Discovering My Inner John Muir


Kings Canyon National Park in California is connected to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks by the John Muir Trail. This day was unforgettable for Millie and I (yes, that’s us!).

Who? John Muir died over one hundred years ago, but most historians agree that he was instrumental in the establishment of the American National Parks system; the same model was used to create New Zealand’s national parks back in 1887. I picked up my inaugural John Muir book, My First Summer in the Sierra (1911), last year and that was it. Instant fan boy.

John Muir expressed open, almost childlike joy with what he observed around him. And he translated it into written words so vividly, you could not only see the icy snowmelt fed waterfall cascading down a cliff face during Spring in Yosemite National Park, you would also feel the billowing mist on your skin, hear its deep powerful roar, and smell the damp earth at its base. He is rightfully revered as a hero in the US, and his words have become motivating catch cries with National Park conservation groups and hiking enthusiasts around the world. Thank goodness for John Muir. Can you imagine a planet without wilderness protection?

Adam and Millie at Lassen Volcanic National Park

Adam and Millie stop for lunch at a crater lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

It’s really only been the last decade or so when environmentalists have not been considered oddballs. Maybe the movie An Inconvenient Truth kicked off climate change awareness on a global scale, and today, our attitudes to waste, pollution, fossil fuels, recycling and reversing the mess we find ourselves in has become a priority for everyone. Even science deniers know something’s definitely up with the weather, and rethinking our relationship with the world and its natural resources is urgent.

All of this resonates with our Slow Motion attitude, which in turn influences most of the products you’ll discover at Blackwell and Sons. It’s a lifestyle goal that doesn’t yet achieve zero waste, and we certainly don’t want to be all preachy about it. But it’s a start. This year, Millie and I are cycling on our Pashleys whenever we can, we’re trying to reduce garbage at home and in the shop  - and that includes ‘recyclables’, and we’re growing more of our own vegetables.  So far, so fantastic. We’re sleeping better, our health and fitness is improving and we’re saving money (that can be reallocated for romantic dates, dinner parties with friends and hiking adventures in National Parks). Oh, and the decision to keep phones out of the bedroom? Another excellent Millie piece of genius. All of these choices connect to each other and together, create a better, happier life for my wife and I, and a more beautiful planet for everyone else. That’s the goal, right?

John Muir understood the importance of real connectivity. “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world,” he said. The simplicity of those words pencilled in John’s journal 100 years ago, and their connection to and influence on my life today is a gift that only the pursuit of reading can fulfil. I’ll take Mr Muir’s writing over Facebook connectivity any day.

Adam at Yosemite National Park

Adam at Yosemite National Park, 2019.