It’s not hard to find a good view while hiking the John Muir Trail. Even in the southern half, when more than a little of the path winds through what could be reasonably described as “moonscape”, there are moments where it almost takes your breath away. In the north, one of the best is at the shore of Garnet Lake (one of the two large lakes between Island Pass and Red’s Meadow, the other being Thousand Island Lake). The lake itself is beautiful, and hovering behind it are Mount Ritter and Banner Peak.
Mount Ritter was named by Josiah Whitney for the great German geographer, Karl Ritter.
Ritter’s dates are 1779 – 1859. Long before Jared Diamond was making a case for geographic determinism in his book “Guns, Germs, and Steel” (and about the same time that Ellsworth Huntington coined the term), Ritter professed that geography has great impact on culture and that the continents had their own physiology, much as a human body does. Anyone interested in his theories should read “Die Erdkunde im Verhältniss zur Natur und zur Geschichte des Menschen” (Geography in Relation to Nature and the History of Mankind). You should probably get started right away; it runs nineteen volumes. I’m told it’s most poetic in the original German.
After his death, his theories were tortured and twisted in such a way to justify the expansion of German hegemony over the rest of Europe. That’s unfortunate, because his own writings make it clear that he was profoundly against racism and slavery.
But what about the other mountain, Banner Peak? Who is the Banner fellow?
Sorry, but there is no such person. Banner Peak got its name from USGS map-maker Willard D. Johnson, because of a banner cloud that Johnson observed flowing from one side.
Good hiking, Ray