Friday, February 10, 2006

The Original Brokeback Mountain...

In May of 1903, two of the 20th Century's most remarkable men, one a President the other the founder of the Sierra Club, left their posts and their powers behind them to go climbing in the mountains of Yosemite and to experience "Heaven's unquenchable sublimities." "I do not want anyone with me but you," wrote Theodore Roosevelt to John Muir from the White House. This photograph was taken at the outset of the trip. Aside from a few "packers and donkeys" the men were alone in the Sierra. Upon their return, Muir told his wife, "I fairly fell in love with the President." He soon received a handwritten letter from Roosevelt stating, "I trust I need not tell you, my dear sir, how happy were the days in Yosemite. I shall never forget our three camps; the first in the solemn temple of the great sequoias; the next in the snow storm among the silver firs near the brink of a cliff; and the third on the floor of the Yosemite, in the open valley fronting the stupendous rocky mass of El Capitan with the falls thundering in the distance on either hand."

Now, I'm not saying that anything happened. It would be irrelevant to the ensuing history: the indescribably inspired National Park system that Roosevelt and Muir created in record time, AND the first concerted effort to sell conservation of resources to the American people (from a Republican no less!). To say that this critical reshaping of how we think about the American landscape was born of an illicit tryst enacted "in the solemn temple" (not to mention "on the floor") of Yosemite, well that would be beneath me. All I'm saying is when you send a Rough Rider and a Tree Hugger and a few donkeys into the wild, well, don't forget the Judy Garland CDs... Bully!


Blogger pigatschmo said...

TR is full of interesting contradictions. Remember, he was also the Governor of NY and had a house in Oyster Bay. Take the Sagimore Hill tour next time you're out that way.

8:47 PM  

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