Ken Burns Finds Success in the Mountains

Posted By: The Ski Channel on October 4, 2009 3:25 pm

I often wonder what men will do with the mountains – that is, with their utilizable, destructible garments.  Will he cut down all the trees to make ships and houses?  If so, what will be the final and far upshot?  Will human destructions like those of Nature – fire and flood and avalnache – work out a higher good, a finer beauty?  Will a better civilization come in accord with obvious nature, and all this wild beauty be set to human poetry and song?  Another universal outpouring of lava, or the coming of a glacial period, could scarce wipe out the flowers and shrubs more effectually than do the sheep. And what then is coming?  What is the human part of the mountains’ destiny?

John Muir, 1875

If you are yet to watch the latest from Ken Burns, you are surely missing out.  “The National Parks:  US’s Best Idea” may be one of Burns’ best ideas.  The story of America’s national parks is rightfully told by one of the most innovative storytellers of our time.  The quotation from John Muir stated above begins “The National Parks:  The Empire of Grandeur (1915-1919)”.  This episode’s description reads:  “As the park idea turns 50 years old, America boasts a dozen national parks, usually set aside at the urging of individuals willing to turn their passion for a particular landscape into a crusade. With the death of John Muir, a new generation of park proponents will step forward.” 

Instantly captivated by Muir’s last sentence, “What is the human part of the mountains’ destiny?”, I couldn’t wait to watch the rest of this film.  Any mountain enthusiast will respect, enjoy, and be captivated by The National Parks.  The imagery is breathtaking, and will leave you with a sense of urgency to visit these ranges.  Visit PBS here to watch.  Enjoy.  I can assure you, you will.