"The mountains are calling, and I must go…" -John Muir
Originally written in a letter from Muir to his sister Sarah Muir Galloway, and later published in The Life and Letters of John Muir, by William Fredric Badè, this quote has thoroughly embedded itself our cultural imagination (just look it up on Pinterest.)
The full sentence is "The mountains are calling and I must go, and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly." Muir wrote it in a letter to his sister describing the research he was currently working on, and his plans for the rest of fall and winter.
"Dear Sister Sarah: I have just returned from the longest and hardest trip I have ever made in the mountains, having been gone over five weeks. I am weary, but resting fast; sleepy, but sleeping deep and fast; hungry, but eating much…. I will soon be off again, determined to use all the season in prosecuting my researches--will go next to Kings River a hundred miles south, then to Lake Tahoe and adjacent mountains, and in winter work in Oakland with my pen."
Written by John Muir, on September 3rd, 1873, in Yosemite Valley.
-Printed in "The Life and Letters of John Muir," by William Fredric Badè,
Taken alone in a modern context this quote so often has a wandering & whimsical feel to it. But within the context of this letter, which begins by describing "the longest and hardest trip I have ever made in the mountains…" the quote takes on the tone of working with a devotion to a higher calling, written by a man who is eager to get back to that work.