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John Muir Trail: Amazing pictures from a Scot’s journey in the wilderness

Feature: A Scottish photographer has followed in the footsteps of the great American naturalist and took some stunning photos on the way.

Breathtaking: sunrise at Mount Whitney
© John G Moore. All Rights Reserved

It is the landscape which inspired one of Scotland’s most influential sons. More than 150 years ago, John Muir - the man credited as the father of the environmental movement in America - left his home in East Lothian for the New World.

There, he chronicled the scenery and wildlife of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. Now, a professional photographer from Scotland has retraced his footsteps and created a breathtaking gallery of images.

For the past ten years, John G Moore has captured wonderful landscapes, worked with music icons and even dabbled into the world of fashion shoots. But it was his decision a few years ago to try and do something for Glasgow’s Yorkhill Hospital which has had one of the biggest influences on his career.

The four-year-old daughter of one of John’s relatives died and, like many before him, he wanted to raise money for the hospital to offer thanks for their care. Initially, John thought he could sell some prints of his work in Los Angeles including images of legendary guitarist Slash, Aerosmith and Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction.

However, the photographer - who is originally from Cambuslang - focussed instead on documenting the beautiful Sierra Nevada range and highlighting the John Muir Trail for a book, appropriately titled Spirit.

Naturalist and environmentalist Muir is a famous figure in his adopted country of America, but sadly he is not that well known in the country of his birth. His commitment to conservation helped save the Yosemite Valley and the Sequoia National Park, and generations of Americans and others from around the world have had the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the area ever since.

"I was not particularly aware of John Muir when I started," remembers John. "Americans would always ask me about him but I was embarrassed to say I didn’t know at first.

"I can understand why he felt at home in the natural beauty in the Sierra Nevada. Having walked many times in the west coast of Scotland, I can see why he liked it. Although the two are different in many ways, Scotland and the mountains of America are similar in their beauty."

During several trips between Spring 2008 and Autumn 2009, John travelled along the 211-mile mountain range in California. His pictures paint a breathtaking portrait of America. John recalled: "Areas of immense natural beauty give a perspective on life. My favourite time of the trip was taking the picture which appears on the cover of the book.

"It was of Mount Whitney and I took it at sunrise. There was a mountain range behind and in front of me, so there was only a 20 second gap for me to get the picture before the sun rose. From a photographer’s point of view, that was the most pleasing moment."

Due to the growing success that Spirit has already enjoyed on both sides of the Atlantic, there is now talk of a follow-up work. John has also been mentioned by some experts in the same breath as the great American photographer, Ansel Adams.

Others who were pleased with the work included Yorkhill Children’s Foundation. Shona Cardle, its chief executive, commented: "The publication of Spirit and the critical acclaim with which it is being received is a wonderful achievement for John Moore.

"What is even more wonderful is that sick children and babies from throughout Scotland who are treated within Greater Glasgow and Clyde will benefit from the proceeds of this book. We are extremely grateful to John Moore for his support."

Another charity who receives a portion of the book sales are Access Adventure, a California-based group who seek to widen the opportunities of disabled people. Its director Michael Muir - incidentally, the great-grandson of John Muir - summed up John G Moore’s achievement.

"John Moore has captured the wild spirit of Scotland’s native son John Muir…every life is enriched by a powerful connection to the infinite storm of beauty in our wild and natural world, and John Moore’s photography encapsulates this perfectly."


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