This book was an unexpected find at the Bay Area Printers’ Fair and Wayzgoose last year. Peter and Donna Thomas are book artists and papermakers, they are also adventurers. They have a gypsy caravan that they travel around with, and, along with their other art, this guidebook, subtitled Walking from San Francisco to Yosemite In the Footsteps of John Muir. I really enjoyed that they shared the various facets of their lives, and had a nice chat with Donna about some of their travels. I’m also interested in history and the natural world, and those topics in California in particular. Additionally, the book caught my eye since, back in the day, my parents walked the California coast, so this sort of journey intrigues me.
The book is actually three books in one. The first is the history, giving the story of John Muir’s trip in 1868. The second details Donna and Peter’s journey in creating and traversing their modern-day route. The third is a guide for those who are interested in making the journey themselves. It’s a great read, even if you’re only an armchair adventurer and don’t plan to do the walk yourself. A fascinating glimpse of the California of the past and the contrasts to the modern day, and a reminder of what is possible.
As Peter says in the Introduction, … the first question is always, “How far is it and how many pairs of shoes did you wear out?” It was 300 miles but only took one pair of shoes. We are not super athletes and this trek is something any average physically fit person can do. We hope that this book with inspire “the adventurer” in every reader to get up, get out, and follow the footsteps of John Muir to Yosemite.
Or (my addition) to get out on some sort of adventure in the natural world. It doesn’t have to be a big epic thing, there is much beauty and wonder, even close to home.