Monday, January 31, 2011

Great Nature Quotes!

There’s nothing like a good quote. A line someone said or wrote that they most likely didn’t think would ever live on in history. We can always pull these notable phrases out and apply them to our lives, as our children and their children after them will be able to do as well. Since I started hiking almost two years ago, I’ve really developed a love and appreciation for nature, as I’ve written about many times. Finding new quotes about nature and the outdoors, as well as about this great Granite State, always reminds me of my new founded appreciation and helps me realize that people have found this same appreciation throughout history (history is another great love of mine). I thought I would take a few minutes and share with you three of my favorite wilderness quotes and how I’ve stumbled about them.

I think when most people think of nature quotes, John Muir comes to mine. He has so many notable phrases that it’s difficult to pick just one. One of my favorites is short and sweet, and is undoubtedly one of his most recognizable quotes:

“The mountains are calling and I must go” – John Muir

How powerful is that quote? I understand exactly what he means. If I could wake up every morning and look out the window and see mountains, I know I would feel at home every day. Being able to hike up a mountain, especially in the White Mountains is a huge privilege for me. Everyday time constraints and our proximity from the Whites does not allow for as many visits as I wish I could make on an annual basis. However, I do get up there to hike whenever possible. I always think of this quote when we’re heading up north because I do feel like they’re calling my name!

Recently, I started watching The Waltons. I know what you’re thinking!!! Cheesy, right!!! Well, I know it is, but I don’t care. I used to watch these episodes every night with my parents when I was very little. Today, I enjoy the moral lessons that each episode brings to the viewer about that family living in the Blue Ridge Mountains during the Great Depression. At the beginning of each episode, the narrator and writer for the show, Earl Hamner, Jr. starts off with an intro to the episode, and in one episode, had a quote that really stuck in my head:

“A mountain has no need for people, but people do need mountains. We go to them for their beauty, for the exhilaration of standing closer to mysterious skies, for the feeling of triumph that comes from having labored to reach a summit.” – Earl Hamner, Jr.

This is a great quote! It helps describe in a few ways, why Jill and I choose to hike mountains. As many of you know, there’s a lot more to it than simply hiking up and down a hill. But rather, it’s the feelings that you receive when you look around at the wilderness landscape below you, and knowing that the mountain top has nothing waiting for you other than peacefulness and beauty.

Finally, I get to one of my favorite quotes! I recently discovered this quote through Dave Olson’s blog, Fat Man of the Mountains. He wrote a great blog post regarding how his blog name came to be, and he started it off with a great quote from Daniel Webster in reference to the Old Man of the Mountain:

“Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoemakers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but in the mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men.” – Daniel Webster

This quote has a bold meaning to me, as I’m sure it does most people. Of course, the White Mountains are rugged at the least and can be extremely unforgiving at times. If ill prepared on a nasty day, one can be subjected to some of the cruelest punishments from the elements and lives can easily be taken (which happens every year, unfortunately). This quote reminds us that we must respect the mountains because “God Almighty” is giving us a sign that these mountains make “men”. What kind of men? I believe he meant wise, tough men…that appreciate and respect nature and the wilderness!

So, these are my three favorite nature quotes (at the moment). If you have one that you love and think of often on the trail, please leave a comment and share!



  1. I have to say that one of my favorites yet it's a poem and not a saying is Trees by Joyce Kilmer.


  2. "The secret of the mountains is that the mountains simply exist, as I do myself: the mountains exist simply, which I do not. The mountains have no “meaning,” they are meaning; the mountains are. The sun is round. I ring with life, and the mountains ring, and when I can hear it, there is a ringing that we share."
    Peter Matthiessen

  3. Tim,

    That's a great poem. Very simple and nice. I'll never look at trees in the same light!


    I like that quote a lot. How'd you stumble across it? It certainly is true..."they are meaning"...


  4. Well written. Glad I stumbled across your blog, and looking forward to more good writing!

  5. Thanks Woods Hippie! I was just checking out your blog and added it to my blog roll. I really like it. You have a some great pics.

    BTW, what's your name? Couldn't find it on your blog!!!


  6. Hi Karl,
    That's the great Peter Matthiassen, from Snow Leopard, one of the classics of trekking writing.

  7. I have said the John Muir quote myself...not knowing I was quoting!

  8. Karl,

    Very inspiring quotes! I also like George Mallory's response when asked why he wanted to climb Everest: "Because it is there"


  9. I, too, love mountains and living where I do in CO, I look from my window and see them every day. I came upon your Blog from The Nature Blog Network. My Husband and I had a house in VT for awhile when our children were young. We often hiked the Green and White Mountains. Here is a quote I like: "You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know." Rene Daumal

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