start of the 20th century, the city of San Francisco had been looking for a better supply of water to fuel its growth, and it had set its sights on the Tuolumne River and the Hetch Hetchy Valley as the perfect place for a dam and reservoir, a narrow valley remote enough to assure that the waters trapped from the yearly Sierra runoff would stay pure.
The fact that it was within the boundaries of Yosemite National Park only added to its attractiveness to city planners.
No competing claims to water rights existed.
The only land owner to deal with was the federal government.
Damming and flooding Hetch Hetchy would be cheaper and easier than finding alternative sites.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: That anyone would try to destroy such a place seems incredible, but sad experience shows that there are people good enough and bad enough for anything.
COYOTE: To John Muir, allowing a dam in any national park would betray the very purpose of parks, and even worse in his eyes, set a dangerous precedent for the future.
Hetch Hetchy was among his favorite places in Yosemite.
He called it "one of nature's rarest "and most precious mountain temples.
" With its own majestic waterfalls and massive granite faces, it had all the beauty of the more famous Yosemite Valley 20 miles to the south, he said, without the clutter of tourist hotels.
When he had helped draw the boundary lines for the national park back in 1890, he had deliberately included Hetch Hetchy.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: These temple destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for nature, and instead of lifting their eyes to the god of the mountains, lift them to the almighty dollar.
Dam Hetch Hetchy.
As well, dam for water-tanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.
COYOTE: At first, Muir's view had prevailed.
Theodore Roosevelt's interior secretary turned down San Francisco's application 3 different times.
Then on April 18, 1906, a tremendous earthquake had shaken San Francisco, bringing down hundreds of buildings and igniting fires that consumed most of the city, killing thousands.
With San Francisco reduced to ashes, politicians redoubled their efforts for a reservoir at Hetch Hetchy, claiming falsely that its water supply could have prevented the destruction.
In a referendum, San Franciscans voted 7-1 in favor of the dam.
The city's mayor launched a campaign attacking Muir's character for trying to obstruct the project.
Even Muir's own Sierra Club split over the issue, with some prominent members advocating the dam.
MAN: They loved Yosemite, but they loved Yosemite in a kind of additive way.
It wasn't at the core of their understanding of America.
And for them in San Francisco, the city came first.
COYOTE: Meanwhile, an old adversary of Muir's stepped forward on the city's behalf-- Gifford Pinchot.
As the nation's top forester and President Roosevelt's trusted adviser, Pinchot had become one of the most powerful men in Washington.
At his urging, Roosevelt had reserved millions of acres of western land as national forests in the face of Congressional opposition.
Pinchot steadfastly believed that conservation meant wise use of nature, not preserving it for its own sake, and he had never been a wholehearted supporter of national parks, let alone John Muir's unbending vision of protecting and expanding them.
When a new interior secretary joined the administration, Pinchot began lobbying him in support of the dam.
In response, Muir once again took his case to the man with whom he had shared 3 magical nights in the park back in 1903-- the outdoorsman he considered a friend and kindred spirit.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: April 21, 1908.
Dear Mr.
President, a few promoters of the present scheme all show forth a proud set of confidence that comes from a good, sound, substantial irrefragable ignorance.
Hetch Hetchy is one of the most sublime and beautiful and important features of the park, and to dam and submerge it would be hardly less destructive and deplorable than would be the damming of Yosemite itself.
Faithfully and devotedly yours, John Muir.
Muir, Pinchot is rather favorable to the Hetch Hetchy plan.
I have sent him your letter with a request for a report on it.
I will do everything in my power to protect not only the Yosemite, which we have already protected, but other similar great natural beauties of this country.
But you must remember that it is out of the question permanently to protect them, unless we have a certain degree of friendliness toward them on the part of the people of the state in which they are situated.
CRONON: What makes the conflict between Muir and Pinchot so bitter, so personal is that 2 really wonderful visions of the human good, both of which are worth celebrating, are on a collision course, and that collision course meets in Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park.
For one man, Muir, that valley and that park are a cathedral, and anything that might desecrate that cathedral is blasphemy.
It is a--it is a sacrilege against God.
For the other man, Pinchot, these are resources that serve the common good.
These are resources for a democracy.
COYOTE: But Pinchot was in Washington and Muir was in California.
Pinchot's view prevailed.
Pending Congressional approval, the interior secretary granted San Francisco's application, calling it "the greatest benefit "to the greatest number of people.
" President Roosevelt did nothing to stop it.
Muir was devastated.
But the fight was not over.
A year later, with Roosevelt out of the White House, the new president, William Howard Taft, came to California on his own tour of Yosemite, and to the dismay of San Francisco's politicians, chose Muir as his guide.
