His tin cup reminds us of the human John Muir. Not only is it a tangible object that he carried and cleaned and tossed about in his pack, but it is a relic of a mistake. Muir left the cup behind, alongside a trail while he was camping through Hetch Hetchy in August, 1895. It was an accident. He forgot something, like everyone does. Maybe he had that feeling as he was walking onto the grass that day that he was forgetting something. Or maybe it had completely slipped his mind until he wanted a sip of hot tea the next night. Either way, we can empathize. We can feel, if only in this moment, like we understand and are equals with the fabled woodsman. In a world where Britney Spears' chewed gum sells for $14,000 on eBay, we're accustomed to sanctifying objects that have come in contact with our idols. And yes, John Muir did touch this cup. But that's not the only reason it matters. More importantly, this rusted and mundane chunk of tin grounds the legend and myth back to the reality of an imperfect and utterly human man. A man we can relate to.
Last updated: July 23, 2015