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In 1867, Muir suffered a blinding eye injury that changed his life. When he regained his sight, Muir resolved to 'turn his eyes to the fields and woods.' There began his years of wanderlust.

Muir walked a thousand miles from Indianapolis to the Gulf of Mexico. He sailed to Cuba and Panama, crossed the Isthmus, and up the West Coast. He landed in San Francisco in March, 1868. From that moment on, though he would travel around the world, California became his home. The Sierra Nevada and Yosemite truly claimed Muir.

In 1868, he walked across the San Joaquin Valley through waist-high wildflowers and into the high country for the first time. Later Muir wrote: "Then it seemed to me the Sierra should be called ... the Range of Light...the most divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains I have ever seen." He herded sheep through that first summer and made his home in Yosemite.

By 1871 Muir had found living glaciers in the Sierra and conceived his controversial theory of Yosemite Valley glaciation. He became known nationwide. Famous men of the time, including Joseph LeConte, Asa Gray and Ralph Waldo Emerson, made their way to his pine cabin.

Muir left the mountains for Oakland, California. He took his first trip to Alaska and Glacier Bay in 1879. The following year he married Louie Wanda Strentzel and moved to Martinez, California. Muir settled down to domestic life and Muir partnership with his father-in-law and managed the family fruit ranch with great success.

Ranching didn't quell his wanderlust. Muir went to Alaska many more times; to Australia, South America, Africa, Europe, China, Japan; and again and again to his beloved Sierra Nevada.