Before the visit was over, Taft decided to oppose the dam.
By 1913, however, yet another president had taken office-- Woodrow Wilson, who chose as his secretary of the interior Franklin K.
Lane, the former city attorney for San Francisco.
Lane wasted no time getting the project back on track.
Muir was now 75, and the long battle over Hetch Hetchy had taken its toll.
Ten years earlier, he had anticipated completing 20 books in his old age.
Because of what he called "this everlasting "Hetch Hetchy business," he had managed to finish only 2.
"I wonder," he wrote his daughter, "if leaves feel lonely when they see their neighbors falling.
" Still, he soldiered on, speaking, writing, urging anyone who would listen not to flood the exquisite valley.
"I still think we can win," Muir said in November of 1913, adding, "anyhow, I'll be relieved when it's settled, "for it's killing me.
" 3 weeks later, the bill approving the dam cleared its final hurdle in Congress.
President Wilson quickly signed it into law.
MAN: It was sorrowful indeed to see him sitting in his cobwebbed study in his lonely house with the full force of his defeat upon him after the struggle of a lifetime in the service of Hetch Hetchy.
I could not but think that if Congress, the president, and even the San Francisco contingent could have seen him, they would certainly have been willing to have delayed any action until the old man had gone away.
And I fear that is going to be very soon as he appeared to me to be breaking very fast.
Robert Marshall.
COYOTE: Exhausted and frail, Muir forced himself to finish a book on his travels in Alaska.
He built new bookcases in the big, empty house he had once shared with his wife Louie and their 2 children.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: The battle for conservation will go on endlessly.
It is part of the universal warfare between right and wrong.
Fortunately, wrong cannot last.
Soon or late, it must fall back home to Hades, while some compensating good must surely follow.
They will see what I meant in time.
There must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls-- food and drink is not all.
There is the spiritual.
In some, it is only a germ, of course.
But the germ will grow.
COYOTE: In December of 1914, he came down with pneumonia.
On Christmas Eve, John Muir, the wilderness prophet who had struggled so hard to get his adopted country to experience the blessings of nature, died.
POPE: I think when John Muir walked into Yosemite, a century-long conversation began and it was a conversation about the nature of America and about whether we were going to remain what Lincoln called "the last best hope of Earth" or whether we were simply going to become another Europe.
And John Muir's encounter with Yosemite-- remember, he was a European.
He came from this narrow Scots background.
He was not an American.
And he encountered Yosemite and he imagined what America could be.
And for a century, we've fought about whether we liked his vision or not.
MAN: I like what he said on one occasion where he essentially said, "the enemies of wildness "are invincible, and they are everywhere, "but the fight must go on "and for every acre that you gain, "10,000 trees and flowers and all the other forest people "and the usual unborn generations "will rise up and call you blessed.
" COYOTE: 4 years after Muir's death, work on the dam he had opposed with all his strength began, and the Hetch Hetchy valley, whose tranquil meadows he had compared to a landscape garden and a mountain temple would slowly be entombed under hundreds of feet of water.
But Muir's fight had struck a chord in many Americans, who now wondered if a lovely valley in Yosemite National Park could be turned into a reservoir, were any national parks safe? CRONON: John Muir lost the fight over Hetch Hetchy and the dam was built, and people who live in San Francisco today drink the water of Hetch Hetchy.
Muir died feeling that he'd been defeated by that, and that was a great tragedy at the end of his life.
But it's also true that Hetch Hetchy would then go on across the 20th century as a kind of battle cry that would inform all wilderness, wild land, parkland battles from that moment on.
It looks like a defeat, and yet what's interesting about it is that in that defeat, a whole series of people began to wonder whether the parks needed more protection than they currently had.
That there needed to be some greater rampart, some greater wall that could defend the parks against a future such controversy.
COYOTE: A proposal that Muir had supported now began gaining greater ground across the nation-- to create an agency within the federal government whose sole job would be to promote, administer, and protect the national parks, to make sure they fulfilled their great promise and endured for countless generations.
MAN: Muir said MAN AS JOHN MUIR: As long as I live, I will hear the birds and the winds and the waterfalls sing.
I'll interpret the rocks and learn the language of flood, of storm and avalanche.
I'll make the acquaintance of the wild gardens and the glaciers and get as near to the heart of this world as I could.
And so I did.
I sauntered about from rock to rock, from grove to grove, from stream to stream, and whenever I met a new plant, I would sit down beside it for a minute or a day to make its acquaintance, hear what it had to tell.
I asked the boulders where they had been and whither they were going and when night found me, there I camped.
I took no more heed to save time or to make haste than did the trees or the stars.
This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.