In that, John Muir’s story, remarkable and profoundly consequential as it is, in actuality is merely one story among many others in the long history of our national parks. Look into the background of virtually any national park— how it came to be set aside or how it continues Boulder to be protected—and what you invariably discover is one person’s (or a small group of people’s) affection for a particular place, Boulder an affection so deep, so transformative that they devote Boulder themselves to making sure that other people, people they will never meet and in generations they will never know, will have the opportunity to fall in love with it just as they did. It’s always personal. It’s always inspiring. And, I might add, Boulder it always requires hard work, persistence, and complete dedication.
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So it is with my friend George Bristol. Nearly a century after young John Muir entered Yosemite and found his destiny, Bristol boarded a train in Texas in 1961 at age 21 and ended up in northwestern Montana to take a summer job at Glacier National Park. Imagine a kid from Austin stepping off that train and experiencing his first mountains (and what magnificent mountains they are!), his first view of snow in midsummer, his first scent of pines, his first alpine waterfalls, his first look at a trout leaping in the eddy of a cascading mountain river. “I thought Glacier was the most beautiful place on Earth,” he said. “I still do.”
Like Muir, Bristol returned to his now-favorite place on Earth the next summer and, as he described it in his earlier travel blog, On Politics and Parks, realized that “converging influences were merging into a rushing river that would sweep me along in its flow, carrying me toward a life purpose.”